Big Law Billables

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Renzo
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Renzo » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:23 pm

icydash wrote: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.

You will not bring in either as an associate, so don't sweat it. Almost no firms (at least that I am aware of) allow a client account to be opened without a partner, and that partner gets the origination credit.

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crazycanuck
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby crazycanuck » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:37 pm

icydash wrote: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.


I would imagine this would depend on a variety of variables that no one here really knows, such as the size of the clients.

At the accounting firm I work at now, one of the "rain making" partners here actually doesn't bill an hour, and his actual knowledge of accounting principles rivals that of a 1st year accounting student taking intro to financial accounting. I've been specifically told that if I have a question, to not go to him, but to go to a different partner, and he doesn't get assigned students to be their mentor. It's all lunches, golf courses, and meetings for him, however he brings in millions of dollars to the firm.

I would imagine this would be extremely stressful since he does not have any real area of expertise to fall back on if business dries up.

icydash
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby icydash » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:53 pm

Renzo wrote:
icydash wrote: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.

You will not bring in either as an associate, so don't sweat it. Almost no firms (at least that I am aware of) allow a client account to be opened without a partner, and that partner gets the origination credit.


I'm sure a partner must open the client, but everyone in the firm is going to know the associate is the one who brought the client to the partner, I would imagine...

maluminse
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby maluminse » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:59 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?


I generally averaged about 6 billable hours for 8.5 hours of being at work. Obviously that went up or down depending on whether I was doing a doc review or just drafting a memo on something. I was more concerned with how much my hours would be cut because I didn't want to give the appearance that I was submitting overly inflated hours to the partners.

Posner
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Posner » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:18 pm

...
Last edited by Posner on Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Renzo
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Renzo » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:20 pm

icydash wrote:
Renzo wrote:
icydash wrote: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.

You will not bring in either as an associate, so don't sweat it. Almost no firms (at least that I am aware of) allow a client account to be opened without a partner, and that partner gets the origination credit.


I'm sure a partner must open the client, but everyone in the firm is going to know the associate is the one who brought the client to the partner, I would imagine...

Why would anyone know or care that a junior associate put a client in touch with a partner (other than that partner), unless it's a whale of a client. In which case, why on earth would that whale of a client be dealing with a junior associate (who knows basically nothing) when deciding where to take their huge legal mess/major acquisition?

Kochel
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Kochel » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:32 pm

Posner wrote:
swester wrote:
Posner wrote: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.

I really don't understand how so many people are misreading or not understanding my posts.

Your first post that I quoted seemed to imply this was an average month (you never said this was atypical). I was simply making the point that you do not need to bill more than the 280 or 300 per month to be on the partner track. I could see how someone who isn't familiar with big law might have read that from your first post and I wanted to clarify.

By personality flaws I meant that if someone is billing 3000+ hours a year and is not on partner track, they must have personality flaws (as in, you must be an awkward guy or a real asshole to not be appreciated for pumping out those hours).


One small quibble with the above: "partner track" is essentially a meaningless notion for junior associates (1-3 years). The fact that a 1st-year associate bills 3000 hours will have little bearing on whether he makes partner 7-9 years later. Only for mid-level and senior associates is "partner track" a real notion.

I do agree that if a hypothetical 6th year associate is allowed to bill 3000 hours in a year, it's because the firm wants him staffed on deals/cases. Barring personality flaws, that associate will be on "partner track."

Also, it bears repeating: there is next to zero possibility that a given associate will ever bill 3000 hours in a year. It's a real rare occurrence. Ironically, partners are more likely to bill at that level.

Anonymous User
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:35 pm

Bringing in clients at all levels is ALWAYS a good thing. I'm surprised people do not understand this. I can say from seeing it first-hand: if you bring in clients on a junior level the partners will take notice. Why would they not appreciate this? It's rare a junior associate can bring in clients so it speaks to your potential salesmanship/rainmaking ability and you are making money for the firm (not to mention building a network).

Do not expect to be able to do it until you are more senior, but if business falls in your lap, you would be foolish to ignore it. The only way you have real job security is a book of portable business.

Renzo
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Re: Big Law Billables

Postby Renzo » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Bringing in clients at all levels is ALWAYS a good thing. I'm surprised people do not understand this. I can say from seeing it first-hand: if you bring in clients on a junior level the partners will take notice. Why would they not appreciate this? It's rare a junior associate can bring in clients so speaks to your potential salesmanship/rainmaking ability and you are making money for the firm.

Do not expect to be able to do it until you are more senior, but if business falls in your lap, you would be foolish to ignore it. The only way you have real job security is a book of portable business.

While I agree that all of the above is true, I think the bolded should be the take-away message.




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