Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

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Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:23 am

"Time Off Policy. Associates are not limited to a fixed number of vacation days. Instead, they are permitted and encouraged to take time off at their discretion."

Translation: extreme pressure to never take time off?

In the context of this, the pressure imposed by discretionary bonuses, kill what you eat partnership compensation, free-market system, etc., do K&E associates really worked harder and compete more internally than at other top firms?

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:"Time Off Policy. Associates are not limited to a fixed number of vacation days. Instead, they are permitted and encouraged to take time off at their discretion."

Translation: extreme pressure to never take time off?

In the context of this, the pressure imposed by discretionary bonuses, kill what you eat partnership compensation, free-market system, etc., do K&E associates really worked harder and compete more internally than at other top firms?


That's not what it means. Most associates take 2-4 weeks off per year. You're expected to let people know when you're going and to schedule it during downtime (ie not in the middle of a huge deal). Beyond that, no one will dog you for taking some time off. Mentors encourage you to take it so you can recharge.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby mr.hands » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:31 am

^is this inside information? Because it is impossible to bill 2400 (which is the norm there) and take 3-4 weeks of vacation

I think your translation is accurate for many associates at Jkirkland and elsewhere

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby suzige » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:33 am

Unless someone who actually works there is going to speak up, you will only get second-hand anecdotal evidence at best. I was recently told by a friend of mine at another firm that his friend at KE is billing some insane hours this year and is estimating to hit close to 3000 (not sure if this was an exaggeration, i sure hope it is, but w/e)...insane hours usually means no time off. Again, friend of a friend, blah blah. Take it for what it is.

I don't think KE really tries to hide the fact that they do work a lot. I've met pple who work there and did work there prior who both love and hate the KE grind. It's really up to you about how you feel about this sort of environment.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:37 am

mr.hands wrote:^is this inside information? Because it is impossible to bill 2400 (which is the norm there) and take 3-4 weeks of vacation

I think your translation is accurate for many associates at Jkirkland and elsewhere


Yes.

2400 is the average for some practice groups (restructuring). In that group, some associates are north of 3000. They are fairly open about this, and people generally go into the group expecting it. The cause is a mix of fast-timelines for litigation/negotiations, billing during travel time (most cases in NY/DE), and having lots of work that needs to get done.

I think the firmwide average is around 2100-2200 (beyond that is where bonuses get much larger, though). Info in the TLS article is still fairly accurate (but kind of outdated) http://www.top-law-schools.com/kirkland-ellis.html
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:38 am

OP. I think the question with K&E is (1) are you peer pressured into not taking vacation time (2) if not, do you feel too much internal pressure to do it anyways because you know your bonus and ability to find work in the free-market would be undermined if you did (3) does that suck more than other firms

Would definitely like to get an insiders perspective though

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP. I think the question with K&E is (1) are you peer pressured into not taking vacation time (2) if not, do you feel too much internal pressure to do it anyways because you know your bonus and ability to find work in the free-market would be undermined if you did (3) does that suck more than other firms

Would definitely like to get an insiders perspective though


1) No. You're expected to inform people of when you're going so people don't rely on you during that time.

2) Bonus is tied to hours, but the extra hours aren't worth the money if you calculate it out (at least, aren't worth it compared to yearly salary). What matters more is ability/skill (which generally translates from whether people like you), which isn't undermined by taking vacation like a normal person. Only real way ability to find work can be impacted is if someone has a project they need done while you're on vacation--obviously they can't give it to you.

3) Hard for anyone to tell you this without having experience at multiple firms. My impression is no -- but Kirkland is fairly open about their hours and that tends to lead to some self-selection of people that don't mind.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP. I think the question with K&E is (1) are you peer pressured into not taking vacation time (2) if not, do you feel too much internal pressure to do it anyways because you know your bonus and ability to find work in the free-market would be undermined if you did (3) does that suck more than other firms

Would definitely like to get an insiders perspective though


1) No. You're expected to inform people of when you're going so people don't rely on you during that time.

