Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

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leavingfirm

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby leavingfirm » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:12 pm

Guchster wrote:
leavingfirm wrote:To those saying there was a clear line in the sand that I missed: correct, but I did not bill just 1900 hours which clearly would be insufficient. I billed over 2000 hours, and given the wealth of the firm and the commitment I made to a large project that not everyone would have taken on, and that the firm benefited from this work, I expected to not have to grovel for my bonus.

By the way, I am not counting other non-billable work like recruiting and summer associate program in this total as some are suggesting. Thats probably another 30 to 40.

I need to decide soon whether to take my foot off the gas pedal here.

Maybe I should out the firm. Some others here have bad experiences with them.


Did you already speak with HR or whoever your contact on the bonus/retention committee is and explain the situation?


I just requested all of my hours from accounting and I'm going to speak with the partner in charge of bonuses. Here, it's handled through a partner not HR.

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Guchster

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby Guchster » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:25 pm

leavingfirm wrote:
Guchster wrote:
leavingfirm wrote:To those saying there was a clear line in the sand that I missed: correct, but I did not bill just 1900 hours which clearly would be insufficient. I billed over 2000 hours, and given the wealth of the firm and the commitment I made to a large project that not everyone would have taken on, and that the firm benefited from this work, I expected to not have to grovel for my bonus.

By the way, I am not counting other non-billable work like recruiting and summer associate program in this total as some are suggesting. Thats probably another 30 to 40.

I need to decide soon whether to take my foot off the gas pedal here.

Maybe I should out the firm. Some others here have bad experiences with them.


Did you already speak with HR or whoever your contact on the bonus/retention committee is and explain the situation?


I just requested all of my hours from accounting and I'm going to speak with the partner in charge of bonuses. Here, it's handled through a partner not HR.


Gotcha. Getting all of your hours from accounting was the right first move. It's done with a partner at my firm too. If you have a partner mentor within the firm, it may be worth asking for advice on how to most effective/strategically couch the conversation with the partner in charge of bonuses to see what kind of arguments/approach gets their heartstrings going.

Personally, I would focus the conversation on why contributions to the firm (both on this non-billable project and generally) merits an exception to the billable policy (particularly coming up with specific billable work/opportunities that you had to forego to do this project for the firm's benefit), instead of taking the approach that they're acting petty/ridiculous (even if that's the case).

nixy

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby nixy » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:40 pm

I’m not in biglaw and I get that your situation sucks but I don’t get how it wasn’t clear. They told you 300 hours of the business thing would count. You did more than that and that’s where the hours that got you over the bonus requirement came from. I get going back to them and making a pitch for reconsideration, which I think is fair and I hope works, but that the hours didn’t count seems perfectly consistent with what they told you from the start.

If you know others whose business development hours were treated differently that would be different of course.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:45 pm

leavingfirm wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You sound a little entitled. You did not "bill" over 2000 hours; you recorded over 2000 hours, but only 1900 were billable. The firm told you upfront how many actual billable hours you needed, and you didn't get there. A lot of firms, including mine, give no credit whatsoever for BD work. It is just expected on top of the billable requirement, and if you don't meet the billables, you aren't eligible for either a bonus or a raise. Last year, I presented at over 20 CLEs, drafted the presentations by myself, worked on multiple pitches, drafted a couple nonbillable memos, and got precisely zero credit for all that work. Does it suck? Yes. Are there some firms that would give me credit for that work? Yes. Are there firms that aren't as draconian about what happens if you don't meet requirements? Yes. Was I treated "unfairly" or "gypped?" Not really. That's the policy, and I knew that going in.


Thanks for the perspective. What vault rank is your biglaw firm?


I can't imagine why you weren't able to charm your way into a bonus.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby leavingfirm » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:47 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
leavingfirm wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You sound a little entitled. You did not "bill" over 2000 hours; you recorded over 2000 hours, but only 1900 were billable. The firm told you upfront how many actual billable hours you needed, and you didn't get there. A lot of firms, including mine, give no credit whatsoever for BD work. It is just expected on top of the billable requirement, and if you don't meet the billables, you aren't eligible for either a bonus or a raise. Last year, I presented at over 20 CLEs, drafted the presentations by myself, worked on multiple pitches, drafted a couple nonbillable memos, and got precisely zero credit for all that work. Does it suck? Yes. Are there some firms that would give me credit for that work? Yes. Are there firms that aren't as draconian about what happens if you don't meet requirements? Yes. Was I treated "unfairly" or "gypped?" Not really. That's the policy, and I knew that going in.


