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

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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 10:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:(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.


Ups and downs in hours actually sounds a lot better (and more manageable) than consistent high workload. Working 9 to 7 on most days, with a full week of 9 am to 2 am thrown in every four weeks sounds much better than working 9 to 10 every day.

(Disclaimer: I haven't actually worked on this kind of schedule yet.)

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

Postby LurkerNoMore » Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:23 am

NewHere wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:(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.


Ups and downs in hours actually sounds a lot better (and more manageable) than consistent high workload. Working 9 to 7 on most days, with a full week of 9 am to 2 am thrown in every four weeks sounds much better than working 9 to 10 every day.

(Disclaimer: I haven't actually worked on this kind of schedule yet.)


Yes and no. The problem with up and down schedules is that it becomes very hard to enjoy the lighter loads. When you are scraping to bill 4 or 5 hours a day for a week or two or more, you start worrying about what it's going to do for your yearly hours. You start worrying where the next project is going to come from and there is stress involved in going around and piecemealing enough projects together until the sustainable work does come in. Then the big project comes in and you are crushed and fatigue sets in.

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

Postby paratactical » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:13 am

I had a 2000 hour year followed by a 2300 hour year as a paralegal. The former wasn't very difficult but the later was fucking awful. And don't forget that even if the requirement for billables is 1900, you damn well better be over 2k if you don't want to be the first person in line if they need to trim the fat.

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

Postby BobSacamano » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:23 am

Anonymous User wrote:(1) There are some people on partnership track who push 2800 billable hours

:shock:

I realize that these people exist but they are not doing this whole "life" thing correctly.

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

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:25 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 works past 8 and 9pm. I wouldn't classify any of them as sweatshops.

Then your place must have an exceptionally high billing requirement and that's assuming that your guys don't work at home or on the weekend. 9-10 hours billed every day with regularity?

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

Postby DoubleChecks » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:31 am

Kohinoor wrote:
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 works past 8 and 9pm. I wouldn't classify any of them as sweatshops.

Then your place must have an exceptionally high billing requirement and that's assuming that your guys don't work at home or on the weekend. 9-10 hours billed every day with regularity?


i thought hours worked != billable hours, as much as i wished it did

isnt that roughly 10 hours billed out of 12 hours worked? that sounds pretty good
Last edited by DoubleChecks on Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:33 am

NYAssociate wrote:PSA:

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

When you're eating lunch/dinner/drinking coffee do you typically take some reading material and keep billing?

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

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:34 am

DoubleChecks wrote:
i thought hours worked != billable hours, as much as i wished it did

isnt that roughly 10 hours billed out of 12 hours worked? that sounds pretty good

10 hours billed out of 12 worked sounds about right or even a little conservative.

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

Postby DoubleChecks » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:46 am

Kohinoor wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:
i thought hours worked != billable hours, as much as i wished it did

isnt that roughly 10 hours billed out of 12 hours worked? that sounds pretty good

10 hours billed out of 12 worked sounds about right or even a little conservative.


really? that doesnt sound that bad though...it would mean roughly 2400 hrs worked for 2000 billable hours, which translates to about (assuming 2 weeks vacation) 48 hr work weeks. almost sounds like a normal job lol (ignoring unpredictability in hours)

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

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:14 pm

85% efficiency is tremendously too high for a junior associate, unless you're doing straight doc review.

-

This shouldn't be that difficult to visualize:

2200 evenly distributed comes out to 42.3 billable per week over 52 weeks, somewhere between 53 and 56 hours at work with a credible efficiency ratio. Note that this is no vacation, no holidays. Any non-billlable time that would screw up the march is reclaimed out of the weekends. Most people wouldn't consider this enjoyable. Of course, it doesn't really work like that because you, an associate, do not control your work flow. The partners and the clients do. That is where law becomes very different from most office jobs and where all the horror stories really come from. They're not made up.

While that also means that periods can be slow, "slow" has become increasingly dreaded the last few years because "slow" means "we can do this with less associates, stop paying some of them."

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:29 pm

ScaredWorkedBored wrote:85% efficiency is tremendously too high for a junior associate, unless you're doing straight doc review.

-

This shouldn't be that difficult to visualize:

2200 evenly distributed comes out to 42.3 billable per week over 52 weeks, somewhere between 53 and 56 hours at work with a credible efficiency ratio. Note that this is no vacation, no holidays. Any non-billlable time that would screw up the march is reclaimed out of the weekends. Most people wouldn't consider this enjoyable. Of course, it doesn't really work like that because you, an associate, do not control your work flow. The partners and the clients do. That is where law becomes very different from most office jobs and where all the horror stories really come from. They're not made up.

While that also means that periods can be slow, "slow" has become increasingly dreaded the last few years because "slow" means "we can do this with less associates, stop paying some of them."


This. I'm a first year associate doing doc review type stuff (not exactly first-level doc review, but close enough) and it's hard to bill over 80%. Time spent accounting for your time can easily account for 20 minutes a day. My firm asks junior associates to shoot for 200 hours a month. Do the math. Right now, I don't buy any firm's "lifestyle" recruiting bullshit. ITE, firms are very thinly staffed and they know there aren't a lot of options for juniors right now so they're going to extract every possible dollar out of them. And why wouldn't they? Because of the possible recruiting hit? With the economy the way it is, anybody thinking they're going to get paid 160k for 1800 billable hours is out of their fucking mind.

