Well, not in my world of law firm management, where the chargeable hour is a leading metric for both compensation and client billing. The concept of ‘less is more’ can be argued, however, by the clients of law firms, who seek the added value in the pithily succinct.

It is also a position my son takes when showing me his creative writing essay, barely two paragraphs long.

Private practice no longer sells the mystique and magic of the law, but instead sells processes and hours. Revenue can only be increased either by raising hourly rates or by selling more hours. As long as firm revenue (and individual compensation) is a function of hours, then productivity is absolutely about longer hours.

Law firms are constrained by the hourly billing system they have clung to. It may capture the effort needed to churn the document or complete the process, but does not reward the real value added work, the creativity of a hot shot litigator or an innovative tax lawyer. Those few lawyers who sell creativity may be able to argue that productivity (and billing) isn’t just about longer hours, (although strangely they tend to be the people who do work long hours), but for the rest, selling more hours is the only way.

 And having read the essay, I fear my son may have to put in longer hours.