Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

(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: 273576
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:03 am

I was just offered a position for a mid-sized law in Nevada with a billable hour requirement of 1700 per year. Is this a lot or is it pretty manageable?

How many hours per week am I look at working on average? I know it depends on a lot of factors.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
los blancos
Posts: 7119
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:18 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby los blancos » Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:07 am

It's a lot by any normal human definition of "a lot", but it's very very reasonable by lawl firm standards. Is this 1700 billed or realized? Huge difference. It comes down to a bit over 140/mo, which is pretty manageable - if you manage to crank out just 6.5-7 per weekday on average, you're not looking at much work on the weekends. Also sort of depends on what the work is.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273576
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:26 am

That's a great minimum. But be careful at assuming that this is all you'll be working. Talk to attorneys at the firm to see what their schedules are really like. Just because the minimum is 1700 doesn't mean that some partner won't crush you into working 2000+.

User avatar
052220152
Tradition Never Changes. Neither do Champions.
Posts: 4798
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:24 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby 052220152 » Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:That's a great minimum. But be careful at assuming that this is all you'll be working. Talk to attorneys at the firm to see what their schedules are really like. Just because the minimum is 1700 doesn't mean that some partner won't crush you into working 2000+.


Working 2,000 hours is 40 hour weeks with two weeks of vacation. My guess is it takes a little more than 2,000 to bill 1,700 but not that much. 1,700 target seems pretty chill

User avatar
DELG
Posts: 2936
Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 7:15 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby DELG » Thu Jun 04, 2015 8:19 am

Jim Jones wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:That's a great minimum. But be careful at assuming that this is all you'll be working. Talk to attorneys at the firm to see what their schedules are really like. Just because the minimum is 1700 doesn't mean that some partner won't crush you into working 2000+.


Working 2,000 hours is 40 hour weeks with two weeks of vacation. My guess is it takes a little more than 2,000 to bill 1,700 but not that much. 1,700 target seems pretty chill

Only if the firm/client doesn't cut your hours like crazy

User avatar
baal hadad
Posts: 3168
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:57 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby baal hadad » Thu Jun 04, 2015 8:39 am

2000 is okay if u got the work

If ur firm doesn't have enough to keep you humming and going from project to project w no down time every second during normal work hours (say 9-7 or so) then it sucks

User avatar
TasmanianToucan
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:16 am

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby TasmanianToucan » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:15 am

los blancos wrote:Is this 1700 billed or realized? Huge difference.

I mean, it has to be billed, right? First year hours are made to be written off.

Also, firms lie. I've heard horror stories where firms tout their lower billing requirement only to subtly make it clear later on that while the requirement may be enough not to get you canned (unless, you know, it's layoff time), there's no way you'll be considered an up-and-comer unless you bill 2000+ hours.

User avatar
DELG
Posts: 2936
Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 7:15 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby DELG » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:17 am

TasmanianToucan wrote:
los blancos wrote:Is this 1700 billed or realized? Huge difference.

I mean, it has to be billed, right? First year hours are made to be written off.

Also, firms lie. I've heard horror stories where firms tout their lower billing requirement only to subtly make it clear later on that while the requirement may be enough not to get you canned (unless, you know, it's layoff time), there's no way you'll be considered an up-and-comer unless you bill 2000+ hours.

no, does not have to be. this is an especially transparent example, but partners find ways all the time to cut at what you get credit for http://abovethelaw.com/2015/05/when-par ... cord-time/

User avatar
TasmanianToucan
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:16 am

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby TasmanianToucan » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:24 am

DELG wrote:
TasmanianToucan wrote:
los blancos wrote:Is this 1700 billed or realized? Huge difference.

I mean, it has to be billed, right? First year hours are made to be written off.

Also, firms lie. I've heard horror stories where firms tout their lower billing requirement only to subtly make it clear later on that while the requirement may be enough not to get you canned (unless, you know, it's layoff time), there's no way you'll be considered an up-and-comer unless you bill 2000+ hours.

no, does not have to be. this is an especially transparent example, but partners find ways all the time to cut at what you get credit for http://abovethelaw.com/2015/05/when-par ... cord-time/

That is terrifying.

