Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

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Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:38 pm

I'm a first year associate at a mid-sized firm, been practicing for about 6 months.

The firms billable target is 1800. Based on my days off I project I take, I've estimated I need to bill about 7.5 per weekday to meet it. I've generally been very efficient. Very little time so far devoted to meetings or client dev., asides from the occasional CLE, most of my time is billing. I'm usually efficient in meeting my daily target, I don't do water cooler talk and eat lunch at desk. I can get in by 8 and hit 7.5 billables by 5, occasionally by 4.

But I feel guilty when I leave the office even at 5, and 90% of the attorneys are still there. Nobody has told me otherwise, but is firm culture you're expected to blow past the 'minimum'? Am I possibly in danger? I feel like I'm not working close to as hard as many other attorneys in my firm. I haven't had any criticism so far of my work effort from the partner I get all my assignments from.

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TLSModBot

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby TLSModBot » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:56 pm

Firms vary, but yeah you should definitely be doing more than the minimum. Exactly how much depends on the firm: some will be cool at 2000, but that'd get you straight up fired at Quinn.

Beyond that it's more about shown that you're available and willing to pitch in, and leaving right at 5 does not give that signal if others are staying later.

If you want to be gone in 2 years and are just riding the Biglaw gravy train til then, then keep doing you bro

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unlicensedpotato

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby unlicensedpotato » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:07 pm

If it was possible to do it like this at my firm, and you were hitting your targets, I don't think anyone would "care". The reason I say if it was possible is that we almost always have deadlines or team obligations that mean you have to finish X today, regardless of how many hours it takes. That and you'll send off things and get revisions and questions back, etc. Meaning how many hours you're at the office is based more on your clients and bosses than on your total billed hours. This may not apply as much when you're just starting.

It just depends on your practice, but I also know I wouldn't count on a steady diet of 8 billable hour days for a whole year.

ETA: I agree with the above though -- when you're more junior, how "well" you're doing has a lot to do with attitude, giving effort and showing interest, meeting and working with people, pitching in wherever, etc.

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby silenttimer » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:21 pm

If you are get everything done on time, meeting your target, checking in with your supervisor before you leave, and not turning away work, I don't see anything wrong with what you are doing. However, I would recommend taking the time to do some water-cooler talks to get to know the people in your office--it's how you are going to get ahead.

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby lolwat » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:28 pm

Generally speaking, whatever "minimum / target" you're told is never the true minimum you need to bill if you want to stay at the firm.

It's pretty fucking dumb.

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:25 pm

OP here: I get what people here are saying and appreciate the feedback. So far I feel most of my work has been done on time. The diet hasn't been too volatile (this next week is a peak, I had a valley once but overall steady). The partner I've had all my assignments for is out of office every day by 430-5. I take work home and on weekends if there is a pressing need.

But like posters here have noted, I do worry there are unwritten rules I may not be adhering to and have gotten subtle hints about it from other lawyers.

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby jd20132013 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:33 pm

Bro bring a book and stay until 630

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby Night_L » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:53 pm

I can get in by 8 and hit 7.5 billables by 5, occasionally by 4.

That is some enviable efficiency you got there. What's your practice?

But like posters here have noted, I do worry there are unwritten rules I may not be adhering to and have gotten subtle hints about it from other lawyers.

Aaaaannd this is why you should chit chat with your colleagues. That's how you find out about unwritten rules. And just in general, that's how you human.

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rpupkin

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby rpupkin » Sat Jun 17, 2017 9:02 pm

OP,

There are really two separate issues here:

(1) does your firm have a de facto billing target that is higher than 1,800?

(2) does your firm have a culture such that leaving regularly at 5 p.m. is an issue?

I wouldn't worry about #1 at all. Almost no firm is going to be upset if a first year has low hours. And, in any event, your hours aren't low: you billed 900 hours during your first six months as an associate. That's really solid, especially if—as you suggest—almost all of those hours are for billable matters. If the firm expects more hours from you, they'll likely "tell" you by giving you more work to do.

