How many hours is too many?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 313510
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:21 pm

IME, it depends on luck of the draw with respect to workflow. Firms that do a lot of trials, associates who get staffed on those matters tend to bill 2500 or more on a regular annual basis. If you have a couple of years of cases ramping up to trial you may find yourself hitting 2500 consistently without feeling like you are gunning.

I second the below about waving the flag. If others in your dept are billing 1900 on average, and you have multiple years at 2400 or above, you need to remedy that. It doesn't do you any good to be taking the bullet for others in your group.

RaceJudicata

Gold
Posts: 1679
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 2:51 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby RaceJudicata » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'll probably end up with 1500 billable, 1800 total and probably worked around 2000-2100.


Start dusting off the resume dude.

User avatar
nealric

Moderator
Posts: 2808
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:53 am

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby nealric » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:37 pm

I agree that over 2500 is well over the norm outside of firms like WLRK. I think the vast majority of the people with those sorts of hours fall into one of three categories:

1) Padding hours like crazy
2) Had a huge one-off matter for that year like a front page public company merger or a major trial where they took the lead
3) Grinder churning through untold hours of diligence/doc review (likely headed for quick burnout)

You do hear isolated stories of 3,000 hours, and even people who claim that sort of thing is normal, but I'm very skeptical that happens without a lot of padding. IME, ethically billing significantly more than 2,400 hours basically means never taking a day off (including weekends) and essentially abandoning all personal and family life. Few people have the constitution to sustain that pace for years on end. Those that do are likely jeopardizing their mental and physical wellbeing.

Anonymous User
Posts: 313510
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:44 pm

Black box Amlaw 20 (not JD) mean for associates on pace for 1950-2000 this year.

lolwat

Silver
Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:30 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby lolwat » Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:17 pm

nealric wrote:I agree that over 2500 is well over the norm outside of firms like WLRK. I think the vast majority of the people with those sorts of hours fall into one of three categories:

1) Padding hours like crazy
2) Had a huge one-off matter for that year like a front page public company merger or a major trial where they took the lead
3) Grinder churning through untold hours of diligence/doc review (likely headed for quick burnout)

You do hear isolated stories of 3,000 hours, and even people who claim that sort of thing is normal, but I'm very skeptical that happens without a lot of padding. IME, ethically billing significantly more than 2,400 hours basically means never taking a day off (including weekends) and essentially abandoning all personal and family life. Few people have the constitution to sustain that pace for years on end. Those that do are likely jeopardizing their mental and physical wellbeing.


I agree generally about the hours, although I would either revise (2) or add a a (4) which is that being an associate in a trial can be 250-300 hour months regardless if you take the lead. Hell, even the months leading up to a trial could be 250-300 hour months depending on how well-managed the case was up to that point. Even if you've got all your witness outlines done before-hand, there's always a huge number of last-minute motions/oppositions/replies/ex parte applications and bullshit when everyone is panicking. (This could be different for small trials but I guess it depends what you mean by "major trial." All of our trials tend to be several weeks long if not months, not like some 3-day trial.)

There are some other situations (in lit) where you can end up with some isolated 250-300 hour months (e.g., leanly staffed case where you have 10 depositions to take in a month and you're the only associate doing depo prep and taking those depos). And if you consistently have enough work to sustain 180-200 hour months the rest of the year, you'll still end up with a lot of hours overall.

I think a person can legitimately bill up to probably 2,700 hours or so without padding or entirely abandoning their life. It wouldn't be very sustainable though and at the very least vacations are probably not going to happen. 3k+ makes me VERY skeptical.

ghostoftraynor

Bronze
Posts: 114
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:43 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby ghostoftraynor » Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:48 am

Maybe I should lateral. Seems like a lot of lifestyle firms aren't that rare after all.

User avatar
2014

Platinum
Posts: 6027
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:53 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby 2014 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:18 am

ghostoftraynor wrote:Maybe I should lateral. Seems like a lot of lifestyle firms aren't that rare after all.

Hours billed is at best a very very loose proxy for lifestyle. The prevailing attitude of "you only billed [some number less than [2500]] hours, that's not that bad" is extremely damaging IMO, it causes people to second guess whether their stress is warranted if they don't have some number to back it up and the answer to that is (again IMO) overwhelmingly yes.

Anonymous User
Posts: 313510
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:03 pm

I billed about 2,100 this year at a DC biglaw firm where ~2,000 is the norm. It's sad that people would consider this a "lifestyle" firm.

jd20132013

Silver
Posts: 1378
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:41 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby jd20132013 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:03 pm

Yeah 2100 is eminently reasonable in biglaw and it's relatively awful. To be clear, I get that that's why they pay you. But there's a reason why people leave pretty quickly and it's not just the fact that the firm won't make everyone partner.

Anonymous User
Posts: 313510
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I billed about 2,100 this year at a DC biglaw firm where ~2,000 is the norm. It's sad that people would consider this a "lifestyle" firm.


