Big Law Billables

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legalease9
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Big Law Billables

Postby legalease9 » Sat Apr 24, 2010 9:54 pm

Does anyone have information about average Billable hours by region? For example I know that Midwest and PacNW are typically lower than New York.

Renzo
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Renzo » Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:27 pm

legalease9 wrote:Does anyone have information about average Billable hours by region? For example I know that Midwest and PacNW are typically lower than New York.

There is going to be far more variation by firm than by region. I'd search NALP by state, and page through the firms to see what minimums firms in the area expect.

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:09 am

Depends what you mean by Midwest. If you mean Chicago loop Vault firm, you're ordinarily looking at 2000+ billibles, which is in-line with most of New York.

maluminse
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby maluminse » Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:03 pm

NALP is a good reference. From my experience in the Pacific NW most firms set the bar at around 1800.

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A'nold
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby A'nold » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:40 pm

maluminse wrote:NALP is a good reference. From my experience in the Pacific NW most firms set the bar at around 1800.


What are you looking at as far as hours per week w/ 1800 billable hours?

Renzo
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Renzo » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:00 pm

A'nold wrote:
maluminse wrote:NALP is a good reference. From my experience in the Pacific NW most firms set the bar at around 1800.


What are you looking at as far as hours per week w/ 1800 billable hours?

It depends, but I think if you assume 2/3 of your work time will be billable, that's a reasonable estimate.

RSN_M3
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby RSN_M3 » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:06 pm

I've worked at 2 biglaw firms after college.

1900 is about average for billable hours at both. That's not enough to make partner though.

Hell, I'm on pace to bill 1500 hours this year and I'm only a clerk.

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A'nold
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby A'nold » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:29 pm

RSN_M3 wrote:I've worked at 2 biglaw firms after college.

1900 is about average for billable hours at both. That's not enough to make partner though.

Hell, I'm on pace to bill 1500 hours this year and I'm only a clerk.


That's another question. So, if you don't have an interest in making partner, do you risk being fired or something if you are a low billables associate?

Also, does anyone know what 1,800 billable hours = ?

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presh
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby presh » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:36 pm

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Last edited by presh on Sun Dec 27, 2015 2:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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A'nold
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby A'nold » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:39 pm

presh wrote:
A'nold wrote:
RSN_M3 wrote:I've worked at 2 biglaw firms after college.

1900 is about average for billable hours at both. That's not enough to make partner though.

Hell, I'm on pace to bill 1500 hours this year and I'm only a clerk.


That's another question. So, if you don't have an interest in making partner, do you risk being fired or something if you are a low billables associate?

Also, does anyone know what 1,800 billable hours = ?


Well if you take 2 weeks for vacation, that works out to 36 billable hours a week. If 2/3 of your time is billable on average, you would need to work 54 hours a week to meet that 36. So I'm guessing you're looking at around a 60 hour work week (rounding up to include extra time off/slow weeks/sick days/etc).


So 12 hour days on average then? Does anyone know if this includes any time you spend at home working? Just trying to figure out the logistics if I possibly get one of these jobs in the Seattle area. Highly unlikely and I might not even want it, but still, that is my target market.

Renzo
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Renzo » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:40 pm

A'nold wrote:So 12 hour days on average then? Does anyone know if this includes any time you spend at home working? Just trying to figure out the logistics if I possibly get one of these jobs in the Seattle area. Highly unlikely and I might not even want it, but still, that is my target market.


If you do billable stuff from home, that counts as billable. Whether the firm encourages this or expects you to make "face-time" is another matter entirely.

Edit: I'd add (not to discourage you) that a lot of the complaints about biglaw hours aren't actually about the hours, but about the lack of control you have over your schedule. 55-60 hrs a week isn't that outrageous. It's things like a partner walking by your office at 5pm and dropping off a fuckton of work to be done by morning on a night when you had concert tickets.

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A'nold
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby A'nold » Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:04 pm

Renzo wrote:
A'nold wrote:So 12 hour days on average then? Does anyone know if this includes any time you spend at home working? Just trying to figure out the logistics if I possibly get one of these jobs in the Seattle area. Highly unlikely and I might not even want it, but still, that is my target market.


If you do billable stuff from home, that counts as billable. Whether the firm encourages this or expects you to make "face-time" is another matter entirely.

Edit: I'd add (not to discourage you) that a lot of the complaints about biglaw hours aren't actually about the hours, but about the lack of control you have over your schedule. 55-60 hrs a week isn't that outrageous. It's things like a partner walking by your office at 5pm and dropping off a fuckton of work to be done by morning on a night when you had concert tickets.


Yeah, that'd suck but what if you took that crap home w/ you when you leave for the night and bring it back all fancy in the morning? I feel like I spend a lot of time w/ my family even though I am usually doing something law related whenever I'm around my wife and baby. It just feels different than being gone 14 hours a day or something similar. The 12 or 14 hour days wouldn't really kill me at all as long as like 2-4 of them could be spent at home.

swester
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby swester » Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:17 pm

A'nold wrote:
Renzo wrote:
A'nold wrote:So 12 hour days on average then? Does anyone know if this includes any time you spend at home working? Just trying to figure out the logistics if I possibly get one of these jobs in the Seattle area. Highly unlikely and I might not even want it, but still, that is my target market.


If you do billable stuff from home, that counts as billable. Whether the firm encourages this or expects you to make "face-time" is another matter entirely.

