Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

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bigpapi
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby bigpapi » Fri Aug 26, 2016 5:11 pm

Glasseyes wrote:Is matrimonial law a euphemism for divorce law or what?


Yeah. However, a "divorce" lawyer may handle a prenup for a couple that never gets divorced, for example, so I can see why they would want to avoid the negative association with divorce.

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Glasseyes
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Glasseyes » Sat Aug 27, 2016 12:20 am

bigpapi wrote:
Glasseyes wrote:Is matrimonial law a euphemism for divorce law or what?


Yeah. However, a "divorce" lawyer may handle a prenup for a couple that never gets divorced, for example, so I can see why they would want to avoid the negative association with divorce.


"Eternal bliss law"

Anonymous User
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 27, 2016 12:05 pm

This was a great thread. Am inspired to give an overview of one of my favorite aspects of general litigation - the e-discovery process. I'm a midlevel associate at a large NYC-centric biglaw firm.

E-Discovery Through The Joy Of Third-Party Subpoenas!

It's really difficult to break down exactly what a general litigator does at the junior or midlevel ranks because it is so varied. I might get staffed on some massive worldwide internal investigation that involves heavy document review and interview prep. Might also be some relatively low-value (tens of millions) commercial litigation dispute with limited document production where I will be writing the first drafts of briefs with limited partner involvement. I would say my work breaks down 40% discovery, 40% writing, and 20% management and other kinds of admin tasks. But since e-discovery is such a huge part of general lit practice I thought I would give readers an insight into it through the lens of a pretty simple discovery matter - the third-party subpoena.

Any NYC biglaw firm is going to have a fair number of banking, funds, or insurance clients that receive a lot of third-party subpoenas to produce documents. These usually relate to companies or individuals they are doing business with. What happens is that an in-house lawyer or some business person at the client will get a subpoena requiring them to produce documents within 20 or 30 days. This subpoena will be drafted to request every single document even tangentially relevant to the any issue in the litigation. If it's a business person they will usually have some idea of the subject-matter. They give it to in-house counsel, who will determine if it is the sort of thing that can be handled in-house. Larger clients will handle these in-house unless it's a subpoena from a government agency, like the SEC or DOJ, or it's part of some massive litigation and will clearly require heavy lifting. If the client is a small shop with an in-house team composed mostly of former corporate associates, they will usually farm out even simpler subpoenas to outside counsel.

In-house counsel has two immediate questions for the partner: (1) are we somehow going to get dragged into whatever litigation/investigation this is as a party, and (2) how much is getting rid of this going to cost. The answer to the second question may depend on the answer to the first, but if the answer to the first is yes, then the client has bigger things to worry about than just costs.

Depending on the partner involved and the nature of the subpoena, you might be anywhere from a first-year to a more senior associate. The partner will shoot you an email with the subpoena and some news article or email from the client that describes the background in vague terms and will ask you to find out everything you possibly can about the subject-matter of the case, procedural posture, and any topics addressed in the subpoena. This in preparation for a call that is almost always pre-scheduled for a couple hours from when you get the email. You figure this out by dropping whatever you are doing and frantically Googling and checking the case docket on PACER. At this point, the procedural posture of the case is the most important thing because it will determine how aggressive the other side will be, how willing they are to go to the judge if you don't start turning over documents like now, and therefore how many hours you will have to work over the next few weeks.

You will then have a call with the client’s in-house lawyer, where the partner will tell the in-house lawyer what is going on and based on their experience how much room they have to negotiate the subpoena away or severely limit it. Unsophisticated clients who see SUBPOENA and get scared are usually relieved at this point, but it is standard practice to draft these things as sort of an "opening offer" to leave room to negotiate the requests down.

You will then have a 30 minute to an hour call with the relevant personnel at the client who were involved with whatever event or person triggered the subpoena. You can sense that this person utterly despises you as they (correctly) surmise that you are going to be bothering them a lot and that they will have to do a lot of unnecessary document collection and (mostly incorrectly) suspect that they may have done something wrong. You will ask them about their substantive knowledge of the topics in the subpoena as well as where/how they store relevant documents. You do not tell them that depending on their level of involvement with the matter, they might be subpoenaed to testify at a deposition, since that is going to make them "forget" stuff that it will become quickly apparent that they probably remember, and will make it that much harder for you as the associate to get a handle on the facts. Depending on your seniority and the partner’s personal whims you may handle this call entirely by yourself, ask only about the technical aspects (we will get to those in a second) or you may say nothing.

