How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

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jrwhitedog
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How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby jrwhitedog » Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:52 pm

For a first-year associate.

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jackassjim
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby jackassjim » Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:55 pm

Didn't mean to post this anonymously. See below.

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jackassjim
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby jackassjim » Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:56 pm

There is this really cool document published by Yale law school: The truth about billable hours. It will answer all your questions about this obsolete institution.

http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/C ... e_hour.pdf

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pany1985
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby pany1985 » Sat Nov 14, 2009 9:02 pm

The 1800-billable-hour job doesn't sound that bad. I'd certainly be willing to work 8:00-6:30 Monday through Friday (with 3 weeks vacation and 2 weeks holiday) for Biglaw money.

That said, the 2200-billable-hour job sounds horrible, especially if you're commuting to New York (where I assume a lot of outrageous billable hour minimums are found) from NJ or something

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jackassjim
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby jackassjim » Sat Nov 14, 2009 9:08 pm

pany1985 wrote:The 1800-billable-hour job doesn't sound that bad. I'd certainly be willing to work 8:00-6:30 Monday through Friday (with 3 weeks vacation and 2 weeks holiday) for Biglaw money.

That said, the 2200-billable-hour job sounds horrible, especially if you're commuting to New York (where I assume a lot of outrageous billable hour minimums are found) from NJ or something


I can see a lot of very unhappy families driving in big (hybrid) SUVs.

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Nom Sawyer
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby Nom Sawyer » Sat Nov 14, 2009 9:15 pm

How many V100 firms have targets of only 1800 hours though?

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ggocat
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby ggocat » Sat Nov 14, 2009 9:36 pm

SolarWind wrote:How many V100 firms have targets of only 1800 hours though?

None, even if the NALP survey says otherwise.

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Nom Sawyer
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby Nom Sawyer » Sat Nov 14, 2009 10:27 pm

ggocat wrote:
SolarWind wrote:How many V100 firms have targets of only 1800 hours though?

None, even if the NALP survey says otherwise.


haha that was what I was implying

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RonSantoRules
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby RonSantoRules » Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:19 pm

I would imagine if you bill 1800 (even if that is the minimum your firm requires), you will be the person who ends up "out" in the "up or out" BigLaw model.

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pany1985
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby pany1985 » Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:38 pm

You'd at least get in a few years of padding your bank account before you're out though

tengorazon
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby tengorazon » Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:09 am

jackassjim wrote:There is this really cool document published by Yale law school: The truth about billable hours. It will answer all your questions about this obsolete institution.

http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/C ... e_hour.pdf


It's been ages since I read this. I think they're off in two places: lunch and vacation. No one takes a full hour for lunch unless you have nothing else to do. Most of the time, I eat lunch at my desk and am therefore able to bill the full hour. Let's say I'm able to do that 4 days a week. That's an extra ~200 hours a year by itself. Under there 2200 scenario, you do the same for dinner...but again, if I'm eating at the firm, dinner is at my desk while I browse Lexis or whatever.

Second, who takes 5 weeks of vacation?? Two to three weeks is more like it...a week in the summer, another around Christmas, and then some long weekends, esp. if they coincide with a holiday. And only major holidays count...I don't know anyone who took Columbus Day and Veterans Day off. So those extra two weeks of vacation are costing you another ~100 billables.

02082010
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby 02082010 » Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:22 am

jackassjim wrote:There is this really cool document published by Yale law school: The truth about billable hours. It will answer all your questions about this obsolete institution.

http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/C ... e_hour.pdf


:shock: That's what I have to look forward to?

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TTT-LS
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby TTT-LS » Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:44 am

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Last edited by TTT-LS on Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Vincent Vega
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby Vincent Vega » Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:10 am

I'd be very happy to work through lunch and only take a week or so of vacation so as not to work til 8 pm. That crap would get old really quickly.

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BradyToMoss
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby BradyToMoss » Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:18 am

Halibut6 wrote:I'd be very happy to work through lunch and only take a week or so of vacation so as not to work til 8 pm. That crap would get old really quickly.


If you think working until 8pm would get old really quickly, BigLaw is not for you. Start looking for a gov't job now.