Thanks for the perspective. What vault rank is your biglaw firm?


I can't imagine why you weren't able to charm your way into a bonus.


A lot of people jumped in this thread to criticize without having worked a day of biglaw. It's fair game.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby leavingfirm » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:49 pm

nixy wrote:I’m not in biglaw and I get that your situation sucks but I don’t get how it wasn’t clear. They told you 300 hours of the business thing would count. You did more than that and that’s where the hours that got you over the bonus requirement came from. I get going back to them and making a pitch for reconsideration, which I think is fair and I hope works, but that the hours didn’t count seems perfectly consistent with what they told you from the start.

If you know others whose business development hours were treated differently that would be different of course.


The issue is that they gave me a wild underestimate for how long it would take. And once I was in I couldn't quit.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby leavingfirm » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:That's terrible, OP. If it makes you feel any better, many other associates at biglaw firms get their bonuses gypped and are treated like shit. Trying to lateral out is the obvious option. I worked my ass off in 2018 - I billed 100~300 hours more than some of my peers. When I was struggling through those late nights in the office even during holidays, on most of the occasions, none of my colleagues in the same class year were not logged on. Those others that billed less than me got full bonuses whereas I didn't. I did have a clash with a senior associate and that may have been the reason why. I have no idea.


That's awful. Did you lateral?

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:04 pm

leavingfirm wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
leavingfirm wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You sound a little entitled. You did not "bill" over 2000 hours; you recorded over 2000 hours, but only 1900 were billable. The firm told you upfront how many actual billable hours you needed, and you didn't get there. A lot of firms, including mine, give no credit whatsoever for BD work. It is just expected on top of the billable requirement, and if you don't meet the billables, you aren't eligible for either a bonus or a raise. Last year, I presented at over 20 CLEs, drafted the presentations by myself, worked on multiple pitches, drafted a couple nonbillable memos, and got precisely zero credit for all that work. Does it suck? Yes. Are there some firms that would give me credit for that work? Yes. Are there firms that aren't as draconian about what happens if you don't meet requirements? Yes. Was I treated "unfairly" or "gypped?" Not really. That's the policy, and I knew that going in.


Thanks for the perspective. What vault rank is your biglaw firm?


I can't imagine why you weren't able to charm your way into a bonus.


A lot of people jumped in this thread to criticize without having worked a day of biglaw. It's fair game.


V100 and I’m a senior, so I’ve spent plenty of time in biglaw, but that’s really not the point. The point is that your firm had a policy that you knew about, so you can’t really call them unfair for applying it. Would my situation be different at a V10? Sure, and I have a lateral offer in hand from one that I’m considering taking, but not because of anything to do with bonuses or really pay at all. If this is really that big of a deal to you, and you don’t see any positives about your experience that would outweigh it (people, experience, advancement, etc.), then yes, you should consider lateraling too, but frankly, trashing and/or outing your firm seems immature and unwarranted here.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby leavingfirm » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
leavingfirm wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
leavingfirm wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You sound a little entitled. You did not "bill" over 2000 hours; you recorded over 2000 hours, but only 1900 were billable. The firm told you upfront how many actual billable hours you needed, and you didn't get there. A lot of firms, including mine, give no credit whatsoever for BD work. It is just expected on top of the billable requirement, and if you don't meet the billables, you aren't eligible for either a bonus or a raise. Last year, I presented at over 20 CLEs, drafted the presentations by myself, worked on multiple pitches, drafted a couple nonbillable memos, and got precisely zero credit for all that work. Does it suck? Yes. Are there some firms that would give me credit for that work? Yes. Are there firms that aren't as draconian about what happens if you don't meet requirements? Yes. Was I treated "unfairly" or "gypped?" Not really. That's the policy, and I knew that going in.


Thanks for the perspective. What vault rank is your biglaw firm?


I can't imagine why you weren't able to charm your way into a bonus.


