Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

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

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:19 am

thought I'd update this - now a senior lit associate at a non-NYC satellite office in a major market. times are not exact and are mostly there to illustrate how random things are. typical day is mostly the same:

8:00-8:30am - wake up
9:00-9:30am - check/respond to emails from home, put out minor fires if necessary, take the occasional call or two once in a blue moon
10:00am - go into the office, check emails, get ready for call
10:30am - scheduled call
11:00am - try to draft something
11:38am - unscheduled call
12:06pm - write/draft some more
sometime between 12:30pm and 2pm - grab lunch, read the news for 15-20ish minutes, go back to whatever substantive work i was doing after reading the news
2:00pm - scheduled call/meeting
2:30pm - go back to whatever substantive work i was trying to get done earlier in the morning
2:42pm - unscheduled call
3:00pm - go back to whatever substantive work i was trying to get done earlier in the morning
3:36pm - stretch my legs, go grab coffee
3:54pm - prep for 4pm call
4:00pm - scheduled call
4:45pm - now no longer scheduled call
5:00pm - this call took way longer than expected
5:15pm - post-call follow-up call
5:30pm - go back to whatever i was working on in the morning
7:00pm - oh, it's time for dinner, pull up ubereats/seamless/doordash/grubhub
8:00-8:30pm/8:45pm - dinner break, read news
8:30pm-11:00pm/1am/3am - work, go home

subtract 1-3 additional hours of nonbillable putzing around time per day. some days, i am very efficient; some days, i am not. if i need to focus, i ask my assistant to field all my calls for me.

i do a good chunk of nonbillable work (business development, firm initiatives, etc.), so I'm not billing 3,000 hours a year. closer to 2,400-2,500 billable hours. i usually work one full weekend day (8+ billable hours) and take the other one off. sometimes i don't work either weekend day, sometimes i work both.

the more managerial/case strategy responsibilities you have, the less time you have to actually work on stuff. it's hard for me to work on major pieces of writing during the day - my best brief-writing hours are from 7pm to 2am or so. the workday is full of interruptions - you have to meet with other associates to give them directions on things, review their work; meet with partners to talk case strategy, etc.

i take private lessons about 2x a week for my hobby; on those days, i leave at 6 or 7 and log back on at 10 or 11, do a couple of hours of work, and go to bed. if there's nothing urgent, sometimes i just leave at 6 or 7 and call it a night.

unless i have an event to go to (dinner/drinks with friends, actual events, concerts, theatre shows) or classes, i usually don't leave the office before 8. once you get senior enough, you usually have enough work to keep you busy all the time, but you have periods where things are manageable enough that you don't have to put in 12-15 hours a day.

i also travel a lot more often for work now. those days usually start at 4am. i've gotten very good at sleeping on planes. airport lounge access is clutch, too - need it to get work done while you're traveling.

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.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:54 pm

Second-year V100 tech transactions associate working in the firm's flagship office located in a secondary market:

6:30-7:00am --> wake up, shower.
7:30am --> catch bus to work
8:00-8:30am --> arrive at office.
8:30-8:45am --> get coffee, mess around on internet (lament government corruption), solve NYT mini crossword.
8:45-10:30am --> work on drafting either: (a) the most pressing agreement from day before, or (b) the most comprehensible agreement (if all work is equally pressing); send out emails to clients/partners with updates on status of work.
10:30am-11:00am --> calls with client/attend practice group meeting/do various other non-drafting related projects.
11:00am-12:00pm --> draft various contracts without especially pressing deadlines/"SLAs."
12:00-12:10pm --> make lunch in office kitchen.
12:10-12:25pm --> eat lunch while messing around internet (contemplate society's decay).
12:25-2:00pm --> work on drafting/revising agreement based on client request sent earlier the same day (a lot of my work comes in the form of tight-turnaround requests sent directly from a client, which I guess isn't the norm in biglaw).
2:00-2:30pm --> sit in on call with client/partner discussing status of longer term project.
2:30-2:40 --> coffee/tea break to gab with fellow associate.
2:40-5:30pm --> work on drafting various license agreements, review precedent agreements for applicable flow-up/down terms, send emails to clients partners with status updates to the extent that the ball has moved on their matters.
5:30pm --> walk to bus stop.
5:35-6:15pm --> take bus home.
6:20-6:50pm --> eat dinner with spouse.
6:50-7:10pm --> respond to emails on via work phone as needed reassuring partners/clients that I have seen and will get to their respective requests within a reasonable time (usually the next day).
7:10-10:00pm --> go do something active, watch tv with spouse, imbibe, generally try to chill.
10:00pm --> go to sleep.

