110 hour week

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273183
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:57 pm

itbdvorm wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:- "doing all this at 2 am" - when do you want to do it? bid is due tomorrow. that's what we're getting paid for.

There's a difference - there really is - between being upset that the job sucks sometimes and thinking you're entitled to something better. You're not. That's the job. If you want the money, this is the deal you're making for yourself. And being pissy about it actually robs YOU of the best thing about it (even better than the money) - the human capital you can build in yourself by being a good teammate and coworker. That pays dividends down the line far in excess of the cash.



this is not quite right.

i worked in biglaw for 4 years and since day 1 i set limits for how much i would work. regardless of how busy it was, or how many other associates wanted to stay until 3:00am to get docs out, i would come in and leave when i wanted (my average day was 10:30-8:00).

this is what i considered to be a fair trade-off. anything more than that for me was not worth it and i'd rather not have a job than work another hour. it's employment at will and nobody can force you to work more than you're willing - you can always quit once it becomes not worth it. eventually i decided even 10:30-8 was too much for me and i went in-house and got the same job as every other biglawyer.

what the bolded ignores is that the firm continued to pay me and keep me on board for 4 years despite doing less than anyone. that's because i was still earning my paycheck (in their eyes) billing 1600 hours or whatever. we're paid for as long as the firm thinks we're an asset. being a "super asset" or whatever gets you nowhere. everyone gets the same paycheck and anyone who does more than the bare minimum is a chump.

also, the whole idea that killing yourself billing 2300 pays off down the road or that you become a better lawyer is ridiculous. there's no super elite epiphany you have in hour 2200. it's the same exact crap you were doing in hour 500.


This guy here - not the partner, not the senior associate, not the client - is who you all should be mad at.

Each guy doing just enough to not get fired is another spot that could have been filled with someone who jumps on the grenade so you can go to your friend's birthday party.


Once again, this is a strawman. No one who is on the side of drawing some boundaries and creating at least some balance is hoping for others to do their work for them or step up so that they don't have to. Even those who draw some boundaries and happily get by just billing their 2,100 hours and being done with it will still sacrifice plans when a grenade is about to blow, or when the unexpected need arises. The difference between 2,100 and 2,600 or 2,700 hours isn't just grenade emergencies. Its a calculated and pre-determined choice at that point, and not really dictated by spur-of-the-moment circumstances.

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

Re: 110 hour week

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:23 pm

The argument also only remotely makes sense if you assume there is a finite amount of work to be allocated among associates. In my experience, where one associate might work 10 hours on a task, two associates will work 18. It's rarely "Bob will do this so I don't have to." It's "Bob is inserted somewhere in the chain of command and as a result we will go through twice as many revisions."

User avatar
BiglawAssociate
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:05 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby BiglawAssociate » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:26 pm

BarbellDreams wrote:
BiglawAssociate wrote:
scottidsntknow wrote:
BiglawAssociate wrote:I married rich, but I still paid off my own loans before I got married. Why would my spouse pay off my loans? My parents live in a 1mm dollar house and make six figures - they ain't rich. They paid for college but not grad school.

My in laws do buy us shit though - pay for part of our apartment, offered to buy us a new car, etc. etc. If we move out of NYC, they will likely buy us a house (they already have multiple houses).

I'm not sure why you think any of this is trolling.

Because people don't talk about this kind of stuff so openly.

You're a shining example of money not buying class.


And your point is? What is "class" anyway - another bullshit notion like "prestige." Intangible stuff don't mean anything to me.

Having money and no class >>>> being poor with "class" (whatever that is)

Also maybe you don't know enough people with money. Lots of them talk about how to make money/investments/their vacation homes, etc. etc. "What did you do this weekend?" "Oh I visited my second vacation home this weekend". "My parents are buying me a condo in NYC, etc."


Please tell me this is some fantasy of yours for an online persona and you don't actually act like this IRL...



Let's put it this way - I did marry into money and I know a lot of rich people, including other lawyers whose parents bought them condos in NYC. I can't control what they tell me.

