TTT-LS wrote: tengorazon wrote:
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.
I don't deny that the 1950 or 2000 hour track at firms that offer an 1800 hour track is more lucrative. But I'm not sure the choice is as clear as you make it out to be. Bonuses are usually much lower in DC than NYC, such that a junior associate seldom sees a bonus of more than 10 or 15k as far as I can tell. ITE, those numbers might be even lower. If I'm wrong about that, def. say so, as I won't claim my understanding is perfect in this area. Assuming a 15k bonus and 2000 hours billed, the pay difference would be $40 to $45k (I recall that at least some 1800 hour programs pay 135). Splitting the difference, we have a $42.5k pay difference and a 200 hour billable difference. Those 200 hours billed likely equate to about 300 hours worked. 42500/300= $141/hour pre-tax. Given our system of increasing marginal income tax rates, those extra dollars are actually going to be taxed at a higher rate than the other 135k. But I'll ignore those effects for now, since they complicate the calculus.
Around $140/hour is a lot of money. On the other hand, those 300 extra hours worked equates to 12.5 DAYS at home or on vacation. On a 12 hr/day schedule, that's 25 DAYS at home rather than at work. If you aren't out to always grab the last marginal dollar, then these days are a big deal--whether you take them as whole days off or just partial days where you work til 6:30 rather than 8. When you consider the fact that (1) you are already making a very solid salary at 130 or 135k, and (2) that many firms with 1800 hour tracks will bump you up to the 160k pay scale with a lump sum payment at the end of the year if you do end up working 2000 hours, the deal sounds worthwhile to at least some people.
Obviously it is worth it to some people. Perhaps that's the difference between a manageable and an unmanageable work schedule for those people. I note only the following: First, a 1.5:1 ratio of hours worked to hours billed is quite inefficient. It's probably more like 1.25:1. Second, you're not taking into account reputation and the extent to which people like to be seen as a "hard worker" or someone who can "get the job done." In order truly to work only 1800 hours, you're going to have to tell some people "no." If the managing partner calls you with an urgent matter that requires several hours of work, are you going to say, "Sorry, Partner. I've reached my 1800 hours. Peace." Most people aren't. Therefore, the 1800 goal is somewhat illusory. In response, you might say, sure, perhaps you'll have to go a bit over 1800, but at least you won't be breaking your neck trying to reach 2000. Perhaps that's true, but the person on the 2000 track is getting paid $170 per marginal hour to do what you're essentially doing for free.