Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

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Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:44 am

We all know (or should know) that biglaw firms work you to death. But what the hell does that mean in terms of hours?

Does it mean you're working from 7am-10pm every day? 1am? 4am? 24hrs?

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:57 am

I was under the impression that you finish that day's work and any work you foresee that needs to be done in the next few days...as long as it is quality output.

Basically, your day does not end at 5 PM, ie. it is not determined by the hour, but by the quality and foresight.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

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ResolutePear
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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby ResolutePear » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:12 am

I've heard once you start pushing 2200 billables.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:38 am

Ok, day does not end at 5pm. Got it. Check.

But I imagine biglaw attorneys do sleep once in a while, so if we define "day ending" as the point at which an attorney falls asleep for a period lasting longer than three hours, then when does a biglaw lawyer's day end typically?

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ResolutePear
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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby ResolutePear » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:39 am

2200 billable hours.

Mal
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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Mal » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:Ok, day does not end at 5pm. Got it. Check.

But I imagine biglaw attorneys do sleep once in a while, so if we define "day ending" as the point at which an attorney falls asleep for a period lasting longer than three hours, then when does a biglaw lawyer's day end typically?


Let's ask Yale CDO!

http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/C ... e_hour.pdf

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:We all know (or should know) that biglaw firms work you to death. But what the hell does that mean in terms of hours?

Does it mean you're working from 7am-10pm every day? 1am? 4am? 24hrs?

It totally depends on your personality.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby bwv812 » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:52 am

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Last edited by bwv812 on Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:Ok, day does not end at 5pm. Got it. Check.

But I imagine biglaw attorneys do sleep once in a while, so if we define "day ending" as the point at which an attorney falls asleep for a period lasting longer than three hours, then when does a biglaw lawyer's day end typically?

Very few shops keep you in the office past 8-9 with any regularity. Those that do are often know for it.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:53 am

bwv812 wrote:
Mal wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Ok, day does not end at 5pm. Got it. Check.

But I imagine biglaw attorneys do sleep once in a while, so if we define "day ending" as the point at which an attorney falls asleep for a period lasting longer than three hours, then when does a biglaw lawyer's day end typically?


Let's ask Yale CDO!

http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/C ... e_hour.pdf

Note that the minimum billable target in NYC is more like 2000 hours, though if you're lucky it might be 1950 or possibly even 1900. I believe the Yale document also underestimates the amount of non-billable time spent in the office, especially in your first year.

The Yale document hilariously overestimates the amount of non-billable time spent in the office.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:59 am

Kohinoor wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Ok, day does not end at 5pm. Got it. Check.

But I imagine biglaw attorneys do sleep once in a while, so if we define "day ending" as the point at which an attorney falls asleep for a period lasting longer than three hours, then when does a biglaw lawyer's day end typically?

Very few shops keep you in the office past 8-9 with any regularity. Those that do are often know for it.


Which ones come to mind?

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby bwv812 » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:01 am

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Last edited by bwv812 on Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:07 am

bwv812 wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:
bwv812 wrote:Note that the minimum billable target in NYC is more like 2000 hours, though if you're lucky it might be 1950 or possibly even 1900. I believe the Yale document also underestimates the amount of non-billable time spent in the office, especially in your first year.

The Yale document hilariously overestimates the amount of non-billable time spent in the office.

Well, they make it sound like every minute you're not at lunch/dinner, on a coffee break, or doing CLE is billable.

The reality is that lunch/dinner/coffee/bathroom breaks are also typically billable.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby BendAndSnap » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Ok, day does not end at 5pm. Got it. Check.

But I imagine biglaw attorneys do sleep once in a while, so if we define "day ending" as the point at which an attorney falls asleep for a period lasting longer than three hours, then when does a biglaw lawyer's day end typically?

Very few shops keep you in the office past 8-9 with any regularity. Those that do are often know for it.


Which ones come to mind?


skadden, wachtell, sullcrom

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:16 am

BendAndSnap wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Ok, day does not end at 5pm. Got it. Check.

But I imagine biglaw attorneys do sleep once in a while, so if we define "day ending" as the point at which an attorney falls asleep for a period lasting longer than three hours, then when does a biglaw lawyer's day end typically?

Very few shops keep you in the office past 8-9 with any regularity. Those that do are often know for it.


Which ones come to mind?


skadden, wachtell, sullcrom


cravath?

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BendAndSnap
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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby BendAndSnap » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:16 am

ah yes, duh silly me

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NewHere
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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby NewHere » Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:25 am

The calculator linked to by Yale is pretty handy.

Yale's calculation involving 1 hour for lunch seems excessive, since if you're busy you'll eat your lunch at your desk. And why, in the 2200 hours example, do they estimate that you take an hour a day twice (for lunch and dinner) and four coffee breaks?

On the other hand, I think the example underestimates how much time you lose on the occasional private (unbillable) e-mail or phone call, short chats with your office mate, etc.

