110 hour week

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kaiser
Posts: 2940
Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 11:34 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby kaiser » Tue Mar 10, 2015 7:53 pm

TFALAWL wrote:Naive Question from a 2L:

Is it possible to front-load your work (i.e. kill yourself mon-wed. and then take it a little easier thuds-sat.)

Like in law school and college I've always busted my chops for the first three days of the week, and then try to coast. It's a routine that works well for me, and I would love to do that in big law (I'm totally fine with staying in the office 'til 2AM twice a week, so long as I get my friday nights with the homies, and my saturday to sleep)


In general, it doesn't work that way. A few reasons for that:

1. Unexpected things come up all the time. You may be "done" with your work for the week, only to have something big come up out of nowhere on Friday afternoon that screws your whole weekend. Curve balls come at you all the time in big firm life.

2. Your tasks aren't done in isolation. Many tasks require other tasks to be completed first, and those other tasks often depend on other people. So while you can push the ball as far as possible, it may not always get far if not everyone else has the same priorities.

3. Small tasks often take much longer than expected. You end up allotting a few hours, but it takes far longer than you assume, and that pushes everything else back.

dixiecupdrinking
Posts: 3139
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:39 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:09 pm

I will say that litigation is better for this kind of thing, generally. You're more likely to get assignments like, "get me a research memo by Monday," or "draft this section of this brief by Thursday," instead of, "review this right now." But I would stop well short of expecting to be able to work 14 hours Mon-Wed and go to happy hour at 5 on Thursday, or anything like that.

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gk101
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Re: 110 hour week

Postby gk101 » Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:17 am

dixiecupdrinking wrote:I will say that litigation is better for this kind of thing, generally. You're more likely to get assignments like, "get me a research memo by Monday," or "draft this section of this brief by Thursday," instead of, "review this right now." But I would stop well short of expecting to be able to work 14 hours Mon-Wed and go to happy hour at 5 on Thursday, or anything like that.

this sounds correct. Litigation (outside of trial) has fairly consistent hours/workload

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: 110 hour week

Postby Big Shrimpin » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:20 pm

gk101 wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:I will say that litigation is better for this kind of thing, generally. You're more likely to get assignments like, "get me a research memo by Monday," or "draft this section of this brief by Thursday," instead of, "review this right now." But I would stop well short of expecting to be able to work 14 hours Mon-Wed and go to happy hour at 5 on Thursday, or anything like that.

this sounds correct. Litigation (outside of trial) has fairly consistent hours/workload


yeah, but it depends on who youre workign with

workaholic asbergers partner/senior can make what should be fairly consistent workload into consistent 250+ hr months

ive worked for them...but ive also worked for the relative inverse, so theres def a range

nonsharepartner
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:07 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby nonsharepartner » Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:58 pm

Man, I remember one of my first IPOs, being at drafting sessions and the printers from 7:30AM to 3AM every day M-F and from 10AM to 1AM on the weekends, and we still didn't file the S-1. Brutal week, 120 hours billable. Pure. I remember my wife thinking I was having an affair and not seeing my kids at all during the week. Wow. Looking back I forgot all about it until reading through this post. We all have these weeks and we all learn something from them about ourselves and about the firm and about how to manage time. Godspeed young associate.

KidStuddi
Posts: 465
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:35 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby KidStuddi » Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:
KidStuddi wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:But I don't think effective billing rates can explain the entire gap in RPL. Ours is 430 for first years / 630 4th / 725 6th / 1050 ish for partners on average with leeway, with 81% realization rate.

What does a V10 look like.


Feel free to PM me if you want to know our rates, but I've probably dropped enough identifying information for one thread. Realization is >90% though. That 10% difference is, at the scale of our firms, potentially %90-100M right there.

That 10% is significant but it's probably only a third of the difference between a decent V50 (950k) and a V10 (1,250k). And stated billing rates don't appear to be all that different from what I can see in billing rates in BK docs.

I'm guessing around half the difference is just more hours billed per lawyer. Word of mouth and hours surveys seem to corroborate.


FYI, here's what I was telling you straight from a V10 horse's mouth:

"For a fifth consecutive year, Davis Polk & Wardwell's profitability and revenue rose by significant margins, with the firm’s revenue surpassing the $1 billion mark for the first time. . . . Associates continued to work very hard at the firm, Reid says, billing about 1,900 hours on average, not including pro bono work. (Pro bono hours were roughly flat with 2013, he notes.)"

http://www.americanlawyer.com/id=120271 ... z3Utacpbyz

In a record year for one of the most profitable firms on the planet, associates were billing 1,900 hours on average. Kind of ambiguous as to whether that's realized or billable, but assuming the former and assuming DPW's conversion rate is similar to my firm's, that's about 2000-2050 billable per associate.

thisiswhatitslike
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:40 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby thisiswhatitslike » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:36 am

As someone who is involuntarily on pace to bill 2800-3000 hours this year (and our billing year starts well before the calendar year), just thought I'd add another perspective.

