no work to do?

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no work to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:36 am

Is it normal to have very little billable work to do? I've been at a firm (~75 attorneys) for about 4 months now, and I do litigation for a single partner. I have billable requirements of about 2000. However, I find that it is like pulling teeth to get some billable work from my partner. I'll get things here or there, but nothing to fill the day. The first two months I had a steady amount of work because I was learning the practice and it took a while to finish things. Now, though, I sit here from 8-6 just to save face and bill maybe 2-3 hours.

Needless to say, its extremely frustrating. I don't want to look like I'm slacking simply because I don't have anything to do. Yet, asking for work seems to be an inconvenience to the partner.

Anyone have this experience or any advice?

toast and bananas

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Re: no work to do?

Postby toast and bananas » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:02 am

Would it be unreasonable to simply ask for work from another partner?

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Re: no work to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:08 am

I've tried. My section is, unfortunately, really small and I only have one partner. I've worked with partners in other sections but they have their own associates who are their go-tos. I also don't want to step on any toes.

toast and bananas

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Re: no work to do?

Postby toast and bananas » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:12 am

If that's the case I'd go to someone more senior than you and ask their advice on a kosher way to seek more work, if you haven't already. Otherwise is moving sections a possibility?

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patentlaworbust

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Re: no work to do?

Postby patentlaworbust » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:13 am

Enjoy it while it lasts! :mrgreen:

But seriously, Litigation always tends to ebb and flow over time. I never find that I have a reasonable Litigation docket at any given point in time. It’s either so slow it crawls, or it’s going gangbusters and I’m pulling all nighters and working weekends. Your first year is probably a wash for hours and your time is getting written off by the billing partners, so I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the numbers but would be more concerned with generating superior work product.

If your firm encourages a free/open market, then I would reach out to partners doing work that you’re interested in and chat about getting involved to help with their clients. Unless there is a central case assignment system, which exists at some firms but is unlikely at a firm your size, then your work will be generated exclusively out of your good will and existing relationships with partners at the firm. That being said, make sure the 2-3 hours of billable work you do per day is top notch, error free, and worthy of your reputation possibly being on the line. Hard workers that generate excellent work product will find themselves overwhelmed before long as others in the firm begin to seek them out and take work away from those performing sloppily or in an untimely fashion.

See also: https://thepeoplestherapist.com/2017/09 ... #more-5853

Good luck!

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Re: no work to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:05 pm

I've thought about requesting a section change. I'll stick with it a little longer and then maybe go talk to someone more senior about it.

Patentlaworbust-- thanks for the advice and interesting article. It's just difficult getting work form partners that I haven't even said a word to.

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Re: no work to do?

Postby mcmand » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I've thought about requesting a section change. I'll stick with it a little longer and then maybe go talk to someone more senior about it.

Patentlaworbust-- thanks for the advice and interesting article. It's just difficult getting work form partners that I haven't even said a word to.


You won't get work from them until you say a few words to them, so you may as well introduce yourself.
Last edited by mcmand on Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: no work to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:46 pm

I guess part of this issue is that I am frustrated by the fact that I have to beg for work. Is it normal for an associate to have to hustle just to get work? I mean, I hear associates are stressed to the bone because they are buried in work and yet, here I am, with a clean desk and nothing to do. I understand the ebbs and flows of litigation thing but nearly two months of nothing makes me feel like we literally do not have enough work.

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Re: no work to do?

Postby 1styearlateral » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I guess part of this issue is that I am frustrated by the fact that I have to beg for work. Is it normal for an associate to have to hustle just to get work? I mean, I hear associates are stressed to the bone because they are buried in work and yet, here I am, with a clean desk and nothing to do. I understand the ebbs and flows of litigation thing but nearly two months of nothing makes me feel like we literally do not have enough work.

Yes.

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BlendedUnicorn

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Re: no work to do?

Postby BlendedUnicorn » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:48 pm

One thing to think about too is that due to the cycle of firm hiring, your firm is as loaded with associates as it will get during your first few months. Every year firms stock up with all the associate HP they're going to get for the year in the fall and then watch it slowly go down as people leave. After bone-usses go out in a few weeks you'll start seeing associates leaving at a much higher clip, and their work is going to have to be done by someone. You very well be in the eye of the hurricane right now.

