Is BigLaw Like Law School?

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goodolgil
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby goodolgil » Fri May 11, 2012 3:32 am

You'd probably get better answers asking on xo than here.

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TatteredDignity
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby TatteredDignity » Fri May 11, 2012 4:05 am

goodolgil wrote:You'd probably get better answers askingtrolled hard on xo than here.

shoeshine
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby shoeshine » Fri May 11, 2012 4:27 am

TatteredDignity wrote:
goodolgil wrote:You'd probably get better answers askingtrolled hard on xo than here.

XO is the 4Chan to TLS's Reddit

Anonymous User
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2012 10:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:
X_Soda wrote:Ah, that is more in line with what I expected. I did not, however, realize that everything was so team/response dependent. That is a serious downer. Sounds utterly miserable in fact. Crazy workloads I can learn to deal with, but when I need to wait around on others just to get things done, and those others seem to be perfectly content with whittling their time away in some sterile office, the caged bird starts to sing....


I was told that my firm monitored Internet traffics. Thus, I did not dare to surf or visited facebook with my firm laptop or BB. Not sure how others could actually browse the Internet on their firm laptop.


dude why is everyone here such a wuss. normal people do not work like this. during my summer (vault 25 nyc) i would walk into associates' office and i would often see gmail/gchat/fbook up on one monitor, and their work on another. you think you're firm is going to fire you because you checked fb? esp if fb is not even blocked on the machine? and who cares if they see you were on fb for 3 hours? it could very well just have been open in the background and you forgot to close it. when a partner writes off on your billables, he's not gonna go check the amount of hours you spend on fb.

people need to relax here. firms don't care how many hours a day you spend on fb. as long as the work gets done on time, and correctly, do whatever you want. esp in law there is A LOT of downtime between deals, so spending 3 hours doing non-law stuff is not unreasonable on some days. i feel like the people on this board are the type that burn out the quickest - the ones that are so anal about taking a 3 min bathroom break and wondering if they should bill it or not. the ones who constantly have billing more hours on their mind - "oh no can't take a 10 min break i could be billing that time instead" or always worrying about whether your break was 10 min or more like 20. who cares.

Younger Abstention
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Younger Abstention » Fri May 11, 2012 10:32 am

The answer is actually yes in large part, as someone who has worked in a biglaw firm as a nonlawyer for years. A lot of people on this thread need to drop their holier-than-thou attitudes too.

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IAFG
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby IAFG » Fri May 11, 2012 10:43 am

The thing is, work is not like school. People are still people, though.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Big Shrimpin » Fri May 11, 2012 10:46 am

Younger Abstention wrote:The answer is actually yes in large part, as someone who has worked in a biglaw firm as a nonlawyer for years. A lot of people on this thread need to drop their holier-than-thou attitudes too.


I think some of the responses were more aimed toward the comment about producing work product based upon expectations and then billing all the extra time while you're dicking off. Certainly, people are on gchat/fb quite often (either staying logged-in, taking some time at different points throughout the day, etc.), but not doing what OP initially intimated: senior associate gives you a project to do...he thinks it'll take about 6 hours, but you know it can be done in 4...you bill 6, but take only 4 hours to do the work and dick around on fb/gchat for 2 hours. So, brehlet, you're saying that, in your biglaw experience as a nonlawyer, this happens often?

Also, someone mentioned something about work/dealflow...obviously, if you have nothing to do otherwise, then this whole argument becomes moot, since it doesn't matter what you're doing in the downtime as you have no client to bill.

Younger Abstention
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Younger Abstention » Fri May 11, 2012 11:10 am

Big Shrimpin wrote:
Younger Abstention wrote:The answer is actually yes in large part, as someone who has worked in a biglaw firm as a nonlawyer for years. A lot of people on this thread need to drop their holier-than-thou attitudes too.


I think some of the responses were more aimed toward the comment about producing work product based upon expectations and then billing all the extra time while you're dicking off. Certainly, people are on gchat/fb quite often (either staying logged-in, taking some time at different points throughout the day, etc.), but not doing what OP initially intimated: senior associate gives you a project to do...he thinks it'll take about 6 hours, but you know it can be done in 4...you bill 6, but take only 4 hours to do the work and dick around on fb/gchat for 2 hours. So, brehlet, you're saying that, in your biglaw experience as a nonlawyer, this happens often?