I don't think people really understand the mental effect of billing this much. Getting through a busy month or two or even three isn't hard. We're intense people by nature and this is what we signed up for. What we did not sign up for, however, is the fourth month and beyond. That's when all of the things that were supposed to be temporary start to feel depressingly permanent. When you're busy, you tell people you'll hang out after your deal closes, you'll go to the gym after your deal closes, you'll fix this and that and pay some bills and run that errand after your deal closes. But months go by and suddenly, this isn't just a temporary state, this is your life. The things that normal people do are now, for you, a special treat that you get to do in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Imagine a life where emptying the dishwasher is a special treat solely because it is a thing you are doing in your personal life instead of something billable. When you're in this frame of mind, taking a few days off or a week off isn't enough because it doesn't feel like a return to a normal life; it feels like a fleeting, nostalgic reminder of what used to be normal, followed immediately by a return to the grind.

I'm in an insanely busy practice group right now that is horribly understaffed, so it's not my choice. The amazing part, though, is how easy it is to manipulate associates into billing this much by using the above principle: it's manageable as long as it all feels temporary. The deal is always "probably closing in 2-3 weeks"... for months. "We're interviewing lateral candidates." "You'll have a break after this deal closes." People complain but they'll do it because there's still a light at the tunnel. It should be obvious that there's not actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but acknowledging that is simply too depressing.

The best analogy is that it's like running a race and seeing the finish line, so you start sprinting. But then the finish line magically jumps back 100 meters. You keep sprinting because you can still see it and it's really not that far, but once you're almost there, it jumps back again. And again. And again. And once you finally cross the finish line, the partners look at you and say, "hey, sorry, we're a little short on runners so we need you to run the marathon now. Oh, you're tired? Yeah, that makes sense, and we're not heartless: take a 5 minute break and grab some water!" ::5 min later:: "But you can't possibly be tired, you just had a break!"

KM2016
Posts: 198
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Re: 110 hour week

Postby KM2016 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 3:28 am

thisiswhatitslike wrote:As someone who is involuntarily on pace to bill 2800-3000 hours this year (and our billing year starts well before the calendar year), just thought I'd add another perspective.

I don't think people really understand the mental effect of billing this much. Getting through a busy month or two or even three isn't hard. We're intense people by nature and this is what we signed up for. What we did not sign up for, however, is the fourth month and beyond. That's when all of the things that were supposed to be temporary start to feel depressingly permanent. When you're busy, you tell people you'll hang out after your deal closes, you'll go to the gym after your deal closes, you'll fix this and that and pay some bills and run that errand after your deal closes. But months go by and suddenly, this isn't just a temporary state, this is your life. The things that normal people do are now, for you, a special treat that you get to do in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Imagine a life where emptying the dishwasher is a special treat solely because it is a thing you are doing in your personal life instead of something billable. When you're in this frame of mind, taking a few days off or a week off isn't enough because it doesn't feel like a return to a normal life; it feels like a fleeting, nostalgic reminder of what used to be normal, followed immediately by a return to the grind.

I'm in an insanely busy practice group right now that is horribly understaffed, so it's not my choice. The amazing part, though, is how easy it is to manipulate associates into billing this much by using the above principle: it's manageable as long as it all feels temporary. The deal is always "probably closing in 2-3 weeks"... for months. "We're interviewing lateral candidates." "You'll have a break after this deal closes." People complain but they'll do it because there's still a light at the tunnel. It should be obvious that there's not actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but acknowledging that is simply too depressing.

The best analogy is that it's like running a race and seeing the finish line, so you start sprinting. But then the finish line magically jumps back 100 meters. You keep sprinting because you can still see it and it's really not that far, but once you're almost there, it jumps back again. And again. And again. And once you finally cross the finish line, the partners look at you and say, "hey, sorry, we're a little short on runners so we need you to run the marathon now. Oh, you're tired? Yeah, that makes sense, and we're not heartless: take a 5 minute break and grab some water!" ::5 min later:: "But you can't possibly be tired, you just had a break!"


