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Groan. The dreaded billable hour, which, like the last five minutes of a football game, never seems to end. Obviously you need to bill all your time, and you've got to be ethical about it, but are you selling yourself short? A survey conducted by timekeeping software provider Chrometa of 500 professionals who bill by the hour revealed that they captured just 67 percent of their billable time.

How do you squeeze the remaining 33 percent of that time out of your day? Here are five things you can do to make sure you're maximizing your billable hours:

Following the Great Recession of 2008, many firms found it lucrative to expand their practices to encompass debt collection. They became "debt buyers," third parties who purchased the debt from the original creditor -- or even from another debt buyer -- and then tried to collect or obtain a settlement.

The business is lucrative -- consumers owe about $872 billion in credit card debt alone, according to NerdWallet. And consumers signed a contract to pay the debt back, so something is coming.

But federal and state laws designed to protect consumers from shady and abusive debt collection practices may open a firm up to additional liability that, in the end, may not be worth it.

Earlier this week, we told you what clients look for in an attorney. Now, when all those clients come rushing to your door, how do you decide whom to represent? It's better to assess what you want in a client sooner, rather than later, because once the relationship begins, it can be difficult to escape.

Here are four things that you should look for when the client walks in the door for that initial consultation:

Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.

3 Reasons to Take Business Risks in Your Legal Practice

During times of relative stability, it's so tempting to grow complacent. Sure, there are those professional risks you've fantasized about taking to boost your practice. But the dreaded string of "what ifs" soon follows and puts those fledgling temptations to rest.

But here's the thing: Those "what ifs" are crippling and can actually hurt the longevity of your business. Risks are not only necessary to thrive, they're crucial to survive.

Here are three reasons why you should take calculated risks in your legal practice:

Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.

Who doesn't want to be on TV? It is a chance to be famous, even if only for your 15 minutes, and it's a great chance to market your skills and that of your firm. But, if you're going to be interviewed for a TV news story (especially on national TV), there's a chance the interview will be conducted via speakerphone. So how do speakerphone interviews work, and how can lawyers prepare for them?

For a speakerphone interview, a cameraperson (and sometimes an audio technician) will record your on-camera responses, but the reporter won't be there in person. Instead, the reporter (or a producer) will ask you questions via speakerphone, so he or she doesn't even have to leave the office.

A recent ethics opinion out of Texas has drawn a lot of scrutiny over its ban on managerial titles for nonlawyers (e.g., Chief Technical Officer) in firms -- indeed, we had a lot of fun coming up with alternative titles for CTOs -- but the opinion also pointed out another area where firms can get into trouble with nonlawyer ownership and management prohibitions: bonus structures.

Contingent bonuses are target of the opinion, and if your firm bases bonus on revenue, you might want to reconsider.

Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.

Court appointed work is rarely lucrative, but lawyers in Franklin County, Maine were so fed up with the ridiculously low rate in state cases that they agreed to do something about it: go on strike by refusing to take sexual assault cases until the rate was raised from $50 an hour to $70 or more.

Unfortunately, the strike failed for two predictable reasons: the court found attorneys willing to undercut their fellow members of the bar and there weren't that many cases to begin with -- the Morning Sentinel found only two.

You had to know this was coming eventually -- Walmart selling legal services. Fortunately for us, the company's first forays into firms in supermarkets is happening north of the border, in Ontario, Canada. (H/T to Solo Practice University.) But expansion into the United States can't be too far behind.

Why? Take a legal system that prices services out of the reach of middle and low income individuals, add in favorable rulings for legal services providers (like LegalZoom) that aren't exactly law firms, toss in tens of thousands of unemployed lawyers, and you have an unserved market, a tempting business model, a cheap labor supply, and a distribution network already in place.

Starting Out in Criminal Defense? Here Are Some Mistakes to Avoid

You'd think that for $100,000 dollars or so, law schools would teach you everything you need to know to hang out your shingle and start out in criminal defense, but it just ain't so. Hopefully you've got good mentors, good practice guides and good malpractice insurance.

In case you have all of the above but could use a few more tips, here are a few criminal law "gotchas" you'll want to avoid.

Some call it a race to the bottom.

Some say that you're a lawyer, and you deserve to be paid $300 to $500 an hour.

Alright, but what percentage of the population can afford to pay such a rate? And can you afford to charge less, while still making a living and paying off your student loans?

What's the sweet spot?