User avatar
BiglawAssociate
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:05 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby BiglawAssociate » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:29 pm

exitoptions wrote:
BiglawAssociate wrote:
scottidsntknow wrote:
BiglawAssociate wrote:I married rich, but I still paid off my own loans before I got married. Why would my spouse pay off my loans? My parents live in a 1mm dollar house and make six figures - they ain't rich. They paid for college but not grad school.

My in laws do buy us shit though - pay for part of our apartment, offered to buy us a new car, etc. etc. If we move out of NYC, they will likely buy us a house (they already have multiple houses).

I'm not sure why you think any of this is trolling.

Because people don't talk about this kind of stuff so openly.

You're a shining example of money not buying class.


And your point is? What is "class" anyway - another bullshit notion like "prestige." Intangible stuff don't mean anything to me.

Having money and no class >>>> being poor with "class" (whatever that is)

Also maybe you don't know enough people with money. Lots of them talk about how to make money/investments/their vacation homes, etc. etc. "What did you do this weekend?" "Oh I visited my second vacation home this weekend". "My parents are buying me a condo in NYC, etc."


I know quite a few wealthy people, but I never met one who felt it necessary to explain which number vacation home they had visited.


What about " my vacation home in (x) state" (as in differentiating from the others in ABCD states?)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273183
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:29 pm

^^^
I've had enough of my colleagues tell me about their vacation homes, their sailing adventures, and other wealthy person hobbies to know that John Goodman should be in my office telling me that I'm out of my element.

User avatar
BiglawAssociate
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:05 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby BiglawAssociate » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:- "doing all this at 2 am" - when do you want to do it? bid is due tomorrow. that's what we're getting paid for.

There's a difference - there really is - between being upset that the job sucks sometimes and thinking you're entitled to something better. You're not. That's the job. If you want the money, this is the deal you're making for yourself. And being pissy about it actually robs YOU of the best thing about it (even better than the money) - the human capital you can build in yourself by being a good teammate and coworker. That pays dividends down the line far in excess of the cash.



this is not quite right.

i worked in biglaw for 4 years and since day 1 i set limits for how much i would work. regardless of how busy it was, or how many other associates wanted to stay until 3:00am to get docs out, i would come in and leave when i wanted (my average day was 10:30-8:00).

this is what i considered to be a fair trade-off. anything more than that for me was not worth it and i'd rather not have a job than work another hour. it's employment at will and nobody can force you to work more than you're willing - you can always quit once it becomes not worth it. eventually i decided even 10:30-8 was too much for me and i went in-house and got the same job as every other biglawyer.

what the bolded ignores is that the firm continued to pay me and keep me on board for 4 years despite doing less than anyone. that's because i was still earning my paycheck (in their eyes) billing 1600 hours or whatever. we're paid for as long as the firm thinks we're an asset. being a "super asset" or whatever gets you nowhere. everyone gets the same paycheck and anyone who does more than the bare minimum is a chump.

also, the whole idea that killing yourself billing 2300 pays off down the road or that you become a better lawyer is ridiculous. there's no super elite epiphany you have in hour 2200. it's the same exact crap you were doing in hour 500.


Honestly, that sounds like a pretty good plan if you can somehow create a workflow that allows it. I was initially slow for work, got myself on a few matters to fill up the time, and then they all started ballooning up. So now I'm stuck billing 220 or 230 hours a month. My goal is to cool it a bit as soon as some of these cases calm down some. Again, I have no intention of coasting, since I take pride in doing good work and being there for my case teams. But failing to draw any boundaries and always mentally (or physically) being there is starting to take a real toll on my mental health.


Wait you're only billing 220 to 230 hours a month? I did that my entire first year...are you a first year? Expect to get fucked first year.

I have friends billing 300 hours a month....Not to be mean, but 220 isn't bad unless you're literally doing jack shit all day then working all night.....(which does happen sometimes in transactional work)

User avatar
los blancos
Posts: 7116
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:18 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby los blancos » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:35 pm

LJFL at "only" 220 hours a month.

User avatar
BiglawAssociate
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:05 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby BiglawAssociate » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:36 pm

los blancos wrote:LJFL at "only" 220 hours a month.


That's just the norm for first years IMO. That was my roughest year (although I give less of a fuck now too so that helps). Also depends on workflow - are you working all day or having to wait around and billing at night.