Hands down the most depressing post I've ever read on TLS. I feel so badly for you. If you worked at my firm for a month Biglaw would probably seem like finger painting to you.

Out the firm. And I hope to God you're thinking about lateraling, or better yet, going in house. Good luck, honestly.

BeenDidThat
Posts: 704
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:18 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby BeenDidThat » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:10 am

thisiswhatitslike wrote:As someone who is involuntarily on pace to bill 2800-3000 hours this year (and our billing year starts well before the calendar year), just thought I'd add another perspective.

I don't think people really understand the mental effect of billing this much. Getting through a busy month or two or even three isn't hard. We're intense people by nature and this is what we signed up for. What we did not sign up for, however, is the fourth month and beyond. That's when all of the things that were supposed to be temporary start to feel depressingly permanent. When you're busy, you tell people you'll hang out after your deal closes, you'll go to the gym after your deal closes, you'll fix this and that and pay some bills and run that errand after your deal closes. But months go by and suddenly, this isn't just a temporary state, this is your life. The things that normal people do are now, for you, a special treat that you get to do in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Imagine a life where emptying the dishwasher is a special treat solely because it is a thing you are doing in your personal life instead of something billable. When you're in this frame of mind, taking a few days off or a week off isn't enough because it doesn't feel like a return to a normal life; it feels like a fleeting, nostalgic reminder of what used to be normal, followed immediately by a return to the grind.

I'm in an insanely busy practice group right now that is horribly understaffed, so it's not my choice. The amazing part, though, is how easy it is to manipulate associates into billing this much by using the above principle: it's manageable as long as it all feels temporary. The deal is always "probably closing in 2-3 weeks"... for months. "We're interviewing lateral candidates." "You'll have a break after this deal closes." People complain but they'll do it because there's still a light at the tunnel. It should be obvious that there's not actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but acknowledging that is simply too depressing.

The best analogy is that it's like running a race and seeing the finish line, so you start sprinting. But then the finish line magically jumps back 100 meters. You keep sprinting because you can still see it and it's really not that far, but once you're almost there, it jumps back again. And again. And again. And once you finally cross the finish line, the partners look at you and say, "hey, sorry, we're a little short on runners so we need you to run the marathon now. Oh, you're tired? Yeah, that makes sense, and we're not heartless: take a 5 minute break and grab some water!" ::5 min later:: "But you can't possibly be tired, you just had a break!"


Yeah you should leave those slave drivers.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273047
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:21 am

I was in exactly same position. its stinks. once I realized things weren't going to lighten up and I just kept getting staffed deal after deal I started answering recruiter calls. lateralled within a month to a small firm taking like a 5% paycut. was totally worth it. honestly you can get the same pay at a bunch of smaller firms (or within 10%). never understood why people were so afraid to lateral. its extremely easy as firms are bleeding midlevels now.

KidStuddi
Posts: 465
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:35 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby KidStuddi » Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:00 am

thisiswhatitslike wrote:As someone who is involuntarily on pace to bill 2800-3000 hours this year (and our billing year starts well before the calendar year), just thought I'd add another perspective.

I don't think people really understand the mental effect of billing this much. Getting through a busy month or two or even three isn't hard. We're intense people by nature and this is what we signed up for. What we did not sign up for, however, is the fourth month and beyond. That's when all of the things that were supposed to be temporary start to feel depressingly permanent. When you're busy, you tell people you'll hang out after your deal closes, you'll go to the gym after your deal closes, you'll fix this and that and pay some bills and run that errand after your deal closes. But months go by and suddenly, this isn't just a temporary state, this is your life. The things that normal people do are now, for you, a special treat that you get to do in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Imagine a life where emptying the dishwasher is a special treat solely because it is a thing you are doing in your personal life instead of something billable. When you're in this frame of mind, taking a few days off or a week off isn't enough because it doesn't feel like a return to a normal life; it feels like a fleeting, nostalgic reminder of what used to be normal, followed immediately by a return to the grind.

I'm in an insanely busy practice group right now that is horribly understaffed, so it's not my choice. The amazing part, though, is how easy it is to manipulate associates into billing this much by using the above principle: it's manageable as long as it all feels temporary. The deal is always "probably closing in 2-3 weeks"... for months. "We're interviewing lateral candidates." "You'll have a break after this deal closes." People complain but they'll do it because there's still a light at the tunnel. It should be obvious that there's not actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but acknowledging that is simply too depressing.

