Billable Hours, Really

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Billable Hours, Really

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:10 am

My SA firm has a 1900 billables requirement, and say they expect associates to work 2200 actual hours.

That seems way too reasonable. Am I missing something?

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androstan
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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby androstan » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:21 am

That doesn't sound totally bizarre. 1900 is a little under-market, but it's just an "expectation" and a bare-minimum one. You can skate by for several years at most big firms doing the bare minimum hours as long as your work product is good and your relationships with your superiors are strong. If you want to make partner you'll work very hard and the "billable hours expectation" is something you're only dimly aware of because it's completely irrelevant to you. From what I hear, you want to be billing a healthy amount above the expectation and additionally showing as much commitment to the firm as possible through non-billable stuff, again if parternship is something you're after.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:37 am

androstan wrote:That doesn't sound totally bizarre. 1900 is a little under-market, but it's just an "expectation" and a bare-minimum one. You can skate by for several years at most big firms doing the bare minimum hours as long as your work product is good and your relationships with your superiors are strong. If you want to make partner you'll work very hard and the "billable hours expectation" is something you're only dimly aware of because it's completely irrelevant to you. From what I hear, you want to be billing a healthy amount above the expectation and additionally showing as much commitment to the firm as possible through non-billable stuff, again if parternship is something you're after.


Thanks! That makes sense - the firm is NY V100, but also pays a tad "below market," making the below-market billables sound about right. Also, there is no ( < 1:1 ) partner leverage, so it's definitely the type of place where partnership is within reach ... looks like I'll want to break that 1900 then.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks! That makes sense - the firm is NY V100, but also pays a tad "below market," making the below-market billables sound about right. Also, there is no ( < 1:1 ) partner leverage, so it's definitely the type of place where partnership is within reach ... looks like I'll want to break that 1900 then.


This might be a stupid question, but is it better to go to a firm with a larger number of partners to associates, regarding partnership track. For example, if a firm has 80 partners to 50 associates, is this a firm that pushes associates out the door or one where the odds are in you favor in terms of making partner? I know it is a case by case type of a thing, but I was wondering if anyone could comment on this?

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:My SA firm has a 1900 billables requirement, and say they expect associates to work 2200 actual hours.

That seems way too reasonable. Am I missing something?

Corporate associate here. I think there's something worth mentioning that you might be "missing".

2200 hours sounds reasonable on its face. With two weeks' vacation it still comes out to less than 45 hours per week, which doesn't sound bad. But that's billed, and here's the thing about billing: As a junior associate, it's hard to control when you have work to do. Even if you keep volunteering for assignments, you will still have downtime.

Right now I'm staffed on two major projects, and both are waiting on documents from the client before we can move. I don't know how long I'll be waiting for more work there, but I can't ask for yet another assignment to put on my plate. Those two projects can each keep me busy all day once they start moving, and if I tried to do a third thing and all those documents dropped before I was finished, I'd have to either quit the third thing or quit one of the projects I'm already on. That could really piss off the team I bailed on and make me look irresponsible. So today I'm just sitting around, waiting on two different clients, which means I'm here but I'm not billing.

Hitting 2200 hours won't be a problem for me. I'll likely bill more than 45 hours this week. But it'll be from billing 16 hours a day once those documents show up.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby androstan » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:58 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thanks! That makes sense - the firm is NY V100, but also pays a tad "below market," making the below-market billables sound about right. Also, there is no ( < 1:1 ) partner leverage, so it's definitely the type of place where partnership is within reach ... looks like I'll want to break that 1900 then.


This might be a stupid question, but is it better to go to a firm with a larger number of partners to associates, regarding partnership track. For example, if a firm has 80 partners to 50 associates, is this a firm that pushes associates out the door or one where the odds are in you favor in terms of making partner? I know it is a case by case type of a thing, but I was wondering if anyone could comment on this?


