The relationship between billable hours and mental health

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By Trent Milvain, Finance & Operations Manager


I write this article on “World Mental Health Day” (10th October), eight months into my journey at Law Squared – a journey which, so far, has been challenging, fulfilling and eye-opening.


A highlight of mine to date was when our team recently mentored students at “Disrupt Law” at QUT, Queensland. Disrupt Law is a legal hack-a-thon run by our friends at The Legal Forecast where 12 teams, assisted by law firms, were tasked with developing innovative solutions to problems within the legal industry. To my surprise, many of the problems that teams attempted to solve were based around managing bigger issues within law firms. A common theme and talking point was the dreaded billable hour.

I say dreaded billable hour because they are just that. To learn specifically about billable hours’ shortcomings, see this article by Beyond Billables, or this one by Law Squared’s founder and director Demetrio Zema.

But for our purposes right now, you may be wondering how can you, the client, make a difference.

Lawyers provide a service to customers, a service that is traditionally expensive and often comes with poor communication and inefficiencies. By adding billable hours into the mix, not only are these existing problems exacerbated but a myriad of other issues are created. Crucially, the stresses of time billing have been explicitly linked to mental health degradation and unhappiness within the legal industry.

But why should this matter to you? Your lawyer’s well-being isn’t really your concern, is it?

It is important to recall that lawyers provide a service to their clients. It is unlikely for this service to be a positive experience for clients if those providing the service are unhappy.

I challenge our peers to abandon the billable hour system for their own well-being and to provide a better experience for their clients. I also challenge our clients to engage with law firms who do not measure their employees based on time or charge clients according to time-based budget expectations. At Law Squared we pride ourselves on offering our clients a positive and more human experience, focusing on outcomes, not hours.

And this is how, you, the client, can make a difference to the well-being of those in the legal industry, with the added bonus of receiving a service focused on solving your problem instead of how many hours you can be billed for.


At Law Squared, we partner with passionate entrepreneurs and businesses who need our technical help and expertise. We’d love to have a chat with you, so feel free to drop us an email hello@lawsquared.co


Trent Milvain

Boasting a diverse skill-set, Trent manages the delivery of Law Squared's strategic goals and client outcomes. 


+61 410 346 599


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