What is the daily schedule for an associate?

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nosaj123
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What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby nosaj123 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:06 pm

Below is what I am imagining a law firm associate's schedule looks like (based on IB friends' schedules), but it seems to be lacking. Can someone, preferably with firm experience, tell me how I can expect my schedule to differ?

7am- wake up/shave/shower/dress
7:30- head to work/ get breakfast on the way
8am- begin working
12- go out to lunch
1 pm- back to work
7pm- dinner (delivery: chinese/fast food/etc.)
7:30- back to work
10:30- head home
11- unwind/get ready for bed
11:30- sleep (7.5 hrs for the night!)

This is a 13 hour day/ 65 hr week. I hear a lot of people on this site saying that they work 80+ hours a week, which, given the above, would require you to work the exact same schedule on Saturday and Sunday as you do during the week. I find it hard to believe that this is actually happening, since it leaves no time for reading, exercising, or socializing, or necessary chores like doing laundry and paying bills.

Do you/ did you have a schedule similar to the above when you worked at a law firm? If not, how did it differ?

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:12 pm

The 7.5 hours of sleep is what's killing you.

irishman86
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby irishman86 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:13 pm

Associates generally work about 9-8 everyday. If there is a transaction that needs to go through, they may work until 11 at their office. If there isn't much going on, they may leave slightly earlier. If there's a trial, associates in litigation may work ALL THE TIME for months in their office and eat meals at the firm.

I think there's time for doing laundry/bills (online banking), but there really is no time for reading (who reads for fun nowadays?), exercising, etc.
Last edited by irishman86 on Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

nosaj123
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby nosaj123 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:16 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:The 7.5 hours of sleep is what's killing you.

So would you say that most people at your firm/ your friends' firms follow the above schedule, but only get about 5 hours of sleep each night?

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:18 pm

nosaj123 wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:The 7.5 hours of sleep is what's killing you.

So would you say that most people at your firm/ your friends' firms follow the above schedule, but only get about 5 hours of sleep each night?


I have no idea, I think the stories of constant 65-80 hour work-weeks are overblown. (65 hours/week for 50 weeks = 3250 hours. That would require a 1/3 write-down to get to 2400 billables - and 2400 is, itself, on the high end of the normal billable hour requirement.)

Are there 65-80+ hour weeks? Absolutely. Are they constant? No.

nosaj123
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby nosaj123 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:25 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote: I think the stories of constant 65-80 hour work-weeks are overblown. (65 hours/week for 50 weeks = 3250 hours. That would require a 1/3 write-down to get to 2400 billables - and 2400 is, itself, on the high end of the normal billable hour requirement.)

Are there 65-80+ hour weeks? Absolutely. Are they constant? No.


I don't want to take the thread too far off topic, but do you know what the normal write-down is? Typical ranges for billable hours?

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:29 pm

nosaj123 wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote: I think the stories of constant 65-80 hour work-weeks are overblown. (65 hours/week for 50 weeks = 3250 hours. That would require a 1/3 write-down to get to 2400 billables - and 2400 is, itself, on the high end of the normal billable hour requirement.)

Are there 65-80+ hour weeks? Absolutely. Are they constant? No.


I don't want to take the thread too far off topic, but do you know what the normal write-down is? Typical ranges for billable hours?


No idea - I'm not practicing yet. There are two different things you should consider, though:

1.) Actual write-down. This is where you really do "bill" X hours, but the billing partner writes it down to [X - noob deduction]. Most firms still credit you for X, not the written down number.
2.) Many of your working hours will not be billable. This is what really kills you. I've heard a range for this, never with any evidence to back it up. Everywhere from 50% (which seems totally unrealistic) to 10% (which also seems unrealistic, at least for new associates who have so much to learn).

nosaj123
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby nosaj123 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:29 pm

irishman86 wrote:Associates generally work about 9-8 everyday. If there is a transaction that needs to go through, they may work until 11 at their office. If there isn't much going on, they may leave slightly earlier. If there's a trial, associates in litigation may work ALL THE TIME for months in their office and eat meals at the firm.

I think there's time for doing laundry/bills (online banking), but there really is no time for reading (who reads for fun nowadays?), exercising, etc.


So you are not litigation? Do you mind telling me if your firm is big/mid/boutique? NYC/other major market/smaller market?

irishman86
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby irishman86 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:35 pm

nosaj123 wrote: So you are not litigation? Do you mind telling me if your firm is big/mid/boutique? NYC/other major market/smaller market?


NYC biglaw. I'm not practicing yet either, but this is what associates have told me. Hours in litigation are more predictable than hours in transactional areas. I have heard of associates spending almost every waking hour in the office when there's a trial going on and corporate associates have told me about spending late nights in the office when they are helping with closing a deal. On average, it's about 11 hours a day.