I know KNOW anything on this, but my sense is that the closer a firm/group has to a 1:1 ratio, the more favorably you should consider that firm/group. Too many partners and it looks like maybe they push associates out the door. Additionally you will have fewer "peers" to work with and go to, and go out with. It's possible that each associate they hire they intend to make partner, but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me intuitively because it's so hard to tell if someone is smart/talented enough to make a good partner so early. And even if you could tell if they were smart and talented enough, there's no guarantee they even want partnership. And even if they do want partnership, there's no guarantee they won't change their mind in the next 10 years. And even if they don't change their mind in the next 10 years, there's no guarantee they want to remain a partner at this firm... so yeah I doubt it. Otoh with too many associates you definitely know that some are not making partner, and you worry a little that hordes of associates are being hired as "cheap labor" to leverage, but at least you have a healthy pool of "peers" to work with and go to for help, and possibly befriend outside work. When you get closer to a 1:1 ratio, some of the above concerns seem mitigated somewhat.

That's what my gut tells me. I have no direct experience or facts to back this up.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby androstan » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:01 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My SA firm has a 1900 billables requirement, and say they expect associates to work 2200 actual hours.

That seems way too reasonable. Am I missing something?

Corporate associate here. I think there's something worth mentioning that you might be "missing".

2200 hours sounds reasonable on its face. With two weeks' vacation it still comes out to less than 45 hours per week, which doesn't sound bad. But that's billed, and here's the thing about billing: As a junior associate, it's hard to control when you have work to do. Even if you keep volunteering for assignments, you will still have downtime.



Check OP.

Arguably if you're gunning for partner you probably want to be hitting at least 2200 billables at a 1900 minimum firm, but that's not the argument you're making here.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby Georgiana » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My SA firm has a 1900 billables requirement, and say they expect associates to work 2200 actual hours.

That seems way too reasonable. Am I missing something?

Corporate associate here. I think there's something worth mentioning that you might be "missing".

2200 hours sounds reasonable on its face. With two weeks' vacation it still comes out to less than 45 hours per week, which doesn't sound bad. But that's billed, and here's the thing about billing: As a junior associate, it's hard to control when you have work to do. Even if you keep volunteering for assignments, you will still have downtime.

Right now I'm staffed on two major projects, and both are waiting on documents from the client before we can move. I don't know how long I'll be waiting for more work there, but I can't ask for yet another assignment to put on my plate. Those two projects can each keep me busy all day once they start moving, and if I tried to do a third thing and all those documents dropped before I was finished, I'd have to either quit the third thing or quit one of the projects I'm already on. That could really piss off the team I bailed on and make me look irresponsible. So today I'm just sitting around, waiting on two different clients, which means I'm here but I'm not billing.

Hitting 2200 hours won't be a problem for me. I'll likely bill more than 45 hours this week. But it'll be from billing 16 hours a day once those documents show up.

Its 1900 billed, with the understanding you're probably "working" 2200, so it does take that concept into account.

The expectation isn't bad, but it depends on the firm and the people you work with. Maybe the published expectation is 1900 but really they want hours above 2100 or you get a bad review, or maybe they're slow enough that its actually hard to meet the 1900 hours which will lead to a lot of stress on your end. Either way, most firms give a lot of leeway the first year as an associate and understand that it'll take 3-6 months to really ramp up to having "regular" hours (meaning consistently around 170).

Keep an eye out while you're a summer to see when people are coming in and leaving and whether they're working from home on nights and weekends. It should be pretty easy to figure out whether there is an unspoken expectation.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby anon168 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:My SA firm has a 1900 billables requirement, and say they expect associates to work 2200 actual hours.

That seems way too reasonable. Am I missing something?


This whole post is silly.

Minimum billables is the greatest gimmick law firms and law firm partners ever invented to fuck associates.

Minimum billables, no matter how high or low they are set, work only to an associate's detriment, never to her benefit.

If you hit 1900 billables in October, you think you can take the rest of the year off? No, it just means you work even fucking more.

If you haven't hit 1900 billables come December 30, you'd better start calling those HH friends of yours.

What associates should really want is a maximum billable hours requirement. Now, that would be something to talk 'bout.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby RVP11 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:30 am

Don't even pay attention to the stated minimum. Ask an associate with more seniority than you (a) what you need to bill, at minimum, to keep your job and (b) what you need to bill, at minimum, to have a shot at partner.

Some firms say they have a minimum of 1800 and secretly require 2000+. Some say they have a minimum of 1800 and yet they'll never fire anyone billing 1700. Some say they have no minimum and require 2000+.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:35 am

androstan wrote:Check OP.

Arguably if you're gunning for partner you probably want to be hitting at least 2200 billables at a 1900 minimum firm, but that's not the argument you're making here.