TBF I really do have friends who billed 300+ for like half a year...they almost died, but that's because they were sleeping 2 hours a night. I think they are crazy/mentally ill/should quit ASAP.
Last edited by BiglawAssociate on Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273183
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:37 pm

^^^

Sure, its not horrible if you can just walk in and start billing from beginning of the day until the end of the day efficiently, and then just go home. But thats not how my workflow is. Many times a 12 or 13 hour day only yields about 7 or 8 hours billed due to combo of stuff not coming in until late, non-billable work and responsibilities, etc.

And billing 230 hours per month is the equivalent to billing (not just working) 7.5 hours per day every single day of the month. Combine that with the bad luck of a workflow that causes tasks to come in late some days while I sit around, and its a recipe for always being in the office.

Never heard someone say "only" 220/230. Guess you were made for this. And I couldn't care less about fools working 300 hours a month. If some idiots want to borderline kill themselves over this, thats their prerogative. The effect of however many hours I work isn't really affected by however much worse it could possibly be.

User avatar
BiglawAssociate
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:05 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby BiglawAssociate » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:^^^

Sure, its not horrible if you can just walk in and start billing from beginning of the day until the end of the day efficiently, and then just go home. But thats not how my workflow is. Many times a 12 or 13 hour day only yields about 7 or 8 hours billed due to combo of stuff not coming in until late, non-billable work and responsibilities, etc.

And billing 230 hours per month is the equivalent to billing (not just working) 7.5 hours per day every single day of the month. Combine that with the bad luck of a workflow that causes tasks to come in late some days while I sit around, and its a recipe for always being in the office.

Never heard someone say "only" 220/230. Guess you were made for this.


No, I'm not made for this and I definitely can't pull as many late nights as I used to be able to, but I remember billing like 60+ hour weeks and working literally every day (including all weekend) for majority of first year. It was spread out over 7 days though, so maybe more bearable than doing 60 in a 5 day period.

It gets better after first year though, partly because you give less of a fuck and spend less time on assignments/get better at it.

Also i have some perspective because some of my friends got FUCKED and they were billing 110+ hour weeks and not sleeping for months. They ended up looking like complete shit/almost dying. Totally not worth the money IMO, we don't get paid enough to work that much.

Anyway this shit does get better at least through midlevel - first years (and senior associates) get fucked the most.

User avatar
los blancos
Posts: 7116
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:18 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby los blancos » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:47 pm

I don't think I could bill 200 without killing myself unless I was in trial or literally had like 5 MSJs to do on my own.

User avatar
BiglawAssociate
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:05 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby BiglawAssociate » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:48 pm

los blancos wrote:I don't think I could bill 200 without killing myself unless I was in trial or literally had like 5 MSJs to do on my own.


Well apparently some first years agree with you - which is why they quit within 6 months for NO JOB

This happens more often than people think, which is why I find it funny that people say "oh let's ONLY take out 200k loans for my "goal" of biglaw".

User avatar
BiglawAssociate
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:05 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby BiglawAssociate » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:53 pm

Truths about biglaw:

Leaving at 8 pm is considered "early" (this never changes, even after first year)

Pulling 16 hour days when shit goes down for a couple weeks in a row is considered "normal"

Expect to answer your blackberry until midnight/whenever the senior typically goes to bed

There's ASAP/fire drills ALL THE DAMN FUCKING TIME, no matter what department you're in (except maybe super nichey groups).

If someone doesn't give you a deadline, the deadline means ASAP/same day.

You have to manage your stress well, or else the ASAP fire drills/stress of others around you will mess with your head.

You have to work often feeling tired/sleep deprived.

You never know what the day is going to hold.

User avatar
bearsfan23
Posts: 1522
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:19 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby bearsfan23 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:15 am

BiglawAssociate wrote:
los blancos wrote:LJFL at "only" 220 hours a month.


That's just the norm for first years IMO. That was my roughest year (although I give less of a fuck now too so that helps). Also depends on workflow - are you working all day or having to wait around and billing at night.

TBF I really do have friends who billed 300+ for like half a year...they almost died, but that's because they were sleeping 2 hours a night. I think they are crazy/mentally ill/should quit ASAP.


You don't have any friends, unless we count the imaginary "wife" you brag about in every thread.

