Anonymous User wrote:V10 anon.Yea, you are coming from a radically different perspective.Anonymous User wrote:V50 junior/mid-level associate chiming in with my 2 cents with respect to turning down work.
In my experience, people who turn down work early on are doomed...however, no one at my firm is billing 2400 hours, or even 2200 (non-NYC, major market). The good associates in my group got to where they are by taking on everything they can and killing themselves for the mid-level/senior associates that gave them work as a junior and their reputation for that "team player"/hard-worker mentality spread. If you are really busy and can still successfully squeeze in a rush assignment for someone important (and starting out that means mid-level and senior level associates), they will appreciate it. You bailed them out of a jam, and they begin to trust you. Once you have had a couple of years of good hours, you can begin to push back a little, or hopefully people start to protect you.
My experience could be very different, because my firm doesn't grind associates to a pulp as quickly as many other firms, but I recommend that incoming associates to never turn down work unless they think it is physically impossible to complete the task.
First, you are a junior associate. I suspect that by "junior/midlevel" you mean a third year since many third years don't like to call themselves junior but can't really be considered midlevel. I also suspect that your perspective on the merits of killing oneself for big law will change radically in two or three years when you have seen some of the brightest, most enthusiastic, and hardest working associates tossed out. There's no bitterness like the bitterness of an associate who has never said no and is still being shown the door.
Second, you are at a v50 where no one bills 2200. I can't even imagine how wonderful billing less than 2200 must be. An associate in your shoes will never have a reason to turn down work because if you're billing only 2000 (or even less?) then you're not working many late nights, certainly aren't working most weekends, and you definitely do have extra time.
Third, since you are billing a lot less than most midlevels at v20s and above (and possibly even peer v50s), the term "swamped," "really busy," and "leanly staffed" mean very different things at your firm than they do at, for instance, mine. I do not advise anyone whose hours and firm culture are more similar to mine to take your advice re: not turning down work. Not turning down work at a firm or group where billing 2400 is no big deal is a great way to get burnt out, turn in poorer quality work, and get pushed out quicker.
Overall, yours is a very useful perspective because most people don't end up at V10s and some firms are more lax on the billing expectations. I am not sure if your perspective will prove helpful to most, however, because there really aren't many firms in this economy that are letting people get away for years with billing less than 2200. Billable requirements (the official numbers used to recruit jnaive associates and never again referred to after that) differ among firms but billable expectations often do not. Often, in order to last past the first year at v10s, and in order to last past the third year outside the v10, you have to be making the firm serious money.
You are entitled to your perspective and I'm sure it is helpful for v10 firms in NYC, but associate surveys tend to indicate that my firm's hours 1800-2000 are more typical than your 2200+... so I think my perspective should prove helpful to many. I added my post to provide a different perspective and hopefully prevent confusion for young associates. I also imagine your firm is heavily leveraged, hence why so few associates make it past 3 years. My firm has a much more even associate/partner ratio so partnership prospects are a bit more realistic (or at least making it to the mid to senior-level associate ranks are reasonable) so my firm is not really looking to push people out too quickly unless you produce bad work, have a bad attitude or are unwilling to work. Once you hit 3 years, you are more profitable.
I wanted to share this perspective because I know some associates in our group that did turn down work early on, got a reputation for it and subsequently was essentially frozen out of a lot of the flow of work.