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Re: no work to do?

Postby ur_hero » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:46 pm

There's some truth to the "enjoy it while it last" mentality, but seriously you should be actively keeping tabs on who there might be available work from and staying on their radar for when the opportunity arises.

I also work primarily for certain partners, so especially when it comes to getting work from others - they have to (a) know you exist and pop into their head when the need is there; and (b) know/think you're willing and capable of doing the work.

You'll have to get to the above by pretty much lurking like a vulture to swoop in on any excess work when you get the chance and that'll be your chance to make them remember/know who you are (for better or for worse). Once you have a [decent] established work-relationship with multiple partners, you're going to start getting more work than you can handle and have the luxury of turning down work occasionally once you're actually maxed out.

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Re: no work to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:13 am

im in a similar situation but have been at my firm for about a year. i think in traditional biglaw, you can get away with billing low as a first year. at insurance defense firms tho, you are fucked.

oblig.lawl.ref

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Re: no work to do?

Postby oblig.lawl.ref » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:27 am

It's hard to know whether you should be concerned or should just relax and enjoy it. I think most of the time in this situation a stub or first year should just relax. It took me almost 1.5 years to really get fully staffed up but now it's a struggle fighting off work. Smaller, more lit focused firms may be different. I think you should take small steps towards putting yourself out there--making sure your partner knows you have a lot of bandwidth, saying hi to people, poking your head in, introducing yourself and letting midlevlels, senior associates and partners know you have bandwidth in case they need help with anything. But I wouldn't worry too much.

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Re: no work to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:06 pm

OP here. I appreciate the replies, guys. It's very helpful and nice to finally vent a little bit.

I'm in a small lit group, in a firm that does not primarily do litigation. We're a bit insulated from the rest of the firm. I do not get a lot of exposure to other practice groups. I understand the "sit tight and enjoy it while it lasts" mentality but, for me at least, I'm concerned the work is just not there. I just do not see the work picking up to the point where I will be flooded with things to do. Maybe that will change, maybe it won't.

I want to plant my seeds with other partners but, again, others have not been super receptive. Everyone I run into, I always drop the "hey if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know." I can't show off what I can do because everyone is kind of insular to their own associates and trust them to do the work. I know this year doesn't matter as a "stub" associate and I don't want to jump the gun, but come January, when my hours start to count, I'm going to blow a fuse when there is no work to do.

ur_hero

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Re: no work to do?

Postby ur_hero » Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. I appreciate the replies, guys. It's very helpful and nice to finally vent a little bit.

I'm in a small lit group, in a firm that does not primarily do litigation. We're a bit insulated from the rest of the firm. I do not get a lot of exposure to other practice groups. I understand the "sit tight and enjoy it while it lasts" mentality but, for me at least, I'm concerned the work is just not there. I just do not see the work picking up to the point where I will be flooded with things to do. Maybe that will change, maybe it won't.

I want to plant my seeds with other partners but, again, others have not been super receptive. Everyone I run into, I always drop the "hey if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know." I can't show off what I can do because everyone is kind of insular to their own associates and trust them to do the work. I know this year doesn't matter as a "stub" associate and I don't want to jump the gun, but come January, when my hours start to count, I'm going to blow a fuse when there is no work to do.


If it's any consolation, I've felt the same way on-and-off for cycles since I began. It's tough, because we truly don't really know if/when things will pick up. But in my experience, they always do and then I miss the chill weeks after I'm billing 220+ for several months. In the meantime, you'll likely feel quite a bit of imposter syndrome, thinking you're doing something wrong, that the work you've turned in sucks, that you said or looked at someone the wrong way, that they just don't like you, or that you "just don't get it." Ignore those thoughts, stay visible and don't stop trying to get work, keep your head up and be courteous/confident around others, and just do what you believe to be genuinely good and polished work when you get the chance (and seek feedback on how to improve it). It's alright to also confide in a partner or senior associate you're somewhat closer to that you're concerned about your hours.

Once things do pick up and you can grab some scraps, your chances of getting some consistent work during slow periods will go up as well. If the work never comes within the 3-5 months of 2018, that's when I would be concerned enough to start looking at other options in my free time.



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