A lot of people jumped in this thread to criticize without having worked a day of biglaw. It's fair game.


V100 and I’m a senior, so I’ve spent plenty of time in biglaw, but that’s really not the point. The point is that your firm had a policy that you knew about, so you can’t really call them unfair for applying it. Would my situation be different at a V10? Sure, and I have a lateral offer in hand from one that I’m considering taking, but not because of anything to do with bonuses or really pay at all. If this is really that big of a deal to you, and you don’t see any positives about your experience that would outweigh it (people, experience, advancement, etc.), then yes, you should consider lateraling too, but frankly, trashing and/or outing your firm seems immature and unwarranted here.


I was told that the project would take no more than 300 hours and it ended up being over 400. I think this should matter when my firm has had one of the best years on record and when I billed over 2000 total hours.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby nixy » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:36 pm

leavingfirm wrote:
nixy wrote:I’m not in biglaw and I get that your situation sucks but I don’t get how it wasn’t clear. They told you 300 hours of the business thing would count. You did more than that and that’s where the hours that got you over the bonus requirement came from. I get going back to them and making a pitch for reconsideration, which I think is fair and I hope works, but that the hours didn’t count seems perfectly consistent with what they told you from the start.

If you know others whose business development hours were treated differently that would be different of course.


The issue is that they gave me a wild underestimate for how long it would take. And once I was in I couldn't quit.

Presumably once you hit 300 hours you could have asked someone how to handle it going forward?

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby LBJ's Hair » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:38 pm

Will caveat this that I have not worked in BigLaw, just in a similar sort of professional services environment with substantial discretionary bonuses.

Decide for yourself whether this is worth leaving over (my sense is no, as many other firms have similar policies), but if you want to make your case to the partner, I'd pitch it as "I was 100 hours under because of all this time I worked on this big project, will you make an exception to the rule," not "I am entitled to this bonus and you made a mistake." Not gonna go over well. Emphasis the importance of the project, how hard you worked on it, how you wanted to do a good job, etc etc. Like from their perspective, you cost them 100 x your billable rate in foregone revenue--the way to get around this is to say "I was doing this big thing that's benefiting the firm, not just fucking around on some pro bono matter that doesn't help us."
Last edited by LBJ's Hair on Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby objctnyrhnr » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:41 pm

OP, did you consider going back to the assigning partner and explaining the situation in the context of a pitch for him to use his power to try to retroactively boost the allowable billable hours from 300 to 400? If he’s enough of a big deal at the firm, maybe all it’d take is an email?

But my first post was that I think the first step should be to sidestep all the partners and see if you can get it done with just the pertinent administrative staff. Then maybe go to the option I described above.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:43 pm

I don't want to pile on here, but this:
leavingfirm wrote:I was told that the project would take no more than 300 hours


is not the same as this:
leavingfirm wrote:I was told that 300 of my hours on the project would count toward my billables.


You make your own decisions about whether this is worth leaving over, but it seems pretty clear that you were told you wouldn't be able to bill more than 300 hours of the work when you started. This is hardly unique or unreasonable behavior from the firm.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby leavingfirm » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:52 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:I don't want to pile on here, but this:
leavingfirm wrote:I was told that the project would take no more than 300 hours


is not the same as this:
leavingfirm wrote:I was told that 300 of my hours on the project would count toward my billables.


You make your own decisions about whether this is worth leaving over, but it seems pretty clear that you were told you wouldn't be able to bill more than 300 hours of the work when you started. This is hardly unique or unreasonable behavior from the firm.


I am clarifying what I was told. I was told both that it should take 300 hours by their estimate and for that reason 300 hours would be counted toward my billables.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:48 pm

leavingfirm wrote:
KirkwoodGAO wrote:
leavingfirm wrote:
KirkwoodGAO wrote:Keep in mind that the phrase "gypped" has seriously racist connotations because it is derived from the notion that gypsies or Roma are dishonest swindlers. You might not want to go about in law or business remarking that someone "gypped" you or "Jewed you down" on something, unless you feel that members of those groups are deserving of their historically discriminatory stereotypes.

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch ... -hurts-you

Also, you missed the bonus threshold by 100 hours. The firm is not being unfair to you.


I say gypped all the time. Never had a problem. Thanks for the lecture.

