Public Interest Hours?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
DreamShake
Posts: 366
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:03 pm

Public Interest Hours?

Postby DreamShake » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:53 pm

I've been searching on the forums and google and haven't been able to find any useful info on the work schedules of PI attorneys. I'm hoping that either somebody can point me toward the appropriate data, or that a few people can contribute anecdotally to form a rough picture. I know the hours will vary according to locale, size, prestige, etc., but I'd be thrilled if somebody could shed some light on any combination of these. For example, how many hours in the average (not including hectic times when a trial is approaching and similar overload situations) workweek in a high prestige position like the national ACLU office? How about a regional ACLU office? Positions in smaller locales, like Denver? Thanks in advance for any info you can contribute!

Edit: By PI, I mean non-profit--no government work.
Last edited by DreamShake on Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
D-ROCCA
Posts: 324
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 10:14 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby D-ROCCA » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:03 am

Obviously it varies. Most aren't more that 55 hours a week I'd say, but as a lawyer there are always going to be some crazy weeks where you're at the office all the time. I'd say government lawyers usually have it best-pay isn't great, but generally low stress and 40 hour weeks are legit.

DreamShake
Posts: 366
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:03 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby DreamShake » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:10 am

Sorry, I should have been more explicit--by public interest, I mean non-profits. No government positions. Will edit OP to reflect this.

Also--do you have a direct source for the 55 hrs/wk ballpark (classmate/friend/prof?) or is it more word-of-mouth, common perception? Thanks for the input!

User avatar
D-ROCCA
Posts: 324
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 10:14 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby D-ROCCA » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:15 am

Fair enough. I'm not at all the most knowledgeable person on this forum about this topc, I've only worked two internships (one government, one NGO) where I've worked closely with lawyers, and only for a few months at a time, and so I'm basing the 55 hours solely on my extremely limited experiences.

Renzo
Posts: 4265
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 3:23 am

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby Renzo » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:19 am

There's no way to answer this question. Depending on the organization, it could vary anywhere from downright pleasant to crushing.

Figure out what kind of PI you want to do, and you'll be able to figure out what kind of hours people in that field work.

User avatar
Eugenie Danglars
Posts: 2353
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:04 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby Eugenie Danglars » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:23 am

The public interest lawyers I know work a lot- waaay more than 55 hours a week. One (who does PI housing law) joked that she should have done big law and enjoyed the easy workload. It seems that they ended up working so many hours not because the job requires but because they get involved with their clients and want to do everything they can to help. I'm not sure if it's better to be forced to work like a maniac or do it because you want to...

Disclaimer- this is based on the small handful (read:5) PI folks I know, but they're all in different fields.

User avatar
D-ROCCA
Posts: 324
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 10:14 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby D-ROCCA » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:26 am

Eugenie Danglars wrote:The public interest lawyers I know work a lot- waaay more than 55 hours a week.


Really? Man the people I worked for must have had it made. They certainly didn't make a habit of working 6 10-hour days a week, at least not often.

User avatar
Excellence = a Habit
Posts: 1021
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:15 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby Excellence = a Habit » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:28 am

My boss at a DC non-profit was a lobbyist with a JD... I'm not sure whether that falls under the category that you're referring to. He tended to work 9 to 6 or 7, and fairly often put in a few hours on the weekends.

DreamShake
Posts: 366
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:03 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby DreamShake » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:36 am

D-ROCCA wrote:Fair enough. I'm not at all the most knowledgeable person on this forum about this topc, I've only worked two internships (one government, one NGO) where I've worked closely with lawyers, and only for a few months at a time, and so I'm basing the 55 hours solely on my extremely limited experiences.


Sounds legit; thanks for the info. I think reading about biglaw has severely skewed my notion of working hours. My thought process went, "Oh, 55 hours? That's nothing! Sounds gre....wait...55 hours *struggling with math*...that's almost 150% of a normal workweek..."

Renzo wrote:There's no way to answer this question. Depending on the organization, it could vary anywhere from downright pleasant to crushing.

Figure out what kind of PI you want to do, and you'll be able to figure out what kind of hours people in that field work.


It's kind of hard to narrow down. Animal, environmental (I know this isn't as common as it often seems), prisoners' rights, etc...there's a lot I'm interested in. I was hoping that maybe some individuals with experience in various fields would respond and provide a bit of a cross-section, but if that fails I guess I'm going to have to do some grunt work to get a rough handle on each.
Eugenie Danglars wrote:The public interest lawyers I know work a lot- waaay more than 55 hours a week. One (who does PI housing law) joked that she should have done big law and enjoyed the easy workload. It seems that they ended up working so many hours not because the job requires but because they get involved with their clients and want to do everything they can to help. I'm not sure if it's better to be forced to work like a maniac or do it because you want to...

Disclaimer- this is based on the small handful (read:5) PI folks I know, but they're all in different fields.


What fields did they work in? Are they 'at work' 55+ hours a week, or do they often work from home?

DreamShake
Posts: 366
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:03 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby DreamShake » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:37 am

Excellence = a Habit wrote:My boss at a DC non-profit was a lobbyist with a JD... I'm not sure whether that falls under the category that you're referring to. He tended to work 9 to 6 or 7, and fairly often put in a few hours on the weekends.