Ideally, you learn that the opposing side was mistaken about your client's level of involvement and that you really have no documents or information to provide them, or that the client has a limited number of documents stored in a single folder on their computer that they can put on a flash drive and messenger over to you. If you are unlucky, this will be some bankruptcy case or Delaware merger litigation with a hard deadline, 40 individual requests for production, and your client was deeply involved with one of the parties and probably has thousands of documents that are necessary to the resolution of the matter and this is obvious to everyone involved, including the Court. (If it's a government subpoena, things get simpler - you generally be as cooperative as possible assuming your client is not potentially a target of any investigation).

Once you have a handle on whether you have responsive documents, the next call is to the opposing side. In a typical litigation, you can usually get a several week or month extension to submit what are called “responses and objections” where you go through every request and state whether you will produce documents and if so, what your limitations are. For example, you might state you won't produce documents to the extent that they are irrelevant to the issues in the case, doing so would be burdensome, privileged, confidential/personal, etc. etc. You will spend a lot of time drafting these to perfection, making sure all defined terms are correct, every paragraph is properly spaced and indented, etc. etc. Nobody will ever read these. If someone designed an app to auto-generate them they would make millions.

You then will engage in a series of calls with the other side, called a meet and confer, that can drag on for weeks or months. If a government subpoena these will be more like update calls, as you are going to turn over everything anyway and the question is just how quickly they need it. But if producing to a private party, you will offer to turn over everything you have immediately at hand that is obviously relevant to the subpoena and nothing else. Their objective will be to get you to run a series of broad search terms through your client's email servers or hard drives, for as many custodians and as wide a date range as possible, in order to pull back every document that could possibly be called for by their subpoena (which will inevitably include many times more completely irrelevant/non-responsive documents than relevant/responsive ones.)

If you're a senior associate you can do these on your own, usually with another senior associate on the other side. If you are more junior associate the partner will probably do them. The idea is to either reach an agreement about the scope of the searches you will conduct that is reasonable for your client and for which the other side thinks that they have gotten everything they need and that a motion to compel you to produce more documents would likely just piss off the judge, or to demonstrate, through a series of passive-aggressive emails that become more and more aggressive as time goes on, why what the other side is requesting is irrelevant, burdensome, privileged, etc. Nobody likes going to the judge - judges hate dealing with discovery bullshit but also will issue random decisions, so if you go to the judge and lose, suddenly you could be ordered to turn over a million documents or some crazy number that you would have no had to turn over if you'd been willing to work with the other side. Whatever the approach, you want to delay the end result for as long as possible in hopes the case will settle, which the client always appreciates because it saves review time and thus money.

At this point you will probably get your litigation support teams involved. These are attorneys or tech folks who know literally everything there is to know about documents, such as where and how documents are stored on computers and servers, how to get them, the best vendors for data storage and processing, how to design efficient review workflows using document review tools like Relativity, or the staffing agencies for temporary document help. Be really nice to these people all the time. As the associate, your job is to tell them the scope of the review and to run interference between them and the partners - although you know nothing about this stuff at first, you are paid the huge salary and have the JD and so you are on the hook if things get screwed up, not them.

The meet and confer process can go on for months, but eventually discovery is going to close in the case and the other side is going to start pushing you to produce, threatening to go to the judge to compel you to produce the documents by a certain date so they can use them at depositions and trial. Assuming you reach an agreement on the scope of the review, you then go back to the client and collect the documents - lit support will usually handle this with the client's IT dep't directly. The partner now drops off the face of the earth entirely, just in time for you to start running searches and pulling back tens or hundreds of thousands of results and the client's in-house lawyers and business people to start freaking the fuck right out, as every document might as well be a stack of money. Your job is to reassure them that the review will be done efficiently so that the partner does not have to get involved directly, while pushing back on their instinct to cut costs by doing something that will make your life more stressful and end up costing more in the end.