#2 is trickier. If 90% of your colleagues are still there at 5 but only 30% are still there at 6, then it's probably not a big deal. But if—for whatever reason—your firm has a culture where associates generally stay late, then there is some risk in standing out. It sounds like you're fine with the partner you work with (which is the most important thing), but the perception of other associates does matter. Law firms can be toxic places where associates will gossip/grumble/whine about those who are perceived as not pulling their weight. Unfair and irrational as it may seem, an inefficient associate who stays until 8 every night can be in better shape than an efficient associate who leaves at 5 every night. As others have said, this is an office-culture thing where you'd really benefit from talking to others at the firm. If the firm has assigned you an associate mentor (and/or if there's a senior associate you have a decent rapport with), I'd bring this up with them.

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elendinel

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby elendinel » Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:24 am

This illustrates rather nicely why it's never a good idea to underestimate the value of "water cooler talk" with your peers. There's only one group of people who could really let you know whether or not what you're doing will negatively impact your status at the firm, or whether it already has negatively impacted your status at your firm, and it's the people currently at your firm.

You don't have to be the co-worker who stands around gossiping about what everyone else is up to/billing/etc. for an hour, but it does pay to be at least slightly social and to have relationships with your peers. Start having a social life at work and they should be able to give you an idea of what to do.

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby jchiles » Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:38 pm

I have no way of knowing if what youre doing is good or not but when do people get in? If most people are rolling around 8:30-9 it may be worth coming in a little later so that the same amount of work takes until 6 instead of 5. Evening hours at home are way more valuable than morning hours though so I know this is a bad tradeoff.

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby lolwat » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:52 pm

jchiles wrote:I have no way of knowing if what youre doing is good or not but when do people get in? If most people are rolling around 8:30-9 it may be worth coming in a little later so that the same amount of work takes until 6 instead of 5. Evening hours at home are way more valuable than morning hours though so I know this is a bad tradeoff.


Yeah. Problem w being in office early is no one knows you're there. So when you get all your shit done and bill x hours by 5-6pm and leave, the people who rolled in exactly at 9am think you're slacking.

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Johann

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby Johann » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a first year associate at a mid-sized firm, been practicing for about 6 months.

The firms billable target is 1800. Based on my days off I project I take, I've estimated I need to bill about 7.5 per weekday to meet it. I've generally been very efficient. Very little time so far devoted to meetings or client dev., asides from the occasional CLE, most of my time is billing. I'm usually efficient in meeting my daily target, I don't do water cooler talk and eat lunch at desk. I can get in by 8 and hit 7.5 billables by 5, occasionally by 4.

But I feel guilty when I leave the office even at 5, and 90% of the attorneys are still there. Nobody has told me otherwise, but is firm culture you're expected to blow past the 'minimum'? Am I possibly in danger? I feel like I'm not working close to as hard as many other attorneys in my firm. I haven't had any criticism so far of my work effort from the partner I get all my assignments from.


ive done basically this and been fine. it depends on your work quality and ability to make people like you in the firm. youre usually allowed to get away with this if you work exclusively a partner thats well settled and the partner likes your work. they arent going to let you get laid off. at 1800 hours of pure collections (no writeoffs) associates are wildly profitable.

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bruinfan10

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Re: Hitting billing target but concerned should be doing more

Postby bruinfan10 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:36 am

Johann wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a first year associate at a mid-sized firm, been practicing for about 6 months.

The firms billable target is 1800. Based on my days off I project I take, I've estimated I need to bill about 7.5 per weekday to meet it. I've generally been very efficient. Very little time so far devoted to meetings or client dev., asides from the occasional CLE, most of my time is billing. I'm usually efficient in meeting my daily target, I don't do water cooler talk and eat lunch at desk. I can get in by 8 and hit 7.5 billables by 5, occasionally by 4.

But I feel guilty when I leave the office even at 5, and 90% of the attorneys are still there. Nobody has told me otherwise, but is firm culture you're expected to blow past the 'minimum'? Am I possibly in danger? I feel like I'm not working close to as hard as many other attorneys in my firm. I haven't had any criticism so far of my work effort from the partner I get all my assignments from.


ive done basically this and been fine. it depends on your work quality and ability to make people like you in the firm. youre usually allowed to get away with this if you work exclusively a partner thats well settled and the partner likes your work. they arent going to let you get laid off. at 1800 hours of pure collections (no writeoffs) associates are wildly profitable.

out of curiosity johann, how long have you been an associate now?



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