The best analogy is that it's like running a race and seeing the finish line, so you start sprinting. But then the finish line magically jumps back 100 meters. You keep sprinting because you can still see it and it's really not that far, but once you're almost there, it jumps back again. And again. And again. And once you finally cross the finish line, the partners look at you and say, "hey, sorry, we're a little short on runners so we need you to run the marathon now. Oh, you're tired? Yeah, that makes sense, and we're not heartless: take a 5 minute break and grab some water!" ::5 min later:: "But you can't possibly be tired, you just had a break!"


That's pretty bleak. Is there a reason you think they can't actually bring in laterals, or do you get the sense that they don't really care about getting you guys help? How long would you it take for you to go at that pace before you start putting your resume out there?

thisiswhatitslike
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:40 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby thisiswhatitslike » Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:58 am

Thanks for the support, all. I certainly didn't mean to depress all of TLS; just wanted to clarify some assumptions regarding high billing. For me, there actually is a light at the end of the tunnel: I've already decided that if I don't see any change, I will imply to the partners on x date that I'm thinking of leaving, and then on y date I'll start the lateral process. Believe it or not, I've actually been very happy at this firm until this year, which is part of why I haven't called them out on their BS yet. It's just very, very poorly managed, and it finally caught up with them (and, no surprises, the associates are the ones who have suffered as a result.)

legends159
Posts: 1090
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 4:12 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby legends159 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:08 am

thisiswhatitslike wrote:Thanks for the support, all. I certainly didn't mean to depress all of TLS; just wanted to clarify some assumptions regarding high billing. For me, there actually is a light at the end of the tunnel: I've already decided that if I don't see any change, I will imply to the partners on x date that I'm thinking of leaving, and then on y date I'll start the lateral process. Believe it or not, I've actually been very happy at this firm until this year, which is part of why I haven't called them out on their BS yet. It's just very, very poorly managed, and it finally caught up with them (and, no surprises, the associates are the ones who have suffered as a result.)


Don't imply you're thinking of leaving until you have some real options. Start looking now if you plan to move because it takes a while to lateral, especially if you're looking to go in-house.

wildhaggis
Posts: 196
Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2011 1:47 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby wildhaggis » Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:09 am

thisiswhatitslike wrote:As someone who is involuntarily on pace to bill 2800-3000 hours this year (and our billing year starts well before the calendar year), just thought I'd add another perspective.

I don't think people really understand the mental effect of billing this much. Getting through a busy month or two or even three isn't hard. We're intense people by nature and this is what we signed up for. What we did not sign up for, however, is the fourth month and beyond. That's when all of the things that were supposed to be temporary start to feel depressingly permanent. When you're busy, you tell people you'll hang out after your deal closes, you'll go to the gym after your deal closes, you'll fix this and that and pay some bills and run that errand after your deal closes. But months go by and suddenly, this isn't just a temporary state, this is your life. The things that normal people do are now, for you, a special treat that you get to do in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Imagine a life where emptying the dishwasher is a special treat solely because it is a thing you are doing in your personal life instead of something billable. When you're in this frame of mind, taking a few days off or a week off isn't enough because it doesn't feel like a return to a normal life; it feels like a fleeting, nostalgic reminder of what used to be normal, followed immediately by a return to the grind.

I'm in an insanely busy practice group right now that is horribly understaffed, so it's not my choice. The amazing part, though, is how easy it is to manipulate associates into billing this much by using the above principle: it's manageable as long as it all feels temporary. The deal is always "probably closing in 2-3 weeks"... for months. "We're interviewing lateral candidates." "You'll have a break after this deal closes." People complain but they'll do it because there's still a light at the tunnel. It should be obvious that there's not actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but acknowledging that is simply too depressing.

The best analogy is that it's like running a race and seeing the finish line, so you start sprinting. But then the finish line magically jumps back 100 meters. You keep sprinting because you can still see it and it's really not that far, but once you're almost there, it jumps back again. And again. And again. And once you finally cross the finish line, the partners look at you and say, "hey, sorry, we're a little short on runners so we need you to run the marathon now. Oh, you're tired? Yeah, that makes sense, and we're not heartless: take a 5 minute break and grab some water!" ::5 min later:: "But you can't possibly be tired, you just had a break!"


Devastating.

This post is shockingly similar to my experience during my biglaw tenure. I'm not sure I could have said it any better.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273047
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:52 pm

wildhaggis wrote:
thisiswhatitslike wrote:As someone who is involuntarily on pace to bill 2800-3000 hours this year (and our billing year starts well before the calendar year), just thought I'd add another perspective.

