Got no billables. Help!

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Anonymous User
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Got no billables. Help!

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:28 pm

New V50 associate here. I've been working for a couple of months now and have billed fewer than a hundred hours in that time. The firm in general is very busy, as are people in my department. I work in a small department, and the other associate who started at the same time doesn't have much work either.

My firm doesn't have a minimum billable hours requirement, but I'm still kind of freaking out; obviously, I'd love to get more work, both for professional development and so that, you know, I don't get fired. I knew that the firm was busy coming in, and I braced myself for too much work, but I'm totally not prepared for too little.

What should I do, TLS? Any advice on how to hustle for more assignments would be appreciated.

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fats provolone
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby fats provolone » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:36 pm

ask people for work?

Anonymous User
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:51 pm

fats provolone wrote:ask people for work?


Sorry, should've mentioned. I've been asking, and partners/senior associates have generally said something like "Yeah! Great! I'll get you something." Followed by crickets.

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fats provolone
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby fats provolone » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:52 pm

yea i wouldn't worry about it then

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Desert Fox
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby Desert Fox » Mon Dec 15, 2014 8:16 pm

This is just how shit works, especially in general lit (if that is where you are). Don't worry, work will fuck ur ass soon enough.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby Big Shrimpin » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:19 pm

Desert Fox wrote:This is just how shit works, especially in general lit (if that is where you are). Don't worry, work will fuck ur ass soon enough.


This is, unfortunately, true.


Pepper thy angus, young one.

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IrwinM.Fletcher
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby IrwinM.Fletcher » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:57 pm

It's easier said than done when you're brand new, but just enjoy the down time. Leave at the earliest possible time that won't raise eyebrows and definitely don't just hang around to show how available you are or anything dumb like that.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:39 pm

As those above said, I can tell you from personal experience that this is normal. The firm knows that it is normal in general lit practice. I understand how weird it feels to be getting paid fat loot and not be working, and how doubt can quickly set in - are they slow? Are they gonna lay me off? How can they afford to pay me if I'm doing nothing? But just be there and relax. Introduce yourself around but walk that fine line of not being a pest. Make sure you're going to holiday parties, happy hours, whatever.

To make you feel better, just know that people know you are there. You are part of the plan. The firm knows they will lose money on you for your first one, maybe two years. There are certain cases / types of work that are suited for a brand new attorney based both on your experience level and - perhaps most importantly - your billing rate. It just takes time for cases to evolve and the billing attorney to think "I need a new associate for this" or "I need some cheap work for this client / work I can write off without getting flak from above."

I'll say it - when this happened to me, it was horrible and it sucked. It took me most of my first year before I got consistently busy. I missed my hours my first year. I didn't get a bonus, but you know what? It really didn't matter. My mentors told me not to worry, to enjoy the downtime while I had it. And it got better. I saw new associates coming in, experiencing the same thing, and then realized yeah, it's normal.

So yeah, it's normal.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:47 pm

IrwinM.Fletcher wrote:It's easier said than done when you're brand new, but just enjoy the down time. Leave at the earliest possible time that won't raise eyebrows and definitely don't just hang around to show how available you are or anything dumb like that.


Yeah and this. Totally this.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby Big Shrimpin » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:01 am

NotMyRealName09 wrote:
IrwinM.Fletcher wrote:It's easier said than done when you're brand new, but just enjoy the down time. Leave at the earliest possible time that won't raise eyebrows and definitely don't just hang around to show how available you are or anything dumb like that.


Yeah and this. Totally this.


yurp

but tbh, fuck the billable hour

Anonymous User
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:09 am

I was in roughly the same situation, then I billed 80 hours last week. lol this job.

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baal hadad
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby baal hadad » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:51 am

Lol @ general lit

shock259
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby shock259 » Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:01 am

Count thy blessings.

Just make sure people know you have no billables. If you're turning down work/not volunteering for work when you're super slow as a junior, that's bad. If you just don't have anything to do, that's fine as a 1st year. Or so people tell me.

Anonymous User
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:02 am

OP here. Thanks, everyone! I appreciate the advice. I've actually had people at my firm tell me the same thing, but it's great to hear it corroborated by you guys as well.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby AVBucks4239 » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:31 am

NotMyRealName09 wrote:As those above said, I can tell you from personal experience that this is normal. The firm knows that it is normal in general lit practice. I understand how weird it feels to be getting paid fat loot and not be working, and how doubt can quickly set in - are they slow? Are they gonna lay me off? How can they afford to pay me if I'm doing nothing? But just be there and relax. Introduce yourself around but walk that fine line of not being a pest. Make sure you're going to holiday parties, happy hours, whatever.

To make you feel better, just know that people know you are there. You are part of the plan. The firm knows they will lose money on you for your first one, maybe two years. There are certain cases / types of work that are suited for a brand new attorney based both on your experience level and - perhaps most importantly - your billing rate. It just takes time for cases to evolve and the billing attorney to think "I need a new associate for this" or "I need some cheap work for this client / work I can write off without getting flak from above."

I'll say it - when this happened to me, it was horrible and it sucked. It took me most of my first year before I got consistently busy. I missed my hours my first year. I didn't get a bonus, but you know what? It really didn't matter. My mentors told me not to worry, to enjoy the downtime while I had it. And it got better. I saw new associates coming in, experiencing the same thing, and then realized yeah, it's normal.

So yeah, it's normal.