2) Bonus is tied to hours, but the extra hours aren't worth the money if you calculate it out (at least, aren't worth it compared to yearly salary). What matters more is ability/skill (which generally translates from whether people like you), which isn't undermined by taking vacation like a normal person. Only real way ability to find work can be impacted is if someone has a project they need done while you're on vacation--obviously they can't give it to you.

3) Hard for anyone to tell you this without having experience at multiple firms. My impression is no -- but Kirkland is fairly open about their hours and it tends to lead to some self-selection of people that don't mind.


You seem to have an insider perspective and I appreciate you chiming in. Is there a formal or informal minimum amount of hours to be in the middle of the pack for bonuses? Seems like from what you've said the strategy should be maintaining quality to hit that number but not sacrificing quality to go much beyond it.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:2) Bonus is tied to hours, but the extra hours aren't worth the money if you calculate it out (at least, aren't worth it compared to yearly salary). What matters more is ability/skill (which generally translates from whether people like you), which isn't undermined by taking vacation like a normal person. Only real way ability to find work can be impacted is if someone has a project they need done while you're on vacation--obviously they can't give it to you.

I dunno if it's worth posting ITT or making a whole new thread but here goes... w/r/t the bolded, what exactly are Kirkland bonuses looking like @ 2100, 2400, 2700, 3000? Just curious since TLS seems to be fixated on Kirkland's "market shattering" bonuses which, it seems, are't really worth the extra hours at a certain level. Second, how much, if any, does the bonus scheme (dollars per extra billable) change w/ seniority?

Cravath scale 2013 (for market reference)
Class of 2013 — $10,000 (pro-rated)
Class of 2012 — $10,000
Class of 2011 — $14,000
Class of 2010 — $20,000
Class of 2009 — $27,000
Class of 2008 — $34,000
Class of 2007 — $40,000
Class of 2006 — $50,000
Class of 2005 — $60,000

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:2) Bonus is tied to hours, but the extra hours aren't worth the money if you calculate it out (at least, aren't worth it compared to yearly salary). What matters more is ability/skill (which generally translates from whether people like you), which isn't undermined by taking vacation like a normal person. Only real way ability to find work can be impacted is if someone has a project they need done while you're on vacation--obviously they can't give it to you.

I dunno if it's worth posting ITT or making a whole new thread but here goes... w/r/t the bolded, what exactly are Kirkland bonuses looking like @ 2100, 2400, 2700, 3000? Just curious since TLS seems to be fixated on Kirkland's "market shattering" bonuses which, it seems, are't really worth the extra hours at a certain level. Second, how much, if any, does the bonus scheme (dollars per extra billable) change w/ seniority?

Cravath scale 2013 (for market reference)
Class of 2013 — $10,000 (pro-rated)
Class of 2012 — $10,000
Class of 2011 — $14,000
Class of 2010 — $20,000
Class of 2009 — $27,000
Class of 2008 — $34,000
Class of 2007 — $40,000
Class of 2006 — $50,000
Class of 2005 — $60,000


http://abovethelaw.com/2013/12/associat ... d-ellis-3/

Class of 2012: range of $12-29k, avg of $15.7k ($16.2k avg in 2012) [Cravath: $10k]
Class of 2011: range of $14-41k, avg of $22k [Cravath: $14k]
Class of 2010: range of $20-59k, avg of $32k ($35.8 avg in 2012) [Cravath: $20k]
Class of 2009: range of $27-79k, avg of $48.2k ($55k avg in 2012) [Cravath: $27k]
Class of 2008: range of $35-80k, avg of $56k [Cravath: $34k]
Class of 2007: range of $50-90k, avg of $75.6k [Cravath: $40k]

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:56 am

The idea is that the bonuses are bigger at normal hours, but you're compensated for working more than that, so if you want to gun for partner or whatever and work your ass off, at least you're compensated with more than "partnership prospects."