User avatar
los blancos
Posts: 7119
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:18 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby los blancos » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:59 am

DELG wrote:
Jim Jones wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:That's a great minimum. But be careful at assuming that this is all you'll be working. Talk to attorneys at the firm to see what their schedules are really like. Just because the minimum is 1700 doesn't mean that some partner won't crush you into working 2000+.


Working 2,000 hours is 40 hour weeks with two weeks of vacation. My guess is it takes a little more than 2,000 to bill 1,700 but not that much. 1,700 target seems pretty chill

Only if the firm/client doesn't cut your hours like crazy


Even assuming 100% realization, few first years IME are efficient enough to bill at an 85% clip or even close. And this puts aside all of the non billable shit you're expected to do and the business development bullshit that's a common feature of midlaw.

smallfirmassociate
Posts: 387
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:47 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby smallfirmassociate » Thu Jun 04, 2015 2:47 pm

There is no guarantee that 1700 hours is reasonable or manageable. What's the nature of the practice? If you're hammering away at motions practice and research, yeah, you can bill with 80-90% efficiency. But if you're doing family law, criminal law, certain other things that are more of a "volume practice" that involves bouncing from file to file and a little .2 task here and a .4 task there, then 1700 hours could be brutal. Also, are you expected to travel, whether between offices or to other counties for proceedings / depositions?

And is 1700 billable or billed?

I've never billed 1700 hours in a year. I aim for 1500 - 1600, but frankly anywhere from 1250 - 1499 can be fine too, just depends on a number of factors affecting my income and overhead. I do some very high-fee flat rate work that takes up a few hundred hours a year as well, but even including those I have either never hit 1700 or barely hit 1700 one year (the last year before making partner). I would have to work quite a damned bit to hit 1800+ for sure.

TL;DR: 1700 sounds good to a lot of lawyers, but they may not be comparing apples to apples. 1700 can also be terrible.

User avatar
Desert Fox
Progressively loosing literacy
Posts: 14453
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

DFTHREAD

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Jun 04, 2015 2:57 pm

fobstory.jpeg
Last edited by Desert Fox on Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273576
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:04 am

OP- the billed/billable distinction is important. I am fairly familiar with that market, and lots of NV firms have a billed-hour requirement. Some have both.

lawschoolftw
Posts: 338
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:34 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby lawschoolftw » Fri Jun 05, 2015 1:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP- the billed/billable distinction is important. I am fairly familiar with that market, and lots of NV firms have a billed-hour requirement. Some have both.

Can't emphasize this enough. 1700 billable (generally) should not be too bad, assuming the workflow is there. 1700 billed will be a nightmare.

User avatar
DELG
Posts: 2936
Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 7:15 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby DELG » Fri Jun 05, 2015 2:16 pm

lawschoolftw wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP- the billed/billable distinction is important. I am fairly familiar with that market, and lots of NV firms have a billed-hour requirement. Some have both.

Can't emphasize this enough. 1700 billable (generally) should not be too bad, assuming the workflow is there. 1700 billed will be a nightmare.

especially because it makes another factor out of your control: first, how much work you get, and then, how much the partner is willing to ask for.

User avatar
AVBucks4239
Posts: 870
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Jun 05, 2015 4:11 pm

smallfirmassociate wrote:There is no guarantee that 1700 hours is reasonable or manageable. What's the nature of the practice? If you're hammering away at motions practice and research, yeah, you can bill with 80-90% efficiency. But if you're doing family law, criminal law, certain other things that are more of a "volume practice" that involves bouncing from file to file and a little .2 task here and a .4 task there, then 1700 hours could be brutal. Also, are you expected to travel, whether between offices or to other counties for proceedings / depositions?

And is 1700 billable or billed?

I've never billed 1700 hours in a year. I aim for 1500 - 1600, but frankly anywhere from 1250 - 1499 can be fine too, just depends on a number of factors affecting my income and overhead. I do some very high-fee flat rate work that takes up a few hundred hours a year as well, but even including those I have either never hit 1700 or barely hit 1700 one year (the last year before making partner). I would have to work quite a damned bit to hit 1800+ for sure.

TL;DR: 1700 sounds good to a lot of lawyers, but they may not be comparing apples to apples. 1700 can also be terrible.