On the other hand, you've managed to make 156 posts on TLS already without adding anything of value. That's probably much more than you've accomplished as a lawyer, so congrats

User avatar
seespotrun
Posts: 2395
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:36 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby seespotrun » Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:17 am

los blancos wrote:I don't think I could bill 200 without killing myself unless I was in trial or literally had like 5 MSJs to do on my own.

Lol

Anonymous User
Posts: 273183
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:27 am

itbdvorm wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
In short - you want to coast, fine, coast. Collect your check and run as fast as you can. Leave at 5 PM, while your colleagues and senior associates and partners are working until midnight. Enjoy your weekend while everyone else is huddled in a conference room. And then 15 years from now, when those same colleagues and senior associates are significantly more successful than you are - IN EVERY RESPECT, not just financially, because these are the people who will get the great in-house / public interest / government jobs - wonder why.


Yeah so this is a fundamental difference in lifestyle views. Your passion is to push paper and be highly regarded in a business circle. Other people's passion is to be there for their family and friends. It's fine if you want to stay at the office every night until midnight while normal people share a meal and laughs together. Enjoy your weekend in a conference room while normal people are relaxing with friends or playing wiffle ball with their kid. And then 15 years from now, when those same normal people are significantly more successful than you are - IN EVERY RESPECT, not just having an intact family, or children that actually love them, or friends or life experiences outside an office, or genuine happy photos of great memories, because these are the people who will actually live a life worth something.


No, my passion is certainly not "to push paper and be highly regarded in a business circle." Why do you think I won't be able to have these things (or, frankly, that I don't already have these things now)? I am telling these things from the perspective of someone who's actually lived through this. The fact that I worked my ass off as a junior has paid immeasurable benefits to me today, and I believe it would have done so had I moved in any of a number of different directions.

Taking the time, in your early 20s, to build up your work capital, pays dividends down the line just as taking the time, in your 20s, to build up your financial capital does. I doubt anyone here would argue the benefits of saving instead of spending money. Works the same way with time.


110 hr wk OP here - directing this question/quandry to itbdvorm, because you're reasonable, or anyone else who is informed and not insufferable - the question/struggle that I have with all of this is not the hard work, its the constant question of the better alternative.
To explain, if I were a farmer, and I had 1 farm and that farm was all I had, I'd work my ass off, probably harder than I am now, and that would be my life because it was my best and only option and I'm a hard worker, etc.
But in this BigLaw NYC job, I am constantly thinking to myself - "What am I killing myself for?" "What am I sacrificing time/life/physical health/mental stability/happiness/relationships with wife/kids/friends for?" Constantly I think - I could just lateral to mid law in a low COL location, where I'd work fewer hours and get far more with the lower COL. I'd be working less, making similar or more money after COL adjustments, and enjoying life more. Why am I not doing that, like now?
The best answer I can come up with is the one you mention, building up work capital to pay off down the line. I'm not saying that isn't true, it is just such an abstract and uncertain payout that it is hard to make such heavy sacrifices for.
The promise of better opportunities to work more is not very comforting when you're in the trenches.

itbdvorm
Posts: 1573
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:09 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby itbdvorm » Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
In short - you want to coast, fine, coast. Collect your check and run as fast as you can. Leave at 5 PM, while your colleagues and senior associates and partners are working until midnight. Enjoy your weekend while everyone else is huddled in a conference room. And then 15 years from now, when those same colleagues and senior associates are significantly more successful than you are - IN EVERY RESPECT, not just financially, because these are the people who will get the great in-house / public interest / government jobs - wonder why.


Yeah so this is a fundamental difference in lifestyle views. Your passion is to push paper and be highly regarded in a business circle. Other people's passion is to be there for their family and friends. It's fine if you want to stay at the office every night until midnight while normal people share a meal and laughs together. Enjoy your weekend in a conference room while normal people are relaxing with friends or playing wiffle ball with their kid. And then 15 years from now, when those same normal people are significantly more successful than you are - IN EVERY RESPECT, not just having an intact family, or children that actually love them, or friends or life experiences outside an office, or genuine happy photos of great memories, because these are the people who will actually live a life worth something.


