Low billable hours

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Anonymous User
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Low billable hours

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 17, 2017 7:04 pm

Second-year litigation associate in a V20 secondary market. Haven't gotten many billables for a few months and am considerably below pace for the year. Should I be worried/looking? The office is not too busy but but not quiet either. Because I do not have strong partner relationships, I get less work now that people are clearly hoarding it. Oh and they are firing seniors. Good feedback both professionally and personally for what it's worth.

ur_hero
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby ur_hero » Wed May 17, 2017 8:29 pm

I'm only a first-year so I'm not the most knowledgeable . . . However, my intuition would be (1) first, it depends given the culture of the firm and how they've historically handled similar situations; and (2) second, it seems worthwhile no matter what to explore other opportunities you may like better and have relationships/options should the firm have to make cuts.

Also, this may be difficult as you've said you don't have strong partner relationships - but if you maybe have one partner that kind of likes you, it may be worthwhile to let them know you've been slow and are eager to put as much time as they need into any projects.

Last possibility...Are you allotted pro-bono credit?

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Mickfromgm
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby Mickfromgm » Wed May 17, 2017 9:04 pm

I would reach out directly to partners that you like working with (or you would like to work with), and see if there are stuff that you can help them with. Everyone has tons of stuff they can hand off to an associate . . . . if you overtly remind them of your availability and willingness, oftentimes they'd just go "Ah, good idea. Here's something you can do." It's good to establish and foster a couple of feeders - rainmakers are a plus.

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sublime
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby sublime » Wed May 17, 2017 9:05 pm

How low?

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Pokemon
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby Pokemon » Wed May 17, 2017 9:29 pm

They are firing seniors, you should be worried. Also, there is only so much an associate can do if firm is slow. The idea of here's something you can do is a bit off since there are billing issues with you just doing something. Clients do not want to pay for made up junior work and partner realization rates get hurt if those hours are just removed.

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Lacepiece23
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby Lacepiece23 » Wed May 17, 2017 9:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Second-year litigation associate in a V20 secondary market. Haven't gotten many billables for a few months and am considerably below pace for the year. Should I be worried/looking? The office is not too busy but but not quiet either. Because I do not have strong partner relationships, I get less work now that people are clearly hoarding it. Oh and they are firing seniors. Good feedback both professionally and personally for what it's worth.


You need to hit the pavement. Knock on doors. Ask people to lunch. Let people know you are slow. Every time a new matter comes in the door you should know. Look up the client relationship person and ask them for work as soon as it comes easy. Easier to staff you that way. If none of the above works after a month or so,then yeah may be time to sharpen the resume.

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rpupkin
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby rpupkin » Wed May 17, 2017 9:42 pm

sublime wrote:How low?

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rpupkin
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby rpupkin » Wed May 17, 2017 9:44 pm

Pokemon wrote:They are firing seniors, you should be worried.

Not necessarily. The big-law associate hiring model is premised on firing seniors. Senior associates (and other associates) get fired all the time everywhere, but most firms are good about disguising it.

If a bunch of senior associates were given short notice to get out at once, that is a bad sign. But if OP is just noticing seniors trickle away, that's normal.

Anonymous User
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 17, 2017 11:48 pm

OP here. Thanks for input everyone.

Have let the partners know about my situation but the work doesn't appear to be there. Few/no new incoming cases.

I'm at 70% of pace for the year, including pro bono credit, which is capped (and I've reached the cap).

Seniors are being given a few months to figure out their next step, so not being thrown out into the street, but definitely a bad sign.

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rpupkin
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby rpupkin » Thu May 18, 2017 12:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks for input everyone.

Have let the partners know about my situation but the work doesn't appear to be there. Few/no new incoming cases.

I'm at 70% of pace for the year, including pro bono credit, which is capped (and I've reached the cap).

Seniors are being given a few months to figure out their next step, so not being thrown out into the street, but definitely a bad sign.

Again, at any big law firm at any given time, multiple senior associates are being forced out. I'm not saying you have no cause for alarm, but—unless you left out some important details—what you describe is normal.

Also, 70% pace isn't bad for mid-May. I understand why you're anxious, but I don't think you should assume that you're doing something wrong. Follow the advice upthread about making it known that you're willing to help. Develop a genuine interest in some of the cases the firm is working on.

Anonymous User
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 18, 2017 12:53 am

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks for input everyone.

Have let the partners know about my situation but the work doesn't appear to be there. Few/no new incoming cases.

I'm at 70% of pace for the year, including pro bono credit, which is capped (and I've reached the cap).

Seniors are being given a few months to figure out their next step, so not being thrown out into the street, but definitely a bad sign.

Again, at any big law firm at any given time, multiple senior associates are being forced out. I'm not saying you have no cause for alarm, but—unless you left out some important details—what you describe is normal.

Also, 70% pace isn't bad for mid-May. I understand why you're anxious, but I don't think you should assume that you're doing something wrong. Follow the advice upthread about making it known that you're willing to help. Develop a genuine interest in some of the cases the firm is working on.


I would look for other opportunities. The economy is strong and there is low unemployment. If there is no work now, what will happen when we go into a recession? You have to protect yourself. Look now and if the work increases then great. Stay. But you want to be the one to make the decision to leave, not the firm.

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rpupkin
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby rpupkin » Thu May 18, 2017 1:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Also, 70% pace isn't bad for mid-May. I understand why you're anxious, but I don't think you should assume that you're doing something wrong. Follow the advice upthread about making it known that you're willing to help. Develop a genuine interest in some of the cases the firm is working on.


I would look for other opportunities. The economy is strong and there is low unemployment. If there is no work now, what will happen when we go into a recession? You have to protect yourself. Look now and if the work increases then great. Stay. But you want to be the one to make the decision to leave, not the firm.

Yeah, just do lateral with 1.5 years of experience to another general lit practice group that's struggling.

There's nothing wrong with being concerned and thinking about other options. But my guess is that there's more upside for OP—at least for now—if he focuses his energies on getting staffed on a busy case or two at his current firm.

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Pokemon
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Re: Low billable hours

Postby Pokemon » Thu May 18, 2017 6:37 am

rpupkin wrote:
Pokemon wrote:They are firing seniors, you should be worried.

Not necessarily. The big-law associate hiring model is premised on firing seniors. Senior associates (and other associates) get fired all the time everywhere, but most firms are good about disguising it.

If a bunch of senior associates were given short notice to get out at once, that is a bad sign. But if OP is just noticing seniors trickle away, that's normal.



Guess it depends by firm/practice. In my group seniors are extremely valuable since they can basically do partner work, unless a very novel issue or direct client negotiation, yet get paid way less. The thinning occurs when you are mid-level.




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