2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

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2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:03 pm

http://abovethelaw.com/2011/06/in-re-the-passing-of-a-skadden-associate/

I know the above is a year old. But bidding while shortly be coming to a close.

I understand biglaw is crazy hours. I was thinking 80 hour weeks tops. But 100 hour weeks (and many of them from the article's tone) seems a little crazy.

Is Skadden LA known for this? Other firms?

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rayiner
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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby rayiner » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:12 pm

100 hour weeks are hard, but doable. That's 15 working hours per day. You've got 2 hours to eat, shower, etc, and 7 hours to sleep. Did more than a few of those while working as an engineer. My boss at the startup where I worked probably pulled a dozen such weeks per year. Most weeks he only worked 80 or so.

When it gets unmanageable is when work cuts into sleep. At 120 hours, you can only practically get 6 hours or so of sleep per night, and that wears you out really fast.
Last edited by rayiner on Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:18 pm

If you talk to Skadden associates in Los Angeles right now, they are understandably angry. The people we’ve spoken to in that office say that in the weeks prior to her death, Johnstone was pulling 100-hour weeks and was under intense pressure. Multiple sources tell us that she had her vacation cut short after being called back to work.

Sources also report that Johnstone had shown some disturbing signs of overwork. Multiple people told us that she was suffering from hair loss. Again, we don’t have the autopsy report, but multiple sources speculate that under these conditions, Johnstone had turned to “the lawyer version of performance enhancers,” just to stay awake.


Sounds like "happiness" and "succeeding" to me.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:27 pm

Isn't a 100 hour week more like a 120+ because billed 100=/= worked 100?

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rayiner
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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby rayiner » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Isn't a 100 hour week more like a 120+ because billed 100=/= worked 100?


Possibly, but the article says "Johnstone was pulling 100-hour weeks and was under intense pressure." In that context, I interpret it as 100 worked, not 100 billed.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby legends159 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:40 pm

Wasn't that HK? HK hours are a different animal.

Also I believe that once you start hitting the upper echelons of billing the bill to worked ratio becomes close to 1:1 - either b/c you're just billing everything since you're swamped and efficiency is no longer relevant or you're inadvertently padding (i.e., you eat while working but don't take off time for chewing or putting fork to mouth or you run to the restroom-like literally RUN).

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:42 pm

legends159 wrote:Wasn't that HK? HK hours are a different animal.

Also I believe that once you start hitting the upper echelons of billing the bill to worked ratio becomes close to 1:1 - either b/c you're just billing everything since you're swamped and efficiency is no longer relevant or you're inadvertently padding (i.e., you eat while working but don't take off time for chewing or putting fork to mouth or you run to the restroom-like literally RUN).


Running to the bathroom -- Serious?

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
legends159 wrote:Wasn't that HK? HK hours are a different animal.

Also I believe that once you start hitting the upper echelons of billing the bill to worked ratio becomes close to 1:1 - either b/c you're just billing everything since you're swamped and efficiency is no longer relevant or you're inadvertently padding (i.e., you eat while working but don't take off time for chewing or putting fork to mouth or you run to the restroom-like literally RUN).


Running to the bathroom -- Serious?


I wouldn't mind running to the bathroom as much as I would mind working with the kind of people who would run to the bathroom for this purpose.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:49 pm

100 hour work weeks = ~80 hours billed

So 4000 billables a year? Seems a little crazy. Even if you assume the associate did not do that every week, one month of it would lead to 1/8 of 2500 billables.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby sunynp » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:53 pm

rayiner wrote:100 hour weeks are hard, but doable. That's 15 working hours per day. You've got 2 hours to eat, shower, etc, and 7 hours to sleep. Did more than a few of those while working as an engineer. My boss at the startup where I worked probably pulled a dozen such weeks per year. Most weeks he only worked 80 or so.

When it gets unmanageable is when work cuts into sleep. At 120 hours, you can only practically get 6 hours or so of sleep per night, and that wears you out really fast.


