Did you know that the average rate for a New York City lawyer can be anywhere between $344 per hour and $756 an hour? In L.A., it’s a cool $324. In other major metropolitan areas across the U.S., average billing rates are at least $250 per hour. With that kind of income on the line, law firms need to do everything in their power to maximize the time each lawyer spends on work that’s billable to clients.
Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
One thing that can stand in their way is the requirement for Continuing Legal Education (CLE). Most states require CLE for attorneys, to ensure they stay up to date in critical speciality areas.
Each state carries its own requirements for CLE. Courses cover a wide range of legal areas, as well as areas related to professional responsibility. These can be ethics, personal development, diversity law and other contemporary topics.
Some newly-minted attorneys may balk at the idea of additional coursework after finishing law school and passing the bar. However, veterans in the industry can appreciate its value and the added integrity it lends to the profession. In the most recent survey by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, for example, 75 percent of participants either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement “I participated in a professional responsibility CLE course that resulted in my increased knowledge or capability.”
In a 2015 Above The Law article, veteran CLE instructor Joseph Marino said, “The benefits of CLE are many, and extend well beyond just staying up-to-date with the law. CLE seminars are a place where attorneys cannot only learn from an instructor but from one another.”
Other Major Distractions for Attorneys
There are great benefits of CLE. However, many firms struggle to balance clients with mandatory time spent in the classroom.
This severely limits their available billing time.
According to the 2017 Legal Trends Report by Clio, which surveyed 60,000 attorneys, lawyers only bill an average of 2.3 hours per day during a typical eight-hour workday. The survey concludes “when factoring in realization and collection rates, firms only collect an average of 1.6 hours of billable time per day.”
Pretty shocking, right? What could possibly be the reason for this low number? Clio dug a little deeper into this question with an additional sub-survey of 3,000 attorneys. This analysis showed that:
- Lawyers spend approximately three hours per day on administrative tasks, including office administration, appointment scheduling, lead qualification, and technology configuration.
- Two hours per day are spent on business development—the necessary task of cultivating relationships to bring in new clients.
- Lawyers also spend one hour per day on interruptions. Between six and ten interruptions a day are spent on calls that don’t pertain to the current task.
Virtual Receptionists Help Increase Attorney Productivity
With this barrage of interruptions, administrative tasks, and CLE to worry about, it’s no wonder that law firms are searching for better solutions for enhancing productivity! Many have turned to services like virtual receptionists. These services help reduce the administrative workload for attorneys, decrease the number of interruptions by handling miscellaneous phone calls, and even help out with business development tasks. Compared to making an in-house administrative hire—which typically requires a full-time salary, health, and retirement benefits and paid time off—a virtual reception service is an effective solution.
Many businesses don’t realize the value of virtual receptionists. For example, they can answer phone calls during peak hours as well as after normal business hours and categorize them according to urgency and priority. Take it from Attorney Mike Skupin of Skupin Law Group, a long-time Nexa client based in Phoenix. He says “Nexa saves us time and improves our client relationships by helping us maintain live contact while giving us the ability to conduct uninterrupted work.”
Nexa's virtual receptionists are often mistaken for in-house team members. Skupin says our team members “are so professional that it is hard to for clients to tell the difference.”
Based on the Clio report findings, most law firms would benefit from any move that could positively impact billable hours. This paves the road for enhanced revenues and profitability. By doing so, the firm can save their non-billable hours. This time can be used for the completion of CLE classes.
CLE by the Sea 2018
From July 22nd to the 25th, you can find us at CLE by the Sea, the State Bar of Arizona’s CLE conference. Come find us!