I usually end up working a few hours over the weekend so that I don't have too much of a backlog when new projects start coming in at the beginning of the week, but I kind of enjoy this. I'll do the work at a coffee shop without having to worry about emails from clients (although sometimes from partners), so it's more laid back than during the week.

Anonymous User
Posts: 329052
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:53 pm

Second-year lit associate in what you'd think of as one of the top 5-10 biglaw (non-boutique) offices in DC. Gonna post this because some of the older posts scared me when I was in law school. It's really not that bad about 95% of the time. This is how I spent a recent random Wednesday (to my recollection) that was pretty representative. There are obviously days with a lot more than this, but those are uncommon.

8:50-9:10am - leave for work.
9:15-9:30am - arrive at the office. I never have to do work earlier than this, other than respond to an email to say "Will do/look at first thing in the office" or similar. But some of my colleagues work for early-bird partners and their lives are different.
9:30-9:50am - read the news, get a coffee, submit my time from the day before. Organize a strategy about the tasks I have to do that day. I've got a big doc review project, some research I need to do and turn into a memo, and we're close to filing a brief in another case. Also got a status update call this afternoon at 3:00.
9:50am - decide to start with the research. Figure I can do a couple hours of that in the morning.
10:41am - unexpected call from the midlevel responsible for drafting the brief we're filing soon. He needs a couple cites ASAP. I drop the research and get to looking.
11:36am - most of the cites are found, but I can't find a cite for one of the propositions he wants. I'm scouring Westlaw.
12:03pm - still can't find that cite.
12:22pm - give up and email the midlevel with what I have along with an explanation of how I tried to find the last cite.
12:23pm - midlevel replies to say "Thanks! I didn't see anything and figured there wasn't anything for that, but thanks for backstopping me." Would have been nice to know that an hour and a half ago.
12:24-12:45pm - go grab lunch across the street, bring back to my desk to eat, browse the news while I eat. I've made a personal rule that, barring a major fire drill, I won't do anything work-related while I'm eating.
12:46pm - pick the research back up. Figure I've got to do a couple more hours on this project today, plus about three hours of doc review to keep up. Thinking things don't look so bad.
12:49pm - email from partner on another case that's been quiet for a while, asking me to draft a letter on behalf of the client to a semi-adverse party. This partner is notorious for moving quickly, so this becomes priority 1.
12:50-2:23pm - draft the letter. It's highly technical and I need to include a lot of data we've collected. I'm double checking 20-character serial numbers that we have strewn across multiple Excel sheets.
2:24pm - send the letter to the partner. Expect to hear back from him shortly. Get back to the research project in advance of the call at 3:00.
2:25-2:56pm - research.
2:56pm - midlevel emails the case team bumping the call to 3:30.
2:57-3:28pm - research, probably a 5 min coffee break in here too.
3:29pm - midlevel emails the case team bumping the call to 4:00.
3:30-3:59pm - research. I think I can stop here for the day on this task just a little short of where I wanted it to be. I'll make up the extra hour or so on Saturday.
4:00-4:32pm - status call. I mute the phone and tune out for much of it outside of the three minutes or so where my direct project is discussed.
4:18pm - the midlevel on the brief emails me asking for a couple more tasks. I start to look around for those but the call gets interesting, so I decide it's safer to wait in case I would miss something good.
4:32pm - realize I would not have missed anything good.
4:33-5:17pm - dive into the tasks for the brief. This time I can answer all of the questions. Email the midlevel back.
5:18pm - re-evaluate the day's progress. I wanted to get three hours of doc review in. Figure I can do that without any distractions.
5:19-6:13pm - doc review. Think about heading home and finishing it up after dinner.
6:14pm - totally forgot about that letter I drafted earlier. Partner emails back asking for a turn of the draft. He's made a handful of edits, most of which are obviously good, but there's a couple I don't understand. They don't look wrong per se, but I don't think they made the letter better.
6:15-6:41pm - decide to flag those issues with comment bubbles and take care of the other tasks he asked for. Email him the draft back. Realize I have about two hours of doc review I still wanted to get done today. Decide to do it at home.
6:42-7:10pm - travel home, usually grab something for dinner around my apartment
7:10-7:40pm - eat dinner, chill out a bit, realize I had two hours of doc review to do.
7:41-8:39pm - do some doc review. Decide to push that last hour into Saturday morning.
8:40pm - done with work for the day. If I get an email after this, 95% of the time I will respond with "Will do/look at first thing in the morning" unless I can tell its urgent.

