Billable hours for US lawyers fall dramatically

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American lawyers suddenly find plenty of time on their hands Good call Saul.

The Thomson Reuters Institute study found that average hours per lawyer at 170 U.S. firms fell to 119 hours per month in 2022, the lowest level recorded since data began being recorded 15 years ago. This means the average lawyer earned $98,000 less in the past 12 months than in 2007. Someone should sue.

Can you imagine a world without lawyers?

Corporate law firms benefited financially from the early days of the pandemic, as both employers and employees grappled with the legal realities of massive corporate restructuring. Law firms were also able to reduce overhead costs by having lawyers set up in their home offices.

With a new economic crisis, however, corporations are cutting back on legal services After pandemic-era hiring, law firms now have less work to share among more people, and some are already laying off:

  • Goodwin told staff in a memo obtained by Proctor fate This week it will cut jobs, particularly in housing and M&A, blaming depressed demand. Late last year saw job losses at white shoe firms including Cooley LLP and Kirkland & Ellis.
  • The tech industry can also reduce legal fees. A legal recruitment expert told Fortune: “I work very closely with the tech sector and have seen a lot of activity during the pandemic that needs to be leveled off” – even though Elon Musk is doing his level best to keep demand steady. .

The same recruiter said the job cuts may not be catastrophic because smaller firms can stock up on fragmented talent. “Salaries can also be astronomical in the legal profession — particularly in the US compared to Australia and the UK. This is especially true for specialist lawyers such as data privacy, entertainment or artificial intelligence,” he added.

Speaking of AI… Would you trust a chatbot to protect you? said Joshua Browder, founder of start-up Do Not Pay Politico He plans to send a defendant to traffic court next month equipped with an earpiece that will feed them lines generated by an AI chatbot. While one litigant raised the issue of whether a chatbot could be legally permitted to practice law, Browder said he identified two jurisdictions where it would not be “totally illegal.” A ring endorsement if ever we heard one.

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