How Higher Attorney to Support Staff Ratios May Result in Higher Legal Costs for Clients

Archer & Greiner gave layoff notices last week to 14 attorneys and 27 staff members, the New Jersey Law Journal (reg. req.) reports. Their last day of work will be April 1. The layoffs will bring the ratio of lawyers to secretaries from 2:1 to 4:1″ – ABA Law News Now, March 12, 2013

When law firms like many corporations were laying off staff during the height of the great recession a few years ago, I noted that law firm support staff were being terminated at a rate of 2:1 in terms of support staff to attorneys layoffs.   Apparently this support staff to attorney layoff ratio is becoming a trend.

In fact, one might say that a support staff ratio of 4:1 is becoming the “new normal” at many law firms.  Discussions I have had with attorneys around the country have confirmed this.  In fact, one attorney friend who is on the management committee of a mid-sized firm notes while his firm is not laying off staff, they are not filling support staff vacancies in order to get to this 4:1 attorneys to staff ratio.

Moving from a 2:1 to a 4:1 attorney to support staff ratio is a big jump and it begs a big question.  What happens to all the work that the additional support staff did for the attorneys?  Did the practice of law suddenly change so that less support staff is required?  Does the use of “technology” suddenly make support staff twice as efficient as just as few years ago?  Or is there another answer to this question? Continue reading

Connecting the Dots in Legal Bill Reviews Can Reveal Disturbing Pattern

Connecting the dots is a fun children’s game that becomes much more serious when connecting the dots in legal bill reviews.

It has been my experience that billing issues seldom occur in isolation.  One billing issue is often connected to another and another.  Some billing issues also can be connected to even more serious litigation related issues which can not only affect the quality of work, but also the case results as well.

Here are a few examples of individual billing issues that often can be connected to other billing or litigation related issues:

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