New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

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New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:12 pm

I just started as a first year associate at a V100 firm in D.C. I am fully prepared for the odd hours, late nights, etc. but I'm also wondering how I go about ensuring that I have at least some time to decompress and recharge. For instance, I've put off responding to some wedding invitations, on the odd chance that I might have to work on those weekends.

How do young associates go about managing some time to themselves, or for family events, etc.? Is it appropriate to leave the office for a workout in the middle of the day, and stay later at night? Do some people aim to take Sundays off while billing some time on Saturdays?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

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Lacepiece23

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby Lacepiece23 » Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:24 pm

I think what I came to realize is that I have hours off rather than days during busy periods. So when I'm not working I try not to think about it at all. I don't care how complex the brief that I've never done before is, and how daunting it seems, if I'm not actively working on it, I'm not thinking about it. Also, when I get some free time I do what I want to do. I've gone to sporting events last minute and paid the mark up as well as have gone out of town when a case unexpectedly settle. I'm still pretty new as well so I probably have a lot more to figure out.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:26 pm

Lacepiece23 wrote:I think what I came to realize is that I have hours off rather than days during busy periods. So when I'm not working I try not to think about it at all. I don't care how complex the brief that I've never done before is, and how daunting it seems, if I'm not actively working on it, I'm not thinking about it. Also, when I get some free time I do what I want to do. I've gone to sporting events last minute and paid the mark up as well as have gone out of town when a case unexpectedly settle. I'm still pretty new as well so I probably have a lot more to figure out.


Thanks, Lace, this is actually super helpful. I had never really thought of it that way. I suppose at this stage I'm afraid to even ask for an hour to go and take a yoga class, and then come back to my desk. I imagine little things like that will become easier the longer I'm here.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby Lacepiece23 » Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Lacepiece23 wrote:I think what I came to realize is that I have hours off rather than days during busy periods. So when I'm not working I try not to think about it at all. I don't care how complex the brief that I've never done before is, and how daunting it seems, if I'm not actively working on it, I'm not thinking about it. Also, when I get some free time I do what I want to do. I've gone to sporting events last minute and paid the mark up as well as have gone out of town when a case unexpectedly settle. I'm still pretty new as well so I probably have a lot more to figure out.


Thanks, Lace, this is actually super helpful. I had never really thought of it that way. I suppose at this stage I'm afraid to even ask for an hour to go and take a yoga class, and then come back to my desk. I imagine little things like that will become easier the longer I'm here.


Yeah I mean I'm a year in and don't think twice about leaving for an hour during the day, even when I'm busy. If I'm gone for more than an hour I may put up an away message. This usually deters people from bothering you, and they understand that you will be back.

I do not normally schedule evening plans Monday through Thursday. It's just too hard for me, and there are times when I have to work late. I hate having to cancel plans, and I know that most of the time I can't make it to something for 6:30 p.m. Or if I can, I don't feel like working after I go to my plans for a few hours. Theoretically you could, however.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby tfer2222 » Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
How do young associates go about managing some time to themselves, or for family events, etc.? Is it appropriate to leave the office for a workout in the middle of the day, and stay later at night? Do some people aim to take Sundays off while billing some time on Saturdays?

Any advice would be much appreciated.


This is all very firm and practice-group specific. Some firms/groups/partners require more face time (where it might be not OK to go to the gym in the middle of the day) and for other firms/groups/partners no one would even blink an eye if you didn't even come into the office that day (or that week), as long as you're reachable and responsive. You should get a feel for this in your specific firm/group by talking off the record with some older associates you trust - invite someone out to coffee to shoot the shit and get the lay of the land of different groups and partners at your firm.

