Problem at New Firm

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Anonymous User
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Problem at New Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:32 am

I am a 3rd year litigation associate at a small (around 5 attorney) firm. I started at this firm a few months ago after working for 2 prior even smaller firms. The issue is that there is so much work that I am expected to do that I cannot keep up. Litigation deadlines are being missed, clients are getting irritated because I am not returning phone calls and emails fast enough, and things are often sitting on my desk for longer then they should before I can get to them.

The thing is, I am working diligently, on average 8:45 am to 6:15 pm and staying later about once a week. I have even come in on the weekend once since I started to catch up. I don't even usually take much of a lunch, other then to take 15 or 20 min to eat at my desk and browse the internet.

I feel like the amount of work I am expected to churn out is just too much. I have a wife and a baby and my wife is already not happy with the amount I work. Also, I have noticed that the other attorneys usually come in after me and leave before me and I don't feel like they have as much work as me due to jurisdictional reasons. This position involves some new areas of law that I am learning and I am able to get things done a little more quickly as I become more familiar with the new areas of law and the way this firm does things.

What is the best way to handle this situation? Should I talk to my supervising partner about it? I am still relatively new and I don't want to seem like I am complaining or I can't hack it. Do I just work more hours and at the expense of my relationship with my wife? Do I do nothing and hope I can continue to get faster and more creative to get the work done?

favabeansoup

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Re: Problem at New Firm

Postby favabeansoup » Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:I am a 3rd year litigation associate at a small (around 5 attorney) firm....Litigation deadlines are being missed, clients are getting irritated because I am not returning phone calls and emails fast enough, and things are often sitting on my desk for longer then they should before I can get to them...The thing is, I am working diligently, on average 8:45 am to 6:15 pm and staying later about once a week. I have even come in on the weekend once since I started to catch up. I don't even usually take much of a lunch, other then to take 15 or 20 min to eat at my desk and browse the internet...Do I just work more hours and at the expense of my relationship with my wife? Do I do nothing and hope I can continue to get faster and more creative to get the work done?


So, this is from my "biglaw" perspective and obviously I'm very biased, but working ~roughly~ 9-6 each day is the busiest schedule I've seen by far, that seems pretty tame. So my typical busy-ish week might be something like 8:45-6:30 then almost always another hour or two at home, then probably working a decent chunk of one of the weekend days too.

The lawyer's career is not usually one that is the typical 9-5/6 routine as many other careers are. It's stressful, will require work on nights and weekends sometimes (whether or not in biglaw), and can be draining on personal relationships. The good thing is it can often be cyclical. One or two weeks you might be really busy and staying late a lot, but the next week can be pretty low-key and you can leave at 5 each day.

Does that suck, especially for your wife? Yeah. Will things get easier? Maybe, maybe not. You working so much might be something you guys just need to learn to live with. As one partner told me "Becoming partner at a law firm is like a pie eating contest where the reward is getting to eat more pie." (pie = work to do). You'll only take on more responsibility as your career progresses. That might not mean significantly more hours, but it certainly won't mean a lot less hours.

What are your billable hour requirements for the year? If you are on track to be billing far more than you are required, you gotta learn to tell these partners "no I'm too busy" when they send work over too. Yes you will be able to do some things faster, but that won't mean the work will stop coming unless you can tell people your plate is too full right now.

thebpac

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Re: Problem at New Firm

Postby thebpac » Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:57 am

I understand your situation with the wife and new baby. I work for a smallish firm with a steady workflow. What has worked for me is getting in much earlier. I get in most days between 6:30 and 7:00. You will find more uninterrupted time, and still be able to leave around 6:00 to spend time with family in the evenings. I also come in for 4-5 hours every weekend. I have found that the wife does not notice me gone as much when she is sleeping.

Expecting to work 9-5 is unrealistic in this profession. You just need to schedule your time to maximize family time. For me that means early mornings.

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filibuster

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Re: Problem at New Firm

Postby filibuster » Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:50 am

I also come in early on some mornings to catch up on work and find it to be an efficient use of time. Look, in this profession you are always "needed," even sometimes on vacation, nights and weekends. It is a reality. When a doctor is on vacation, nobody is calling the doctor to drop his/her vacation to perform a surgery.

SFSpartan

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Re: Problem at New Firm

Postby SFSpartan » Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:36 pm

I 100% agree that you should go in early to get shit done. You could also consider setting up a home office (basically a desk, a 30" monitor, a printer and a decent chair). My wife has complained about how much I work in the past, but she generally doesn't mind if I work from home for a couple hours in the evening. However, I'm in corporate and don't know how feasible this would be for a litigator.

