American Lawyer, Racking Up Those Billable Hours? This Michigan Lawyer Has You Beat:
Ever wonder how your billable hours measure up? Consider this: Daniel Bliss billed 3,600 hours last year.
That’s almost 70 billable hours a week for 52 weeks. That’s 10 billable hours a day if you work seven days. That’s nearly 12 billable hours a day if you decide to take off one day a week.
However you look at it, that’s a lot of hours.
“You know what?” Bliss said. “When the sun shines, you have to make hay.”
You evidently have to “make hay” when the sun doesn’t shine as well if you want to rack up those numbers. Bliss, an intellectual property lawyer and partner at Michigan-based Howard & Howard admits he worked plenty of 12-hour days, evenings and weekends last year. He even racked up billable hours while on vacation.
The self-proclaimed workaholic is actually one of dozens of lawyers in the United States who billed more than 3,000 hours in 2017, according to information reported by law firms for the Am Law 200/NLJ 500 survey. The firms were asked to report the total hours billed by the lawyer who billed the most hours during 2017. ...
Bliss, who works out of the firm’s offices in Royal Oak, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, and in Las Vegas, said it takes a great deal of discipline and organization to accumulate that many hours. He’s been able to bill an average of 300 hours a month, he said, because he knows exactly what tasks he must accomplish each day.
Bliss, who does patent prosecution, trademark work and litigation, said he usually is at the office by 7 a.m. and doesn’t leave before 7 p.m. He also typically works on weekends. For part of 2017, his wife was out of town so he got into a routine of working a long day at the office, coming home, eating and then working some more. He also works on airplanes while traveling.
Despite his nose-to-the-grindstone ways, Bliss said he doesn’t expect the same from his associates. “Not everybody is going to be like me,” he said.
See also John Grisham, The Firm 86 (1991) (Tax partner describing billing practices to first-year tax associate: "Every time you look at the file, charge it for an hour. . . . [I]f the [client's] name . . . crosses your mind while you're driving to work, stick it for an hour.") see also id. at 58 ("Most good lawyers can work eight or nine hours a day and bill twelve.").