According to InsideCounsel’s February article “Cost Cutters,” 20 percent of legal departments keep time records and charge attorney costs back to specific business units.

When recruiting for our corporate clients, one of the first points of discussion is time sheets. Everyone understands that in-house life is far from 9 to 5. Nonetheless, escaping time sheets is one of the most compelling motivators for leaving a law firm. Although I could not find a scientific study on this topic, I have enough anecdotal evidence to conclude the time sheet is far from a mere nuisance.

A time-sheet culture creates a truly unhealthy Sisyphean mentality. The rock must be moved up the hill every day, and at night the rock rolls back to the bottom so that the exercise repeats endlessly. The psychology of time sheets even damages the sense of accomplishment when a deal is done or a case won. Instead of relishing the accomplishment, a little birdie is always singing in the back of the mind, “How will I justify and write down my time tomorrow?”

Although keeping time sheets may be a good business practice, it is a bad people practice.