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:58 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:2) Bonus is tied to hours, but the extra hours aren't worth the money if you calculate it out (at least, aren't worth it compared to yearly salary). What matters more is ability/skill (which generally translates from whether people like you), which isn't undermined by taking vacation like a normal person. Only real way ability to find work can be impacted is if someone has a project they need done while you're on vacation--obviously they can't give it to you.

I dunno if it's worth posting ITT or making a whole new thread but here goes... w/r/t the bolded, what exactly are Kirkland bonuses looking like @ 2100, 2400, 2700, 3000? Just curious since TLS seems to be fixated on Kirkland's "market shattering" bonuses which, it seems, are't really worth the extra hours at a certain level. Second, how much, if any, does the bonus scheme (dollars per extra billable) change w/ seniority?

Cravath scale 2013 (for market reference)
Class of 2013 — $10,000 (pro-rated)
Class of 2012 — $10,000
Class of 2011 — $14,000
Class of 2010 — $20,000
Class of 2009 — $27,000
Class of 2008 — $34,000
Class of 2007 — $40,000
Class of 2006 — $50,000
Class of 2005 — $60,000


http://abovethelaw.com/2013/12/associat ... d-ellis-3/

Class of 2012: range of $12-29k, avg of $15.7k ($16.2k avg in 2012) [Cravath: $10k]
Class of 2011: range of $14-41k, avg of $22k [Cravath: $14k]
Class of 2010: range of $20-59k, avg of $32k ($35.8 avg in 2012) [Cravath: $20k]
Class of 2009: range of $27-79k, avg of $48.2k ($55k avg in 2012) [Cravath: $27k]
Class of 2008: range of $35-80k, avg of $56k [Cravath: $34k]
Class of 2007: range of $50-90k, avg of $75.6k [Cravath: $40k]

tyft.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby rpupkin » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:10 am

OP's question is based on a faulty premise—that big law firms have "vacation policies" that mean something independent of office, practice group, individual partners, and luck.

If you're staffed on a couple of matters that fizzle out, and if you're life isn't being controlled by a sadistic partner who wants you around all the time even when you don't need to be in the office, then you'll be able to take a week or two off. But if you're working on a couple of leanly staffed matters that blow up (e.g., you're in litigation and your case unexpectedly goes to trial), then you may go a year or more without being able to take a vacation at all.

By way of illustration, I have two friends at KE who started in 2012. One got slammed from the get-go. She was working till 10 or 11 most nights, usually had to work one or both days on the weekends, and did not get to take a vacation during her first year. She quit after 14 months. The other was in a practice group that hit a lull. Also, the two partners she works with in her practice group are relatively chill. She just finished her fourth vacation of at least a week since starting. These two associates were in the same firm, and in the same office, and yet had wildly different experiences because of how busy their practice groups were and because of the temperament of the partners they ended up working with.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby cookiejar1 » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:16 am

rpupkin wrote:OP's question is based on a faulty premise—that big law firms have "vacation policies" that mean something independent of office, practice group, individual partners, and luck.

If you're staffed on a couple of matters that fizzle out, and if you're life isn't being controlled by a sadistic partner who wants you around all the time even when you don't need to be in the office, then you'll be able to take a week or two off. But if you're working on a couple of leanly staffed matters that blow up (e.g., you're in litigation and your case unexpectedly goes to trial), then you may go a year or more without being able to take a vacation at all.

By way of illustration, I have two friends at KE who started in 2012. One got slammed from the get-go. She was working till 10 or 11 most nights, usually had to work one or both days on the weekends, and did not get to take a vacation during her first year. She quit after 14 months. The other was in a practice group that hit a lull. Also, the two partners she works with in her practice group are relatively chill. She just finished her fourth vacation of at least a week since starting. These two associates were in the same firm, and in the same office, and yet had wildly different experiences because of how busy their practice groups were and because of the temperament of the partners they ended up working with.