Along with the billable/billed distinction, the bolded in the above-quoted post is very important.

I only have to bill 1400 hours a year but I'm probably going to bill 1600 or so. My good days are days where I'm pretty much exclusively drafting a motion for summary judgment or something requiring all my time. My absolute worst days are when there are .1 and .2 assignments all over the place.

Today, for instance, I have at least 20 time entries of .1 or .2 (lots of phone calls, responding to emails, small assignments). I feel like I've been busy as fuck all day and I've only billed 5.3 hours. Pretty much done with all these interruptions so I'm going to head home for the day, disable my email and then come in tomorrow morning for a couple hours to get things done.

As others have said, (1) workflow and (2) your efficiency will control what 1700 hours feels like. I think a safe bet is to multiply your billable hour requirement by 1.5 and that provides a rough minimum amount of hours you will work (combines both downtime and efficiency). So 1700 x 1.5 = 2550 hour per year = 51 hours/week. Some will be 40, some will be 60. Overall not too bad, and could be better if you're efficient (something I'm working on all the time).

ruski
Posts: 350
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:45 am

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby ruski » Fri Jun 05, 2015 4:49 pm

I guess this is the elephant in the room but the most important (and obvious) factor no one has considered is honesty. im not saying straight up making hours, but I know a bunch of lawyers that are pretty lax about their hours. say you work for a 3 hour stretch. one guy bills 2.75 to take away from bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, answering quick personal text/phone call, etc. the other guy just keeps the clock running the whole time. Doesn't sound like much, but over the year it's a big difference. the second guy is billing 8% more. thas can come out to approximately 150 hours a year. the numbers skew even more if we play with the number a bit more.

what about emails you're cc'ed on and literally do nothing but spend 1 minute reading it looking for your name somewhere just in case. some people will bill that, others wont. doesn't sound like much, but again that's another 150 hours for the year.

so you have two guys with identical schedules. one billed 1500 and looks like a slacker, whereas the other guy bills a respectable 1800

User avatar
DELG
Posts: 2936
Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 7:15 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby DELG » Fri Jun 05, 2015 7:18 pm

ruski wrote:I guess this is the elephant in the room but the most important (and obvious) factor no one has considered is honesty. im not saying straight up making hours, but I know a bunch of lawyers that are pretty lax about their hours. say you work for a 3 hour stretch. one guy bills 2.75 to take away from bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, answering quick personal text/phone call, etc. the other guy just keeps the clock running the whole time. Doesn't sound like much, but over the year it's a big difference. the second guy is billing 8% more. thas can come out to approximately 150 hours a year. the numbers skew even more if we play with the number a bit more.

what about emails you're cc'ed on and literally do nothing but spend 1 minute reading it looking for your name somewhere just in case. some people will bill that, others wont. doesn't sound like much, but again that's another 150 hours for the year.

so you have two guys with identical schedules. one billed 1500 and looks like a slacker, whereas the other guy bills a respectable 1800

Yeah unless you have a client who actually analyzes the bill

User avatar
rpupkin
Posts: 3864
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Jun 05, 2015 7:35 pm

DELG wrote:
ruski wrote:I guess this is the elephant in the room but the most important (and obvious) factor no one has considered is honesty. im not saying straight up making hours, but I know a bunch of lawyers that are pretty lax about their hours. say you work for a 3 hour stretch. one guy bills 2.75 to take away from bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, answering quick personal text/phone call, etc. the other guy just keeps the clock running the whole time. Doesn't sound like much, but over the year it's a big difference. the second guy is billing 8% more. thas can come out to approximately 150 hours a year. the numbers skew even more if we play with the number a bit more.

what about emails you're cc'ed on and literally do nothing but spend 1 minute reading it looking for your name somewhere just in case. some people will bill that, others wont. doesn't sound like much, but again that's another 150 hours for the year.

so you have two guys with identical schedules. one billed 1500 and looks like a slacker, whereas the other guy bills a respectable 1800

Yeah unless you have a client who actually analyzes the bill

The client isn't going to be able to tell that you billed them for bathroom and coffee breaks. I think ruski's point is that you can get away with a lot of subtle padding, and that subtle padding will add up over the course of a year. An honest and scrupulous associate can end up at a comparative disadvantage.