Regarding your advice about the bonus, are you speaking from biglaw experience as the thread requested?


A limited number of historically prestigious biglaw firms have no bonus requirements. If you're at one of such firms come bonus time, you get a bonus (unless they stealth you prior to handing out bonuses, which I assume has happened during big recessions). It sounds like you were not at one of these firms.

Most other less historically prestigious and profitable biglaw firms have specific billable hours requirements for bonuses, which typically include formulas that specify what, if any, nonbillable work counts towards the bonus threshold (e.g., pro bono hours, recruiting hours, client development hours, firm committee hours, etc.) and in what amounts (e.g., perhaps 50, 100, or 250 hours of nonbillable work in particular categories counts). At most of these firms if you miss by even 0.1, you get no bonus. I would imagine that some entirely discretionary exceptions are made in close cases where people miss by only a few hours. Missing by 100 hours is not close; it's missing by a mile.


Based on your profile you are not in biglaw. Are you even a graduate? I am seeking the advice of people who have spent at least one day working in a biglaw firm. Why do you feel qualified to opine about this?

By the way, your assertion that many biglaw firms will wihthold an entire bonus for coming up 6 billable minutes short is laughable.


Really doesn’t matter if he cleans the toilets at Disneyworld. He’s right that firms tend to be fairly explicit about their guidelines as to what hours count for bonus purposes and fairly unforgiving when you miss the targets, by whatever amount.

And the more you run around talking about how much more qualified you are than everyone else ITT, the bigger of an idiot you look like for working one second on a project beyond the amount of time you knew would get bonus credit without (a) asking in advance for the additional time to also get credited before proceeding further or (b) ensuring you had another way to hit bonus.

Sincerely,
Midlevel Cog In The Biglawl Machine Who Takes His Firm’s Hours Policy At Face Value

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby shock259 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:03 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:I can't imagine why you weren't able to charm your way into a bonus.


This. Was this whole thread just an elaborate troll? I feel less and less sympathy.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby blurbz » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:19 pm

One of the first things you learn as a summer associate is that if someone gives you an assignment and estimates the amount of time they think it should take and if you subsequently get to that amount of time and believe you still have a long way to go, you go back to that person and give them an update. Sometimes they were way off in their estimate. Sometimes you're way off in what you're doing. This is no different. It sucks because the stakes are higher, but it's part of biglaw 101: Communicate. When you hit 300 hours and saw it was going to take another 33% longer, you needed to figure out an exit plan from the project or confirm that the estimate was off and the additional time should be counted as billable. I did this as a junior, I expected it from juniors/paralegals as a midlevel/senior, and I expect it now that I'm in house supervising outside counsel.

Bright line rules can be annoying and it feels unfair to be on the wrong side of one, but the real benefit is that they allow you to plan and have certainty of place. This was an expensive lesson to learn.

All of that aside, I agree with the others here that you should have a discussion with the powers that be and see if you can get it fixed retroactively, but I think if you come off as entitled in that conversation, it's not going to go well.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:The "everyone gets the full bonus as long as their hours aren’t very low" system is only at the very top NYC firms (S&C, DPW, STB, etc). For the NYC firms that are not at the top, not in the same tier as firms like S&C, DPW, STB, etc, the lack of a clear bonus target is actually quite misleading. The system at such firms that are struggling but like to appear to be in the same tier as the very top firms is actually "we will give you a full bonus if we like you or if the firm's performance is such that we can give bonuses to everyone." Those firms have the ability to (often exercise this ability) not give out full bonuses to high-billing associates because they emphasize that the bonuses are discretionary. Unless I am at a top tier NYC firm, I would much prefer a clear target.


This is not true. My NYC V50 lacks a clear bonus target and falls in the "everyone gets the full bonus as long as their hours aren't very low" category, occasionally paying above market for exceptional associates.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:29 pm

I’m not at one of the “top” firms you mentioned but we don’t have a billable requirement and literally everybody gets a bonus even if your hours are absurdly low. Literally have never heard of anyone not getting a bonus.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby QContinuum » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:The "everyone gets the full bonus as long as their hours aren’t very low" system is only at the very top NYC firms (S&C, DPW, STB, etc). For the NYC firms that are not at the top, not in the same tier as firms like S&C, DPW, STB, etc, the lack of a clear bonus target is actually quite misleading. The system at such firms that are struggling but like to appear to be in the same tier as the very top firms is actually "we will give you a full bonus if we like you or if the firm's performance is such that we can give bonuses to everyone." Those firms have the ability to (often exercise this ability) not give out full bonuses to high-billing associates because they emphasize that the bonuses are discretionary. Unless I am at a top tier NYC firm, I would much prefer a clear target.