You should definitely find out how your firm feels about working remotely, as forgoing a friend's wedding on the off chance you MIGHT have to work is stupid. If work comes up, you can just log into your VPN or Citrix and work from wherever the wedding is. On the off chance you end up having a closing and you HAVE to be in the office or you HAVE to work during the wedding ceremony, then so be it- deal with it as it comes up. Sometimes a firm will reimburse you for any cancelled travel plans. I will say I've had a lot of weekend firedrills come up, but I've never had one that required me to be in the office, so when traveling I could always just handle it from where I was (I'm nyc v10 4th year). When you book any travel plans that will take you out of the office on any weekdays, just run it by your deal teams (or lit team, whatever) like a month in advance and remind them as it gets closer.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby 2014 » Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:41 pm

You HAVE to continue making plans so long as there is a fair chance you can make it, the quickest way to let the job get to you is to give up making plans for fear of cancelling. Outside of concrete plans, it's on you to defend your sanity and when you are away from your computer you will constantly have to weigh your options for checking your email and how often and assuming you check and get an email, how quickly to reply and in what manner. So many people are so up tight about sending an "away from my computer until [X], is after that ok?" email that they end up imposing deadlines on themselves that no one expects or even wants and burn out. Sometimes you will of course get a task that legitimately needs done ASAP and may have to leave wherever you are or log on during a time you had otherwise scheduled to decompress which is why you also need the ability to decompress on the fly if an afternoon or evening frees up.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby masque du pantsu » Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:10 pm

Definitely firm and practice group specific. I'm in M&A and for you, as a first year if you were to join this group, the main value you add is availability. Like, if it's the middle of the day and I need you to run comments from the client's accounting department to the latest amendment to a proxy statement with the financial printer and you were like, "sorry I'm at the gym," that would be a problem. If i needed you to run comments to the document that we're trying to get out the door, or make conforming changes to all the ancillaries while I'm handling the merger agreement, and you're in a yoga class, that would be a problem. These are all little things that we can't reasonably do because we might be sitting in a conference room for six hours, on a call, dealing with something more important, turning the merger agreement, etc. That said, you WILL know when these times are happening (e.g., leading up to signing is very differing than beginning of diligence), and if you don't, nobody will fault you for asking.

And definitely RSVP yes to those weddings you want to go to. Just because you (may) need to be available during the day, or at night or on a weekend (your team should let you know about these times, btw; if they don't, just be like "hey, expect anything on Project Buttercup this weekend?" or whatever, again, no one will fault you for this) doesn't mean that people won't work with you to help you get to the things you want to do, especially if you're generally conscientious. If you work with normal people (and I work at a firm that has sweatshop reputation, and I've had a big year, and even still the VAST majority of people I work with are considerate, normal human beings), no one will want you to cancel vacation, skip a wedding, etc., especially as a first year. That said, if you're hitting the gym in the middle of the afternoon, always out to dinner when you should have known that the rest of the team is turning the document that night and you should be there to help, etc., you'll get less leeway.

Bottom line: you'll figure it out, don't be afraid to speak up, and don't cancel your definitive personal plans unless you have to. People generally do not want you to cancel.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:03 pm

You need to be flexible, especially early on as you build a reputation and learn the firms culture. But you also need to live your life -- absolutely do not skip events on the off chance you develop a work conflict. The constant possibility that work will interrupt a personal event is one of the things that makes the job stressful, but you have to do your best to ignore the possibility until it happens, or else you're needlessly making the much worse for yourself.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:24 pm

OP here.

Sometimes these forums really stress me out, and other times I get replies from people like you all. Thank you so much; all of this advice is super helpful and encouraging.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby HonestAdvice » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:30 pm

One thing I learned that I wish I knew going in is that there's an economic component involved. If you're always available you come across as less valuable. The associates you work with don't know your hours, and from their perspective it's like when you go to lunch. You don't want to wait on a huge line, but if a place is empty at noon then you're probably gonna be hesitant to trust the shrimp.

