Soul for Sale: An Empirical Study of Associate Satisfaction, Law Firm Culture, and the Effects of Billable Hour Requirements




Fortney, Susan Saab

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UMKC Law Review


This article analyzes the results of an empirical study to illustrate the effect of billable hour requirements on associate satisfaction and law firm culture. Part I briefly describes the survey design and the general profile of the survey respondents. Part II discusses current billing practices and pressures analyzing the study results related to billing expectations and guidance as well as firm culture and work alternatives. Using findings from the study, Part III considers the detrimental micro and macro effects of increasing billable hour expectations. Part IV proposes various steps and measures that can be taken to address the negative consequences of emphasizing billable hour production. Part V concludes by reasserting that bar and firm leaders who address the deleterious effects of high billable hour expectations will improve both the quality or work for clients and the quality of life for firm attorneys.



Billable hours, Firm culture, Work alternatives


69 UMKC L. Rev. 239