No, my passion is certainly not "to push paper and be highly regarded in a business circle." Why do you think I won't be able to have these things (or, frankly, that I don't already have these things now)? I am telling these things from the perspective of someone who's actually lived through this. The fact that I worked my ass off as a junior has paid immeasurable benefits to me today, and I believe it would have done so had I moved in any of a number of different directions.

Taking the time, in your early 20s, to build up your work capital, pays dividends down the line just as taking the time, in your 20s, to build up your financial capital does. I doubt anyone here would argue the benefits of saving instead of spending money. Works the same way with time.


110 hr wk OP here - directing this question/quandry to itbdvorm, because you're reasonable, or anyone else who is informed and not insufferable - the question/struggle that I have with all of this is not the hard work, its the constant question of the better alternative.
To explain, if I were a farmer, and I had 1 farm and that farm was all I had, I'd work my ass off, probably harder than I am now, and that would be my life because it was my best and only option and I'm a hard worker, etc.
But in this BigLaw NYC job, I am constantly thinking to myself - "What am I killing myself for?" "What am I sacrificing time/life/physical health/mental stability/happiness/relationships with wife/kids/friends for?" Constantly I think - I could just lateral to mid law in a low COL location, where I'd work fewer hours and get far more with the lower COL. I'd be working less, making similar or more money after COL adjustments, and enjoying life more. Why am I not doing that, like now?
The best answer I can come up with is the one you mention, building up work capital to pay off down the line. I'm not saying that isn't true, it is just such an abstract and uncertain payout that it is hard to make such heavy sacrifices for.
The promise of better opportunities to work more is not very comforting when you're in the trenches.


So, my friend, this is the tough question.

The answer, unfortunately, depends on you.

What do you want from life? Where do you want to be 10, 20, 30 years from now?

Things do get better as you get senior. Even the terrible weeks are not as bad as you get a better understanding of things. But this job never becomes awesome.

There are other jobs that are (maybe). Tech, banking, government, finance, public interest, academia, in-house, regulatory organization, entertainment, start-up, etc.

But I'll also say that making this decision definitely should not be made on the immediate heels of a week like this. Try doing so in a down-cycle, though that's tough to do when you're burnt out. You're not anywhere close to along in your quandary though.

User avatar
Desert Fox
Progressively loosing literacy
Posts: 14403
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Desert Fox » Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:14 am

BiglawAssociate wrote:Truths about biglaw:

Leaving at 8 pm is considered "early" (this never changes, even after first year) What is considered early varies from city to city, firm to firm, partner to partner. Most days I don't even have to be here, but one group (transactional) at my firm has to stay til 7pm even if they don't have work. Sucks

Pulling 16 hour days when shit goes down for a couple weeks in a row is considered "normal" true

Expect to answer your blackberry until midnight/whenever the senior typically goes to bed Til you go to bed unless you are working on stuff all night.

There's ASAP/fire drills ALL THE DAMN FUCKING TIME, no matter what department you're in (except maybe super nichey groups). Not all the damn time, but they happen regularly. The more "prestigeopuis" or sweatshoppy of a firm you are in the more it happens.

If someone doesn't give you a deadline, the deadline means ASAP/same day. That just isn't true for lit.

You have to manage your stress well, or else the ASAP fire drills/stress of others around you will mess with your head.very trye

You have to work often feeling tired/sleep deprived. yes

You never know what the day is going to hold.
yes

I hate to break it to you but you work in a sweatshop.

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11720
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby kalvano » Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:18 am

The money that Biglaw pays does come with tradeoffs - you won't work 9-5 and you need to be more available than most people would prefer. However, a higher salary doesn't mean the firm owns all rights to your time all day every day. Anyone arguing differently or saying "that's what you signed up for" (itbdvorm) is full of BS. People who draw clear limits are not making things more difficult on others or not working hard.

User avatar
Desert Fox
Progressively loosing literacy
Posts: 14403
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Desert Fox » Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:22 am

I'm getting paid for 2000 + whatever real emergencies come up. I'm not here to pad some seniors futile pitch for partnership.

There is nothing funnier than seniors who don't get that nobody makes partner anymore.