A common heart attack moment for a junior lit associate is to get that first search term hit report with some massive number of documents and to then realize you have to produce them in some absurdly short time like a couple of weeks, without disclosing anything that is not responsive or potentially privileged, and to do this without running up a million dollar bill which you assume will get written off at the same time you get shitcanned. This is whether your lit support people will save your ass. There are a bunch of ways to reduce the number of documents you need to actually read closely, deduping (removing exact duplicates), dethreading (reviewing only the top email in the thread and then applying coding automatically to other emails), batch coding, highlighting names of attorneys and common privilege terms, running exclusionary searches, reviewing domains and subject lines in an excel to weed out junk, etc, and you will turn those tens of thousands of documents into a manageable little bundle of a few hundred which you can review on a nice night over a couple of beers.

The partner has been checked out for a while now, but your job is to keep things moving with the review, get productions out, know the documents and your client's role in the case cold, and send them occasionally "hot" or interesting documents. All throughout this process you will be getting loaded up with work on other matters where your client is actually a party, and this matter will fall to the wayside. The associate on the other side will start sending you shitty emails every couple days demanding to know where you are with your productions, asking for a response by some arbitrary deadline, and generally challenging your competence (or even asking you to bring in another lawyer who has "more capacity to give attention to the matter"). They will usually cc your partner which will prompt a "where are we on this" or similar email. Although the first couple of times you get these emails you assume you've fucked up somewhere along the line because you won't meet their deadline, once you see this happen enough times you realize that the threats are largely empty. If they get mad enough you can drop a few hundred documents you know aren't privileged on them which should shut them up because they aren't going to waste time going to the court when you have clearly been attempting to comply.

There's a million things that we haven't touched on yet. Using contract attorneys for massive reviews would take a whole post as long as this one, for example.

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zot1
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby zot1 » Sat Aug 27, 2016 11:27 pm

I really want to read your post, but those are some thick paragraphs.

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navykev
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby navykev » Sun Aug 28, 2016 7:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:This was a great thread. Am inspired to give an overview of one of my favorite aspects of general litigation - the e-discovery process. I'm a midlevel associate at a large NYC-centric biglaw firm.

E-Discovery Through The Joy Of Third-Party Subpoenas!


Brilliant! Thanks for the post.

bigpapi
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby bigpapi » Sun Aug 28, 2016 2:28 pm

Glasseyes wrote:
bigpapi wrote:
Glasseyes wrote:Is matrimonial law a euphemism for divorce law or what?


Yeah. However, a "divorce" lawyer may handle a prenup for a couple that never gets divorced, for example, so I can see why they would want to avoid the negative association with divorce.


"Eternal bliss law"


Heh.

For what it's worth, I've never heard of a self-described "matrimonial lawyer." There seem to be two types out there: "Family" lawyers who handle all the nasty stuff related to marriage and divorce, as well as adoptions, representing minors in emancipation proceedings, and possibly some basic trust/estate work. Truly anything under the umbrella of "family." Then there are "divorce" lawyers, hired guns for screwing your soon-to-be-ex-spouse as hard and deep as possible.

Genius
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Genius » Fri Sep 02, 2016 12:55 pm

Do you guys have your personal cellphone # and direct line on your business card? one or both or none?

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Danger Zone
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Danger Zone » Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:30 pm

Genius wrote:Do you guys have your personal cellphone # and direct line on your business card? one or both or none?

Direct line only. Someone from my class year threw herself on the sword so that none of us had to list our cell phone numbers on either the website or our business cards (whicis was previously required at my firm).

Genius
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Genius » Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:18 pm

Danger Zone wrote:
Genius wrote:Do you guys have your personal cellphone # and direct line on your business card? one or both or none?

Direct line only. Someone from my class year threw herself on the sword so that none of us had to list our cell phone numbers on either the website or our business cards (whicis was previously required at my firm).


Do clients/weird ppl call u on ur cell a lot? I thought about it but realized i didn't want direct access to me by the public.

