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Associates Say They'd Take Pay Cuts to Work Less

We came across an interesting article on the ABA Journal's eReport sharing the results of an online survey of law firm associates conducted by the ABA Journal in November 2006 in which respondents were asked whether they would be willing to earn less money in exchange for lower billable-hour requirements. The response: 84.2% said "Yes, we'd be willing to earn less money in exchange for fewer billable-hours."

That's a pretty hefty percentage of associates who seem so unhappy with their billable hour burdens that they'd take substantial pay cuts for less work. Generally, respondents said they were willing to accept a pay cut equal to the percentage reduction in their workload, but 15.1% said that for a 20% cut in billable hours, they would be willing to sacrifice 25-30% of their pay.

These numbers are consistent with results from the 2006 AmLaw Midlevel Law Firm Associates Survey we summarized in an August 2006 post in which 45% of respondents stated that they would take a 25 percent pay cut in exchange for a 25 percent cut in the billable hours requirement.

The sad thing? The ABA Journal eReport noted that when asked about whether they'd be willing to cut billable hour requirements for associates who took pay cuts, law firm partners generally said, "No!" (for a variety of reasons, including that the incremental billable hours at the margins are the most profitable). Another indication that, in many respects, partners and associates are like two ships passing in the night when it comes to work life balance.

P.S. thanks to the Project for Attorney Retention blog for bring the ABA article to our attention.

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