I don't think people really understand the mental effect of billing this much. Getting through a busy month or two or even three isn't hard. We're intense people by nature and this is what we signed up for. What we did not sign up for, however, is the fourth month and beyond. That's when all of the things that were supposed to be temporary start to feel depressingly permanent. When you're busy, you tell people you'll hang out after your deal closes, you'll go to the gym after your deal closes, you'll fix this and that and pay some bills and run that errand after your deal closes. But months go by and suddenly, this isn't just a temporary state, this is your life. The things that normal people do are now, for you, a special treat that you get to do in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Imagine a life where emptying the dishwasher is a special treat solely because it is a thing you are doing in your personal life instead of something billable. When you're in this frame of mind, taking a few days off or a week off isn't enough because it doesn't feel like a return to a normal life; it feels like a fleeting, nostalgic reminder of what used to be normal, followed immediately by a return to the grind.

I'm in an insanely busy practice group right now that is horribly understaffed, so it's not my choice. The amazing part, though, is how easy it is to manipulate associates into billing this much by using the above principle: it's manageable as long as it all feels temporary. The deal is always "probably closing in 2-3 weeks"... for months. "We're interviewing lateral candidates." "You'll have a break after this deal closes." People complain but they'll do it because there's still a light at the tunnel. It should be obvious that there's not actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but acknowledging that is simply too depressing.

The best analogy is that it's like running a race and seeing the finish line, so you start sprinting. But then the finish line magically jumps back 100 meters. You keep sprinting because you can still see it and it's really not that far, but once you're almost there, it jumps back again. And again. And again. And once you finally cross the finish line, the partners look at you and say, "hey, sorry, we're a little short on runners so we need you to run the marathon now. Oh, you're tired? Yeah, that makes sense, and we're not heartless: take a 5 minute break and grab some water!" ::5 min later:: "But you can't possibly be tired, you just had a break!"


Devastating.

This post is shockingly similar to my experience during my biglaw tenure. I'm not sure I could have said it any better.


OP here, and this all is just disheartening. I guess we all know to expect something like this, but hearing it in detail is really useful for perspective.

sparty99
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:41 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby sparty99 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:05 am

Anonymous User wrote:
wildhaggis wrote:
thisiswhatitslike wrote:As someone who is involuntarily on pace to bill 2800-3000 hours this year (and our billing year starts well before the calendar year), just thought I'd add another perspective.

I don't think people really understand the mental effect of billing this much. Getting through a busy month or two or even three isn't hard. We're intense people by nature and this is what we signed up for. What we did not sign up for, however, is the fourth month and beyond. That's when all of the things that were supposed to be temporary start to feel depressingly permanent. When you're busy, you tell people you'll hang out after your deal closes, you'll go to the gym after your deal closes, you'll fix this and that and pay some bills and run that errand after your deal closes. But months go by and suddenly, this isn't just a temporary state, this is your life. The things that normal people do are now, for you, a special treat that you get to do in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Imagine a life where emptying the dishwasher is a special treat solely because it is a thing you are doing in your personal life instead of something billable. When you're in this frame of mind, taking a few days off or a week off isn't enough because it doesn't feel like a return to a normal life; it feels like a fleeting, nostalgic reminder of what used to be normal, followed immediately by a return to the grind.

I'm in an insanely busy practice group right now that is horribly understaffed, so it's not my choice. The amazing part, though, is how easy it is to manipulate associates into billing this much by using the above principle: it's manageable as long as it all feels temporary. The deal is always "probably closing in 2-3 weeks"... for months. "We're interviewing lateral candidates." "You'll have a break after this deal closes." People complain but they'll do it because there's still a light at the tunnel. It should be obvious that there's not actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but acknowledging that is simply too depressing.

The best analogy is that it's like running a race and seeing the finish line, so you start sprinting. But then the finish line magically jumps back 100 meters. You keep sprinting because you can still see it and it's really not that far, but once you're almost there, it jumps back again. And again. And again. And once you finally cross the finish line, the partners look at you and say, "hey, sorry, we're a little short on runners so we need you to run the marathon now. Oh, you're tired? Yeah, that makes sense, and we're not heartless: take a 5 minute break and grab some water!" ::5 min later:: "But you can't possibly be tired, you just had a break!"


Devastating.

This post is shockingly similar to my experience during my biglaw tenure. I'm not sure I could have said it any better.


OP here, and this all is just disheartening. I guess we all know to expect something like this, but hearing it in detail is really useful for perspective.