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NewHere
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby NewHere » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:38 pm

2.) Many of your working hours will not be billable. This is what really kills you. I've heard a range for this, never with any evidence to back it up. Everywhere from 50% (which seems totally unrealistic) to 10% (which also seems unrealistic, at least for new associates who have so much to learn).


I have only two months of experience, but I would say that it really depends on what you're working on. On a day where I come in and I know I have to do A, B, C, D, and they all have to be done quickly, I may work 10 hours and bill 8.5 or 9 of them. On the other hand, on a day where I come in with only a vague idea of a project, with no clear outline and no tremendous rush, the work may be much more inefficient, resulting in more downtime, and 10 hours of being in the office may yield only 7, or even 6 billable hours.

Hours in litigation are more predictable than hours in transactional areas.


This is a myth.

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JazzOne
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby JazzOne » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:39 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:
nosaj123 wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote: I think the stories of constant 65-80 hour work-weeks are overblown. (65 hours/week for 50 weeks = 3250 hours. That would require a 1/3 write-down to get to 2400 billables - and 2400 is, itself, on the high end of the normal billable hour requirement.)

Are there 65-80+ hour weeks? Absolutely. Are they constant? No.


I don't want to take the thread too far off topic, but do you know what the normal write-down is? Typical ranges for billable hours?


No idea - I'm not practicing yet. There are two different things you should consider, though:

1.) Actual write-down. This is where you really do "bill" X hours, but the billing partner writes it down to [X - noob deduction]. Most firms still credit you for X, not the written down number.
2.) Many of your working hours will not be billable. This is what really kills you. I've heard a range for this, never with any evidence to back it up. Everywhere from 50% (which seems totally unrealistic) to 10% (which also seems unrealistic, at least for new associates who have so much to learn).

What I gather from talking to associates and from my own experience as an SA last year is that you can bill about 80% of your hours.

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JazzOne
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby JazzOne » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:41 pm

NewHere wrote:
Hours in litigation are more predictable than hours in transactional areas.


This is a myth.

Yeah, I've head the exact opposite from the attorneys I've met.

nosaj123
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby nosaj123 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:43 pm

NewHere wrote:
2.) Many of your working hours will not be billable. This is what really kills you. I've heard a range for this, never with any evidence to back it up. Everywhere from 50% (which seems totally unrealistic) to 10% (which also seems unrealistic, at least for new associates who have so much to learn).


I have only two months of experience, but I would say that it really depends on what you're working on. On a day where I come in and I know I have to do A, B, C, D, and they all have to be done quickly, I may work 10 hours and bill 8.5 or 9 of them. On the other hand, on a day where I come in with only a vague idea of a project, with no clear outline and no tremendous rush, the work may be much more inefficient, resulting in more downtime, and 10 hours of being in the office may yield only 7, or even 6 billable hours.

Hours in litigation are more predictable than hours in transactional areas.


This is a myth.


NewHere, I am guessing you are NYC Big-Law? Do you mind telling me how your schedule compares to the one I described in the opening post?

Renzo
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby Renzo » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:44 pm

NewHere wrote:
Hours in litigation are more predictable than hours in transactional areas.


This is a myth.


Folks I've talked to say that depends on the transactional practice. Consensus I've gathered is that M&A work specifically seems to be the most unpredictable, then probably litigation; many other transactional practices tend to be very predictable.

nosaj123
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby nosaj123 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:45 pm

JazzOne wrote:What I gather from talking to associates and from my own experience as an SA last year is that you can bill about 80% of your hours.


JazzOne, how many hours were associates in your summer firm expected to bill? How did your schedule compare to the one in my original post? How about the schedule of the associates?

irishman86
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby irishman86 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:46 pm

^ You can find billable hour requirements on NALP.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:47 pm

irishman86 wrote:^ You can find billable hour requirements on NALP.


Billable hour requirements aren't the entire story.

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nealric
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby nealric » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:49 pm

7am- wake up/shave/shower/dress
7:30- head to work/ get breakfast on the way
8am- begin working
12- go out to lunch
1 pm- back to work
7pm- dinner (delivery: chinese/fast food/etc.)
7:30- back to work
10:30- head home
11- unwind/get ready for bed
11:30- sleep (7.5 hrs for the night!)


At least at most NYC firms, very few people get in at 8:00am. 10:00am isn't at all uncommon. And most people working 65 hour weeks aren't just working weekdays.

irishman86
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby irishman86 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:49 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:
irishman86 wrote:^ You can find billable hour requirements on NALP.


Billable hour requirements aren't the entire story.


I'm just responding to OP's question about billable hours...

