Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

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Anonymous User
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Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:56 am

I suffer extreme mental fatigue after working for a few hours straight and find that I do my best work by taking frequent short breaks. I'm a K-JD and have always studied in an on-and-off pattern; for instance, 20 minutes of work, 5 minutes of browsing the 'net, 25 minutes of work, 3 minutes to grab a snack, 15 minutes of work, 5 minute walk, and so forth. I can keep going at this rate indefinitely (I studied like this for ~14 hours a day for at least a month before first semester exams - I'm now in the top percentile of my class and working as a 2L SA).

I guess what I'm asking is whether that's an acceptable way to go about my day in a big law firm. I'm more than willing (and intend) to stay later in the day to make up the billable hours I lose by taking these breaks. Is it expected that I will sit at my desk for 10 hours or so every day without looking up from my work except to eat lunch? Should I try to keep my work habits a secret? Or should I try to change?

BeenDidThat
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby BeenDidThat » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I suffer extreme mental fatigue after working for a few hours straight and find that I do my best work by taking frequent short breaks. I'm a K-JD and have always studied in an on-and-off pattern; for instance, 20 minutes of work, 5 minutes of browsing the 'net, 25 minutes of work, 3 minutes to grab a snack, 15 minutes of work, 5 minute walk, and so forth. I can keep going at this rate indefinitely (I studied like this for ~14 hours a day for at least a month before first semester exams - I'm now in the top percentile of my class and working as a 2L SA).

I guess what I'm asking is whether that's an acceptable way to go about my day in a big law firm. I'm more than willing (and intend) to stay later in the day to make up the billable hours I lose by taking these breaks. Is it expected that I will sit at my desk for 10 hours or so every day without looking up from my work except to eat lunch? Should I try to keep my work habits a secret? Or should I try to change?


As long as you aren't conspicuous about it, I don't think it will matter. Moreover, it works for you, fuck what anybody says.

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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:11 pm

If you cannot sit there for more than 20 mintes without a break, you might encounter some problems because often you get assignments that needed to be out the door 2 hours ago. You need to focus and turn out good quality work product on a tight timeframe. With that said, I often take a lot of mini-breaks too. I keep gmail open all day, gchat with friends, frequently get up for water/coffee/bathroom trips. Of course, I would never advertise that you are taking a lot of little breaks or that you need to do it...people will think you are weird/lazy if you advertise it. Perception matters a LOT. The partners are so busy, they do not have time to think about your schedule or your work habits... so long as they perceive a hard worker who produces good quality, they could give 2 shits about how you accomplish it.

The difference between academia and working is that with work you have real pressure deadlines that you need to meet. Unless you are a procrastinator (like me), you don't get that in academia so much. The pressure helps you focus. I'm sure you will be fine. No sense worrying about what you cannot control.

If you told me before I started at a big firm 3 years ago that I would go through stints of regularly working 15+ hour days (or going on no sleep), I would have never thought I had the physical capacity...but I've done it fine. Better than most. You don't know your limits until you push them.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

NYstate
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby NYstate » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I suffer extreme mental fatigue after working for a few hours straight and find that I do my best work by taking frequent short breaks. I'm a K-JD and have always studied in an on-and-off pattern; for instance, 20 minutes of work, 5 minutes of browsing the 'net, 25 minutes of work, 3 minutes to grab a snack, 15 minutes of work, 5 minute walk, and so forth. I can keep going at this rate indefinitely (I studied like this for ~14 hours a day for at least a month before first semester exams - I'm now in the top percentile of my class and working as a 2L SA).

I guess what I'm asking is whether that's an acceptable way to go about my day in a big law firm. I'm more than willing (and intend) to stay later in the day to make up the billable hours I lose by taking these breaks. Is it expected that I will sit at my desk for 10 hours or so every day without looking up from my work except to eat lunch? Should I try to keep my work habits a secret? Or should I try to change?


Is a bathroom break or getting a cup of coffee enough?
Can you sustain this work pattern over months?

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KD35
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby KD35 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:13 pm

Also, and this is not personal experience but from the wisdom collected here, I believe you need to bill in 15 min increments anyway, so you need to just be able to work for 15 mins to at least bill the hours.

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thesealocust
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby thesealocust » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If you cannot sit there for more than 20 mintes without a break, you might encounter some problems because often you get assignments that needed to be out the door 2 hours ago. You need to focus and turn out good quality work product on a tight timeframe. With that said, I often take a lot of mini-breaks too. I keep gmail open all day, gchat with friends, frequently get up for water/coffee/bathroom trips. Of course, I would never advertise that you are taking a lot of little breaks or that you need to do it...people will think you are weird/lazy if you advertise it.