In a somewhat similar position as OP, so this was reassuring.

Another question: for those who have had downtime in their first years, what do you recommend doing with that downtime? For now, I've just been reading ESPN, TLS, Twitter, etc. for hours a day.

But my firm has a bunch of non-billable categories, so I want to do something that I can bill as professional development, office management, or something like that. For example, I was thinking about reading cases on a specific subject matter from a specific court, taking CLEs, reading treatises/practice guides and saving stuff for the practice areas I hope to concentrate in, etc.

Even the thought of doing that, however, makes me feel like a hopeless, neurotic 1L.

So should I be doing more useful things with my time so that the billing partners realize that I'm being productive but not doing a lot of billable work? Or should I just continue TLSing until the assignments pile up?

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jbagelboy
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:12 pm

Isn't the rump fall typically slow

Then you get fucked after new years?

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Desert Fox
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby Desert Fox » Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:16 pm

jbagelboy wrote:Isn't the rump fall typically slow

Then you get fucked after new years?


In lit you are slow until you staffed on a big case. It took me 7 months. Other people it's day 1.

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OklahomasOK
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby OklahomasOK » Tue Dec 16, 2014 2:00 pm

Same boat until last week. First couple months I was begging for work, even stuff I could only bill to the firm. Now I'm exceeding billables. Everyone I've talked to says lit is pretty cyclical. Enjoy the downtime. I already miss it.

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20160810
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby 20160810 » Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:42 pm

TCR here is enjoy it while it lasts. Besides which there is absolutely no reason to gun for hours in your stub year.

Anonymous User
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:38 am

AVBucks4239 wrote:
NotMyRealName09 wrote:As those above said, I can tell you from personal experience that this is normal. The firm knows that it is normal in general lit practice. I understand how weird it feels to be getting paid fat loot and not be working, and how doubt can quickly set in - are they slow? Are they gonna lay me off? How can they afford to pay me if I'm doing nothing? But just be there and relax. Introduce yourself around but walk that fine line of not being a pest. Make sure you're going to holiday parties, happy hours, whatever.

To make you feel better, just know that people know you are there. You are part of the plan. The firm knows they will lose money on you for your first one, maybe two years. There are certain cases / types of work that are suited for a brand new attorney based both on your experience level and - perhaps most importantly - your billing rate. It just takes time for cases to evolve and the billing attorney to think "I need a new associate for this" or "I need some cheap work for this client / work I can write off without getting flak from above."

I'll say it - when this happened to me, it was horrible and it sucked. It took me most of my first year before I got consistently busy. I missed my hours my first year. I didn't get a bonus, but you know what? It really didn't matter. My mentors told me not to worry, to enjoy the downtime while I had it. And it got better. I saw new associates coming in, experiencing the same thing, and then realized yeah, it's normal.

So yeah, it's normal.

In a somewhat similar position as OP, so this was reassuring.

Another question: for those who have had downtime in their first years, what do you recommend doing with that downtime? For now, I've just been reading ESPN, TLS, Twitter, etc. for hours a day.

But my firm has a bunch of non-billable categories, so I want to do something that I can bill as professional development, office management, or something like that. For example, I was thinking about reading cases on a specific subject matter from a specific court, taking CLEs, reading treatises/practice guides and saving stuff for the practice areas I hope to concentrate in, etc.

Even the thought of doing that, however, makes me feel like a hopeless, neurotic 1L.

So should I be doing more useful things with my time so that the billing partners realize that I'm being productive but not doing a lot of billable work? Or should I just continue TLSing until the assignments pile up?


Does your firm have a portal to watch CLEs online? Mine does (through a subscription) so I knocked out my requirements for the year. I would try to bill a couple hours to something along those lines be it professional reading or somesuch in addition to your twittering.

911 crisis actor
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby 911 crisis actor » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:51 am

I'll sell you some of my billables

keg411
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby keg411 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:56 am

I agree with everyone else here and the same thing happened to me. No need to panic, it's just how lit is starting out. Pick up some pro bono/non-billable work so you don't feel like you're doing absolutely nothing, but otherwise, don't really worry about it.

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logdog
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby logdog » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:06 am

I'm in a similar situation, but I'm at a lit boutique rather than biglaw. Some partners have been out of town off and on for the past couple of weeks, and I'm told there are huge projects coming this spring. For now, though, I'm just researching and working on a publication my firm does. Does anyone know if the general consensus applies here as well?

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AVBucks4239
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby AVBucks4239 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:38 am

This is the most stress-relieving thread I've read in quite a long time.

Another associate was telling me it was normal, but after I billed just 85 hours or something in November, I was getting worried.

December has been busier, but still nowhere close where I want to be.

Guess I'll just sign up for some CLEs and recruit some non-billable work. And enjoy this down time, of course.

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gk101
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Re: Got no billables. Help!

Postby gk101 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:26 am

AVBucks4239 wrote:This is the most stress-relieving thread I've read in quite a long time.

Another associate was telling me it was normal, but after I billed just 85 hours or something in November, I was getting worried.

December has been busier, but still nowhere close where I want to be.

Guess I'll just sign up for some CLEs and recruit some non-billable work. And enjoy this down time, of course.

If you are really freaked out and want to gun, offer to help a partner write an article or something. If this is your stub year, just put on some CLE on one monitor and TLS/twitter/reddit etc on the other monitor. If you don't have 2 monitors, killself




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