Here's how I read OP: The firm has a "minimum" requirement of 1900 hours, but still expects you to bill 2200. 2100-2200 is pretty normal in NYC at least, from what I can tell. This isn't about gunning for partner; there's just that much work to do. I'd be shocked if someone here came in as low as 1900 without ducking assignments.

You will bill at least 2200 a year here, regardless of the minimum, so I was discussing how reasonable or unreasonable billing 2200 can be.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby androstan » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:
androstan wrote:Check OP.

Arguably if you're gunning for partner you probably want to be hitting at least 2200 billables at a 1900 minimum firm, but that's not the argument you're making here.

Here's how I read OP: The firm has a "minimum" requirement of 1900 hours, but still expects you to bill 2200. 2100-2200 is pretty normal in NYC at least, from what I can tell. This isn't about gunning for partner; there's just that much work to do. I'd be shocked if someone here came in as low as 1900 without ducking assignments.

You will bill at least 2200 a year here, regardless of the minimum, so I was discussing how reasonable or unreasonable billing 2200 can be.


I read OP as saying that the firm expects 1900 billables to take around 2200 actual hours of work.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:34 pm

1900 is child's play. That said, billing the minimum is a quick way to find yourself on the shortlist for the next round of associate layoffs at your firm (stealth or not).

My firm has no minimum billable requirement. I should bill about 2400 hours by the end of this year. I like that number. It shows you work your ass off, but its not insane to the point where people question your work product and the veracity of your billing entries. Further, it allows some time for other activities like client-building and client relations, etc. Oh, and you can still go home at that number too.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:42 pm

associate here at nyc vault firm. im on track to build around 1900. no body would guess it though. i often work weekends and often stay in the office until 9 or 10, sometimes later. the reason is because my day mostly consists of coming in around 10. doing nothing until about 1 or 2. and then start working. this is the life of a junior associate. the hours aren't bad - its the variablity.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:associate here at nyc vault firm. im on track to build around 1900. no body would guess it though. i often work weekends and often stay in the office until 9 or 10, sometimes later. the reason is because my day mostly consists of coming in around 10. doing nothing until about 1 or 2. and then start working. this is the life of a junior associate. the hours aren't bad - its the variablity.


Sorry your firm doesn't have a massive doc review project you can get easy hours on, bro.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:46 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:associate here at nyc vault firm. im on track to build around 1900. no body would guess it though. i often work weekends and often stay in the office until 9 or 10, sometimes later. the reason is because my day mostly consists of coming in around 10. doing nothing until about 1 or 2. and then start working. this is the life of a junior associate. the hours aren't bad - its the variablity.


Sorry your firm doesn't have a massive doc review project you can get easy hours on, bro.


corporate here bro. due diligence has quick turnaround and is not so massive here to take up more than an evening or two.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby EvilClinton » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:46 pm

You have to be pretty efficient to bill 1900 out of 2200 hours at work. I would think that working 2400 for 1900 billable is more in line with reality.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:26 pm

androstan wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
androstan wrote:Check OP.

Arguably if you're gunning for partner you probably want to be hitting at least 2200 billables at a 1900 minimum firm, but that's not the argument you're making here.

Here's how I read OP: The firm has a "minimum" requirement of 1900 hours, but still expects you to bill 2200. 2100-2200 is pretty normal in NYC at least, from what I can tell. This isn't about gunning for partner; there's just that much work to do. I'd be shocked if someone here came in as low as 1900 without ducking assignments.

You will bill at least 2200 a year here, regardless of the minimum, so I was discussing how reasonable or unreasonable billing 2200 can be.


I read OP as saying that the firm expects 1900 billables to take around 2200 actual hours of work.


OP here. This is the correct interpretation; the firm expects 1900 billable hours, but 2200 total hours (including client development, professional development, yada yada). They do a bit of pushing out around the 5-6 year mark, which would explain why there are more partners than associates (but, this doesn't seem too out-of-the-ordinary). That said, my gut also tells me that I have a far better opportunity to make partner than I would at a 4:1 behemoth.

The impression I'm getting, then, is that despite this minimum, I should expect to do more like 2100-2400 billables if I want to look good, and then it'll probably be more like 2800 total.

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Re: Billable Hours, Really

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:09 pm

can anyone confirm or deny the accuracy of the NALP "average billables" and "average hours worked" for associates?




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