The difference between academia and working is that with work you have real pressure deadlines that you need to meet. Unless you are a procrastinator (like me), you don't get that in academia so much. The pressure helps you focus. I'm sure you will be fine. No sense worrying about what you cannot control.

If you told me before I started at a big firm 3 years ago that I would go through stints of regularly working 15+ hour days (or going on no sleep), I would have never thought I had the physical capacity...but I've done it fine. Better than most. You don't know your limits until you push them.


This sounds spot on. Nobody will be standing over your shoulder making sure you pause your timer for a trip to the water fountain or while you pay a credit card bill. If you leave for 30 minutes to meet a friend for coffee, you can make the day progress without missing a beat... most days.

If you do good work, meet deadlines, and don't smell bad you'll find you can get away with almost anything. To achieve those three goals at an intense biglaw firm will require sometimes insane discipline, but if you make it from A to B in this world nobody really cares how you did it.

KD35 wrote:Also, and this is not personal experience but from the wisdom collected here, I believe you need to bill in 15 min increments anyway, so you need to just be able to work for 15 mins to at least bill the hours.


:lol: adorable

First, billing increments are usually 1/10th of an hour, i.e. 6 minutes.

Second, you'll discover that billing is more of an art than a science. You have an obligation to honestly record your time, you do not have an obligation to account for every millisecond activity with precision that would withstand an audit.
Last edited by thesealocust on Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:17 pm

KD35 wrote:Also, and this is not personal experience but from the wisdom collected here, I believe you need to bill in 15 min increments anyway, so you need to just be able to work for 15 mins to at least bill the hours.


6 minute increments, actually.

And I got out-negotiated by my damn secretary so I'm entering my own time.

Anonymous User
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:22 pm

No one will care about your work habits as long as you can complete your assignments on time. Sometimes you'll need to work for several hours without interruption to meet a deadline; other times you'll be able to take as many Internet and coffee breaks as you desire.

That said, if you end up taking tons of breaks, you'll probably either (a) spend way more time in the office than you should, or (b) keep the timer running during lengthy Internet breaks. Assuming you don't want to spend an extra two hours/day at the office or commit fraud, it's proabably best to learn how to focus.

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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby anongoodnurse » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:15 pm

I suffer extreme mental fatigue after working for a few hours straight and find that I do my best work by taking frequent short breaks. I'm a K-JD and have always studied in an on-and-off pattern; for instance, 20 minutes of work, 5 minutes of browsing the 'net, 25 minutes of work, 3 minutes to grab a snack, 15 minutes of work, 5 minute walk, and so forth. I can keep going at this rate indefinitely (I studied like this for ~14 hours a day for at least a month before first semester exams - I'm now in the top percentile of my class and working as a 2L SA).


Setting aside the question of whether you SHOULD get a bad rep, if you get a reputation as someone who can't work for more than a half hour or so without losing focus, it's going to be really bad as a junior associate. I mean, this is literally the biggest gripe about millenials. Everything you do wrong will be blamed on a short attention span. If I was you, I'd go out of my way to avoid giving the impression that I can only concentrate on something for an hour or two at a time.

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KD35
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby KD35 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:
KD35 wrote:Also, and this is not personal experience but from the wisdom collected here, I believe you need to bill in 15 min increments anyway, so you need to just be able to work for 15 mins to at least bill the hours.


6 minute increments, actually.

And I got out-negotiated by my damn secretary so I'm entering my own time.


Random amount of time...that's dumb.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:46 am

KD35 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
KD35 wrote:Also, and this is not personal experience but from the wisdom collected here, I believe you need to bill in 15 min increments anyway, so you need to just be able to work for 15 mins to at least bill the hours.


6 minute increments, actually.

And I got out-negotiated by my damn secretary so I'm entering my own time.


Random amount of time...that's dumb.

1/10 of an hour, so no more random than 15 minutes.

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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby kryptix » Mon Jun 03, 2013 11:10 am

A lot of practices bill in 1/6s or 10 minute increments too, I think only bankruptcy is tied down to 1/10s...

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Jun 03, 2013 11:16 am

kryptix wrote:A lot of practices bill in 1/6s or 10 minute increments too, I think only bankruptcy is tied down to 1/10s...

No, the general litigation firm I worked for billed in 6 min. increments.

ZyzzBrah
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby ZyzzBrah » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:50 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
kryptix wrote:A lot of practices bill in 1/6s or 10 minute increments too, I think only bankruptcy is tied down to 1/10s...

No, the general litigation firm I worked for billed in 6 min. increments.


