An American survey has revealed that most managing partners receive complaints from clients regarding the work of junior lawyers with some refusing to pay for such work.
The New York State Bar Association conducted a straw poll of 21 managing partners last week with just over half reporting that their clients complain about having to pay for the work of first or second year associates. A further two respondents reported that clients flatly refuse to pay for work from similarly qualified junior lawyers.
All of the 21 survey respondents revealed they had experimented with alternatives to time billing, with around 30 per cent reporting their firms "regularly" use alternative billing methods.
"Clients want fixed and predictable costs, and lawyers are willing to try alternative billing methods, such as value billing, because this leads to increased efficiency, better trained lawyers and greater opportunity to achieve work-life balance," said Stephen Younger, the president of the Association.
Despite expressing sentiments about the importance of work-life balance, 18 of the 21 managing partners surveyed said they expected staff to attend to "non-emergency" emails and phone calls while on holiday or on the weekend.
The survey also revealed that two-thirds of managing partners said their respective firms hired fewer lawyers in 2010 when compared to previous years. Meanwhile, 11 respondents expected the market to remain flat in 2011, eight believed there would be a modest increase, while two predicted a decrease.
Six of the respondent managing partners presided over firms in excess of 250 lawyers, a further six lead firms of between 101 and 250 lawyers, three were from firms of between 26 to 100 lawyers and six were from firms of 25 lawyers or less.
The New York State Bar Association conducted the survey as part of a taskforce it established last year to look at alternative uses of technology, analyse billing arrangements, review work-life balance and to improve the education and training of lawyers.