The real problem for me is working all night and the next day. And then staying late and then having to come back in the next morning. I can do it, but there really isn't time to recover. When I don't sleep at all or only a few hours for more than a couple of weeks, I really do not function well. My plan is corporate biglaw for a few years and then out to a more regular schedule. If I don't do that, I think I will destroy my health.

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:56 pm

High-pressure, corporate biglaw is great if you 1) have no family or friends, 2) want no family or friends, and 3) want a decent amount of money. Essentially, you need to be Ebeneezer Scrooge.

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rayiner
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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby rayiner » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:57 pm

sunynp wrote:
rayiner wrote:100 hour weeks are hard, but doable. That's 15 working hours per day. You've got 2 hours to eat, shower, etc, and 7 hours to sleep. Did more than a few of those while working as an engineer. My boss at the startup where I worked probably pulled a dozen such weeks per year. Most weeks he only worked 80 or so.

When it gets unmanageable is when work cuts into sleep. At 120 hours, you can only practically get 6 hours or so of sleep per night, and that wears you out really fast.


The real problem for me is working all night and the next day. And then staying late and then having to come back in the next morning. I can do it, but there really isn't time to recover. When I don't sleep at all or only a few hours for more than a couple of weeks, I really do not function well. My plan is corporate biglaw for a few years and then out to a more regular schedule. If I don't do that, I think I will destroy my health.


I don't think all nighters are all that common, even in corporate big law. You hear stories of cots at the office and whatnot, but I did a couple of 3AM nights on an M&A floor as a summer (don't ask) and the place was deserted. Lawyers like their sleep.

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rayiner
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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby rayiner » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:59 pm

Julio_El_Chavo wrote:High-pressure, corporate biglaw is great if you 1) have no family or friends, 2) want no family or friends, and 3) want a decent amount of money. Essentially, you need to be Ebeneezer Scrooge.


You can have family and friends working 70-80 hour weeks.[1] My dad has done that for 30 years. What you can't have is hobbies or the need for alone-time. You have to be able to get up, work all day, then go to sleep, then spend your day off with the wife and kids.

[1] Most lawyers don't actually work 70-80 hours a week every week, and they don't do it all from the office. Big law firms are pretty deserted by 9pm or on the weekends. If you're working 70 hours week in and week out, you're probably billing about 3,000 hours. People do it, but it's not the norm. You should also note that at places like Quinn where people bill 3,000 hours, they're billing essentially all their time. A lot of the non-billable time that happens in corporate is waiting around for some banker to get you a revised draft of some document, etc.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby legends159 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:15 pm

rayiner wrote:
sunynp wrote:
rayiner wrote:100 hour weeks are hard, but doable. That's 15 working hours per day. You've got 2 hours to eat, shower, etc, and 7 hours to sleep. Did more than a few of those while working as an engineer. My boss at the startup where I worked probably pulled a dozen such weeks per year. Most weeks he only worked 80 or so.

When it gets unmanageable is when work cuts into sleep. At 120 hours, you can only practically get 6 hours or so of sleep per night, and that wears you out really fast.


The real problem for me is working all night and the next day. And then staying late and then having to come back in the next morning. I can do it, but there really isn't time to recover. When I don't sleep at all or only a few hours for more than a couple of weeks, I really do not function well. My plan is corporate biglaw for a few years and then out to a more regular schedule. If I don't do that, I think I will destroy my health.


I don't think all nighters are all that common, even in corporate big law. You hear stories of cots at the office and whatnot, but I did a couple of 3AM nights on an M&A floor as a summer (don't ask) and the place was deserted. Lawyers like their sleep.


Same firm. I came in one weekend cause of some "emergency" and the place was empty. War stories are just war stories - likely exaggerated and the exception rather than the norm.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby underdawg » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:26 pm

i work at a "sweatshop" and the place is pretty deserted on weekends. usually there is no pressing need to be in the actual office unless the partner is there too, and they usually like to work from westchester or whatever on weekends.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:07 am

I'm confused. Are you all saying that people not being in the office on weekends = people not working on weekends? This is definitely not the inference I draw when my office is empty during the weekends. Most people are working from home.