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kellyfrost
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby kellyfrost » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:43 pm

Genius wrote:Do you guys have your personal cellphone # and direct line on your business card? one or both or none?


Work cell phone on the business card. In this day and age th office land line is basically useless. You don't want your clients thinking thats the only way to directly contact you.

Email and text are huge.

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Danger Zone
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Danger Zone » Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:05 pm

Genius wrote:
Danger Zone wrote:
Genius wrote:Do you guys have your personal cellphone # and direct line on your business card? one or both or none?

Direct line only. Someone from my class year threw herself on the sword so that none of us had to list our cell phone numbers on either the website or our business cards (whicis was previously required at my firm).


Do clients/weird ppl call u on ur cell a lot? I thought about it but realized i didn't want direct access to me by the public.

Don't know if you missed this but I said I don't list my cell. I do send it to clients all the time though but at least I get to choose who has it and when.

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JenDarby
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby JenDarby » Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:06 pm

pls guys take this elsewhere

: )

FamilyLawEsq
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby FamilyLawEsq » Sat Sep 03, 2016 9:33 pm

bigpapi wrote:
Glasseyes wrote:
bigpapi wrote:
Glasseyes wrote:Is matrimonial law a euphemism for divorce law or what?


Yeah. However, a "divorce" lawyer may handle a prenup for a couple that never gets divorced, for example, so I can see why they would want to avoid the negative association with divorce.


"Eternal bliss law"


Heh.

For what it's worth, I've never heard of a self-described "matrimonial lawyer." There seem to be two types out there: "Family" lawyers who handle all the nasty stuff related to marriage and divorce, as well as adoptions, representing minors in emancipation proceedings, and possibly some basic trust/estate work. Truly anything under the umbrella of "family." Then there are "divorce" lawyers, hired guns for screwing your soon-to-be-ex-spouse as hard and deep as possible.


Divorce, matrimonial and family lawyer are all the same. It is usually a regional thing. Most of us use the more expansive family law description so one knows that we do more than give the opposing spouse a financial rectal exam in a divorce case.

Anonymous User
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:24 pm

Not sure where to ask this and didn't wanna start a thread. Does "reasonable moving expenses" include broker's fees in NYC?

Anonymous User
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:51 pm

V50 mid-level litigation associate, non-NYC

8:00am - wake up (don't judge me)
8:15am - respond to emails and such that have come in during the morning while i've been asleep
8:30am - get ready for work, skip breakfast (usually), starbucks if desperate for caffeine
9:30am - get into the office (I live nearby) -- 9am once a week for a team call (i get ready earlier in the day obv)
10:00am - more emails, phone calls with partners who've left me voicemails in the morning, administrative tasks
10:30am - finally start working, usually writing a brief or a motion or whatnot
12:30pm - pick up lunch nearby if the weather's nice, otherwise ubereats/postmates
12:45/1pm - read the news for 15-20ish minutes while eating lunch
1pm/1:15pm - start work again
3:00pm - call with client/partner/co-counsel/opposing counsel on some matter that isn't what i've been working on during the day
3:15pm - start putting out fire on other matter
7:00pm - go back to drafting whatever it was i was trying to draft at 10:30 this morning
7:45pm - order seamless
7:50pm - resume working
8:30pm - eat dinner, read news about donald trump, cry in corner for a little bit about the notion of president trump
9:00pm - get back to writing whatever it was i was trying to draft at 10:30 this morning
anywhere between 11pm-2am, depending on how busy things are - take uberhome, go to bed
anywhere between 11:30pm-2:30am, depending on what time i get home - buzzfeed/youtube/other timewasters for like 30 minutes or so

if things aren't busy, i'll usually go home at 7:30 or 8, nix seamless and taking an uber home. depending on the day, add in anywhere between half an hour and an hour and a half of nonbillable time. could be anything from bathroom breaks, to talking about fantasy football with another associate, to a firm meeting. i am not a model of efficiency. i can be if necessary, but i really don't like sitting in my office with the door closed trying to shut out everything that's happening around me in an effort to get home just a little bit earlier.