Aside from the possibility of burning out, which is something you know better than anyone here, you can never bail on anyone last minute but there is a cost to being too available. In regards to your personal question, you're much likelier to meet someone who will one day be a client or get you a job at a wedding where you're making actual friends than at a networking event. The wedding is where you make genuine friendships. The networking event is a little bit like a whore house. It's not only good to go to your friend's wedding for your mental well being and social life. There's professional value in it as well.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby Toni V » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:43 pm

No matter if you’re a first year or a recent lateral, it takes about 3 months to get a comfortable fix on the firm. Hopefully it will turn out that the firm is reasonably considerate of your time. The catch-22 is when you decide to eagerly take on more responsibility, impacting your social life so you can accelerate the advancement of your career.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:13 am

Toni V wrote:No matter if you’re a first year or a recent lateral, it takes about 3 months to get a comfortable fix on the firm. Hopefully it will turn out that the firm is reasonably considerate of your time. The catch-22 is when you decide to eagerly take on more responsibility, impacting your social life so you can accelerate the advancement of your career.


Good to know. So far, it seems that most of the 2nd years are relatively content in that regard. I've overheard numerous people talking about taking weekend trips with their SOs, attending sporting events, etc. without any issue.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby Toni V » Tue Oct 11, 2016 1:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Toni V wrote:No matter if you’re a first year or a recent lateral, it takes about 3 months to get a comfortable fix on the firm. Hopefully it will turn out that the firm is reasonably considerate of your time. The catch-22 is when you decide to eagerly take on more responsibility, impacting your social life so you can accelerate the advancement of your career.


Good to know. So far, it seems that most of the 2nd years are relatively content in that regard. I've overheard numerous people talking about taking weekend trips with their SOs, attending sporting events, etc. without any issue.


I was recently half way across the country at a seminar when I was suddenly pulled from the event to work on an emergency. While rare, I know of partners having to return from vacations. IMO, a guaranteed free time safe zone does not exist in our world.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby umichman » Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:10 pm

Toni V wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Toni V wrote:No matter if you’re a first year or a recent lateral, it takes about 3 months to get a comfortable fix on the firm. Hopefully it will turn out that the firm is reasonably considerate of your time. The catch-22 is when you decide to eagerly take on more responsibility, impacting your social life so you can accelerate the advancement of your career.


Good to know. So far, it seems that most of the 2nd years are relatively content in that regard. I've overheard numerous people talking about taking weekend trips with their SOs, attending sporting events, etc. without any issue.


I was recently half way across the country at a seminar when I was suddenly pulled from the event to work on an emergency. While rare, I know of partners having to return from vacations. IMO, a guaranteed free time safe zone does not exist in our world.


I have to believe that is more common for partners who are actually important and "irreplaceable" on the deal. It seems like juniors are more fungible and can be covered for more easily. But it probably depends on firm/group.

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Re: New Biglaw Associate-- Scheduling Questions

Postby HonestAdvice » Tue Oct 11, 2016 3:49 pm

Toni V wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Toni V wrote:No matter if you’re a first year or a recent lateral, it takes about 3 months to get a comfortable fix on the firm. Hopefully it will turn out that the firm is reasonably considerate of your time. The catch-22 is when you decide to eagerly take on more responsibility, impacting your social life so you can accelerate the advancement of your career.


Good to know. So far, it seems that most of the 2nd years are relatively content in that regard. I've overheard numerous people talking about taking weekend trips with their SOs, attending sporting events, etc. without any issue.


I was recently half way across the country at a seminar when I was suddenly pulled from the event to work on an emergency. While rare, I know of partners having to return from vacations. IMO, a guaranteed free time safe zone does not exist in our world.

If anyone wants to learn how to think like a partner or just get an understanding on what the life of a partner is like, I strongly recommend studying the Samuel L. Jackson character in Django Unchained. It has a lot of very interesting into big law life. And for anyone that likes method acting, Jackson took a page from Daniel Day Lewis' book and worked out at Skadden for about 4 months to prepare for the role.



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