6 minutes here too

To op: it won't matter unless you cant get work done on time imo, but it depends on the firm i would assume. I mean do you think anyone actually works 10-12 hours everyday in an office

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thesealocust
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:07 pm

I derive special joy from popping onto TLS inbetween emergencies, fire drills, etc. during the day. There's also a 98% chance that facebook/gchat/youtube/whatever are open in the tabs of an attorney whose computer I see at any given point during the day.

Lawyers are, despite what you may have been lead to believe, humans too.

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kalvano
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby kalvano » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:15 pm

The ultimate answer is that no one cares as long as you aren't obvious about it, get your work done in a timely fashion, and are billing accurately.

But the real issue is that this is, ultimately, an unsustainable way to work in the real world.

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Bronte
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby Bronte » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:31 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
kryptix wrote:A lot of practices bill in 1/6s or 10 minute increments too, I think only bankruptcy is tied down to 1/10s...

No, the general litigation firm I worked for billed in 6 min. increments.


Not sure why we're debating this, but it is definitely the case that some practices at some firms bill in larger increments. Bankruptcy courts require by law that fee applications come in tenth of an hour increments, so they are "tied down" like he said.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:36 pm

Bronte wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
kryptix wrote:A lot of practices bill in 1/6s or 10 minute increments too, I think only bankruptcy is tied down to 1/10s...

No, the general litigation firm I worked for billed in 6 min. increments.


Not sure why we're debating this, but it is definitely the case that some practices at some firms bill in larger increments. Bankruptcy courts require by law that fee applications come in tenth of an hour increments, so they are "tied down" like he said.

Oh, I didn't mean no firms used other increments or that 1/10 was required of all firms. I just meant that it isn't only BK firms that bill in 1/10s (I read the "only bankruptcy" bit as meaning "only BK firms bill in 1/10s," not as "only BK firms *are required* to bill in 1/10s," my bad).

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Bronte
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby Bronte » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:49 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Oh, I didn't mean no firms used other increments or that 1/10 was required of all firms. I just meant that it isn't only BK firms that bill in 1/10s (I read the "only bankruptcy" bit as meaning "only BK firms bill in 1/10s," not as "only BK firms *are required* to bill in 1/10s," my bad).


No problem. Phew, glad we got that cleared up though. :D

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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby kryptix » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:34 pm

Bronte wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Oh, I didn't mean no firms used other increments or that 1/10 was required of all firms. I just meant that it isn't only BK firms that bill in 1/10s (I read the "only bankruptcy" bit as meaning "only BK firms bill in 1/10s," not as "only BK firms *are required* to bill in 1/10s," my bad).


No problem. Phew, glad we got that cleared up though. :D


Haha thanks for defending me. Yeah that's what I meant, for us it's 1/10ths in general, 1/6ths for BK, and some clients get what they want, such as each task broken down by line in 1/10ths rather than 6.84 hours: Conference call re: matter; legal research re: the same; drafting re: te same.

There's no point in worrying if your busy.

Pokemon
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby Pokemon » Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:14 am

I am the same way. But, if you are busy, a break every twenty minutes sounds too much since it does not let you concentrate. Especially, if your break is to browse the net, since it takes some time to get back to the idea where you are at and the net is not relaxing to the brain.

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Barack O'Drama
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby Barack O'Drama » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:34 am

This may be naive on my part, but... besides integrity/committing fraud what deters attorneys from fudging their billable hours?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:44 am

Barack O'Drama wrote:This may be naive on my part, but... besides integrity/committing fraud what deters attorneys from fudging their billable hours?

Well, integrity and not wanting to commit fraud...

Also, a lot of the time whoever's looking at your hours has some sense of how long things should take - obviously that's not infallible, but if everything do is taking longer than it should, someone would probably notice. Whether this would bother a firm or not is a totally different question, but I think if you're padding significantly and no one else is, someone would notice. (Operative words: significantly and no one else. If you're working somewhere everyone pads their hours...)

Of course, an obvious way to get caught is to be working on an assignment with other people, and put down more time than they do.

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Barack O'Drama
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby Barack O'Drama » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:58 am

TY Good points!

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Are frequent breaks unacceptable during biglaw job?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:03 am

Keep in mind I may be naive to think anyone cares! Whenever padding hours come up here, you get a debate between "how dare you presume I would treat my client that way or my firm would accept it!" and "everybody pads their hours, it's basically required, and you'll get fired if you don't." My only experience is as a SA so I can't weigh in on that. I think my shorter point is that the firm looks over your hours before they bill a client, so they should at least fit firm norms (whatever those may be).




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