Otherwise, I have about 2.5-3 hours to myself before I get in bed and leave for work around 8:50 the next morning. I will usually end up with 7-8 hours of work on the weekends (total, not per day), which I tend to do from home across Saturday and Sunday morning/early afternoon. With this plus a handful of fire drills (and some dry spells), I think I'll bill in the 2100-2200 range.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:57 pm

SF "boutique" law firm... defense litigation (mostly L&E). 1st year (graduated in 2018).

4:45 AM -- wake up and drink pre workout
5:00 AM -- Arrive at gym. Proceed to workout; must keep resting time short though since i have to leave by 6 am--which is a good thing for additional cardio benefits.
6:10 AM -- get ready for work - shower, shave, brush teeth... make protein shake.
6:30 AM -- leave house, drive to bart, take the bart, hope for an uncrowded bart train.
7:30 AM -- arrive to work. make sure there's no deadlines due today. recheck any flagged emails from last night. grab some coffee in the break room.
7:45 AM -- review correspondence from opposing counsel rejecting our settlement offer. take notes on any incorrect allegations.
8:00 AM -- partner comes into my room to discuss what we evidence we need to dig up to send to opposing counsel to rebut their offer. he proceeds to give me an entire lecture on how negotiations work (which btw is absolutely helpful, but not billable).
8:15 AM -- secretary comes in and talks to me about last night's warriors game. it was a close but sloppy game against the heats.
8:30 AM -- received responses to our discovery requests. i set that aside for later when i'm tired.
8:45 AM -- partner comes in and asks me to research whether coordinators are exempt under FLSA and CA wage law. Needs it ASAP.
11:30 AM -- finished drafting a quick memo on my findings. print and reread for any errors.
11:40 AM -- sends memo to partner. I go find some lunch. I've heard about meal pal... might do it.
11:45 AM -- I pay 9$ for a small carne asada burrito with extra guacamole across the street. I bring this back with me to the office.
11:50 AM -- I eat my burrito. The meat was alittle over cooked, but the guacamole makes up for it. This place uses big chunks of avocado--my favorite. I surf the web while I eat.
12:15 PM -- I receive an email about opposing counsel not receiving some discovery documents when I specifically remember telling my secretary to send it last month. I call my secretary to find out if she remembers anything.
12:20 PM -- We found the relevant email confirming receipt of the documents. I ask my secretary to call opposing counsel and to send that email back to them.
12:25 PM -- it was a mistake on their end. I take a 15 min break.
12:45 PM -- we have an answer due for a recent class action complaint alleging our client did not pay a premium for any missed meal and rest breaks. total horse crap. I draft an answer using a template from a similar case.
2:00 PM -- I tell my secretary to file the answer. I take another 15 min break.
2:15 PM -- I do a deposition summary for some easy billable hours. It doesn't require thinking.
3:00 PM -- another associate comes in and asks if I want to get some dessert with her. I do.
3:30 PM -- we arrive back to the office. i review some documents to prepare for a phone call with client regarding earlier settlement response.
3:45 PM -- phone call with client. i make sure to inform them of our likelihood of success in litigation. the time and money it will take. I advise them of an appropraite counter offer. they agree.
4:15 PM -- I draft a settlement response.
5:40 PM -- i take a 15 minute break.
5:55 PM -- I continue drafting response.
6:45 PM -- I finish drafting. I decide to go home for the night.
7:45 PM -- I get home. Shower. Eat dinner. and relax.
9:00-9:30 PM -- sleep.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:35 pm

