masque du pantsu wrote:Right, except that in M&A (which I believe the OP said is his/her practice), it is 100% possible to have 100+ hour weeks even if 80% of your time is only on one deal without it really being a judgment/choice issue.
Say someone comes to you and says "hey we're doing a deal, please review the data room, we're trying to have diligence done next week", and you open the data room and there are 2,500 documents, then yes, that would be your fault for not saying to them "please assign another associate to help."
But say you've reviewed those documents already over a more reasonable time frame, you write the diligence report, perform any termination fee or whatever analyses are needed, write up some sort of structure wherein you can avoid whatever at the subsidiary level or some such, the parties decide to go ahead with it and everything then starts going full speed ahead. At that point, in negotiating and finalizing deal documents, schedules (oh the schedules), subsidiary documents (I've worked on an M&A deal that had ~1,000 pages of total documentation), etc., the senior associate, partner and specialists will rely on you because they didn't read all the diligence documents, you did. You end up with a value/expertise of sorts where no one can easily step into your shoes or replace you and aside from saying "no I won't do it" (which, obviously, is a career limiting move once the deal heats up), you are not left with many options and it's hard to see how that is anyone's fault. (Also, sometimes it's exciting anyway so you wouldn't want to say no.)
I agree you need to learn how to say no (for instance, if two deals heat up at once, you have to just let the partners figure out who's work gets done), but sh*t happens.
That said, 100+ hour weeks have happened like twice for me. Monthly hours have ranged from 300+ to 75 for the whole month, so it's not like a 100 hour week means you're going to have 3000 or some ungodly amount of hours.
Curious, do you do a non-M&A corporate practice? I did a capital markets rotation and there, it felt like there were more possibility of heading that off before hand.
I don't think we disagree about anything other than where the line is drawn. You seem to agree you should push back if you're about be obviously oversubscribed with two active matters going simultaneously, so you recognize there're some threshold at which you have to say something or risk fucking up.
I'm just saying wherever you choose to put your "say something" threshold is your own choice. I think the text in bold is a large part of the problem with people who end up working 3,000 hours and never take vacations. It's like you guys really do think you're the pillar holding up every deal and that everything would crumble without you and so you decide that your thresholds are going to be so that the only time you'll say no is when you're at the point of literally running out of hours in the day even without sleeping. I tend to think I'm not that irreplaceable. If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, I know no deal I'm on is going to implode or probably even be delayed. Someone more senior than me might have to roll up their sleeves and fill in for me, or someone lateral might get pulled in to help out, someone more junior might have to take more responsibility, or whatever.
Desert Fox wrote:But lets not bullshit that partners aren't trying to squeeze you dry. Turning down work when you are averaging 160 hours a month = ur done here. You can't hand off a project because you already billed 60 hours this week. And 60 hours in a week isn't uncommon and it really fucking sucks. I'm headed towards 70 this week and that is after I was taken off a case to make my load better.
Right, I believe I said earlier I'm not advocating trying to limit yourself to 40 hour weeks or trying to duck a request that comes in at 8pm on a Saturday or whatever. Partners are in the business of selling our time, they're always going to want as much as you can give. But if I bill 60 hours in the first half a week, it's about a 95% chance that I made that happen by putting off other things I'm responsible for. I'm not saying you turn down new work because you've already billed 60 hours in a week and want to check out (unless you're using vacation / sick days), you turn down new work because you're backed up from billing 60, you've got at least X more on your plate, and you need to keep overhead in place so that you can manage priorities and remain relatively responsive to follow-up requests other things you're already engaged with.
As a practical matter, when I tell a partner or senior associate "I'm not sure I have the capacity to take this on right now, I've got X, Y, and Z on my plate," I've never once gotten anything remotely approaching "well how late are you going to be staying up each night??!!?" If I tell someone I'm at capacity, that's just how it is. They move on and find someone with more bandwidth or split the task (sometimes), adjust their timing expectations (vast majority of the time), or, if it's something they think I really need to do personally and the deadline is actually hard, they'll work with other people above me to do decide whose work isn't getting done promptly (handful of times).