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

Postby underdawg » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:85% efficiency is tremendously too high for a junior associate, unless you're doing straight doc review.

-

This shouldn't be that difficult to visualize:

2200 evenly distributed comes out to 42.3 billable per week over 52 weeks, somewhere between 53 and 56 hours at work with a credible efficiency ratio. Note that this is no vacation, no holidays. Any non-billlable time that would screw up the march is reclaimed out of the weekends. Most people wouldn't consider this enjoyable. Of course, it doesn't really work like that because you, an associate, do not control your work flow. The partners and the clients do. That is where law becomes very different from most office jobs and where all the horror stories really come from. They're not made up.

While that also means that periods can be slow, "slow" has become increasingly dreaded the last few years because "slow" means "we can do this with less associates, stop paying some of them."


This. I'm a first year associate doing doc review type stuff (not exactly first-level doc review, but close enough) and it's hard to bill over 80%. Time spent accounting for your time can easily account for 20 minutes a day. My firm asks junior associates to shoot for 200 hours a month. Do the math. Right now, I don't buy any firm's "lifestyle" recruiting bullshit. ITE, firms are very thinly staffed and they know there aren't a lot of options for juniors right now so they're going to extract every possible dollar out of them. And why wouldn't they? Because of the possible recruiting hit? With the economy the way it is, anybody thinking they're going to get paid 160k for 1800 billable hours is out of their fucking mind.

what is the other 20% spent doing? meetings and stuff?

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

Postby underdawg » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:33 pm

NYAssociate wrote:PSA:

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

psa: we care about our hours counting for us, not whether the money is coming out of the clients' pockets. some non-billable stuff counts towards minimums, so yeah

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:37 pm

underdawg wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:85% efficiency is tremendously too high for a junior associate, unless you're doing straight doc review.

-

This shouldn't be that difficult to visualize:

2200 evenly distributed comes out to 42.3 billable per week over 52 weeks, somewhere between 53 and 56 hours at work with a credible efficiency ratio. Note that this is no vacation, no holidays. Any non-billlable time that would screw up the march is reclaimed out of the weekends. Most people wouldn't consider this enjoyable. Of course, it doesn't really work like that because you, an associate, do not control your work flow. The partners and the clients do. That is where law becomes very different from most office jobs and where all the horror stories really come from. They're not made up.

While that also means that periods can be slow, "slow" has become increasingly dreaded the last few years because "slow" means "we can do this with less associates, stop paying some of them."


This. I'm a first year associate doing doc review type stuff (not exactly first-level doc review, but close enough) and it's hard to bill over 80%. Time spent accounting for your time can easily account for 20 minutes a day. My firm asks junior associates to shoot for 200 hours a month. Do the math. Right now, I don't buy any firm's "lifestyle" recruiting bullshit. ITE, firms are very thinly staffed and they know there aren't a lot of options for juniors right now so they're going to extract every possible dollar out of them. And why wouldn't they? Because of the possible recruiting hit? With the economy the way it is, anybody thinking they're going to get paid 160k for 1800 billable hours is out of their fucking mind.

what is the other 20% spent doing? meetings and stuff?


Checking emails, going to get lunch (I eat at my desk, but even going to get something can take 20-30 minutes), entering in time (which takes longer than you'd think), ordering office supplies, waiting around to get my next assignment while the partner does whatever it is they do, random administration stuff. Even getting caught in the hallway for 10 minutes while somebody wants to talk football is infuriating but it's totally unavoidable. Those .1's add up.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
underdawg wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:85% efficiency is tremendously too high for a junior associate, unless you're doing straight doc review.

-

This shouldn't be that difficult to visualize:

2200 evenly distributed comes out to 42.3 billable per week over 52 weeks, somewhere between 53 and 56 hours at work with a credible efficiency ratio. Note that this is no vacation, no holidays. Any non-billlable time that would screw up the march is reclaimed out of the weekends. Most people wouldn't consider this enjoyable. Of course, it doesn't really work like that because you, an associate, do not control your work flow. The partners and the clients do. That is where law becomes very different from most office jobs and where all the horror stories really come from. They're not made up.

While that also means that periods can be slow, "slow" has become increasingly dreaded the last few years because "slow" means "we can do this with less associates, stop paying some of them."


This. I'm a first year associate doing doc review type stuff (not exactly first-level doc review, but close enough) and it's hard to bill over 80%. Time spent accounting for your time can easily account for 20 minutes a day. My firm asks junior associates to shoot for 200 hours a month. Do the math. Right now, I don't buy any firm's "lifestyle" recruiting bullshit. ITE, firms are very thinly staffed and they know there aren't a lot of options for juniors right now so they're going to extract every possible dollar out of them. And why wouldn't they? Because of the possible recruiting hit? With the economy the way it is, anybody thinking they're going to get paid 160k for 1800 billable hours is out of their fucking mind.

what is the other 20% spent doing? meetings and stuff?


