Twittering the Billable Hour

Why am I on Twitter? The family have stopped asking, and just accept that although I long ago got rid of my BlackBerry and obsession with emails, this has been replaced by an equally worrying (to them) interest in Web 2.0: Twitter, FourSquare, Spotify, Feedly ~ to say nothing of FB and LinkedIn.

It is always easy to justify one’s peculiarities (not least as to you they are not peculiar at all) but lately I have been giving some thought as to whether Twitter is really of any value, other than to boast about my homegrown asparagus. I am quite sure that it is. For me its value lies in the links I find. These may be to legal or management articles or blog posts, be about current affairs, or, very close to my heart, bird sightings. And all delivered (usually with a little help from in 140 characters.

The result is that I have access to an enormous range of thought.

A very good example was a tweet by Patrick Lamb (@ValoremLamb) yesterday, which took me to the Law Society of Western Australia’s website – and ultimately allowed me to download The Chief Justice of Western Australia’s address to the Perth Press Club, “Billable Hours – past their use by date”, given on 17 May to launch Law Week 2010. It is an excellent analysis, given, as the Chief Justice admits, “with a view to stimulating interest and debate, which may in turn accelerate changes which are already evident in some parts of the profession”.

You need to read the speech for yourselves (it’s a pdf on the website). It is pretty even-handed (what would you expect from a lawyer?) and he sets out both the advantages and the disadvantages, which will be familiar to most lawyers here and there. But one particular paragraph caught my eye:

Focuses on hours, not value

Time costing focuses the efforts of the legal practitioner upon the production of billable hours, rather than the production of value for the client. It rewards efforts and not results, promotes quantity over quality, repetition over creativity.

There is quite a lot more like that, but even though the Chief Justice accepts that “time billing has a place in legal service charging” he is quite clear that there are other methods “which encourage efficiency and better allocate risk”.

3 thoughts on “Twittering the Billable Hour

  1. Agreed – I think it is less about sales / referrals and more for exchanging information you might otherwise not find access to, especially locally!

  2. Great post George. We don’t know each other yet but I’ll be presenting on Monday about Social Media at Ashfords 🙂

    I’m hoping that between us we are able to convince others of the true benefits.

    See you on Monday. 🙂


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