You Are Spending Your Training Dollars in the Wrong Place

Do you hate wasting money?

Me too. You will be a hero if you shift resources from low payoff (staff) to high payoff (attorney) training that increases billable hours. In this post, I will show you how.

I have been in dozens of firms throughout the US and have yet to see even one spend more on attorney training than staff training. Could you be the first?

Increase revenue or decrease cost.

Those are the only two options for making more money. In 2002, I was hired to increase the secretarial ratio (i.e. the ratio of attorneys to secretaries) through better technology training. The effort was successful (moving from 2.5 to 3.5) but took years as the firm did this through attrition (not replacing those who left). On the other hand, even a slight increase in billable hours can happen much faster and have a bigger impact (see below).

Okay, I’m convinced but…

I know your first objection to training attorneys: “We can’t get them to class.” I get that. Outside of CLEs and adult beverages, it is hard.

On the other hand, attorneys make time for what is important to them. Start with a pilot group (around 20 attorneys) and follow the plan below.

Accelerated Attorney Productivity Development Plan

  1. Summary: To increase attorney billable hours and happiness through an intense six-week program on personal productivity.
  2. Measurements: Measure billable hours before and after. Make this a year over year comparison to account for seasonal variations.
  3. Expected ROI: Breakeven on billable hours within six months. Other benefits include better retention rate of attorneys and decreased load on support staff.
  4. Costs: $1,400 per attorney for hardware (iPad Pro 10.5, Logitech keyboard, and Apple Pencil) and software (iTimeKeep, DocXtools Companion, and Notability).
  5. Format: A 30-minute webinar (group) and a 30-minute coaching session (one-on-one) per week for six weeks.


  1. Get paid for all the work you do. Time entry featuring contemporaneous time and entry and timers. Leverages iPad and Apple Watch.
  2. Make peace with your Inbox. Ninja-fast email management. Features ground breaking work by Michael Linenberger.
  3. Make your to-do’s work for you. Practice task management that works every time and leaves your mind free to focus on the present.
  4. Fall in love with note taking. Use Notability on the iPad to sync recordings of your meetings and your handwritten notes.
  5. Organize your digital life. Leverage the power of OneNote to organize your digital life across all your devices.
  6. Create bulletproof documents. Use the power of Styles to easily create beautiful, trouble-free documents.

Once you can show that your program increases billable hours, you can begin to roll it out to the whole firm. I dare you to present this to your leadership and see if they won’t give you the resources you need to make it happen.

Pro tip: incentivize the trainer. If you really want to make this a success, give the technology trainer a percentage of the increase to the bottom line. Giving the trainer “skin in the game” helps create amazing results.

Question: What is one step you can take at your firm to make this happen? What are you doing now for attorney technology training? Leave your feedback in the comments.

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