I have heard that people bill about 75% of the hours they work. I have also heard that initially certain practice groups (like tax) have a more difficult time billing hours because the learning curve is steeper, although certain practice groups (like tax) have somewhat lower (real) billable hour expectations than associates in litigation.
Last edited by irishman86 on Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

nosaj123
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby nosaj123 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:51 pm

irishman86 wrote:^ You can find billable hour requirements on NALP.


Thanks. I've looked at that in the past, but stopped when I heard (on this board) that firms expect you to work more than that if you plan on sticking around.

Has anyone heard of a firm letting someone go for not billing enough hours, even if they were hitting the "expected hours" target?

Anonymous User
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 20, 2010 4:10 pm

1) The NALP hours are typically inaccurate.
2) Junior associates do a lot of training.
3) The hours very depending on how you view your future at the firm. For NYC biglaw, 2000 is more than enough to last a few years at the firm. Attorneys who wish to be on the partner-track should at least aim for 2300-2400, if not more.
4) Billable hours don't come out of thin air. Whether someone can bill 3,000 hours instead of 2,400 is not just dependent on their ability and desire to do so, but also on whether there's an extra 600 hours of billable work to be done. In this economy, it's an open question as to whether your firm has enough work to keep you busy enough to bill enough to even stay at the firm for more than a year.
5) You don't have to do M-F. I find it far more relaxing to shave a few hours off the weekdays, and do about 5-6 hours of work on a Saturday (wake up at 10am, eat breakfast, do some work, then have fun). I might occasionally do a few hours on a Sunday too. It's not bad at all.
7) I'm incredibly efficient at what I do. That's because I have a personal rule of no Facebook/distractions at work. Typically, when I have an open-ended project (and not just a research question), I set my own personal milestones. When I reach the milestone, I take a small break to read abovethelaw or whatever. I also enjoy the work that I do, so it makes things very tolerable.

Some random pointers I thought I'd put together.

nosaj123
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby nosaj123 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 4:20 pm

Above posters, thanks for all the info! I really appreciate it.

My take-away so far: even in big NYC firms, people tend to come in a little later and leave a few hours earlier than in my example, though they may also come in for a bit on weekends to make up for the lost hrs. However, during crunch time, especially in litigation and M&A, associates will have to work even more than described in my example. [Does this seem correct?]

Getting back to the original question, does anybody else mind sharing how their schedule, or the schedules of people the know, compares to the one in my original post?

Thank you

nosaj123
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby nosaj123 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 4:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:1) The NALP hours are typically inaccurate.
2) Junior associates do a lot of training.
3) The hours very depending on how you view your future at the firm. For NYC biglaw, 2000 is more than enough to last a few years at the firm. Attorneys who wish to be on the partner-track should at least aim for 2300-2400, if not more.
4) Billable hours don't come out of thin air. Whether someone can bill 3,000 hours instead of 2,400 is not just dependent on their ability and desire to do so, but also on whether there's an extra 600 hours of billable work to be done. In this economy, it's an open question as to whether your firm has enough work to keep you busy enough to bill enough to even stay at the firm for more than a year.
5) You don't have to do M-F. I find it far more relaxing to shave a few hours off the weekdays, and do about 5-6 hours of work on a Saturday (wake up at 10am, eat breakfast, do some work, then have fun). I might occasionally do a few hours on a Sunday too. It's not bad at all. 7) I'm incredibly efficient at what I do. That's because I have a personal rule of no Facebook/distractions at work. Typically, when I have an open-ended project (and not just a research question), I set my own personal milestones. When I reach the milestone, I take a small break to read abovethelaw or whatever. I also enjoy the work that I do, so it makes things very tolerable.

Some random pointers I thought I'd put together.


Wow, thanks for all that. One thing you mentioned, that I never heard before, is flexibility setting your hours (point 5). Is this unique to your firm, or something that happens at most firms?

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sat Nov 20, 2010 4:25 pm

Very few firms these days have strict face-time requirements. However, certain partners do hold certain expectations.

Anonymous User
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Re: What is the daily schedule for an associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 20, 2010 4:26 pm

However, during crunch time, especially in litigation and M&A, associates will have to work even more than described in my example. [Does this seem correct?]


It depends on how you define "crunch time." Deals move at light speed compared to massive trials, which can last for years. Litigation associates typically experience downtime between two cases. Corporate associates experience downtime between two deals. The latter's downtime is more frequent than the former, though the duration of the former's downtime is typically longer than the duration of the latter's.

With respect to your schedule:
1) I keep dry food in my office and eat that for breakfast while I'm there, rather than on the way or at home.
2) I don't go out to lunch, usually. Since dinner portions are so large, I can usually make a lunch of it for them for the next day. Saves money and time.




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