Big law sucks. I'm looking to leave not because of the hours as mine are a cake walk. But because the work is so boring. Who cares about waterfall distributions deal by deal or whole fund.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273047
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:
wildhaggis wrote:
thisiswhatitslike wrote:As someone who is involuntarily on pace to bill 2800-3000 hours this year (and our billing year starts well before the calendar year), just thought I'd add another perspective.

I don't think people really understand the mental effect of billing this much. Getting through a busy month or two or even three isn't hard. We're intense people by nature and this is what we signed up for. What we did not sign up for, however, is the fourth month and beyond. That's when all of the things that were supposed to be temporary start to feel depressingly permanent. When you're busy, you tell people you'll hang out after your deal closes, you'll go to the gym after your deal closes, you'll fix this and that and pay some bills and run that errand after your deal closes. But months go by and suddenly, this isn't just a temporary state, this is your life. The things that normal people do are now, for you, a special treat that you get to do in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Imagine a life where emptying the dishwasher is a special treat solely because it is a thing you are doing in your personal life instead of something billable. When you're in this frame of mind, taking a few days off or a week off isn't enough because it doesn't feel like a return to a normal life; it feels like a fleeting, nostalgic reminder of what used to be normal, followed immediately by a return to the grind.

I'm in an insanely busy practice group right now that is horribly understaffed, so it's not my choice. The amazing part, though, is how easy it is to manipulate associates into billing this much by using the above principle: it's manageable as long as it all feels temporary. The deal is always "probably closing in 2-3 weeks"... for months. "We're interviewing lateral candidates." "You'll have a break after this deal closes." People complain but they'll do it because there's still a light at the tunnel. It should be obvious that there's not actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but acknowledging that is simply too depressing.

The best analogy is that it's like running a race and seeing the finish line, so you start sprinting. But then the finish line magically jumps back 100 meters. You keep sprinting because you can still see it and it's really not that far, but once you're almost there, it jumps back again. And again. And again. And once you finally cross the finish line, the partners look at you and say, "hey, sorry, we're a little short on runners so we need you to run the marathon now. Oh, you're tired? Yeah, that makes sense, and we're not heartless: take a 5 minute break and grab some water!" ::5 min later:: "But you can't possibly be tired, you just had a break!"


Devastating.

This post is shockingly similar to my experience during my biglaw tenure. I'm not sure I could have said it any better.


OP here, and this all is just disheartening. I guess we all know to expect something like this, but hearing it in detail is really useful for perspective.

I mean it's easy to forget it's not just how people are everywhere, because you're there for like 80 hours a week or whatever, but everyone we work with is (a) a workaholic and/or sociopath or (b) going to leave within 2-3 years. Or (c) thinks they need the money, which is kind of pathetic.

Anonymous User
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Re: 110 hour week

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:34 am

thisiswhatitslike wrote:As someone who is involuntarily on pace to bill 2800-3000 hours this year (and our billing year starts well before the calendar year), just thought I'd add another perspective.

I don't think people really understand the mental effect of billing this much. Getting through a busy month or two or even three isn't hard. We're intense people by nature and this is what we signed up for. What we did not sign up for, however, is the fourth month and beyond. That's when all of the things that were supposed to be temporary start to feel depressingly permanent. When you're busy, you tell people you'll hang out after your deal closes, you'll go to the gym after your deal closes, you'll fix this and that and pay some bills and run that errand after your deal closes. But months go by and suddenly, this isn't just a temporary state, this is your life. The things that normal people do are now, for you, a special treat that you get to do in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Imagine a life where emptying the dishwasher is a special treat solely because it is a thing you are doing in your personal life instead of something billable. When you're in this frame of mind, taking a few days off or a week off isn't enough because it doesn't feel like a return to a normal life; it feels like a fleeting, nostalgic reminder of what used to be normal, followed immediately by a return to the grind.

I'm in an insanely busy practice group right now that is horribly understaffed, so it's not my choice. The amazing part, though, is how easy it is to manipulate associates into billing this much by using the above principle: it's manageable as long as it all feels temporary. The deal is always "probably closing in 2-3 weeks"... for months. "We're interviewing lateral candidates." "You'll have a break after this deal closes." People complain but they'll do it because there's still a light at the tunnel. It should be obvious that there's not actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but acknowledging that is simply too depressing.

The best analogy is that it's like running a race and seeing the finish line, so you start sprinting. But then the finish line magically jumps back 100 meters. You keep sprinting because you can still see it and it's really not that far, but once you're almost there, it jumps back again. And again. And again. And once you finally cross the finish line, the partners look at you and say, "hey, sorry, we're a little short on runners so we need you to run the marathon now. Oh, you're tired? Yeah, that makes sense, and we're not heartless: take a 5 minute break and grab some water!" ::5 min later:: "But you can't possibly be tired, you just had a break!"