you work social events around the schedule -- it's not that you can't go to dinner with your friends or go to a baseball/basketball/football game, etc., it's that you have to work those things around your existing schedule.

busy-ish weekends (weekends to play catch up) look something like:

10:00am - wake up
12:00pm - lunch at hole-in-the-wall that i like going to on weekends
1:30pm - go into office
7:00pm - go home
8:00pm - eat dinner, get ready to go out with friends (saturdays)
8:30pm - start work again (sundays)
10:00pm - watch ballers
10:30pm - watch vice principals
11:00pm - watch last week tonight
11:30pm - think "damn, i wish i was as smart and funny as john oliver"
12am - start working again or go to bed, depending on how busy/tired i am

i've billed 12-13 hour weekend days, but that's really not normal, at least in my practice.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:Not sure where to ask this and didn't wanna start a thread. Does "reasonable moving expenses" include broker's fees in NYC?

Bump one of the many threads about living in NYC instead.

RaceJudicata
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby RaceJudicata » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:V50 mid-level litigation associate, non-NYC

8:00am - wake up (don't judge me)
8:15am - respond to emails and such that have come in during the morning while i've been asleep
8:30am - get ready for work, skip breakfast (usually), starbucks if desperate for caffeine
9:30am - get into the office (I live nearby) -- 9am once a week for a team call (i get ready earlier in the day obv)
10:00am - more emails, phone calls with partners who've left me voicemails in the morning, administrative tasks
10:30am - finally start working, usually writing a brief or a motion or whatnot
12:30pm - pick up lunch nearby if the weather's nice, otherwise ubereats/postmates
12:45/1pm - read the news for 15-20ish minutes while eating lunch
1pm/1:15pm - start work again
3:00pm - call with client/partner/co-counsel/opposing counsel on some matter that isn't what i've been working on during the day
3:15pm - start putting out fire on other matter
7:00pm - go back to drafting whatever it was i was trying to draft at 10:30 this morning
7:45pm - order seamless
7:50pm - resume working
8:30pm - eat dinner, read news about donald trump, cry in corner for a little bit about the notion of president trump
9:00pm - get back to writing whatever it was i was trying to draft at 10:30 this morning
anywhere between 11pm-2am, depending on how busy things are - take uberhome, go to bed
anywhere between 11:30pm-2:30am, depending on what time i get home - buzzfeed/youtube/other timewasters for like 30 minutes or so

if things aren't busy, i'll usually go home at 7:30 or 8, nix seamless and taking an uber home. depending on the day, add in anywhere between half an hour and an hour and a half of nonbillable time. could be anything from bathroom breaks, to talking about fantasy football with another associate, to a firm meeting. i am not a model of efficiency. i can be if necessary, but i really don't like sitting in my office with the door closed trying to shut out everything that's happening around me in an effort to get home just a little bit earlier.

you work social events around the schedule -- it's not that you can't go to dinner with your friends or go to a baseball/basketball/football game, etc., it's that you have to work those things around your existing schedule.

busy-ish weekends (weekends to play catch up) look something like:

10:00am - wake up
12:00pm - lunch at hole-in-the-wall that i like going to on weekends
1:30pm - go into office
7:00pm - go home
8:00pm - eat dinner, get ready to go out with friends (saturdays)
8:30pm - start work again (sundays)
10:00pm - watch ballers
10:30pm - watch vice principals
11:00pm - watch last week tonight
11:30pm - think "damn, i wish i was as smart and funny as john oliver"
12am - start working again or go to bed, depending on how busy/tired i am

i've billed 12-13 hour weekend days, but that's really not normal, at least in my practice.


Yikes. What are you on pace to bill? 9:30 - 11p (with 1-1.5 hrs non-billable time) + weekends... this is like 3000 billable hours on the low end of your ranges.

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rpupkin
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:18 pm

RaceJudicata wrote:Yikes. What are you on pace to bill? 9:30 - 11p (with 1-1.5 hrs non-billable time) + weekends... this is like 3000 billable hours on the low end of your ranges.

I see a lot more than 1 - 1.5 hours of non-billable time in there. And even when working, no one is 100% efficient (unless they lie/pad). That schedule looks fairly typical for a 2,500/yr associate.

