Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

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Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:33 pm

I am a first year lit associate at a biglaw (not v100 but market paying) firm. Our fiscal year started in Feb and I've been very slow ever since. There's no way ill hit our modest 1900 requirement at this rate. Ill get like 160 hours a month tops. And thats me "busy".

Im now 6 momths into the job, so I don't think I can chalk it up to just being a newbie. How concerning is this? Should I start getting my resume out for lateral opportunities? Other first years range from being about as slow to being way busier.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am a first year lit associate at a biglaw (not v100 but market paying) firm. Our fiscal year started in Feb and I've been very slow ever since. There's no way ill hit our modest 1900 requirement at this rate. Ill get like 160 hours a month tops. And thats me "busy".

Im now 6 momths into the job, so I don't think I can chalk it up to just being a newbie. How concerning is this? Should I start getting my resume out for lateral opportunities? Other first years range from being about as slow to being way busier.


Can you find some dog files that no one wants to touch and be super proactive about trying to get to court?

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am a first year lit associate at a biglaw (not v100 but market paying) firm. Our fiscal year started in Feb and I've been very slow ever since. There's no way ill hit our modest 1900 requirement at this rate. Ill get like 160 hours a month tops. And thats me "busy".

Im now 6 momths into the job, so I don't think I can chalk it up to just being a newbie. How concerning is this? Should I start getting my resume out for lateral opportunities? Other first years range from being about as slow to being way busier.


You're not alone. I've got just over 300 hours on the year so far (starting Jan 1) and I'm a handful of hours ahead of the other two first years in my group. None of us have turned down work, and more senior people keep telling us to enjoy it, but it's a bit unnerving.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am a first year lit associate at a biglaw (not v100 but market paying) firm. Our fiscal year started in Feb and I've been very slow ever since. There's no way ill hit our modest 1900 requirement at this rate. Ill get like 160 hours a month tops. And thats me "busy".

Im now 6 momths into the job, so I don't think I can chalk it up to just being a newbie. How concerning is this? Should I start getting my resume out for lateral opportunities? Other first years range from being about as slow to being way busier.


You're not alone. I've got just over 300 hours on the year so far (starting Jan 1) and I'm a handful of hours ahead of the other two first years in my group. None of us have turned down work, and more senior people keep telling us to enjoy it, but it's a bit unnerving.


Thanks, glad to know im not the only one. I have senior people telling me the same thing. But its hard to do when i think about how im being paid 180K to twiddle my thumbs all day. Makes me feel VERY expendable.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby lawhopeful100 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:34 pm

I'm at 25 person firm so slightly different situation. 2000 billable requirement to get a bonus. I'm a first year and probably at 440 or so and that was with a huge doc review in March that is over. Everyone is saying don't worry about it. I definitely understand feeling anxious about it though.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby smokeylarue » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:46 pm

Wouldn't worry about it, fairly common. Takes some time to on-board people. Also this is unfortunately more likely at smaller offices, more regional firms, where the workflow is not as consistent as some bigger offices and firms. If it's still slow by end of summer, would consider start looking at lateraling.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:36 pm

I'm at under 150 for the year 8)

Not worrying yet. Last year was the busiest ever but it seems like a lull right now. And though there's only a handful of 1st years I'm not the only incredibly slow one.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am a first year lit associate at a biglaw (not v100 but market paying) firm. Our fiscal year started in Feb and I've been very slow ever since. There's no way ill hit our modest 1900 requirement at this rate. Ill get like 160 hours a month tops. And thats me "busy".

Im now 6 momths into the job, so I don't think I can chalk it up to just being a newbie. How concerning is this? Should I start getting my resume out for lateral opportunities? Other first years range from being about as slow to being way busier.


160 hours a month is 1900 on the year.

Fucking lawyers, man.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby ThisLawyerLife » Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:03 pm

Agree that 160/month is not all that slow, but I understand the anxiety. In your shoes, I would do the following:

1) Ask around to see if it is normal for associates to hit their hours. At some firms, only half to two-thirds of the associates hit their hours every year. They don't all get fired. (Of course, they also don't get bonuses...)

2) Figure out why some first years are super busy and others are slow. Did the busy ones luck into some super busy cases? Or is all the work being funneled to a few associates viewed as the superstars? If the latter, talk to people you work with to find out what you can do to improve. You're still very junior, so you have lots of time to turn it around if there is some issue with your work. Not trying to scare you - in my experience, it's likelier that the firm is just a bit slow - but if there is an issue, it is better to find out ASAP.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby rpupkin » Mon Apr 10, 2017 11:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am a first year lit associate at a biglaw (not v100 but market paying) firm. Our fiscal year started in Feb and I've been very slow ever since. There's no way ill hit our modest 1900 requirement at this rate. Ill get like 160 hours a month tops. And thats me "busy".

