Anonymous User wrote:I'm a clerk at a midlaw firm this summer, and I have a few gripes. Are these legitimate, and are they an issue at biglaw firms too (either as an SA or an associate)?
1. I'm paid hourly (clock-in/clock-out), and we're expected to be billing every minute that we are clocked in--all 8 hours in a day. Aside from the ethical concerns of such a policy, this makes for a very stressful day; I need to be very mindful even about the time I spend just going to the bathroom. I would be happy to bill 8 hours a day if I could do it in 10 hours, but this 1:1 ratio thing is seriously stressful, and forces you to make what I think are dubious billing decisions. What's is the ratio of time-in-office v. billing time for most biglaw SAs on here?
2. We each have a supervising attorney, but both myself and a few of the other clerks aren't getting enough work from our supervising attorneys to keep us busy the whole day. We've been told to branch out to other attorneys to get work when this happens, but none of the other attorneys are really interested in trying to give assignments to us. With this 1:1 billing ratio policy, I find myself literally going around to each attorney's office begging for assignments; it both annoys the attorneys and embarrasses me. We were also told in orientation that being short on assignments is an indication that people don't want you to do work for them, and will thus be viewed negatively in our evaluations, which of course adds significantly to the anxiety of not having an assignment. I know some biglaw firms have a free-market system, but are SAs/associates scrounging/begging for work like this too?
3. We've been told more or less outright that only 1 clerk (out of 4) will be considered for a full time associate position after law school. While I don't think it's wrong for them to want you to prove your worth during the summer before making an offer to you, this is turning this summer into some serious Hunger Games shit. Moreover, offers aren't made until after we find out bar results, so basically 3 of us will have flushed our 2L summer and 3L post-bar-exam/pre-bar-results time down the drain. (It also puts the firm in a far superior bargaining position when it comes to salary because they know that you just have to take what they offer you, as you won't be able to get anything else by then.) While I know the biglaw SA hiring model is different, is there this same type of atmosphere as either an SA or an associate--i.e. where you are competing against each other just to stay alive? This seems very antithetical to team-building.
4. We bill almost exclusively to insurance companies, who I'm told are notoriously stingy when paying for legal work. As a result, I'm given what seems to be some ridiculous time limits on my assignments--1 hour for researching the law, 2 hours to draft a motion from scratch. I'm panicking the whole time because I know there's no way I'm going to produce anything of decent quality in that kind of time limit. This exacerbates problem #1 too, since each assignment I do is like being in a fucking final exam, for the entire day. Are time limits on assignments more generous in biglaw?
I worked for a mid-sized firm for my 1L summer and throughout my 2L year, now I'm with a larger firm. This is way beyond what others are dealing with. This isn't common - even for a mid-sized firm. Even if you're the "lucky" one to get the job, it's going to be terrible. They're breeding a culture that produces the results desired by insurance companies, but would be terrible to work in. Getting your foot in the door in this industry is hard - but try to make this as short term as possible. Good Luck!
Edit - Time limits are more generous in biglaw. They keep telling me to shoot for quality - not quantity. Inefficiency is expected. They are looking for skill sets that will produce good associates - not money making clerks.