Also, someone mentioned something about work/dealflow...obviously, if you have nothing to do otherwise, then this whole argument becomes moot, since it doesn't matter what you're doing in the downtime as you have no client to bill.


I'm saying that many people do only 6 hours, or less, of quality work in a 12 hour day.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri May 11, 2012 1:01 pm

Younger Abstention wrote:I'm saying that many people do only 6 hours, or less, of quality work in a 12 hour day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odm0TJUqb9I

Anonymous User
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2012 3:43 pm

Yes.

--LinkRemoved--

/thread

Slobberson
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Slobberson » Fri May 11, 2012 8:33 pm

X_Soda wrote:
NoleinNY wrote:Flame? No living thing that has the cognitive capability to effectively operate a keyboard to convey English language words can be this dense.


Yet a number of people in this thread have confirmed my suspicion -- that there is more to a billable hour than a billable hour, that people do not suddenly shift from the slackers that 90% of us were in law school to perfectly focused gurus of doc review. My tone was intentionally a bit inflammatory, and of course if I were to actually flub my hours a bit by ignoring facebook breaks I would call it by a name other than "lying." But let's drop the cheesy righteousness crap and get real here -- the point of this thread was to see if billable hours were really as devoid of distraction time as people make them out to be. The evidence is leaning toward NO.


Have you been a summer associate? Will you be one at some point? TIP: Keep up with your billables throughout the day. You DO NOT want to be in a position where you're trying to remember your time. You over-estimate, that's fraud; you under-estimate, you've cost the firm $$$.

You do realize that as a real attorney (not a summer) your firm will charge clients hundreds of dollars an hour for your time (depending on what size firm and what market), right? It's less for a summer but I don't know what the rate is. So if you fudge 20 minutes of time that's $100 you've stolen from the client.

Are you asking whether EVERY SECOND of an attorney's time is accounted for? Of course not. No one has ever perfectly accurately billed the exact amount of time they spent on a file down to the second. What they don't do, though, is dick around on facebook or surfing the internet and then try to bill that to a client. There is a reason it takes like 10 hours of work day to bill 7 hours of time (or whatever they say the ratio is).

Also, they're going to notice if you bill X hours every time on a task that they know most other people get done with less.

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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2012 9:00 pm

Slobberson wrote:You do realize that as a real attorney (not a summer) your firm will charge clients hundreds of dollars an hour for your time (depending on what size firm and what market), right? It's less for a summer but I don't know what the rate is. So if you fudge 20 minutes of time that's $100 you've stolen from the client.


Which of course is almost impossible to prove, and not really worth trying to pursue in the first place. I am glad I will never have the pleasure of knowing most of you IRL because you seem overly anal retentive when it comes to this subject.

Anonymous User
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2012 9:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Slobberson wrote:You do realize that as a real attorney (not a summer) your firm will charge clients hundreds of dollars an hour for your time (depending on what size firm and what market), right? It's less for a summer but I don't know what the rate is. So if you fudge 20 minutes of time that's $100 you've stolen from the client.


Which of course is almost impossible to prove, and not really worth trying to pursue in the first place. I am glad I will never have the pleasure of knowing most of you IRL because you seem overly anal retentive when it comes to this subject.


I'm not anal retentive at all. I'm extraordinarily laid back, I'm just explaining why it's taken very seriously - even by people who are laid back.

If you go into practice with that mentality, you really do stand a very good chance of getting fired. First, it's absolutely worth pursuing because it costs a client nothing. The client simply does not pay. What do you think your boss is going to do when a huge client says he's not going to pay what you billed on the file because he thinks you are inflating your time? Probably, your boss is going to pick up on it before you try and bill it to the client though.