I actually have very little knowledge about lobbying...generally, what kind of work was he doing? Was he paid roughly the same as a PI attorney?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:40 am

i worked briefly at the aclu national office. as an intern i worked from 10-6, and most of the attorneys were there when i got there and still there when i left. they don't work less than 9-10 hrs/day.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:48 am

I interned at a small ACLU regional office a couple years ago, and it looked like the attorneys were there ~50 hours/week. I think they sometimes continued to work at home, but it was not the norm by any means.

But posters above are correct that it can vary widely. I had some friends working at a nearby death penalty nonprofit who seemed to be working ALL THE TIME.

DreamShake
Posts: 366
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:03 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby DreamShake » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:i worked briefly at the aclu national office. as an intern i worked from 10-6, and most of the attorneys were there when i got there and still there when i left. they don't work less than 9-10 hrs/day.


Thanks for the info, I was really curious about the large/prestigious operations like this...do you know if/how often they worked weekends?

Anonymous User wrote:I interned at a small ACLU regional office a couple years ago, and it looked like the attorneys were there ~50 hours/week. I think they sometimes continued to work at home, but it was not the norm by any means.

But posters above are correct that it can vary widely. I had some friends working at a nearby death penalty nonprofit who seemed to be working ALL THE TIME.

Could you clarify "small" office? Was it small-town, small city, etc.?

User avatar
Eugenie Danglars
Posts: 2353
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:04 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby Eugenie Danglars » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:58 am

DreamShake wrote:
Eugenie Danglars wrote:The public interest lawyers I know work a lot- waaay more than 55 hours a week. One (who does PI housing law) joked that she should have done big law and enjoyed the easy workload. It seems that they ended up working so many hours not because the job requires but because they get involved with their clients and want to do everything they can to help. I'm not sure if it's better to be forced to work like a maniac or do it because you want to...

Disclaimer- this is based on the small handful (read:5) PI folks I know, but they're all in different fields.


What fields did they work in? Are they 'at work' 55+ hours a week, or do they often work from home?


So I wrote a long reply do this but it didn't post for some reason. Short version: various- immigration, refugee services, housing, comprehensive legal services, etc. Mostly they were in the office, especially the immigration lawyers. She was in a two person "firm," and her partner did profit immigration work to pay the bills. She would answer my emails from the office at like three am allll the time.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
i worked briefly at the aclu national office. as an intern i worked from 10-6, and most of the attorneys were there when i got there and still there when i left. they don't work less than 9-10 hrs/day.


Thanks for the info, I was really curious about the large/prestigious operations like this...do you know if/how often they worked weekends?


from what i could tell, attorneys at the aclu basically pick and run their own projects. (it might be different in some of the larger flagship projects--i worked in a smaller group.) so to the extent that people at the aclu are all high achievers who care about what they are doing, there is pressure to do work over the weekend, if that is what is best for your case. as an intern, i really couldn't tell what the management structure was like, i.e. it wasn't apparent to me whether higher-ups expected staff attorneys to put in whatever amount of hours in order to keep their jobs. my sense was that people there worked hard because they wanted to win their cases, not because there was some hours target.

also, just as a related note, many of the attorneys i worked with had families and seemed to care about making the work environment hospitable to family-oriented employees. not just having pictures of their kids on the wall, but actually changing some work norms to accomodate spending time with their kids.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:32 pm

DreamShake wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I interned at a small ACLU regional office a couple years ago, and it looked like the attorneys were there ~50 hours/week. I think they sometimes continued to work at home, but it was not the norm by any means.

But posters above are correct that it can vary widely. I had some friends working at a nearby death penalty nonprofit who seemed to be working ALL THE TIME.

Could you clarify "small" office? Was it small-town, small city, etc.?

City was ~200,000. The office had <4 attorneys and half a dozen non-attorney support staff (including a couple interns).

User avatar
chris0805
Posts: 657
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 3:12 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby chris0805 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:05 pm

I work at legal services non-profit in NY, and I generally put in around 45 (IF nothing pressing is going on), and that's approximately what I put in this week. I worked some 11 hour days for a few days when I had my first trial and another colleague said she was also there until 10 every night for a week when she had her first two trials coming up.

I will say this though, when I stay late, I (at this point at least) still love what I'm doing. When doing PI work, you're probably there because you feel passionate about the issues, and the trials are about interesting issues.

User avatar
Excellence = a Habit
Posts: 1021
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:15 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby Excellence = a Habit » Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:49 am

DreamShake wrote:
Excellence = a Habit wrote:My boss at a DC non-profit was a lobbyist with a JD... I'm not sure whether that falls under the category that you're referring to. He tended to work 9 to 6 or 7, and fairly often put in a few hours on the weekends.


I actually have very little knowledge about lobbying...generally, what kind of work was he doing? Was he paid roughly the same as a PI attorney?


I have no idea what PI attorneys make, but I think my boss made around 80-90K.

DreamShake
Posts: 366
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:03 pm

Re: Public Interest Hours?

Postby DreamShake » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:09 pm

Sweet. Thanks a ton for contributing y'all, this kind of information is exactly what I was looking for. I have no issue with working long hours if I can have a little leniency in scheduling them around my (eventual) kids' soccer games or whatever. Muchas gracias!




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.