How the Billable Hour Makes the Majority of Attorneys Dishonest and Unhappy: The Real Reason Why Most Attorneys' Careers Are Out of Control

This week I received one of the more inspiring phone calls of my career.
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

The caller was a young counsel-level attorney in a great law firm, with stellar credentials, who is very good at her job. She bills a lot of hours, publishes articles in legal publications, gives talks, sits on committees and is trying very hard to do everything right for her career.

Notwithstanding, she did not have a book of business. Without a book of business it has been very hard for her to get traction in her job search. It is not enough to just be a good attorney. There are good attorneys everywhere and tons of them. In fact, there are too many good attorneys. If the only thing that mattered was being a good attorney, then everyone who was a good attorney would be successful, and the reality is that there are many good attorneys who are not successful. In order to thrive in a law firm, you need to be more than a good attorney. To ensure long-term survival and success in a law firm environment, you need to be a good attorney plus you need to be an attorney who brings in business.

I started working with this attorney a few months ago, assisting her with her job search. When we began, she was looking for a position at a firm where she could benefit from the rainmaking skills of someone else. Because she did not have any business of her own, she needed to work alongside another lawyer who was very good at generating business and could give her work to do.