Second, do you really think it's impossible to prove that you've been inflating your time when they can monitor every second of your internet usage? You're not dealing with idiots. They might be dealing with one, though.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri May 11, 2012 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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fruitoftheloom
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby fruitoftheloom » Fri May 11, 2012 9:20 pm

Something to remember is that many clients audit your bills as well. My company works with a lot of outside firms. They only allow .1 billable hours for many things like status calls and form letters. If the attorney wants more time, they have to submit a copy of their work or phone records and get the employee who authorized the work to sign off. More and more clients are demanding more explanations for where their $ goes.

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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 12, 2012 3:54 am

Slobberson wrote:
X_Soda wrote:
NoleinNY wrote:Flame? No living thing that has the cognitive capability to effectively operate a keyboard to convey English language words can be this dense.


Yet a number of people in this thread have confirmed my suspicion -- that there is more to a billable hour than a billable hour, that people do not suddenly shift from the slackers that 90% of us were in law school to perfectly focused gurus of doc review. My tone was intentionally a bit inflammatory, and of course if I were to actually flub my hours a bit by ignoring facebook breaks I would call it by a name other than "lying." But let's drop the cheesy righteousness crap and get real here -- the point of this thread was to see if billable hours were really as devoid of distraction time as people make them out to be. The evidence is leaning toward NO.


Have you been a summer associate? Will you be one at some point? TIP: Keep up with your billables throughout the day. You DO NOT want to be in a position where you're trying to remember your time. You over-estimate, that's fraud; you under-estimate, you've cost the firm $$$.

You do realize that as a real attorney (not a summer) your firm will charge clients hundreds of dollars an hour for your time (depending on what size firm and what market), right? It's less for a summer but I don't know what the rate is. So if you fudge 20 minutes of time that's $100 you've stolen from the client.

Are you asking whether EVERY SECOND of an attorney's time is accounted for? Of course not. No one has ever perfectly accurately billed the exact amount of time they spent on a file down to the second. What they don't do, though, is dick around on facebook or surfing the internet and then try to bill that to a client. There is a reason it takes like 10 hours of work day to bill 7 hours of time (or whatever they say the ratio is).

Also, they're going to notice if you bill X hours every time on a task that they know most other people get done with less.


I don't think you're stealing from a client. I think there is an economic assumption that, as normal human beings, people will not be 100% efficient with their time, even their billed time. Logically, this assumed less-than-100%-efficiency will translate to lower money paid per hour by clients than they'd pay if they thought everyone would be 100% efficient. Thus, inefficiency is almost certainly already factored into the client's payment to the firm, and by extension, the salary of the associate. Because there are informational asymmetries, clients/firms do not know how much specific workers waste time. It is simply assumed, then, that everyone is the average worker, and everyone is paid accordingly. As a result, if you DON'T waste some time, you are actually being underpaid. Maybe if you're worse than average with your dicking around then you are costing the client money. For the client, though, the law of averages would say that the overall set of workers on their project is probably about average in efficiency, so they are not being ripped off; they are paying for what they expected in the aggregate. What your are actually doing is ripping off lawyers as a whole by contributing to dropping the expected efficiency of lawyers, resulting in a lower willingness to pay by clients for billed hours.

shoeshine
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby shoeshine » Sat May 12, 2012 4:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:I don't think you're stealing from a client. I think there is an economic assumption that, as normal human beings, people will not be 100% efficient with their time, even their billed time. Logically, this assumed less-than-100%-efficiency will translate to lower money paid per hour by clients than they'd pay if they thought everyone would be 100% efficient. Thus, inefficiency is almost certainly already factored into the client's payment to the firm, and by extension, the salary of the associate. Because there are informational asymmetries, clients/firms do not know how much specific workers waste time. It is simply assumed, then, that everyone is the average worker, and everyone is paid accordingly. As a result, if you DON'T waste some time, you are actually being underpaid. Maybe if you're worse than average with your dicking around then you are costing the client money. For the client, though, the law of averages would say that the overall set of workers on their project is probably about average in efficiency, so they are not being ripped off; they are paying for what they expected in the aggregate. What your are actually doing is ripping off lawyers as a whole by contributing to dropping the expected efficiency of lawyers, resulting in a lower willingness to pay by clients for billed hours.


There was no reason to use the anonymous feature here (other than you not wanting to out yourself as a dumbass).