Also: I like working from home more than in the office, but it still fucking sucks. It's not like you're golfing or something. Didn't the Skadden associate die while working at home?

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby bk1 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:12 am

Julio_El_Chavo wrote:I'm confused. Are you all saying that people not being in the office on weekends = people not working on weekends? This is definitely not the inference I draw when my office is empty during the weekends. Most people are working from home.


I think they are implying the same inference that you are drawing.

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rayiner
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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby rayiner » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:43 am

bk1 wrote:
Julio_El_Chavo wrote:I'm confused. Are you all saying that people not being in the office on weekends = people not working on weekends? This is definitely not the inference I draw when my office is empty during the weekends. Most people are working from home.


I think they are implying the same inference that you are drawing.


It goes to the "no sleep" and "no friends or family" points. You can watch your kid, have meals with your family, etc, while working on the couch with your laptop. Similarly, most people aren't pulling all nighters from home.

Kids aren't super complicated, especially when young. They care about your presence, not about your doing a ton of structured activities with them.

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:13 am

rayiner wrote:Kids aren't super complicated, especially when young. They care about your presence, not about your doing a ton of structured activities with them.


LOL, no.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby legends159 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:31 am

Working at home on weekends saves u the time spent getting ready, commuting etc. While at home you have more control and flexibility especially if there's no real time crunch. You can take breaks to go get lunch with your SO or children or watch the game while working. Whatever you want working at home makes the sweatshop experience a little better.

As to working on saturdays, there are a lot of Jews at these firms who follow Sabbath and never work Friday night until Saturday night. I met many associates who tell me they just make up the work on Saturday night and Sunday. And these are 5th years so that's 5 years of not working half the weekend. so it's not unthinkable to take time off if necessary...so you know, you don't die of exhaustion.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby kalvano » Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:51 am

I like how people are trying to justify the utterly shitty existence that so many seem to strive for.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby legends159 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:54 am

Not justify. Cope with. Shittiness is relative bro.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby bjsesq » Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:58 am

legends159 wrote:Not justify. Cope with. Shittiness is relative bro.


This. If we are going to eat 30 pounds of feces, let us tell ourselves what we need to. It doesn't detract from your life.

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby rayiner » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:37 pm

kalvano wrote:I like how people are trying to justify the utterly shitty existence that so many seem to strive for.


It depends on your personality. If I can give my kids a bit of a head start in life, put them through school, and maybe give them a bit of a safety net, like my dad gave me, while staying married to my wife and being able to throw the occasional dinner party, I'll consider my life pretty successful. I'm not the kind of person who needs to be able to plan elaborate backpacking trips to Europe, go out multiple times a week, or have involved hobbies. I spend my downtime TLS-ing on the couch with my wife. :lol:

And as far as work goes, there are a lot less interesting jobs. Most jobs out there are incredibly soul sucking, especially ones that pay decent money and offer health insurance. My engineer friends from college all work long hours. One does business development for a telecom company and is being sent to the Saskatchewan for 6 months. Another one is a chemical engineer and is constantly glued to his blackberry. Another one does engineering consulting and has to spend half his time in Taiwan. Doesn't sound much better than being a lawyer...

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Re: 2011 Death of Associate at Skadden

Postby attractive_NUisance » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:58 pm

Different groups within firms and different firms have different norms about how much you work. It is universal at every firm to be on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week in case something comes up. Last-minute emergencies happen much more often for corporate work than litigation of course. You definitely don't have to work 100 hour weeks all the time. There is also a wide range of acceptable behavior among attorneys within those practice group norms. The range is from doing the bare minimum acceptable to maintain employment for 3 years until I switch jobs to "gunning for partnership" which involves doing the maximum possible amount of work even at the expense of regular sleep hours. Also, everything in between. Everyone generally finds a comfortable work-life balance that works for them.




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