Great description that is spot on. I had a couple of years like this....when 6 hours sleep feels amazing because you were running on fumes and the last 3 nights combined you got 7 hours. Deals keep getting piled on your plate despite feeling like you about to literally collapse from exhaustion. When you finally cut back to a 12 hour day and you don't even know what to do with those 3 hours of free time. When you don't see your live in significant other for weeks except weekends. The cabbies that work late all know you. Fuck that life. It's not worth the money or the toll on your health and personal relationships. As far as firms go, my firm was better than most large law firms, but I still wish that I left at least a year earlier than I did...or that I started to push back harder on those brutal hours sooner. The hardest part for me was managing juniors and ruining their lives because I had to. I don't know how partners do it on such a regular basis. I actually liked the partners that I worked with but I still think it's sociopathic. Working at a large firm can be a great jumping off point, but a miserable place to remain long term.

dixiecupdrinking
Posts: 3139
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Re: 110 hour week

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:43 am

Anonymous User wrote:
thisiswhatitslike wrote:As someone who is involuntarily on pace to bill 2800-3000 hours this year (and our billing year starts well before the calendar year), just thought I'd add another perspective.

I don't think people really understand the mental effect of billing this much. Getting through a busy month or two or even three isn't hard. We're intense people by nature and this is what we signed up for. What we did not sign up for, however, is the fourth month and beyond. That's when all of the things that were supposed to be temporary start to feel depressingly permanent. When you're busy, you tell people you'll hang out after your deal closes, you'll go to the gym after your deal closes, you'll fix this and that and pay some bills and run that errand after your deal closes. But months go by and suddenly, this isn't just a temporary state, this is your life. The things that normal people do are now, for you, a special treat that you get to do in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Imagine a life where emptying the dishwasher is a special treat solely because it is a thing you are doing in your personal life instead of something billable. When you're in this frame of mind, taking a few days off or a week off isn't enough because it doesn't feel like a return to a normal life; it feels like a fleeting, nostalgic reminder of what used to be normal, followed immediately by a return to the grind.

I'm in an insanely busy practice group right now that is horribly understaffed, so it's not my choice. The amazing part, though, is how easy it is to manipulate associates into billing this much by using the above principle: it's manageable as long as it all feels temporary. The deal is always "probably closing in 2-3 weeks"... for months. "We're interviewing lateral candidates." "You'll have a break after this deal closes." People complain but they'll do it because there's still a light at the tunnel. It should be obvious that there's not actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but acknowledging that is simply too depressing.

The best analogy is that it's like running a race and seeing the finish line, so you start sprinting. But then the finish line magically jumps back 100 meters. You keep sprinting because you can still see it and it's really not that far, but once you're almost there, it jumps back again. And again. And again. And once you finally cross the finish line, the partners look at you and say, "hey, sorry, we're a little short on runners so we need you to run the marathon now. Oh, you're tired? Yeah, that makes sense, and we're not heartless: take a 5 minute break and grab some water!" ::5 min later:: "But you can't possibly be tired, you just had a break!"

Great description that is spot on. I had a couple of years like this....when 6 hours sleep feels amazing because you were running on fumes and the last 3 nights combined you got 7 hours. Deals keep getting piled on your plate despite feeling like you about to literally collapse from exhaustion. When you finally cut back to a 12 hour day and you don't even know what to do with those 3 hours of free time. When you don't see your live in significant other for weeks except weekends. The cabbies that work late all know you. Fuck that life. It's not worth the money or the toll on your health and personal relationships. As far as firms go, my firm was better than most large law firms, but I still wish that I left at least a year earlier than I did...or that I started to push back harder on those brutal hours sooner. The hardest part for me was managing juniors and ruining their lives because I had to. I don't know how partners do it on such a regular basis. I actually liked the partners that I worked with but I still think it's sociopathic. Working at a large firm can be a great jumping off point, but a miserable place to remain long term.