2nd year lit associate at V20 in secondary market. Days can vary wildly but yesterday was somewhat typical of late:

5:30 AM: Wake up, make coffee, read the news, listen to NPR. It's snowing outside. I wish I had a snow day.
6:00 AM: Work out in my apartment. I have been a workout junkie since middle school but I don't have time to go to the gym any longer.
7:30 AM: Make lunch; shower, shave; leave for work.
8:30 AM: Post workout sweat in the elevator, arrive at work; dick around on the internet; read about Green New Deal and about how privileged I am.
8:45 AM: I have a brief I have to get out to partner today so I continue with that.
10:00 AM: Coordinate with local counsel on wtf we have to include with the brief.
10:30 AM: Partner checks in on status of brief. Say I'll get it to her early afternoon. Continue with brief.
10:45 AM: Other partner checks in on upcoming deposition prep meeting and status of outlines. I reply it will be done by middle of the week, just like I told him before.
10:55 AM: Another partner checks in about argument prep for dispositive motion he is arguing later in the week. Yes, I will revise some talking points for him.
11:00 AM: Friend comes in and bitches about biglaw. We wallow in self pity.
11:15 AM: Continue with brief.
12:00 PM: Eat lunch at desk while editing brief. I usually read the news but not today.
2:00 PM: Send completed brief to partner.
2:05 PM: Same partner emails back b/c she just found out local counsel didn't reply to a request to opposing counsel's request to continue motion. The brief I worked on last week, all weekend, and today is now not going to be due for another two months. I eat a pack of nicorette to numb the pain.
2:15 PM: Grab coffee with a friend. Talk about how our prior jobs before law school actually weren't so bad
2:30 PM: Work on deposition outlines. Another associate was supposed to do a first draft; it is incomprehensible so I start from scratch
4:00 PM: Another friend comes in, says she cried in her office earlier. We eat M&Ms
4:15 PM: Continue on deposition prep. Remember I was supposed to do 2 hours of doc review today. Not going to happen.
7:30 PM: Go home; my wife made dinner; asks if there is anything she can do to help
8:00 PM: Continue working until 10:30. Remember I was supposed to pay student loans today.
10:30 PM: Watch planet earth 2. I wish I was a komodo dragon.
11:30 PM: Bed. Can't sleep because I'm stressed about work.

Some days are much better but lately it has been a shit show. We have lost half our associates this past year. As jaded as I sound I have gotten great experience and sometimes I like my job. I like the practice of law. I just practice too much of it.


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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby RedPurpleBlue » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:SF "boutique" law firm... defense litigation (mostly L&E). 1st year (graduated in 2018).

4:45 AM -- wake up and drink pre workout
6:45 PM -- I finish drafting. I decide to go home for the night.
9:00-9:30 PM -- sleep.

This sounds horrific. Two to two-and-a-half hours of free time a night? Yikes. I guess you're getting another hour of gym time in there, but, still, that's rough.

Anonymous User
Posts: 329052
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:09 pm

This sounds horrific. Two to two-and-a-half hours of free time a night? Yikes. I guess you're getting another hour of gym time in there, but, still, that's rough.