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby RaceJudicata » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:00 am

rpupkin wrote:
RaceJudicata wrote:Yikes. What are you on pace to bill? 9:30 - 11p (with 1-1.5 hrs non-billable time) + weekends... this is like 3000 billable hours on the low end of your ranges.

I see a lot more than 1 - 1.5 hours of non-billable time in there. And even when working, no one is 100% efficient (unless they lie/pad). That schedule looks fairly typical for a 2,500/yr associate.


I agree, but i'm going off of his/her estimates. His/her ranges were .5-1.5 hours non billable per day.

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 08, 2016 4:04 am

RaceJudicata wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
RaceJudicata wrote:Yikes. What are you on pace to bill? 9:30 - 11p (with 1-1.5 hrs non-billable time) + weekends... this is like 3000 billable hours on the low end of your ranges.

I see a lot more than 1 - 1.5 hours of non-billable time in there. And even when working, no one is 100% efficient (unless they lie/pad). That schedule looks fairly typical for a 2,500/yr associate.


I agree, but i'm going off of his/her estimates. His/her ranges were .5-1.5 hours non billable per day.


OP here. I think I wrote "add in" an extra .5-1.5 hours of nonbillable time a day, on top of whatever nonbillable time I already had built in the schedule. I also do recruiting events (interviews, receptions), client development work, go to conferences, etc. -- stuff that pops up irregularly and eats into my billable day/week. So there's that. As the poster above you said, no one is 100% efficient, and in my OP I said something to the effect of "I am not a model of efficiency." Which is totally true. If it's not a super busy period, I could be in the office from 10 to 7, spend three hours doing nonbillable stuff (time entry, talking to colleagues, going to firm meetings, etc.), and only bill six hours for the day. I also don't work *every* weekend day -- I try not to, but if things get busy-ish (not even full-on busy), it's nice to clear stuff off your plate over the weekend. That said, I haven't taken a full weekend day off since June . . . .

Like any other BigLaw associate, I've had slow months, too. I'm on pace for somewhere between 2300-2400 -- we'll see how busy this month gets. I've also taken close to all of my vacation days (or will have by the end of the year). Work tends to lag when you get back from vacation -- in my experience, if you take a week off, it takes a week to get back into the full swing of things for billing (i.e., you may only bill 20-30 hours the week you get back from vacay because you're easing back into it). The longer you take off, the longer it takes to get back into the swing of things. That said, that's not necessarily true for everyone. You could spend a week in the Maldives (never been, random place), come back, and get slammed with a huge project.

I think I'm on the mid-to-high-ish end of the hours spectrum for lit associates at my firm, though there are some associates that have been billing several 300+ hour months.

RaceJudicata
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby RaceJudicata » Thu Sep 08, 2016 2:05 pm

Thanks for the clarification - makes plenty of sense. Also, I wasn't trying to say you were lying or anything of the sort...more feeling bad if in fact you were billing 2800+ hours. If it came off that way, my apologies.

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2016 2:24 am

Any Wilmington DE lawyers in here? Would love to hear some insight as to how chancery courts/DE biglaw works.

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2016 3:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any Wilmington DE lawyers in here? Would love to hear some insight as to how chancery courts/DE biglaw works.


While not a Wilmington attorney, my wife (not big law) is and I've got several former class mates that work there as well. The two I know in DE biglaw work very long hours. They are not in chancery practice but the nature of that practice (relatively quick but high stakes litigation, bench trials with huge battles over experts, etc) would lead me to think those hours are very intense. I interviewed with a plaintiffs' chancery firm (i.e. appraisal suits) and their associates were expected to log 200 hours a month. I'd think the defense side must be worse.

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kapital98
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby kapital98 » Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:30 pm

I worked for a year in legal aid and now own my own solo firm. At legal aid I did mostly eviction defense work with a little public assistance work on the side. In my solo firm I do primarily assigned counsel criminal work, assigned family work, retained divorces, and retained housing evictions. The day-to-day challenges are very different between jobs. I’ll describe both below. I’m condensing a number of partial days into one for a ‘general’ experience.