This is not true. My NYC V50 lacks a clear bonus target and falls in the "everyone gets the full bonus as long as their hours aren't very low" category, occasionally paying above market for exceptional associates.

I think the previous anon's point was that only a few select firms give everyone bonuses regardless of hours. That point is correct. The mine run of firms don't do that. Most of the few "generous" firms are firms in the V10, but as we all know on TLS, V does not precisely correspond to prestige. We all know that there are firms outside the V-whatever that are nevertheless more prestigious than firms within the V10 or V20 or whatever, and pay accordingly. Let's please not get back into the "but my firm's prestigious even though it's not V10!" debate again.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:10 am

QContinuum wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
This is not true. My NYC V50 lacks a clear bonus target and falls in the "everyone gets the full bonus as long as their hours aren't very low" category, occasionally paying above market for exceptional associates.

I think the previous anon's point was that only a few select firms give everyone bonuses regardless of hours. That point is correct. The mine run of firms don't do that. Most of the few "generous" firms are firms in the V10, but as we all know on TLS, V does not precisely correspond to prestige. We all know that there are firms outside the V-whatever that are nevertheless more prestigious than firms within the V10 or V20 or whatever, and pay accordingly. Let's please not get back into the "but my firm's prestigious even though it's not V10!" debate again.


Same OP. I'm not even claiming my firm is prestigious. It's probably a 2nd or 3rd tier NYC biglaw shop these days. My point is that regardless of the V# that some firms have really strong bonus cultures and to claim that it only the most prestigious or highest ranking V firms is just not true.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:14 am

I think you should lobby for a bonus but what you are describing is really not particularly unfair. Also based on your hours you didn’t work all that much in 2018. I understand being disappointed but stuff like this happens all the time unfortunately.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:03 pm

Honestly OP, I get that you’re pissed, but at this stage (if you’re really a midlevel) id view that as a blessing. I’m a second year at a V5 and have billed a bit over 3100 last year and am on pace to beat that this year. I’d happily give up my (what is it, 25K?) for some semblance of a life. The fact that you got 2000 with business development and all that other jazz is a very solid trade off. There are two sides to every coin, and a lot of times work takes longer than either side expects. That’s just how it happens. I’d enjoy the extra time you got to spend with friends and family and move on.

Also you should listen to me because I work at a V5. Did I mention I work at a V5? Well, at the V5 where I work, I work quite a lot. Seriously who tf cares we all work hard and rankings are really stupid. Enjoy your life and your free time and don’t sweat the small stuff- you’d pay a lot of taxes on that bonus anyway.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:04 am

OP, not only are you entitled you are not even being honest in this thread.

You were told you needed to bill 2000 to get a bonus. You keep saying you "billed 2000" but you did not. You billed 1900. That's all there is to it.

I used to be at a "top" firm, since that is what you seem to care about, and automatically got a bonus every year. But guess what, at the few firms where that happens, you almost universally either work WAY more than 2000 hours or are failing and quickly gone.

I'm now at a lower V50 (*gasp*) and there are several years where I have not received a bonus, but let me tell you that in my opinion it is way better to bill 1800-1900 (and yes, work a fair amount more than that), than work 2500+ and get a few dozen thousand more (depending on level) after tax.

Some people might prefer that extra money at any cost. Maybe you might. But ultimately the fact that you seem to think you deserve it, despite not meeting very clearly defined criteria, leaves me with little sympathy for you. This business sucks but you knew precisely what it was going in.

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Re: Considering leaving my firm after bad experience.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:17 am

Not to pile on, but OP: you should thank your lucky stars you only billed 2000. I'm on track for 2600 at a V10 this year and I fucking hate it.

Yes, getting an extra 25-50 k is nice, but money can't buy time. Cherish the free timing u had.



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