It is a tricky thing to be asked a question that has a research component and be able to estimate how much time it will take to find and communicate an answer. Something that helps with estimating is knowing how much time a similar task encompased. Since, like most service industries, the legal industry tracks its time to help identify pricing structures and service value, why not use those time tracking devices to measure research time tasks and learn from the measuring?
Check out the Uniform Task Based Management System (UTBMS) – standards that were created to give a structure to time tracking and also enable most eBilling systems. There is an excellent overview of UTBMS and how it has rolled out in Canada on the Canadian Bar Association PracticeLink site.
Using UTBMS (or some consistently applied system) to measure research time is a step closer to better prediction of how long research actually takes.
Some basic time predictions:
- Noting up a case for judicial history: .1
- Noting up a case for judicial consideration: .2 to .4
- Identifying the in force date for a statute: .1
- Writing a memo outlining the quantum of damages for a broken elbow:
it depends.7 to 2