Stat Attack

Now this is interesting, well to me anyhow. It is not event the main issue, “gearing” firms for profit by using paralegals, which caught my eye.

No my attention was drawn to TLS benchmarking evidence provided to the Civil Justice Council, in particular the annual chargeable hours per fee earner. This they set at 1,100 (a slight increase from the 1,050 previously suggested).

Whenever I use this figure, in “profitability” courses, I get gasps of disbelief from Legal Aid lawyers, especially those who know how many chargeable hours they did in the last year.

Now I know that comparisons are difficult, the preponderance of fixed fees in Legal Aid in particular, however it is worth a little bit of a play about with these numbers.

1,100 hours a year is about 22 chargeable hours a week over a 48-week year.

That means roughly 60% of a 37-hour week is chargeable time. Alternatively 40% is downtime, something of a luxury in publicly funded work.

Have a think about the proposed single fee earner capacity test for Criminal Duty Contracts too. This is £83k, a figure successful bidders will have to achieve to have any hope of survival. At the 2015 Magistrates Court preparation rate of about £41, that would require 2,024 chargeable hours work a year – a 42-hour week. Here we are undoubtedly getting closer to the experience of Legal Aid lawyers. This figure certainly raises issues regarding the efficacy of a 37-hour a week civil service contract for PDS lawyers – it would be lovely to know how many hours they do time record.

There is of course “downtime” in legal aid work; a number of the recent work-to-rule style actions by Criminal lawyers have demonstrated how much non-chargeable goodwill forms part of the job. It might not amount to 40% of the week but at the point it gets to 14% you have legal aid lawyers having to work more than 48-hours a week to realise their essential £83k capacity.

So there you have it incontrovertible proof that the MoJ are proposals are in breach of the Working Time Directive

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