True measure of billables

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warumnicht
Posts: 74
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 2:53 pm

True measure of billables

Postby warumnicht » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:13 pm

Even halfway through my SA gig, I'm still struggling with the concept of billable hours. Yes, you keep track of how long you've been working on something, but what do those numbers really mean? If you have a meeting or a two-hour deadline, that's easy enough. But what if it's a more open-ended assignment? What if it's an issue that you can research in two hours but because you had the time, you spend four hours on it? If you can finish a memo by the end of the day but choose to stay late to really polish it up? If you're working on it, in theory that's billable time, right? The things is...do you REALLY need to be working on it? There's always room for improvement, of course, but at what point are you satisfied with what you have and stop billing the client?

This isn't a huge deal as an SA, obviously, but I'm really curious about how it works when your hours actually count. It's one thing when you're swamped with work and you have to force yourself to move on to the next thing because otherwise you won't get everything done. However, there are always slow days, even weeks (and associates have told me that at times it's a struggle to meet the billable requirements). In those cases, how do you know when to stop billing? Because you still have a few days to finish that memo and even though you think you have an answer, you could always do more research...

MrAnon
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Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:08 pm

Re: True measure of billables

Postby MrAnon » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:18 pm

Partners read the bills. If they think you are taking too long on something they will tell you. Unless they don't like you. In which case they will just raise it as an excuse when its time to show you the door. Bill accordingly.

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rayiner
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Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: True measure of billables

Postby rayiner » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:32 pm

This is less of a problem as an associate than as a summer, because as an associate you won't have tons of time to finish everything.

But what our firm told us is to just bill for as long as you work. It's the partners' jobs to deal with the rest of it. If the client balks they'll write-off the time. If you're taking too long (this is not a concern as a summer unless you're missing deadlines) then that's a separate issue.

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

Re: True measure of billables

Postby Renzo » Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:26 pm

rayiner wrote:This is less of a problem as an associate than as a summer, because as an associate you won't have tons of time to finish everything.

But what our firm told us is to just bill for as long as you work. It's the partners' jobs to deal with the rest of it. If the client balks they'll write-off the time. If you're taking too long (this is not a concern as a summer unless you're missing deadlines) then that's a separate issue.


I've been given the same advice by senior attorneys. They said essentially that it's better to be viewed as inefficient than lazy, so it's in your interest to bill every minute you work.

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rayiner
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Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: True measure of billables

Postby rayiner » Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:29 pm

Renzo wrote:
rayiner wrote:This is less of a problem as an associate than as a summer, because as an associate you won't have tons of time to finish everything.

But what our firm told us is to just bill for as long as you work. It's the partners' jobs to deal with the rest of it. If the client balks they'll write-off the time. If you're taking too long (this is not a concern as a summer unless you're missing deadlines) then that's a separate issue.


I've been given the same advice by senior attorneys. They said essentially that it's better to be viewed as inefficient than lazy, so it's in your interest to bill every minute you work.


Right. And beyond that, it's just a good separation of concerns. As an associate, it's not your job to figure out what the client should be getting billed.




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