Serious question: why didn't the first associate free market the fuck out of her practice group? I get the impression that KE's free market system is specifically designed to avoid situations like this especially when compared against Cravath's rotation based assignment system.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:21 am

rpupkin wrote:OP's question is based on a faulty premise—that big law firms have "vacation policies" that mean something independent of office, practice group, individual partners, and luck.

If you're staffed on a couple of matters that fizzle out, and if you're life isn't being controlled by a sadistic partner who wants you around all the time even when you don't need to be in the office, then you'll be able to take a week or two off. But if you're working on a couple of leanly staffed matters that blow up (e.g., you're in litigation and your case unexpectedly goes to trial), then you may go a year or more without being able to take a vacation at all.

By way of illustration, I have two friends at KE who started in 2012. One got slammed from the get-go. She was working till 10 or 11 most nights, usually had to work one or both days on the weekends, and did not get to take a vacation during her first year. She quit after 14 months. The other was in a practice group that hit a lull. Also, the two partners she works with in her practice group are relatively chill. She just finished her fourth vacation of at least a week since starting. These two associates were in the same firm, and in the same office, and yet had wildly different experiences because of how busy their practice groups were and because of the temperament of the partners they ended up working with.


Also varies by person. You'll get pressured everywhere - not just Kirkland - to not take vacations (it's always a key time on ONE of your matters) or to work while on vacation. Some folks have the backbone to say no, others don't. At my firm, I've had one partner tell me that they actually ding someone for not saying no when asked to work on vacation - the logic being that if you can't stand up for your own damn vacation time with lawyers you know and work with every day, how are you going to be able to negotiate against some lawyer representing a counterparty who's trying to bully you into accepting unfavorable terms?

There are also times where I intend to work on vacation (i.e., my spouse needs a recharge, I tell the folks I work with that I'll be gone for a couple of days but will be available, and I just have the laptop running all day at the pool) but I don't consider those trips "vacations".

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby rpupkin » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:25 am

cookiejar1 wrote:Serious question: why didn't the first associate free market the fuck out of her practice group? I get the impression that KE's free market system is specifically designed to avoid situations like this especially when compared against Cravath's rotation based assignment system.

I don't think "free market" means what you think it does, at KE or anywhere else that uses the system. If you're, say, one of two or three associates working on a matter that is moving towards trial over the course of a year, I seriously doubt you get to "free market the fuck out out" of the matter because you don't like the work. I mean, I suppose you could refuse to work on the matter anymore, but that would basically be career suicide.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:33 am

rpupkin wrote:
cookiejar1 wrote:Serious question: why didn't the first associate free market the fuck out of her practice group? I get the impression that KE's free market system is specifically designed to avoid situations like this especially when compared against Cravath's rotation based assignment system.

I don't think "free market" means what you think it does, at KE or anywhere else that uses the system. If you're, say, one of two or three associates working on a matter that is moving towards trial over the course of a year, I seriously doubt you get to "free market the fuck out out" of the matter because you don't like the work. I mean, I suppose you could refuse to work on the matter anymore, but that would basically be career suicide.


My understanding (admittedly just from what they've been telling me during recruitment) is that free market allows you to choose your work but once you choose your on it. Moral of the story would of been for her to not work for that partner again...if it got that far.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Mal Reynolds » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:52 am

cookiejar1 wrote:
Serious question: why didn't the first associate free market the fuck out of her practice group? I get the impression that KE's free market system is specifically designed to avoid situations like this especially when compared against Cravath's rotation based assignment system.


Dear Partner,

I'm handing off the work you assigned to me because I want to take a vacation and we have a free market system. Thanks!!

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Big Dog » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:02 pm

as an aside, some/many large corporations also have a similar, 'no-limit' vacation policy. It serves two financial purposes: 1) vacation is therefore not accruable on the company's balance sheet (as debt); 2) they don't have any payout to make when the person leaves.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby sublime » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:18 pm

..

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby sims1 » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:39 pm

Big Dog wrote:as an aside, some/many large corporations also have a similar, 'no-limit' vacation policy. It serves two financial purposes: 1) vacation is therefore not accruable on the company's balance sheet (as debt); 2) they don't have any payout to make when the person leaves.