Edit: I'd add (not to discourage you) that a lot of the complaints about biglaw hours aren't actually about the hours, but about the lack of control you have over your schedule. 55-60 hrs a week isn't that outrageous. It's things like a partner walking by your office at 5pm and dropping off a fuckton of work to be done by morning on a night when you had concert tickets.


Yeah, that'd suck but what if you took that crap home w/ you when you leave for the night and bring it back all fancy in the morning? I feel like I spend a lot of time w/ my family even though I am usually doing something law related whenever I'm around my wife and baby. It just feels different than being gone 14 hours a day or something similar. The 12 or 14 hour days wouldn't really kill me at all as long as like 2-4 of them could be spent at home.


I have a friend who works in international contract and arbitration work, he put in 300 billable hours in February and 280 in March. Didn't take a single day off in Feb. (obviously), took off 2 days in March, and slept in the office more than a few times. Oh, and he recently found out he isn't on the partner track. Isn't that exciting?

It's for these reasons people work for the government. Sanity, life, free time, etc.

Posner
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Posner » Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:33 pm

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Last edited by Posner on Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Renzo
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Renzo » Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:42 pm

Posner wrote:
swester wrote:I have a friend who works in international contract and arbitration work, he put in 300 billable hours in February and 280 in March. Didn't take a single day off in Feb. (obviously), took off 2 days in March, and slept in the office more than a few times. Oh, and he recently found out he isn't on the partner track. Isn't that exciting?

It's for these reasons people work for the government. Sanity, life, free time, etc.

I think this is atypical if you are implying he bills close to 3000+hours. He must either have personality flaws (at least as far as the firm is concerned) or works for a firm/group where you need to bring in business to make partner and isn't.

In the major markets with which I'm familiar (non-NYC), top performers aren't typically billing 3000 hours. 2200-2400 is more typical of the high end (even during the boom). Of course, this is purely anecdotal from people I've encountered.

It's also possible that it was a limited-time engagement, before and after which there was some considerable sitting around. Deal work can be cyclical that way--nothing, then panic, then nothing.

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TTT-LS
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby TTT-LS » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:23 am

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ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:37 am

I think this is atypical if you are implying he bills close to 3000+hours. He must either have personality flaws (at least as far as the firm is concerned) or works for a firm/group where you need to bring in business to make partner and isn't.


I have a friend who works in international contract and arbitration work


If something needs to get done, the attorney says "how high" on the way up. You've also got an ethical obligation to meet the client's crazy deadline; not making something like, oh, a TRO response filing is going to get you sued for malpractice and you personally disciplined by the bar.

Posner
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Posner » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:35 pm

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Last edited by Posner on Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:31 pm

It's not normal for anyone to actually hit 3600 billable hours for a year.

In terms of being worked insanely hard and not being "partner track" - that's a hell of a lot more common, especially at firms that either generally or currently are extremely stingy with making internal partners.

Kochel
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Kochel » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:34 pm

ScaredWorkedBored wrote:It's not normal for anyone to actually hit 3600 billable hours for a year.

In terms of being worked insanely hard and not being "partner track" - that's a hell of a lot more common, especially at firms that either generally or currently are extremely stingy with making internal partners.


Yes. You can find yourself billing 2400 for several consecutive years and still get dumped by the firm. And even 2400 counts in my book as being worked "insanely hard." I've done it--it sucked, and that was even before I was married, had kids, etc.

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A'nold
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby A'nold » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:44 pm

So...what is this whole "bring in business" thing. I've always just kind of skipped over statments about that but now I'm interested. What, are you a salesman of sorts?

swester
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby swester » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:07 pm

Posner wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:
I think this is atypical if you are implying he bills close to 3000+hours. He must either have personality flaws (at least as far as the firm is concerned) or works for a firm/group where you need to bring in business to make partner and isn't.


I have a friend who works in international contract and arbitration work


If something needs to get done, the attorney says "how high" on the way up. You've also got an ethical obligation to meet the client's crazy deadline; not making something like, oh, a TRO response filing is going to get you sued for malpractice and you personally disciplined by the bar.

You missed my point. It is not typical to bill 280 or 300 hours a month and not be on partner track unless you have personality flaws, or you cannot bring in business and are required to do so.

There may be months when you bill 280 or 300 hours, but it is unlikely you will do this every month and not be on partner track. I merely wanted to clarify this point, because an uninformed reader could take the post that I quoted to mean that you will need to bill more than 280 or 300 hours per month in order to be on partner track.


"Personality Flaws?" Care to elaborate? I'd like to see you be the guy who tells your senior associate or partner that you'd rather not work over the weekend or past 6 because you heard the average yearly billable hour rate was only 1900.

And I didn't say my friend works 300 hours every month. He'll admit that the recent deal he had to work on was more time-consuming than usual. That being said, there's a reason depression and anxiety rates are high among lawyers. Alcohol and coffee are perhaps a Biglaw lawyer's best friends those first few years, at least in the big cities, where competition is high.

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TTT-LS
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby TTT-LS » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:09 pm

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Anonymous Loser
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Anonymous Loser » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:11 pm

A'nold wrote:So...what is this whole "bring in business" thing. I've always just kind of skipped over statments about that but now I'm interested. What, are you a salesman of sorts?


Surely you realize that firms are dependent on clients by this point in your legal career. Where did you think they were coming from?

icydash
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby icydash » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:14 pm

I was wondering which is more important in terms of being on a partnership track: bringing in clients or billable hours? Is there some magic combination of the two? Obviously both are important, but if I (for instance) bring in 4 new clients a year, is it okay for me to bill fewer hours (say 1800 hrs instead of 2100)? etc.

edited: clarity.




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