I do wish I lived closer--reducing the commute time to 10 minutes would be very nice. Aside from that, it's not too bad... the amount of stress isn't that high. The experience so far is good. I'm still waiting to take my first deposition.

Regardless, I think this is the norm for mid-sized law firms.... and maybe big law is a lot more stressful, but i do want to lateral to big-law in 2/3 years.


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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby jbp15860 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 10:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:Misdemeanor DA in a small county in California

7:45 - wake up

7:45 -- 8 - ponder existence/ role in society

8-8:15 - wear suit/ style hair, drive the 1 mile to my office

8:30 - arrive at court for the arraignment/settlement calendar. Get my morning workout in as I lug 150+ files to and from court.

11:30 - finish up and head back to office.

11:30-12 - decompress, shoot the shit with the paralegals

12-1 - go home for lunch, watch TV

1-1:30 - prep for my afternoon calendar

1:30-3 - arrive at court to finish off whatever we didn't finish during the morning calendar

3-5 - arrive back at the office and work on any motions/special projects/ prep for my trials

5-5:30 - waste time on the internet

5:30-6 finish up anything that needs to be done for the day/ review police reports and file charges/ make my to-do list for the next day

6PM leave and go straight to workout

8:30 PM - cook dinner/ waste time on the internet

12PM - sleep

I have jury trials almost every other week. So, every other weekend, I have to put in like 5-6 hours to do final prep for my trials. As a new prosecutor for the first 6 months, I put in 15 hours or so over the weekend.

Overall the job is pretty stressful. As a DA in a high-crime small county with less than 10 attorneys handling all the caseload, I do all aspects of prosecution, from filing charges, motions, appeals, trials, arraignments, trial conferences, research, police training, and restitution. Felony attorneys are also stressed, so they give me "special projects" that they dont want to do which are often tedious and time consuming. My trial judge has a huge ego and likes to embarrass me in front of the jury. Oh and lots of workplace drama. Salary- less than 70k

Pros: Am not glued to a screen and desk all day. Crime fascinates me-- interesting subject matter. Once I leave work/ go on vacation, I dont have to think about work (no emails at home!) Weird shit happens weekly (a defendant trying to steal my cell phone during court). I get to tell people I am a DA, which sounds cool.

I understand that compared to much of firm life, this is an awesome schedule. But keep in mind I make significantly less than 70k a year. With taxes, I take home $1700 every two weeks.

That's a great schedule but that pay is so low. I didn't think California would pay so low. Or are the taxes that high? I'm in Texas, I'm a teacher, and I take home 1800 every two weeks on a salary of about 55 or 56k. The ADAs in my city (huge city) start out at 65 and are up over 100 within a few years. What is the pay structure where you are?


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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby nixy » Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:15 am

Just FYI, ADAs in Massachusetts start at around $46k.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:09 pm

jbp15860 wrote:
That's a great schedule but that pay is so low. I didn't think California would pay so low. Or are the taxes that high? I'm in Texas, I'm a teacher, and I take home 1800 every two weeks on a salary of about 55 or 56k. The ADAs in my city (huge city) start out at 65 and are up over 100 within a few years. What is the pay structure where you are?

OP here.

Not sure why I take home less than you. It could be taxes, or it could be the retirement taken out of my check-- i dunno. In my county, after 4-5 years you become an attorney III and get a pay bump to around 80k. After 10 years you become an attorney IV and make 100k. Assistant DA makes 130k and DA makes 150k.

However, in other DA offices I have worked in, attorney IVs and IIIs have paid their dues and enjoy experience + a much more relaxed caseload that doesnt require them to stay in the office till 7PM and come in on weekends. However, in my county, senior DAs can consistently be found in the office during weird times.

If you are interested in pay schedules, play around with transparent CA .com. It lists the salary of all govt workers, including DAs in every county

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