I don't know if the former applies to law firms as they aren't publicly owned and therefore care less maneuvering their balance sheet. Probably the latter and to take advantage of some people who never end up taking the "standard" time off.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 07, 2014 1:14 pm

Former associate at K&E here:

The unlimited vacation policy is admittedly ambiguous. For my part, I always construed it as 4 weeks, in line with what peer firms are offering in the market. Whether you can take it comes down to many factors, but the single most important one is seniority.

As a junior, it's much easier to take the full four weeks. You can find other juniors to cover for you and you're in general more fungible on a given matter. For better or worse, you will not be missed.

As a midlevel/senior, the situation is much different. By then, you more frequently work directly with partners and are the point person on everything. Some associates still are able to find cover, but a lot of partners don't like that and expect the associate to "be on call." This often results in associates working through vacations (or even having to cancel them altogether).

In terms of how you can take vacation when billing 2500+ hours... it's possible. I did it.

If your goal is to make equity partner, expect not to take much, if any, true vacations at K&E. Don't know a single one on track to make it who has.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Big Dog » Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:21 pm

I don't know if the former applies to law firms as they aren't publicly owned and therefore care less maneuvering their balance sheet.


Even private companies can be concerned about debt -- they may have lines of credit for operations; or the balance sheet is reviewed by building owners when they try to move/renegotiate their current lease, etc.

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby 5ky » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:32 pm

mr.hands wrote:^is this inside information? Because it is impossible to bill 2400 (which is the norm there) and take 3-4 weeks of vacation

I think your translation is accurate for many associates at Jkirkland and elsewhere


definitely possible to take 3-4 weeks and bill 2400+

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Re: Kirkland & Ellis' Vacation Policy, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 15, 2014 3:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:"Time Off Policy. Associates are not limited to a fixed number of vacation days. Instead, they are permitted and encouraged to take time off at their discretion."

Translation: extreme pressure to never take time off?

In the context of this, the pressure imposed by discretionary bonuses, kill what you eat partnership compensation, free-market system, etc., do K&E associates really worked harder and compete more internally than at other top firms?


I'm an associate at K&E. I'm in litigation, so YMMV with regard to corporate work.

I''m admittedly a huge fan of our vacation policy. The policy mostly reflects the no-face-time policy and faith in attorneys to do be mature enough to do their job without being babied. I honestly don't know how many days off a year I take. When things are quiet, I'll have days where I log in for 30 mins, keep the ball rolling on things, and then take the rest of the day off. Hell, that happens even when things are busy but I'm just feeling overwhelmed or in need of a day to chill. Those would probably be vacation days elsewhere, but I like not having to account for them.

My longer vacations (the same for most of us in litigation) come after a big trial. Once we finish a week or two of heavy work (trial tends to be 12-16 hour days for a couple weeks, with the weekends usually being a little gentler), the office will be empty. Even the partners won't come in for a week or so, usually catching up with family (or sleep) or taking a trip somewhere.

Both methods above are completely accepted. You just have to be mature about it -- the Courts and clients don't stop just because you want a week off, so you take time off when you can and minimize disruptions to the other folks you work with. Although I admittedly have no idea how many "vacation" days I take each year, I have no problem hitting 2400+ hours because of trial and other short-term, high-billable events while still getting the downtime I need.

Somebody asked about bonuses. Two points about that: 1) the ATL listing doesn't reflect the true range. Folks making the high end of bonuses don't leak them to ATL because they worry it might be obvious it was them (I know several folks last year alone whose bonuses don't show up on those scale). So your potential may be higher. 2) Hours are a smaller component of the bonuses than they seem. The difference between billing 2400 and 2700 hours is not substantial in bonus, and that is by design. We are constantly told, at least as associates, that they'd rather us bill 22-24 and do good work then give up our lives/burn out by sustaining 25-27. So up to 2400, there's a big credit for hours; after that it is mostly just about your merit ranking.



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