But Wait... There's More - What's Billable and Design Thinking

By Joanne Kiley posted 09-22-2017 15:04


This past week members discussed billable work and more. Jump to the “Something Extra” section for ILTA for an ILTA design thinking collection. Explore curated sources on these topics including some from ILTA’s treasure chest.

What Makes It Billable Work?

We all know, the legal vertical mostly sells advice, a service.  Quality research, analytics, IT tools, data processing, security, leveraged knowledge, etc. all support and add value to the counsel provided. Over the last few decades pundits have discussed the death of the billable hour, but a member recently asked if others billed for litigation support services and if so, how. The answer likely varies from firm to firm and one could exchange “litigation support” for many other departments and tools that support the ultimate good advice given by an attorney to a client. However, I think we should all ask “How does X service/tool/department improve the advice given to a client and add value to firm’s strategic business goals?” In a 2016 Peer to Peer, Evan Benjamin said “it’s all about value” in his article, “Six Sigma in Ediscovery.” One can also measure value as explained in an ILTACON 2016 session recording, “Preparing an ROI for Ediscovery Services.” Besides the recording, you will find a budget workbook and spreadsheet. To fully consider the firm’s strategic goals, we must consider how billing works and the client’s perspective regarding that bill. Listen to the recordings and review the handouts from the ILTACON 2017 sessions, “Basic Law Firm Financial Reporting That All Tech Folks Should Know” and “How Does it Feel to Get a Bill From a Law Firm.” To learn how many firms bill for litigation support, the 2016 Litigation and Practice Support Technology Survey answers this on pages 11-13. “Should LPM Be Billable? Two Sides to the Story” makes arguments and considerations that could be used for litigation support as well. And after all that, the answer to “should X be billable?” is still, “It depends.”

SOMETHING EXTRA – The ILTA Design Thinking Collection to Date

Have you had “check out design thinking” on your to-do wish list for a while? To get to this “to-do” a little faster, here are several ILTA resources on the topic as it relates to legal technology. Let’s start with a quick definition. IDEO says “Design thinking utilizes elements from the designer's toolkit like empathy and experimentation to arrive at innovative solutions. By using design thinking, you make decisions based on what future customers really want instead of relying only on historical data or making risky bets based on instinct instead of evidence.”

ILTA Resources:

Podcast: Think Like a Product Designer: How HR Can Apply Design Thinking to Organizational Processes

Articles: “Drive Superior Lawyer Experiences Through Design Thinking,” “Design Thinking: The Future of Prioritizing People in the Process” and “Revolutionizing Law with Design Thinking.”   

ILTACON 2016: “Design Thinking for Applications Development and Knowledge Management: An Interactive Workshop,” “Empathetic Design in Legal: Redesigning Law for Clients” and an ILTACON TV interview with Michelle Mahoney about applying what she learned at the at Stanford to her work at a law firm.

ILTACON 2017: “Design Thinking Workshop: Solving Real Problems, Part 1” and “Design Thinking Workshop: Solving Real Problems, Part 2” The session mentioned above, “How Does it Feel to Get a Bill From a Law Firm,” also discusses the application of design thinking.

Speaking of Stanford’s, they now offer a Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking.


As ILTA’s content curator, I’m always monitoring the discussion forums to discover what topics are top-of-mind among the members. Each week, I focus on a few areas that spark your interest, and I provide some curated resources to assist your own information-gathering on the topics. If there are specific topics you would like assistance exploring, please contact me at