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

Re: 110 hour week

Postby nonsharepartner » Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:58 am

This thread is so rich with entertainment value. I have lurked the site for a while and did a thread recently taking Qs, but I don't think any thread ever has described biglaw better. All the differences and varying opinions, different people, experiences, etc is exactly what biglaw is. There are some good anecdotes in here and there are clearly some exaggerations and downplays but that is biglaw. Some people always seemed stressed and overworked while others either accept it or manage it better.

My advice is stick it out as long as you can unless you hate the people you work for/with. If that is the case, get out as soon as you can. The people in your group matter more than anything else because at the end of the day the work is the work and the pay is the pay. The way your group treats you is what will make your life miserable or great. Biglaw is a good white collar job but only if the people you work with are similar to you in nearly all respects.

User avatar
Monochromatic Oeuvre
Posts: 1929
Joined: Fri May 10, 2013 9:40 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:09 pm

Question/hypo for people who have billed long hours: Would better compensation/incentives for long hours make any difference?

Firms that have lockstep bonus/hour matrices have tended to compensate pretty badly for extra hours over the minimum (e.g. the marginal value of a next bonus target works out to like $20/hr or whatever it is). So given the actual marginal value of that time, the financial incentive seems to be to do the minimum to meet your bonus target and/or not get fired (since hours don't necessarily correlate well with partnership prospects). But Biglaw seems to value having fewer people work longer hours for higher pay (otherwise, they might have something closer to a system with more associates who don't quite as much but don't work quite as long; of course, that assumes a lot of tl;dr things). But most people report the marginal value of those later hours is actually greater than the earlier ones (e.g. the 2500th hour sucks worse than the 1000th). So suppose the Biglaw system reflected that: For example, a second year billing 2000 hours and making a DPW bonus is pulling in roughly $100 per billable hour. Suppose the next 200 hours after that were worth $25k, and the next 200 after that were worth $30k. Something like that might more accurately reflect the opportunity cost of those hours.

All that probably won't ever happen and there might be good reasons for that. So sorry for the mild ramble, but the point of the question is to get at this: Would the long hours be more palatable if there were better incentives to do so instead of coasting other than not wanting to get a reputation as the guy who dips at 6? Or do you feel people would always get to a point where it's just not physically/mentally possible to do more no matter what the incentives were?

User avatar
Desert Fox
Progressively loosing literacy
Posts: 14403
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Desert Fox » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:17 pm

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:Question/hypo for people who have billed long hours: Would better compensation/incentives for long hours make any difference?

Firms that have lockstep bonus/hour matrices have tended to compensate pretty badly for extra hours over the minimum (e.g. the marginal value of a next bonus target works out to like $20/hr or whatever it is). So given the actual marginal value of that time, the financial incentive seems to be to do the minimum to meet your bonus target and/or not get fired (since hours don't necessarily correlate well with partnership prospects). But Biglaw seems to value having fewer people work longer hours for higher pay (otherwise, they might have something closer to a system with more associates who don't quite as much but don't work quite as long; of course, that assumes a lot of tl;dr things). But most people report the marginal value of those later hours is actually greater than the earlier ones (e.g. the 2500th hour sucks worse than the 1000th). So suppose the Biglaw system reflected that: For example, a second year billing 2000 hours and making a DPW bonus is pulling in roughly $100 per billable hour. Suppose the next 200 hours after that were worth $25k, and the next 200 after that were worth $30k. Something like that might more accurately reflect the opportunity cost of those hours.

All that probably won't ever happen and there might be good reasons for that. So sorry for the mild ramble, but the point of the question is to get at this: Would the long hours be more palatable if there were better incentives to do so instead of coasting other than not wanting to get a reputation as the guy who dips at 6? Or do you feel people would always get to a point where it's just not physically/mentally possible to do more no matter what the incentives were?


IMO it would help, but the value of the hours grows as the number you have left dwindles. IF you have 4 hours of free time a night, an extra 3 hours is essentially all teh rest of your life.

But it would actually be more fair. Anything over 2000 is essentially forced overtime. And that overtime is incredibly profitable for the firm. It is essentially pure 100% margin.

PMan99
Posts: 300
Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:21 pm

Re: 110 hour week

Postby PMan99 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:53 pm

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:Question/hypo for people who have billed long hours: Would better compensation/incentives for long hours make any difference?

