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In tighter times, clients scrutinize their bills more closely - and this scrutiny is fiercest at the associate level. Partners are forced to write off more time and some clients are flatly refusing to have junior associate time appear on their bills at all. Finally, capped fee arrangements are more common, forcing firms to complete work efficiently to preserve their margins. In short, the issue of improving associate efficiency becomes paramount - and cannot be addressed simply by cutting associates. The inefficiency of those that are left remains an issue, as will the inefficiency of those you hire when the economy improves.
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