LEGAL AID

• Get to work at 9am. I worked with three other attorneys, a paralegal, and two secretaries. I had my office on the second floor. Almost every time I went to the first floor I’d check my mail. I’d do miscellaneous work.

• Have my first client meeting at 10am. Listen to someone’s story. Usually tell them there wasn’t much we could do unless we got lucky and: a) the private attorney made a procedural mistake; and, b) the town court justice (who isn’t a lawyer) agrees with the law.

• Make various phone calls until lunch. Meet with random new clients that showed up out of the blue.

• Take lunch at 12:30pm until 1:30pm. I would always pick up phone calls during lunch and meet with clients who randomly walked in.

• Go to court at 1:30 for an eviction hearing. Usually win. Sometimes we either wouldn’t have a very good case or the judge would simply ignore the written law.

• Get back to the office at 3pm. Talk to my boss over the phone or through email (he was located in a different regional office).

• Finish up various work and research until 5pm and I could leave.

• Occasionally stay up until god knows when for night court. Occasionally go back to the office after night court and stay there writing memos, motions, etc until midnight or later.


SOLO FIRM + ASSIGNED COUNSEL

• 9am: Sleep. My office hours are 10-5. I’ll often sleep on my office’s futon if I have an early hearing the next morning. I’ll also often be woken up by client’s calling at the weirdest hours (say, 7:30am on a Monday morning). It’s shocking how many calls I’ve answered while waking up.

• 10am: Go to a hearing.

• 11am: De-brief the hearing to the client. Meet new clients for intake. As a solo attorney proper scheduling is essential to having free time. There is no need for me to be in the office if I don’t have something going on.

• 12pm: Write various discovery demands, motions, and correspondence with clients.

• 1pm: Eat lunch.

• 2pm: Read the precious few hornbooks I’ve bought or go the law library to use Westlaw and more expensive hornbooks.

• 3pm: Do non-lawyer related work. Work on my social media advertising and housing blog. Play video games on my work computer.

• 4pm: If there is work, do it. Email and call other attorneys to get their opinion on new legal issues I’m facing.

• 5pm: Go to another hearing. Leave the hearing and go home.

• 6pm+: Answer random calls at all times of the day. Especially with retained clients. I make a practice of answering their calls at any time of the day to make sure they stay happy.

• Throughout the day: Answer all calls and emails promptly. Wonder why I take on so many low paying assigned counsel cases. Pray for paying clients to call.

• One day a month: I’m on call for the assigned counsel program and will be randomly called by a town court judge to do an arraignment at 11pm or worse.


DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LEGAL AID AND SOLO PRACTICE

Legal Aid is a great place for attorneys to start. They show you all the ropes on case management and the life of a case. You have an incredible amount of resources. My office had a number of staple treatises and unlimited access to Westlaw. I would constantly look up the law. Also, the staff takes a bunch of workload off and makes sure you can focus almost exclusively on representing your clients. The drawback is that you are locked into a 9-5(+) job and have to abide by whatever your boss tells you.

Solo practice is extremely flexible. Sometimes I’ll take a weekday off. Other times I’ll be up on a Saturday night drafting petitions or motions. The public defense cases keep me busy but give very little money ($60-75/hour). They are great for gaining experience. My retained cases are what keeps the lights on. You never know when a case might pop up and it’s critical to grab them when you can. I’ve found a low-key but assertive sell to work quite well. Nobody likes being pushed into something. They’ll go somewhere else. I make sure that they feel they can trust me and that I will give them my utmost attention (without being desperate).

I’d say Legal Aid is infinitely better for training purposes. Having constant feedback on your work and almost unlimited resources dramatically improves your learning curve. With that said, solo practice is far more stimulating because you get to tackle numerous areas. One of the worst parts of my job is acknowledging that I can’t do something (ex: Real Estate) and giving referrals to other attorneys in town. The assigned counsel cases are another soul sucking experience. Working with the DA’s office is a much more humbling experience than fighting civil attorneys.

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ilovesf
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby ilovesf » Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:01 am

Oh hey kapital, I have not seen you in a while!




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