I can tell from your description alone this firm is not "better than most." Fuck this Stockholm syndrome shit. This is not normal or acceptable for anyone to put you through. It's one thing if it's one matter for one client that's messing your life up, because fine, you have to do right by your client. When you keep getting put on new matters, and you're working like this, that is 100% on your firm, and it's attributable either to greed or terrible management.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: 110 hour week

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:50 am

^
CR

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

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:47 am

Any practical tips on pushing back? I have tried making plans (and insisting that I stick to them). Or just looking ridiculously demoralized/tired/beat up. Both have had limited success, and I'm worried that I'm going to do this too much and not look like a team player. The problem for me is that I work with one senior associate who is extraordinarily inefficient, overly demanding of my time, and literally never leaves the office before 1-2AM. He doesn't even think about leaving before then, regardless of upcoming deadlines. I'm going to blow my brains out if I have another 250 hour month with him for no reason. Everyone knows these things about him, but no one seems to care.

As I started typing this, I got a call from him. 10AM on a Saturday morning. I'm sure it's something super important. :roll:
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Mar 21, 2015 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BeenDidThat
Posts: 704
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Re: 110 hour week

Postby BeenDidThat » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:26 am

Anonymous User wrote:Any practical tips on pushing back? I have tried making plans (and insisting that I stick to them). Or just looking ridiculously demoralized/tired/beat up. Both have had limited success, and I'm worried that I'm going to do this too much and not look like a team player. The problem for me is that I work with one senior associate who is extraordinarily inefficient, overly demanding of my time, and literally never leaves the office before 1-2AM. He doesn't even think about leaving before then, regardless of upcoming deadlines. I'm going to blow my brains out if I have another 250 hour month with him for no reason. Everyone knows these things about him, but no one seems to care.

As I started typing this, I got a call from him. 10AM on a Saturday morning. I'm super it's something super important. :roll:


Just tell people when you can get something done by, and build in time for you to not work. And don't pick up the goddamn phone on Saturday morning...christ. Maybe the workaholics around you will get you canned, I dunno. Fuck it though; chances are they will hold you in less esteem (who cares) but need you around to do work and won't get rid of you. If they will lie to you to "motivate" you, you shouldn't give a shit about their feelings.

Cogburn87
Posts: 467
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Re: 110 hour week

Postby Cogburn87 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any practical tips on pushing back? I have tried making plans (and insisting that I stick to them). Or just looking ridiculously demoralized/tired/beat up. Both have had limited success, and I'm worried that I'm going to do this too much and not look like a team player. The problem for me is that I work with one senior associate who is extraordinarily inefficient, overly demanding of my time, and literally never leaves the office before 1-2AM. He doesn't even think about leaving before then, regardless of upcoming deadlines. I'm going to blow my brains out if I have another 250 hour month with him for no reason. Everyone knows these things about him, but no one seems to care.

As I started typing this, I got a call from him. 10AM on a Saturday morning. I'm super it's something super important. :roll:

But all work sucks and it's just like any other job, amirite, 0Ls?

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rpupkin
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Re: 110 hour week

Postby rpupkin » Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any practical tips on pushing back? I have tried making plans (and insisting that I stick to them). Or just looking ridiculously demoralized/tired/beat up.

I suggest against the "looking ridiculously demoralized/tired/beat up" approach. I mean, if you look tired because you're not sleeping, then you look tired. But don't go out of your way to "act" tired or demoralized. Come at this from a position of strength.

As for your workaholic senior associate, you hold more cards than he does. He's freaked out because he knows that he is being considered for partner. His work is being closely scrutinized by decisions makers; your work isn't. If you leave at 8 p.m. to meet a friend for dinner, and if the senior associate doesn't like it, what is he going to do? If he complains about it to a partner, he will look bad, not you.

Now, if a workaholic partner claims you as his or her bitch, you're fucked. But a senior associate? Don't sweat it. Do good work, don't be a dick, and keep your social plans.

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Desert Fox
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Re: 110 hour week

Postby Desert Fox » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:41 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any practical tips on pushing back? I have tried making plans (and insisting that I stick to them). Or just looking ridiculously demoralized/tired/beat up.

I suggest against the "looking ridiculously demoralized/tired/beat up" approach. I mean, if you look tired because you're not sleeping, then you look tired. But don't go out of your way to "act" tired or demoralized. Come at this from a position of strength.

As for your workaholic senior associate, you hold more cards than he does. He's freaked out because he knows that he is being considered for partner. His work is being closely scrutinized by decisions makers; your work isn't. If you leave at 8 p.m. to meet a friend for dinner, and if the senior associate doesn't like it, what is he going to do? If he complains about it to a partner, he will look bad, not you.

Now, if a workaholic partner claims you as his or her bitch, you're fucked. But a senior associate? Don't sweat it. Do good work, don't be a dick, and keep your social plans.


The senior can fuck by just talking shit about you to people. But I'd risk it. He'll run you ragged and throw you away for his own futile partnership prospects.




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