There is a huge difference between normal human inefficiency while still maintaining a good faith effort to work and willfully misrepresenting the time you worked. Big law is billed in six minute increments. If you are surfing FB or making personal calls for more than a minute then that time should never be billed.

What you are advocating for is lawyers purposely misrepresenting the time they worked when they bill hours. That is unethical. There is no gray area when you do it knowingly.

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wiseowl
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby wiseowl » Sat May 12, 2012 9:44 am

There are many times in life where people seem too anal retentive and seem to be taking stuff way too seriously.

Law school is one of them.

Bar study is one of them.

Biglaw billing is not one of them.

I mean screw around all you want on FB and gchat, no one will really be there to check up on you. The IT guy "monitoring your web usage" is probably not doing anything except making sure the firm's servers aren't kiddie porn repositories.

But Biglaw deadlines aren't deadlines you can push back like a law school paper. And these days most every client is fighting your bosses on every cent they are billed. You'll probably get away with a padded hour here or there once or twice. And the client will likely never know. But your boss, with gritted teeth, is sitting there slashing the time you spent, which is money directly out of his pocket.

Try doing that more than a time or two and see where that gets you.

There is no automatic work in Biglaw. Partners and senior associates either funnel work to you, or they don't. You've got to make 2000 hours either way. That's 50 40-hr weeks per year. Billed, not worked.

Your best bet is to get a reputation as a hard, efficient worker, and then slack once people trust you. Something like first 1-2 assignments for a partner, etc.

If you get an early reputation as a slacker/padder/always on the web in an office where doors have to be open, that isn't going to be good.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat May 12, 2012 9:54 am

Partners review time sheets on their cases. Anything clearly unreasonable (excessive) on one's timesheet will be trimmed before being billed to the client.

alabamabound
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby alabamabound » Sat May 12, 2012 12:04 pm

Having been a paralegal at a "V5" (who billed time), I would say that padding is discouraged and not a smart idea. But a meta-answer to the OP is question is, Yes, big law is quite like law school in that there will be people who proudly cut corners but eventually face adverse consequences for this.

Anonymous User
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 12, 2012 2:56 pm

shoeshine wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I don't think you're stealing from a client. I think there is an economic assumption that, as normal human beings, people will not be 100% efficient with their time, even their billed time. Logically, this assumed less-than-100%-efficiency will translate to lower money paid per hour by clients than they'd pay if they thought everyone would be 100% efficient. Thus, inefficiency is almost certainly already factored into the client's payment to the firm, and by extension, the salary of the associate. Because there are informational asymmetries, clients/firms do not know how much specific workers waste time. It is simply assumed, then, that everyone is the average worker, and everyone is paid accordingly. As a result, if you DON'T waste some time, you are actually being underpaid. Maybe if you're worse than average with your dicking around then you are costing the client money. For the client, though, the law of averages would say that the overall set of workers on their project is probably about average in efficiency, so they are not being ripped off; they are paying for what they expected in the aggregate. What your are actually doing is ripping off lawyers as a whole by contributing to dropping the expected efficiency of lawyers, resulting in a lower willingness to pay by clients for billed hours.


There was no reason to use the anonymous feature here (other than you not wanting to out yourself as a dumbass).

There is a huge difference between normal human inefficiency while still maintaining a good faith effort to work and willfully misrepresenting the time you worked. Big law is billed in six minute increments. If you are surfing FB or making personal calls for more than a minute then that time should never be billed.

What you are advocating for is lawyers purposely misrepresenting the time they worked when they bill hours. That is unethical. There is no gray area when you do it knowingly.


There IS a difference between normal human inefficiency and surfing FB, BUT both things are almost assuredly already factored into the price clients pay firms. Clients KNOW that firms do not have the capability to properly make sure their workers aren't occasionally surfing FB (or something similarly useless). As a result, they KNOW that some of that time will end up billed because the informational asymmetry gives the worker very little incentive to curb occasional inefficiency (although once it becomes huge inefficiency the chance of being caught by your employer increases, so the incentive to curb it becomes higher; thus you probably won't see high inefficiency). Given that the client knows they will get billed for some wasted time, they simply make sure they are not losing money from that by agreeing to pay less than they would if they expected perfect efficiency.