This. People in every other profession save for banking would consider that amount of work unacceptable. Stockholm Syndrome is real.

User avatar
rpupkin

Platinum
Posts: 5658
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I billed about 2,100 this year at a DC biglaw firm where ~2,000 is the norm. It's sad that people would consider this a "lifestyle" firm.

People in every other profession save for banking would consider that amount of work unacceptable.

That isn't close to true.

Anonymous User
Posts: 313510
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:50 am

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I billed about 2,100 this year at a DC biglaw firm where ~2,000 is the norm. It's sad that people would consider this a "lifestyle" firm.

People in every other profession save for banking would consider that amount of work unacceptable.

That isn't close to true.


It’s an exaggeration in that there are more jobs than big law and finance that require long hours, but it’s still a generally true statement.

2,000 billable hours at absolute peak efficiency is 2,500 hours of work. More likely that it’s closer to 3,000 than 2,000. That’s approaching 60/week if you take 0 vacation. And that’s the best case scenario for a lawyer.

umichman

Bronze
Posts: 332
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:56 am

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby umichman » Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:40 am

Yeah doctors, consultants and accountants for large firms and business people never work regular 60 hours weeks.
Honestly, I have yet to meet someone who earns over 150k that does not regularly work 60 hour weeks besides maybe some sales people.

User avatar
RCSOB657

Gold
Posts: 3330
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:50 am

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby RCSOB657 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:05 am

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I billed about 2,100 this year at a DC biglaw firm where ~2,000 is the norm. It's sad that people would consider this a "lifestyle" firm.

People in every other profession save for banking would consider that amount of work unacceptable.

That isn't close to true.


Agree with rpupkin. It's not weird to work that many hours in many salary positions or even hourly jobs in other industries. Hell, my first adult job was 12 hour shifts, 15 days of the month, every month. That alone was over 2100 hrs. This doesn't even include special assignments on our off days.

ruski

Bronze
Posts: 407
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:45 am

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby ruski » Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:43 am

not to mention it seems all other office jobs are moving to being more and more open to letting employees work from home a few days a week on a regular basis. I know large banks even pushing people to work from home 3-4 days a week and giving up their cubicle so they can save on real estate by having floater work spaces. I don't feel like that will ever happen in biglaw

User avatar
AVBucks4239

Silver
Posts: 948
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:07 am

I once calculated the per diem of my current small law job (45ish hours a week at $50k) versus big law ($145k and probably 65 hours week) and, after taxes, the per diem was like $9/hour different. Easy decision.

1styearlateral

Silver
Posts: 833
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:55 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby 1styearlateral » Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:19 am

ruski wrote:not to mention it seems all other office jobs are moving to being more and more open to letting employees work from home a few days a week on a regular basis. I know large banks even pushing people to work from home 3-4 days a week and giving up their cubicle so they can save on real estate by having floater work spaces. I don't feel like that will ever happen in biglaw

Biglaw is still run and managed by +70 y/o senior partners who are stuck in their ways of perceiving more facetime = more productivity. They started their careers in a world where you needed to record your voice and have your secretary type out your motion the night before. When those people retire, and younger partners begin taking the reigns, working from home will be an option save for court appearances and client meetings.

User avatar
2014

Platinum
Posts: 6027
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:53 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby 2014 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:24 pm

1styearlateral wrote:
ruski wrote:not to mention it seems all other office jobs are moving to being more and more open to letting employees work from home a few days a week on a regular basis. I know large banks even pushing people to work from home 3-4 days a week and giving up their cubicle so they can save on real estate by having floater work spaces. I don't feel like that will ever happen in biglaw

Biglaw is still run and managed by +70 y/o senior partners who are stuck in their ways of perceiving more facetime = more productivity. They started their careers in a world where you needed to record your voice and have your secretary type out your motion the night before. When those people retire, and younger partners begin taking the reigns, working from home will be an option save for court appearances and client meetings.

Agreed - all of the younger partners at my firm already work from home many if not a majority of Fridays and on days they are in the office they leave by 6 probably 90%+ of the time (but to be clear before people think this is some work life oasis, they are online all night most nights). It is taking a while but trickling to associates slowly. I also suspect that even in the last 5 years we've come a long way on weekend face time. Almost no one comes in regularly and i'm unaware of any partner that does except for when clients are on site.

Baby steps (as with everything in this job)...

User avatar
cfcm

Silver
Posts: 987
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:30 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby cfcm » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:08 pm

2014 wrote:Agreed - all of the younger partners at my firm already work from home many if not a majority of Fridays and on days they are in the office they leave by 6 probably 90%+ of the time (but to be clear before people think this is some work life oasis, they are online all night most nights). It is taking a while but trickling to associates slowly. I also suspect that even in the last 5 years we've come a long way on weekend face time. Almost no one comes in regularly and i'm unaware of any partner that does except for when clients are on site.