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AVBucks4239

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Re: Problem at New Firm

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:48 pm

I would echo the "early morning" comment and would also say you should probably go into the office on Saturday or Sunday. Working weekends is a mental shift at first, and my life is likely lame as hell, but I enjoy going in on the weekend because I don't have to put up with all the bullshit interruptions that occur 9-5.

lavarman84

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Re: Problem at New Firm

Postby lavarman84 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:50 pm

Anon, I think the only solution is to work more hours until you get your feet under you (and likely even after that).

I grew up with a parent who was a partner in a small firm. He worked from 8/9 to 6/7 every day and then came home and worked at least 2/3 hours from home. He went in every Saturday and worked. He often worked from home on Sundays.

Unfortunately, law often isn't a 40 to 50 hour a week job. Small firms, especially, can be a lot of work because of all the responsibility you are given.

tyroneslothrop1

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Re: Problem at New Firm

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:52 pm

honestly depends on how much you're getting paid. If its 70K then I sympathize and you might consider mentioning something. If you're making the big bucks then long hours come with the territory and you better get used to it.

Anonymous User
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Re: Problem at New Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:32 pm

favabeansoup wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am a 3rd year litigation associate at a small (around 5 attorney) firm....Litigation deadlines are being missed, clients are getting irritated because I am not returning phone calls and emails fast enough, and things are often sitting on my desk for longer then they should before I can get to them...The thing is, I am working diligently, on average 8:45 am to 6:15 pm and staying later about once a week. I have even come in on the weekend once since I started to catch up. I don't even usually take much of a lunch, other then to take 15 or 20 min to eat at my desk and browse the internet...Do I just work more hours and at the expense of my relationship with my wife? Do I do nothing and hope I can continue to get faster and more creative to get the work done?


So, this is from my "biglaw" perspective and obviously I'm very biased, but working ~roughly~ 9-6 each day is the busiest schedule I've seen by far, that seems pretty tame. So my typical busy-ish week might be something like 8:45-6:30 then almost always another hour or two at home, then probably working a decent chunk of one of the weekend days too.

The lawyer's career is not usually one that is the typical 9-5/6 routine as many other careers are. It's stressful, will require work on nights and weekends sometimes (whether or not in biglaw), and can be draining on personal relationships. The good thing is it can often be cyclical. One or two weeks you might be really busy and staying late a lot, but the next week can be pretty low-key and you can leave at 5 each day.

Does that suck, especially for your wife? Yeah. Will things get easier? Maybe, maybe not. You working so much might be something you guys just need to learn to live with. As one partner told me "Becoming partner at a law firm is like a pie eating contest where the reward is getting to eat more pie." (pie = work to do). You'll only take on more responsibility as your career progresses. That might not mean significantly more hours, but it certainly won't mean a lot less hours.

What are your billable hour requirements for the year? If you are on track to be billing far more than you are required, you gotta learn to tell these partners "no I'm too busy" when they send work over too. Yes you will be able to do some things faster, but that won't mean the work will stop coming unless you can tell people your plate is too full right now.



Thanks for your perspective. No billable hour requirement, but I do keep track of my billables and my boss said they look fine. I guess I'm just taking cues from the other attorneys in my office and they are usually in at 9 or 930 am and gone by 530 or 6pm so I work a little more. I don't get the impression they are working at night and on the weekend.

I am going to try not to out myself, but in my practice group there are me, another attorney and the partner. I am barred in state x and the other attorney is barred in state y. When work comes in, if it is state x, my boss sends it to me. There is not really a discussion of who will do it. But my boss has said that state x is 65% of our work. So I'm pretty sure I have more on my plate that at lest the other attorney.

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

Re: Problem at New Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:36 pm

tyroneslothrop1 wrote:honestly depends on how much you're getting paid. If its 70K then I sympathize and you might consider mentioning something. If you're making the big bucks then long hours come with the territory and you better get used to it.


I make a little less that 70k actually, plus bonuses, but I haven't seen what that looks like yet. My wife actually makes about the same as me and she only has a BS. It's kinda hard to explain to her why I need to work more, and in turn she has to do more work watching,feeding, putting the baby to bed, etc., when I'm not even bringing in more money. Don't get me started on the student loan factor.



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