Part 1 of this three-part post described software engineer-turned-attorney Jason Barnwell’s introduction — two months into his first law job after graduating from USC Law School — to the legal profession’s idea of “productivity”.
As the junior lawyer on a deal team, he offered to automate the process of creating and collating the shareholder consents necessary to close an M&A transaction by “some basic scripting”. As he put it in an article published earlier this week: “I was still an adequate software engineer back then”.
My guess is that his skills were in fact more than “adequate” — with four years of software engineering experience in the Bay Area — and a mechanical engineering degree from MIT.
Anyway, Jason Barnwell reasoned that reducing the individual bodies required for this paper shuffling from six down to one would be a good thing. Ditto the fact that the five team members thus freed up would be able to, “focus on other aspects of the transaction rather than walking laps in an ozone filled copy room”.
He was rebuffed — without explanation. Pressing for an explanation he was again rebuffed. Undeterred, Mr. Barnwell resolved to “revisit this for the next M&A deal”.
He remained undeterred until six weeks later:
“I saw the itemized bill for the transaction … There was a line item for my contribution. My hours worked multiplied by my billable rate. My client paid a lot for me to make copies“.
The legal profession matter-of-factly defines “productivity” as the number of hours an attorney billed the client and then got paid for.