Firms that have lockstep bonus/hour matrices have tended to compensate pretty badly for extra hours over the minimum (e.g. the marginal value of a next bonus target works out to like $20/hr or whatever it is). So given the actual marginal value of that time, the financial incentive seems to be to do the minimum to meet your bonus target and/or not get fired (since hours don't necessarily correlate well with partnership prospects). But Biglaw seems to value having fewer people work longer hours for higher pay (otherwise, they might have something closer to a system with more associates who don't quite as much but don't work quite as long; of course, that assumes a lot of tl;dr things). But most people report the marginal value of those later hours is actually greater than the earlier ones (e.g. the 2500th hour sucks worse than the 1000th). So suppose the Biglaw system reflected that: For example, a second year billing 2000 hours and making a DPW bonus is pulling in roughly $100 per billable hour. Suppose the next 200 hours after that were worth $25k, and the next 200 after that were worth $30k. Something like that might more accurately reflect the opportunity cost of those hours.

All that probably won't ever happen and there might be good reasons for that. So sorry for the mild ramble, but the point of the question is to get at this: Would the long hours be more palatable if there were better incentives to do so instead of coasting other than not wanting to get a reputation as the guy who dips at 6? Or do you feel people would always get to a point where it's just not physically/mentally possible to do more no matter what the incentives were?


I think Boies does something like this. Not gradated, but gives you a real incentive compared to many "above market" firms that chip in like 5k extra at 2600 hours. And it should go without saying that longer hours would be more palatable with better incentives. That's the whole point of an incentive.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273183
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 110 hour week

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:24 pm

PMan99 wrote:
Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:Question/hypo for people who have billed long hours: Would better compensation/incentives for long hours make any difference?

Firms that have lockstep bonus/hour matrices have tended to compensate pretty badly for extra hours over the minimum (e.g. the marginal value of a next bonus target works out to like $20/hr or whatever it is). So given the actual marginal value of that time, the financial incentive seems to be to do the minimum to meet your bonus target and/or not get fired (since hours don't necessarily correlate well with partnership prospects). But Biglaw seems to value having fewer people work longer hours for higher pay (otherwise, they might have something closer to a system with more associates who don't quite as much but don't work quite as long; of course, that assumes a lot of tl;dr things). But most people report the marginal value of those later hours is actually greater than the earlier ones (e.g. the 2500th hour sucks worse than the 1000th). So suppose the Biglaw system reflected that: For example, a second year billing 2000 hours and making a DPW bonus is pulling in roughly $100 per billable hour. Suppose the next 200 hours after that were worth $25k, and the next 200 after that were worth $30k. Something like that might more accurately reflect the opportunity cost of those hours.

All that probably won't ever happen and there might be good reasons for that. So sorry for the mild ramble, but the point of the question is to get at this: Would the long hours be more palatable if there were better incentives to do so instead of coasting other than not wanting to get a reputation as the guy who dips at 6? Or do you feel people would always get to a point where it's just not physically/mentally possible to do more no matter what the incentives were?


I think Boies does something like this. Not gradated, but gives you a real incentive compared to many "above market" firms that chip in like 5k extra at 2600 hours. And it should go without saying that longer hours would be more palatable with better incentives. That's the whole point of an incentive.


OP here. I'm not so sure the bold is true, at least in the sense of money as the incentive. Money is just a "hygiene factor" - something that makes you not hate your job. I make $160k, so I don't hate my job for financial reasons. But the money doesn't make me love it. I seriously doubt that making $185k will brighten my mood just as much as I doubt that people making $145k in 2006 hated the job more than any of us. Either way it is just a marginal difference. Soul-crushing work is still soul crushing, even if you make $10k more over 12 months.
(Maybe I would feel differently if it were like private-jet-type money, or even partner money, but plenty of partners seem ambivalent about the job.)
More interesting is what incentives would really make the job better. More flexibility and autonomy. More appreciation and recognition. More opportunity and personal reward. I think the structure of a big firm can make it difficult to systematize and guarantee those incentives, but to their credit, I think a lot of firms and people do try to create them, or at least give them lip service. And it is not like it is only law firms that fail to provide meaningful incentives.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.