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Vincent Vega
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby Vincent Vega » Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:22 am

BradyToMoss wrote:
Halibut6 wrote:I'd be very happy to work through lunch and only take a week or so of vacation so as not to work til 8 pm. That crap would get old really quickly.


If you think working until 8pm would get old really quickly, BigLaw is not for you. Start looking for a gov't job now.


Don't get me wrong, once in a while is fine, and for extended periods during important cases and whatnot, but every night for my whole career? No. And there is a legal world out there besides biglaw and government.

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j2d3
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby j2d3 » Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:24 am

Perhaps this is taboo - but I don't think any of these answers are getting at what the OP is really asking. It's my guess (having had to pay lawyers before), that the tendency is to "round up," especially when dealing with small increments of time... So that a stack of ten memos for ten different clients that actually took 4 hours to get through could look like it took 7 hours when one that took 12 minutes gets put in as 1/2 hour, and another that took an hour and ten minutes gets billed as 1 1/2 hours, or when a phone call happens and it lasts 22 minutes but gets billed as 1/2 hr. pretty soon all this rounding up adds up to something significant. The more itemizable small parts you can break your tasks down into, the better. I imagine these firms have lists of categories with which to itemize your billable time, as well as minimum increments (1/4, 1/2, 1 hr - I don't know what's typical but I think 1/4 hr).

Also, having had to sign off on advertising agency's bills, holy jesus! There is just NO WAY that certain things on their bills took the # of hours stated, but to keep the wheels of business moving things just get signed, and people don't bicker over this kind of stuff unless it's totally egregious and someone's under pressure to cut costs. Often, the "prestige" of the ad agency is too valuable to risk losing by bickering over billing details. I imagine the same goes for corporate law.

Again, I'm not saying that anyone should look at billable hours this way, but I have a feeling that "rounding up" is fairly typical, and that off-hours phone conversations are always billed to clients, and that those things can happen when you're in your car commuting or at lunch or on vacation... so I think it may be a little bit easier to get to the targets than what that Yale document is suggesting.

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Vincent Vega
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby Vincent Vega » Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:37 am

j2d3 wrote:Again, I'm not saying that anyone should look at billable hours this way, but I have a feeling that "rounding up" is fairly typical, and that off-hours phone conversations are always billed to clients, and that those things can happen when you're in your car commuting or at lunch or on vacation... so I think it may be a little bit easier to get to the targets than what that Yale document is suggesting.


I hope so....

tengorazon
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby tengorazon » Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:31 am

j2d3 wrote:Perhaps this is taboo - but I don't think any of these answers are getting at what the OP is really asking. It's my guess (having had to pay lawyers before), that the tendency is to "round up," especially when dealing with small increments of time... So that a stack of ten memos for ten different clients that actually took 4 hours to get through could look like it took 7 hours when one that took 12 minutes gets put in as 1/2 hour, and another that took an hour and ten minutes gets billed as 1 1/2 hours, or when a phone call happens and it lasts 22 minutes but gets billed as 1/2 hr. pretty soon all this rounding up adds up to something significant. The more itemizable small parts you can break your tasks down into, the better. I imagine these firms have lists of categories with which to itemize your billable time, as well as minimum increments (1/4, 1/2, 1 hr - I don't know what's typical but I think 1/4 hr).

Also, having had to sign off on advertising agency's bills, holy jesus! There is just NO WAY that certain things on their bills took the # of hours stated, but to keep the wheels of business moving things just get signed, and people don't bicker over this kind of stuff unless it's totally egregious and someone's under pressure to cut costs. Often, the "prestige" of the ad agency is too valuable to risk losing by bickering over billing details. I imagine the same goes for corporate law.

Again, I'm not saying that anyone should look at billable hours this way, but I have a feeling that "rounding up" is fairly typical, and that off-hours phone conversations are always billed to clients, and that those things can happen when you're in your car commuting or at lunch or on vacation... so I think it may be a little bit easier to get to the targets than what that Yale document is suggesting.