User avatar
lacrossebrother
Top 17 consensus poster
Posts: 6875
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:15 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby lacrossebrother » Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:52 pm

Do you guys literally run a clock when you work on shit? You don't just go back and reconstruct the day based on when you sent emails and ran searches?

User avatar
Desert Fox
Progressively loosing literacy
Posts: 14453
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

DFTHREAD

Postby Desert Fox » Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:58 pm

fobstory.jpeg
Last edited by Desert Fox on Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

lawschoolftw
Posts: 338
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:34 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby lawschoolftw » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:25 am

Desert Fox wrote:
lacrossebrother wrote:Do you guys literally run a clock when you work on shit? You don't just go back and reconstruct the day based on when you sent emails and ran searches?


different people do it the first way, others the second


I run a clock using a Google app that lets me run multiple stopwatches at once and label them. Admittedly, I often forget to stop or start one so I have to occasionally reconstruct stuff but it seems that attempting to reconstruct my day from memory based on email would be an incredibly inaccurate way to document my time.

smallfirmassociate
Posts: 387
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:47 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby smallfirmassociate » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:25 am

rpupkin wrote:
DELG wrote:
ruski wrote:I guess this is the elephant in the room but the most important (and obvious) factor no one has considered is honesty. im not saying straight up making hours, but I know a bunch of lawyers that are pretty lax about their hours. say you work for a 3 hour stretch. one guy bills 2.75 to take away from bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, answering quick personal text/phone call, etc. the other guy just keeps the clock running the whole time. Doesn't sound like much, but over the year it's a big difference. the second guy is billing 8% more. thas can come out to approximately 150 hours a year. the numbers skew even more if we play with the number a bit more.

what about emails you're cc'ed on and literally do nothing but spend 1 minute reading it looking for your name somewhere just in case. some people will bill that, others wont. doesn't sound like much, but again that's another 150 hours for the year.

so you have two guys with identical schedules. one billed 1500 and looks like a slacker, whereas the other guy bills a respectable 1800

Yeah unless you have a client who actually analyzes the bill

The client isn't going to be able to tell that you billed them for bathroom and coffee breaks. I think ruski's point is that you can get away with a lot of subtle padding, and that subtle padding will add up over the course of a year. An honest and scrupulous associate can end up at a comparative disadvantage.


It's not about being scrupulous; it's about being efficient.

A client will gladly pay (or at least reluctantly pay) a fair price for good work, and a partner will gladly bill that time. Nobody wants to pay or bill for shit work.

Whether you can bill for bathroom breaks isn't about the bathroom break at all. It's about all the work you do when you aren't on the bathroom break. All law work, fundamentally, is flat-fee work filtered through a cognitive dissonance mechanism of the billable hour.

User avatar
lacrossebrother
Top 17 consensus poster
Posts: 6875
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:15 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby lacrossebrother » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:29 am

lawschoolftw wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:
lacrossebrother wrote:Do you guys literally run a clock when you work on shit? You don't just go back and reconstruct the day based on when you sent emails and ran searches?


different people do it the first way, others the second


I run a clock using a Google app that lets me run multiple stopwatches at once and label them. Admittedly, I often forget to stop or start one so I have to occasionally reconstruct stuff but it seems that attempting to reconstruct my day from memory based on email would be an incredibly inaccurate way to document my time.

My issue with the clock is like, what do you do if you check out ESPN and Facebook?

User avatar
rpupkin
Posts: 3864
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Is 1700 billable hours a year a lot?

Postby rpupkin » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:36 am

lacrossebrother wrote:
lawschoolftw wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:
lacrossebrother wrote:Do you guys literally run a clock when you work on shit? You don't just go back and reconstruct the day based on when you sent emails and ran searches?


different people do it the first way, others the second


I run a clock using a Google app that lets me run multiple stopwatches at once and label them. Admittedly, I often forget to stop or start one so I have to occasionally reconstruct stuff but it seems that attempting to reconstruct my day from memory based on email would be an incredibly inaccurate way to document my time.

My issue with the clock is like, what do you do if you check out ESPN and Facebook?

Apparently, you keep it running so long as your work is good and efficient.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.