This is some pretty basic economics and not that hard to grasp, so it surprises me that anyone would disagree with this, let alone accuse me of being a "dumbass" for saying it. You say I "advocate" for wasting time, which is completely false. There was nothing in my post advising people to do anything. I'm simply talking about the economic fact, which is that you are not stealing from clients because, in the long run, they simply pass on the cost of your inefficiency back to the firm. The firm, in turn, passes off that cost to their lawyers (ie. you and other associates) in the form of lower salaries. The ones being hurt in the long run (I suppose it's important to specify the long run in this case) here are not clients, but rather lawyers who do not waste time. Because of informational asymmetry, those lawyers are paid based on what workers' average efficiency is, meaning they are paid less than they are actually worth. Anyone who dicks around more than average is bringing down the average efficiency and thus ultimately bringing down the salaries of all lawyers.

I made this point all along. I am baffled at how you saw me "advocating" for wasting time when I simply was arguing that the burden of that time wasting ends up falling in a different place than people were saying.

cdbanana
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby cdbanana » Sat May 12, 2012 11:15 pm

shoeshine wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:
goodolgil wrote:You'd probably get better answers askingtrolled hard on xo than here.

XO is the 4Chan to TLS's Reddit


:lol: sooooooo true.

Anonymous User
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 13, 2012 10:21 am

people talking about "facing adverse consequences" are dumbasses. no one here is advocating billing 3 hours of fb creeping. i think the more realistic scenario is you doing due diligence lets say from 1pm to 5pm. somewhere in the middle you read a couple articles on the nytimes, maybe responded to a wall post, and text ur gf a dozen or so times. what some people in this thread are advocating it seems is keeping track of every single one of these activities which will end up you billing 3.673 hours. whereas normal people would just bill this as 4 hours and call it a friggin day. no one (normal) is gonna sit there and stop the clock everytime they respond to a text. so yea no parter is going to come harass the second guy because he just "felt" like he overbilled by .327 hours.

alabamabound
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby alabamabound » Sun May 13, 2012 3:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:people talking about "facing adverse consequences" are dumbasses. no one here is advocating billing 3 hours of fb creeping. i think the more realistic scenario is you doing due diligence lets say from 1pm to 5pm. somewhere in the middle you read a couple articles on the nytimes, maybe responded to a wall post, and text ur gf a dozen or so times. what some people in this thread are advocating it seems is keeping track of every single one of these activities which will end up you billing 3.673 hours. whereas normal people would just bill this as 4 hours and call it a friggin day. no one (normal) is gonna sit there and stop the clock everytime they respond to a text. so yea no parter is going to come harass the second guy because he just "felt" like he overbilled by .327 hours.


As the dumbass to whom you're referring, I'd just reiterate that at the firm where I was a paralegal, the associates with a very strong work ethic did well professionally and those without one did not. Those are the adverse consequences I'm talking about. Many partners care a great deal about the efficiency and work ethic of their associates. Anyone who has actually worked in "big law" and thinks otherwise is delusional.

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PDaddy
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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby PDaddy » Sun May 13, 2012 3:39 pm

Renzo wrote:
Big Shrimpin wrote:
X_Soda wrote:Is Big Law like law school in the sense that people say "Oh my god I have to work like 12 hours a day" when in reality they put in maybe 6 hours of disciplined work, with the rest distributed between Facebooking, complaining about work with colleagues, and staring off into space? And if so, is it acceptable to lie about your billable hours if you're putting in disciplined time with a work product that matches your colleagues' but the amount of hours you actually bill is far less?


Nope. And the latter portion of your poast POST is an ethical violation.


And a crime, if anyone could ever prove it.


I know, right? Didn't anyone see The Firm? Mitch McDeere's freedom hinged on his ability to hang the firm for mail fraud (for overbilling) and convince the Moralto crime family that he was the only lawyer who could be trusted with their secrets.

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Re: Is BigLaw Like Law School?

Postby seatown12 » Sun May 13, 2012 3:40 pm





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