This is true to a certain extent. For instance, the default at my firm is to bill in 15-minute increments. So if I spend 47 minutes working on a motion, I bill it as an hour. If I spend 3 minutes, I bill it as 15. Yet, when I tally my billables for the week, I will often knock the hours down if I think I was being inefficient while doing something. And who knows what the billing partner actually bills to the client. But yes, it is sometimes easier to reach a billable hour than you might initially think.

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M51
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby M51 » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:45 am

tengorazon wrote:
jackassjim wrote:There is this really cool document published by Yale law school: The truth about billable hours. It will answer all your questions about this obsolete institution.

http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/C ... e_hour.pdf


It's been ages since I read this. I think they're off in two places: lunch and vacation. No one takes a full hour for lunch unless you have nothing else to do. Most of the time, I eat lunch at my desk and am therefore able to bill the full hour. Let's say I'm able to do that 4 days a week. That's an extra ~200 hours a year by itself. Under there 2200 scenario, you do the same for dinner...but again, if I'm eating at the firm, dinner is at my desk while I browse Lexis or whatever.

Second, who takes 5 weeks of vacation?? Two to three weeks is more like it...a week in the summer, another around Christmas, and then some long weekends, esp. if they coincide with a holiday. And only major holidays count...I don't know anyone who took Columbus Day and Veterans Day off. So those extra two weeks of vacation are costing you another ~100 billables.


+1 This is the plan.
I thought most firms didn't have bonuses tied to salaries, or the min req was an extreme low bound like 1600. Are there many firms that actually require 2000+ hours to get your bonus?

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jrwhitedog
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby jrwhitedog » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:22 am

Thanks guys,but do most of the firms require 2200+ hours?
It seems the most popular billables are 2000+ or maybe I'm wrong? http://www.betterlegalprofession.org/BillableHours

ChrisC
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby ChrisC » Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:51 pm

BradyToMoss wrote:
Halibut6 wrote:I'd be very happy to work through lunch and only take a week or so of vacation so as not to work til 8 pm. That crap would get old really quickly.


If you think working until 8pm would get old really quickly, BigLaw is not for you. Start looking for a gov't job now.


There are more options than 80 hours a week in biglaw and a government job. They may not pay that well, but others options DO exist.



Also, the rounding up thing is true. The company and department I work in often confers with outside counsel. They'll round up slightly, but they'll also offer courtesy phone calls and emails. They may not bill every ten minute phone call out of courtesy (and the hopes of retaining you as a long term client).

Philaw
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby Philaw » Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:33 pm

My sister has a longtime friend who went to Stanford undergrad and NYU law. The people she surrounded herself with all went to biglaw corporate, and made VERY good money. The number of hours required and the type of work, however, made them all HATE their jobs. From what I could gather, nothing near the 1800 mark.

tengorazon
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby tengorazon » Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:25 pm

M51 wrote:+1 This is the plan.
I thought most firms didn't have bonuses tied to salaries, or the min req was an extreme low bound like 1600. Are there many firms that actually require 2000+ hours to get your bonus?


jrwhitedog wrote:Thanks guys,but do most of the firms require 2200+ hours?
It seems the most popular billables are 2000+ or maybe I'm wrong? http://www.betterlegalprofession.org/BillableHours


Yeah I think the most popular is around 2000, but 2200 is another popular number. And, of course, people often surpass the billables target, especially if you want to make partner. Among the V50, 1800 is pretty much obsolete. And 1950 might as well be 2000, especially when you consider that many of those 1950 firms require an additional 50 hours of pro bono.

TTT-LS wrote:Emphatically false. Several DC firms have 1800 billable hour tracks (see, e.g., Hogan & Hartson; Wiley Rein). Those tracks tend to pay 130k or so--maybe a shade less now, with no bonus, but they are actually a pretty sweet gig.


Very few people take the lifestyle track. I personally don't think it makes financial sense....you're going to give up $30k + bonus over 150 hours? I will take my $200 per marginal hour and laugh all the way to the bank.

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TTT-LS
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Re: How many hours do you actually work to get 1 billable hour?

Postby TTT-LS » Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:54 pm

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Last edited by TTT-LS on Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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