This is very common for a first year in lit. First years generally get a lot more rope for low hours, particularly during their first few months. It takes while for the firm to work you into matters.

Also, remember that you're only two months into your fiscal year. The typical 2,000-hour year doesn't involve 12 straight months of billing 167 hours per month. Although nothing is truly typical, here is roughly what my first year looked like (I billed slightly over 2,000 hours): 110, 140, 130, 170, 150, 230, 190, 170, 200, 220, 180, 120

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:02 am

Related but slightly different situation: I am a second year and I am finishing up my fourth slow month in a row. Hours ranging from 100-130. I have never had a super busy month in my time at the firm - I generally hovered between 140-165 per month before this recent lull and I did not come very close to the minimum my first year.

Should I be hustling for a new job? I like my firm a lot :(

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby trebekismyhero » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:08 am

Anonymous User wrote:Related but slightly different situation: I am a second year and I am finishing up my fourth slow month in a row. Hours ranging from 100-130. I have never had a super busy month in my time at the firm - I generally hovered between 140-165 per month before this recent lull and I did not come very close to the minimum my first year.

Should I be hustling for a new job? I like my firm a lot :(


Are others in your class/practice group billing more than you?

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:12 am

Nobody is ever super busy, but it seems like I am slightly slower than the others in my group.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby trebekismyhero » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:16 am

Anonymous User wrote:Nobody is ever super busy, but it seems like I am slightly slower than the others in my group.


If you're happy at your firm and you have been given good reviews I wouldn't worry too much about it. Although might not be a terrible idea to at least be in touch with recruiters just in case that ever changes.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:Related but slightly different situation: I am a second year and I am finishing up my fourth slow month in a row. Hours ranging from 100-130. I have never had a super busy month in my time at the firm - I generally hovered between 140-165 per month before this recent lull and I did not come very close to the minimum my first year.

Should I be hustling for a new job? I like my firm a lot :(

I'd like my firm a lot too if they paid me big-law market for billing 100-130 per month!

Seriously, I think you're right to be concerned at this point. If this goes on for much longer, you're either: (1) not getting work because others don't want to give you work, or (2) not getting work because your practice group doesn't have enough work to sustain/justify all of its associates. Either would be bad. Although I think you're still three or four months away from being able to comfortably conclude that the explanation must be one of those two, it's not too early to at least lay the foundation for exit options. Start asking your friends at other firms out to drinks or lunches.

ETA: The above assessment assumes that you're in a market-paying big law office.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Johann » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:47 am

The amlaw numbers are about to confirm much of the stories in here:
Law firm work is being gobbled up by the big NYC white shoe V20 firms and that is mostly corporate work.

In general, lit has been slower and especially work at amlaw 200 firms that aren't huge NYC players.
The good news is clients are paying the bills for the work being done. Depends on your risk tolerance for whether or not to apply to other places. I would sit tight (because if the market heads south it's best to not be last one in) and I'd focus on doing some non billable articles and showing you're a good team player/work product capabilities. Stealth layoffs happen all the time in law so keep your ears perked up, but the easiest people to cut are senior associates that won't make partner as they have the highest salaries and are known commodities (so until those people start getting cut you're prolly safe).

Also, firms know the business ebbs and flows and rather than get rid of their down groups they usually let profitable groups carry the down groups so they can still have an expertise in that area. A little bit of nature of the beast of law work. I think the writing on the wall will be pretty obvious if things get dire and you need to lateral.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:53 am

OP here. Thanks for responses. To clarify, 160 hours has been my absolute max for a month. This month in particular I think I must be on track to bill about 60 (only 25 hours billed so far and no big projects in the pipeline).

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby trebekismyhero » Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks for responses. To clarify, 160 hours has been my absolute max for a month. This month in particular I think I must be on track to bill about 60 (only 25 hours billed so far and no big projects in the pipeline).


Still nothing to worry about this early in your first year. I didn't bill more than 100 hours in one month during the first 3 months of my billable year, after that it was super busy. As others said, no reason to worry until the end of summer/fall

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 11, 2017 3:33 pm

It seems like the general consensus is to not be concerned, however does this apply equally to small firms? I'm over 6 months in now and still slow...

Don't really want to look elsewhere yet.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Lacepiece23 » Tue Apr 11, 2017 3:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:It seems like the general consensus is to not be concerned, however does this apply equally to small firms? I'm over 6 months in now and still slow...

Don't really want to look elsewhere yet.


I'd wait until the first review or just before. You should know by then whether you really need to start looking.

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Re: Very slow first year, how concerned should I be?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:It seems like the general consensus is to not be concerned, however does this apply equally to small firms? I'm over 6 months in now and still slow...

Don't really want to look elsewhere yet.


Start looking now. Especially with a small firm, and the red flag of it being slow, you never know. It's easier to find a new job with a job.



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