The calculator allows you to estimate these things for yourself.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:19 am

Kohinoor wrote:
bwv812 wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:
bwv812 wrote:Note that the minimum billable target in NYC is more like 2000 hours, though if you're lucky it might be 1950 or possibly even 1900. I believe the Yale document also underestimates the amount of non-billable time spent in the office, especially in your first year.

The Yale document hilariously overestimates the amount of non-billable time spent in the office.

Well, they make it sound like every minute you're not at lunch/dinner, on a coffee break, or doing CLE is billable.

The reality is that lunch/dinner/coffee/bathroom breaks are also typically billable.


This. When Juniors took us to lunch this summer, they were all billing the time. Anything that the firm is asking you to do can be billed. Where you lose billable time is in the the things that you yourself choose to do during the course of the day. But things like firm lunches, meetings, presentations--that's all billable from what I saw.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby NewHere » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:This. When Juniors took us to lunch this summer, they were all billing the time. Anything that the firm is asking you to do can be billed. Where you lose billable time is in the the things that you yourself choose to do during the course of the day. But things like firm lunches, meetings, presentations--that's all billable from what I saw.


I think that depends on the firm. Some firms require associates to bill this under something like 'development' or 'non-billable firm work' or some such designation. (Along with departmental meetings, CLE, interviewing candidates, etc.) While it's probably better than counting it as downtime, it does not count towards a (formal or informal) hours requirement. (Other firms may do it differently.)

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:34 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:
bwv812 wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:The Yale document hilariously overestimates the amount of non-billable time spent in the office.

Well, they make it sound like every minute you're not at lunch/dinner, on a coffee break, or doing CLE is billable.

The reality is that lunch/dinner/coffee/bathroom breaks are also typically billable.


This. When Juniors took us to lunch this summer, they were all billing the time. Anything that the firm is asking you to do can be billed. Where you lose billable time is in the the things that you yourself choose to do during the course of the day. But things like firm lunches, meetings, presentations--that's all billable from what I saw.
This may be true some or even most places, but definitely not true everywhere. At my firm, there are billing codes for those types of things and associates can use them for their own informational purposes, but I was told that those hours do not count towards the billing expectations.

Also, based on my experience, the Yale document does not overestimate the non-billable time spent in office, much less "hilariously" overestimate. YMMV.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby PKSebben » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:44 am

Kohinoor wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Ok, day does not end at 5pm. Got it. Check.

But I imagine biglaw attorneys do sleep once in a while, so if we define "day ending" as the point at which an attorney falls asleep for a period lasting longer than three hours, then when does a biglaw lawyer's day end typically?

Very few shops keep you in the office past 8-9 with any regularity. Those that do are often know for it.


This is not true. In NY, at my firm and my friends' firms, everyone REGULARLY works past 8 and 9pm. I wouldn't classify any of them as sweatshops.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby NYAssociate » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:46 am

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Last edited by NYAssociate on Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:51 am

PKSebben wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Ok, day does not end at 5pm. Got it. Check.

But I imagine biglaw attorneys do sleep once in a while, so if we define "day ending" as the point at which an attorney falls asleep for a period lasting longer than three hours, then when does a biglaw lawyer's day end typically?

Very few shops keep you in the office past 8-9 with any regularity. Those that do are often know for it.


This is not true. In NY, at my firm and my friends' firms, everyone REGULARLY work past 8 and 9pm. I wouldn't classify any of them as sweatshops.

I'd add that people should be careful not to confuse "time when most lawyers leave the office" with "time most lawyers stop working." At my firm (not in NY), there wasn't a lot of emphasis on face time and it wasn't common for people to be at the office past 6:30pm or on a weekend, but doing significant amounts of work at home was very common.

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby PKSebben » Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:02 am

NYAssociate wrote:PSA:

Unless your time is actually billed to a client, it's not billable.


tyft

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Re: Firm Hours: What Counts as Being "Worked to Death"?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:11 am

I had an interesting/candid conversation about this with a young associate at a V10 firm while on a callback. I gained a handful of interesting insights.

(1) There are some people on partnership track who push 2800 billable hours, which is close to doing three weeks worth of work in one week. The associate I spoke with said he saw no need to do this much work (he said he was billing around 2100) because he had always been clear with the firm about wanting to eventually leave to do government work. At any rate, I get the impression that many people think associates on 2500 plus track are getting themselves into unsustainable work habits. If you think about the amount of office time this is likely to require, this seems like it should be obvious.

(2) Hours are NOT going to be predictable -- so hour estimate worksheets, while helpful, do not give an accurate picture of what it is like to bill a certain amount of hours. If you are a corporate associate, you may need to come on Saturday and Sunday to close a deal and if you are in litigation, you may need to work until 3am for a couple of days to meet a filing deadline. For some people, it is this lack of a predictable schedule that makes them feel like they are going to be worked to death. Being the the office from 8a-8p for a week seems manageable, until you thrown in a couple of days where you work until 2am against a deadline. If you cannot handle that type of unpredictability, you're not going to make it.

(3) Look at vacation time. Something I have universally heard is that taking a week or two off can be necessary for your sanity. Firms where lawyers never take vacation are not happy places.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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