Baby steps (as with everything in this job)...

Yikes. Was weekend face time once a thing?

mvp99

Silver
Posts: 1422
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:00 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby mvp99 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:11 pm

1styearlateral wrote:
ruski wrote:not to mention it seems all other office jobs are moving to being more and more open to letting employees work from home a few days a week on a regular basis. I know large banks even pushing people to work from home 3-4 days a week and giving up their cubicle so they can save on real estate by having floater work spaces. I don't feel like that will ever happen in biglaw

Biglaw is still run and managed by +70 y/o senior partners who are stuck in their ways of perceiving more facetime = more productivity. They started their careers in a world where you needed to record your voice and have your secretary type out your motion the night before. When those people retire, and younger partners begin taking the reigns, working from home will be an option save for court appearances and client meetings.

Working from home would be way more efficient for me. Could probably bill an extra hour per day when I'm swamped.

oblig.lawl.ref

Bronze
Posts: 329
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:28 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby oblig.lawl.ref » Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:59 am

umichman wrote:Yeah doctors, consultants and accountants for large firms and business people never work regular 60 hours weeks.
Honestly, I have yet to meet someone who earns over 150k that does not regularly work 60 hour weeks besides maybe some sales people.


Honestly, I used to think this was true. As I'm hitting 30 more and more of my friends are approaching 150k with 9-5s (more or less) as they move into management roles.

Florence Night

New
Posts: 82
Joined: Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:53 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby Florence Night » Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:25 am

umichman wrote:Honestly, I have yet to meet someone who earns over 150k that does not regularly work 60 hour weeks besides maybe some sales people.


You need to meet more people in more professions. This shouldn’t even be close to true if you’re 30+ (especially if you lower that number from 150k to 125k, in my experience). Heck, half of my friend group is in medical residency programs, and while their hours change month to month based on new schedules, it’s during the 1 out of 5 “bad” months that theyre working as much as an average billable month. (I know they’re not yet making 150k, as in your example, but each will soon be making far more than that and my hours in any given month will be worse than most of theirs, I assure you.)

The only person I know who works more than me and my lawyer friends is an investment banker, but his bonus alone last year was 3 times my all in comp and he’s not yet 30, so...

It’s really not complicated: when the supply for something (adequate talent for high paying legal jobs) FAR exceeds its demand, there’s little reason for the demanding party to take expensive measures (better comp, benefits, hours) to keep you around because a) alternative options are so limited - you’re probably not going anywhere for a while; and b) even when you do leave, you can be replaced relatively easily.

Hutz_and_Goodman

Gold
Posts: 1545
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:42 am

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:13 am

Imo it is very difficult to find a job where you make 200k+ and are not working a lot and dealing with stress. My friends who are doctors have weeks where they are working four 24 hour shifts and then other weeks where they are not working at all. The job is very stressful and involves telling loved ones that someone is terminally ill or dead. So that is not a walk in the park. If you're a superstar in sales on the other hand you may be able to make 200K+ and have a better work life balance but I think very few lawyers (myself included) are cut out for sales.

Florence Night

New
Posts: 82
Joined: Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:53 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby Florence Night » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:28 am

Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:Imo it is very difficult to find a job where you make 200k+ and are not working a lot and dealing with stress. My friends who are doctors have weeks where they are working four 24 hour shifts and then other weeks where they are not working at all. The job is very stressful and involves telling loved ones that someone is terminally ill or dead. So that is not a walk in the park. If you're a superstar in sales on the other hand you may be able to make 200K+ and have a better work life balance but I think very few lawyers (myself included) are cut out for sales.

The vast majority of doctors are not dealing with terminally ill people and I literally don’t know one (out of tons) who has ever worked a 24 hour shift (though I’m sure it exists for at least some specialties out there). We can compare average biglaw to the most intense/stressful niches of medicine and make ourselves feel better I suppose.

User avatar
84651846190

Gold
Posts: 2198
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:06 pm

Re: How many hours is too many?

Postby 84651846190 » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:49 am

Florence Night wrote:
Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:Imo it is very difficult to find a job where you make 200k+ and are not working a lot and dealing with stress. My friends who are doctors have weeks where they are working four 24 hour shifts and then other weeks where they are not working at all. The job is very stressful and involves telling loved ones that someone is terminally ill or dead. So that is not a walk in the park. If you're a superstar in sales on the other hand you may be able to make 200K+ and have a better work life balance but I think very few lawyers (myself included) are cut out for sales.

The vast majority of doctors are not dealing with terminally ill people and I literally don’t know one (out of tons) who has ever worked a 24 hour shift (though I’m sure it exists for at least some specialties out there). We can compare average biglaw to the most intense/stressful niches of medicine and make ourselves feel better I suppose.

Yeah, the medical field really pwns the legal field. We all made a bad choice.



Return to “Legal Employment?

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.