I recently read a couple of posts at Above The Law detailing the drastic reduction in average billable hours for associates in 2009.
Their survey showed average associate billing for 2009 at less than 1600 hours (no surprises there). The pithy follow up post by Kashmir Hill discusses what’s left for associates to do (besides Facebook and Mafia Wars) – she’s pretty funny actually.
Suggestions provided by legal recruiter Dan Binstock, include:
Write speeches and present at conferences.
Help partners with business development.
Write articles, speeches and present at conferences really should just be one big bullet point. This list is missing: hone your skills and increase your knowledge base. But I’ll get to that in another post.
My focus in this post is on Dan’s second suggestion: create presentations and speak at CLE conferences.
It’s an important, but often overlooked, suggestion, especially at the big law firms.
I get approached by solo and small firm practitioners to speak at my CLE programs on a regular basis. But I can’t remember ever hearing from a senior associate (or any associate) at a large law firms. It’s an interesting trend.
Solos and small firm practitioners - painfully aware of their need to market their services to get paid - know how valuable it is to speak in public.
For solo / small firm practitioners, the benefits include:
- more exposure in the legal community, which leads to…
- client and consulting referrals, as well as…
- reputation building, and of course,
- networking, etc.
For associates at larger law firms, the benefits are the same, plus:
- good "corporate citizen" points when it comes time for bonuses, reviews and partnership (i.e. it helps answer the perennial question: what have you done for the firm lately)
- resume building for lateral moves,
- and, ultimately, all of the above help tremendously if it ever comes time jump ship (voluntarily or not) and seek employment elsewhere.
So… kudos to Kashmir and Dan for reminding associates that when they have a few extra hours available, or a few hundred extra hours, they should be working on potential instructional presentations and pitching local, state and national bar associations, niche bar associations and CLE companies.
And for you procrastinators… follow the Nike method … just do it.