Checking emails, going to get lunch (I eat at my desk, but even going to get something can take 20-30 minutes), entering in time (which takes longer than you'd think), ordering office supplies, waiting around to get my next assignment while the partner does whatever it is they do, random administration stuff. Even getting caught in the hallway for 10 minutes while somebody wants to talk football is infuriating but it's totally unavoidable. Those .1's add up.
Your mistake might be that you take a break from billing when doing things like checking emails. Those .1's do add up.

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

Postby DoubleChecks » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
underdawg wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:85% efficiency is tremendously too high for a junior associate, unless you're doing straight doc review.

-

This shouldn't be that difficult to visualize:

2200 evenly distributed comes out to 42.3 billable per week over 52 weeks, somewhere between 53 and 56 hours at work with a credible efficiency ratio. Note that this is no vacation, no holidays. Any non-billlable time that would screw up the march is reclaimed out of the weekends. Most people wouldn't consider this enjoyable. Of course, it doesn't really work like that because you, an associate, do not control your work flow. The partners and the clients do. That is where law becomes very different from most office jobs and where all the horror stories really come from. They're not made up.

While that also means that periods can be slow, "slow" has become increasingly dreaded the last few years because "slow" means "we can do this with less associates, stop paying some of them."


This. I'm a first year associate doing doc review type stuff (not exactly first-level doc review, but close enough) and it's hard to bill over 80%. Time spent accounting for your time can easily account for 20 minutes a day. My firm asks junior associates to shoot for 200 hours a month. Do the math. Right now, I don't buy any firm's "lifestyle" recruiting bullshit. ITE, firms are very thinly staffed and they know there aren't a lot of options for juniors right now so they're going to extract every possible dollar out of them. And why wouldn't they? Because of the possible recruiting hit? With the economy the way it is, anybody thinking they're going to get paid 160k for 1800 billable hours is out of their fucking mind.

what is the other 20% spent doing? meetings and stuff?


Checking emails, going to get lunch (I eat at my desk, but even going to get something can take 20-30 minutes), entering in time (which takes longer than you'd think), ordering office supplies, waiting around to get my next assignment while the partner does whatever it is they do, random administration stuff. Even getting caught in the hallway for 10 minutes while somebody wants to talk football is infuriating but it's totally unavoidable. Those .1's add up.


that sounds like a sad existence, when talking football a few minutes in the halls with a colleague is relegated to "infuriating" status because you want to keep up with the billable hours :(

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:43 pm

underdawg wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:This. I'm a first year associate doing doc review type stuff (not exactly first-level doc review, but close enough) and it's hard to bill over 80%. Time spent accounting for your time can easily account for 20 minutes a day. My firm asks junior associates to shoot for 200 hours a month. Do the math. Right now, I don't buy any firm's "lifestyle" recruiting bullshit. ITE, firms are very thinly staffed and they know there aren't a lot of options for juniors right now so they're going to extract every possible dollar out of them. And why wouldn't they? Because of the possible recruiting hit? With the economy the way it is, anybody thinking they're going to get paid 160k for 1800 billable hours is out of their fucking mind.

what is the other 20% spent doing? meetings and stuff?

From what I saw at my firm over the summer: meetings, interviewing applicants or taking summers out to lunch, answering the occasional random question from a colleague or summer, checking and answering email (maybe other people are more chill about this, but I am careful to make sure my emails don't have any typos, grammar, spelling errors even if the topic is something totally non-legal like a firm softball game), firm-wide community service events (that younger associates are expected to participate in and often to organize), occasionally organizing your office and desk, personal calls and errands that must be completed during business hours, CLE-related stuff, and a certain minimal amount of lunching and socializing with people.

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

Postby NYAssociate » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:49 pm

.
Last edited by NYAssociate on Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:00 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 12:50 pm

But balancing all of the random shit you have to do, you also have HOURS PADDING going the other way.


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

Postby beachbum » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:02 pm

DoubleChecks wrote:that sounds like a sad existence, when talking football a few minutes in the halls with a colleague is relegated to "infuriating" status because you want to keep up with the billable hours :(


+1. And for many top law students, this is a best-case scenario.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:04 pm

anyone know what its like in litigation at paul weiss?

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:41 pm

NYAssociate wrote:Shouldn't your secretary do your time?


The time it would take to tell my secretary to do my time would equal or surpass what it takes to do it myself. Most of the work is in the narratives, not clicking around the little screen.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:45 pm

beachbum wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:that sounds like a sad existence, when talking football a few minutes in the halls with a colleague is relegated to "infuriating" status because you want to keep up with the billable hours :(


+1. And for many top law students, this is a best-case scenario.


not going to lie -- it blows. Not having a job seems far worse though.

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

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
NYAssociate wrote:Shouldn't your secretary do your time?


The time it would take to tell my secretary to do my time would equal or surpass what it takes to do it myself. Most of the work is in the narratives, not clicking around the little screen.

Why not get a tape recorder and do quick dictations of your billables then have her transcribe at end of week?




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