Now more than ever, law firms of every kind are focused on finding efficiencies to allow them to run their business more profitably without diminishing their commitment to excellence for their clients. More and more law firms, and personal injury firms in particular, have repeatedly pointed to the high cost and inefficient use of expensive attorney time in entire mornings and afternoons spent in routine court appearances. As a result, personal injury and other law firms have started subscribing to the business model of hiring per-diem attorneys to make their routine court appearances on a regular basis, allowing them to use their attorney’s time more valuably in the office working and advancing their cases. Often, firms that have implemented this model find that they have drastically improved their realization on cases, increased their ability to take on greater caseloads, and often reduce the number of full-time attorneys on staff.
As a partner in Isaacson, Schiowitz & Korson, LLP, I have focused on this issue for years, and our law firm has used this business model for a number of years for precisely the reasons noted above – it is far more efficient and better use of our attorneys’ time to remain in the office where they are most productive – dealing with clients, bringing in new business, advancing our existing cases, negotiating settlements, and preparing for trial. The ability to hire per-diem attorneys to handle routine court appearances has significantly helped us reach those goals.
Indeed, in addition to improving our ability to manage and advance cases, we found that we also enjoyed a significantly improved quality of life, both personal and professional. We had become so familiar with the routine of running from home to court, from court to the office, and often from the office back to court again, often having no certainty of how long each appearance would take, that we had forgotten the simple pleasure of going directly into the office and being able to spend full days in the office doing the work that really makes the practice of law engaging, intellectually stimulating, and profitable.