Law firm inefficiencies don’t just make legal work slower and more cumbersome, they also rob lawyers of income. Firms constantly write down hours for tasks that were spent inefficiently, reducing client bills for work that took too long to complete and taking potential income away from attorneys.

Just how much money do such write-downs cost? Tens of thousands of dollars per lawyer, per year, according to a new study by the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute.

Inefficient Workflow = Reduced Cash Flow

The study by the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute sought to identify just how many hours were written off by the average attorney. (Disclosure: Thomson Reuters is FindLaw’s parent company.) Those write-downs “are often a recognition that too many hours were spent producing the work product,” LEI Senior Legal Industry Analyst William Josten writes in Legaltech News today. As such, they’re a fair approximation of the cost of inefficient workflows.

And those inefficiencies can be quite expensive, according to Josten. The Legal Executive Institute surveyed attorneys and found that the “leading culprit” behind write-downs was time spent researching legal questions, or “getting up to speed.”

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