How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
Jacques_Bentley
Posts: 41
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:49 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby Jacques_Bentley » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:05 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:
priorities2 wrote:I'm considering going to law school and becoming a private immigration lawyer. I really like the idea of working 40-50 hours a week - I'm not really willing to go over that, and if I have kids I'd like to reduce the amount for a while. Would this be realistic for an immigration lawyer?

Thanks for your input!


You should not consider going to law school if you aren't ready to work more weekly hours than what you stated.

Going solo is the only way you can work less than 40 hrs a week as a lawyer and still make a lot of money. But that is far from a guarantee. That is not common in the least bit. The most likely reason for a solo working less than 40 hours a week is that you have no cases to work. And if you have no cases to work, you're probably living on the street or close to it. I would say that most small firms would still work you over 50 hours a week. If there is no need to, then why would the firm owners hire you? What good would you be to them?


This. And although you might be able to average 40 a week and still make decent money, you'll be working 70-80 hours certain weeks, such as before trial.

OP: I have a decent paying, interesting government job and average about 50 hours- but that includes nine months of the year when 60 is more like the average. The most I've done is 100.


OP, I advise you to ignore these two posters, as they're obviously clueless regarding private immigration practice.

First, you almost never go to "trial" as an immigration lawyer. Even if your job were exclusively confined to suing administrative agencies for injunctive relief (which is a rare niche), you will rarely if ever actually need to go to court for a case. More commonly, you might be expected to represent a client before an ALJ on occasion. But the vast majority of what you will do involves filing petitions, applications, motions, etc. with administrative agencies like USCIS. Many immigration lawyers never so much as step foot into an administrative hearing even after years of practice. Of course, this all depends on the nature of the particular firm at which you're working and the scope of work it chooses to take. But the point remains that litigation (and its concomitant upward spikes in workload) generally comprises only a very small portion of what an immigration lawyer does. And many never litigate at all.

Second, these blanket statements you're getting about workload expectations are unrealistic, inaccurate, and unhelpful. Anecdotal reports about "decent paying, interesting" government jobs are likewise totally irrelevant. To answer your question: yes, there are opportunities in private immigration practice which both pay decently well and are conducive to a good work-life balance. Again, if you land such an opportunity, you will not be making anything close to a biglaw salary, but OTOH you will not be working more than 45 hrs per week either.

I realize this thread is a year old and was ninja necro'd, but if you're still around these parts and want more information, feel free to PM me.

timbs4339
Posts: 2733
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:19 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby timbs4339 » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:20 pm

Jacques_Bentley wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:
priorities2 wrote:I'm considering going to law school and becoming a private immigration lawyer. I really like the idea of working 40-50 hours a week - I'm not really willing to go over that, and if I have kids I'd like to reduce the amount for a while. Would this be realistic for an immigration lawyer?

Thanks for your input!


You should not consider going to law school if you aren't ready to work more weekly hours than what you stated.

Going solo is the only way you can work less than 40 hrs a week as a lawyer and still make a lot of money. But that is far from a guarantee. That is not common in the least bit. The most likely reason for a solo working less than 40 hours a week is that you have no cases to work. And if you have no cases to work, you're probably living on the street or close to it. I would say that most small firms would still work you over 50 hours a week. If there is no need to, then why would the firm owners hire you? What good would you be to them?


This. And although you might be able to average 40 a week and still make decent money, you'll be working 70-80 hours certain weeks, such as before trial.

OP: I have a decent paying, interesting government job and average about 50 hours- but that includes nine months of the year when 60 is more like the average. The most I've done is 100.


OP, I advise you to ignore these two posters, as they're obviously clueless regarding private immigration practice.

First, you almost never go to "trial" as an immigration lawyer. Even if your job were exclusively confined to suing administrative agencies for injunctive relief (which is a rare niche), you will rarely if ever actually need to go to court for a case. More commonly, you might be expected to represent a client before an ALJ on occasion. But the vast majority of what you will do involves filing petitions, applications, motions, etc. with administrative agencies like USCIS. Many immigration lawyers never so much as step foot into an administrative hearing even after years of practice. Of course, this all depends on the nature of the particular firm at which you're working and the scope of work it chooses to take. But the point remains that litigation (and its concomitant upward spikes in workload) generally comprises only a very small portion of what an immigration lawyer does. And many never litigate at all.

Second, these blanket statements you're getting about workload expectations are unrealistic, inaccurate, and unhelpful. Anecdotal reports about "decent paying, interesting" government jobs are likewise totally irrelevant. To answer your question: yes, there are opportunities in private immigration practice which both pay decently well and are conducive to a good work-life balance. Again, if you land such an opportunity, you will not be making anything close to a biglaw salary, but OTOH you will not be working more than 45 hrs per week either.

I realize this thread is a year old and was ninja necro'd, but if you're still around these parts and want more information, feel free to PM me.


We're not talking about private immigration practice, buddy. We're talking about being a general solo and about government work. And I'm sorry for providing "irrelevant anecdotal reports" when you obviously have produced several peer reviewed empirical studies on the breakdown of private immigration lawyer hours and salary.

utlaw2007
Posts: 783
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:49 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:17 pm

We're not talking about private immigration practice, buddy. We're talking about being a general solo and about government work. And I'm sorry for providing "irrelevant anecdotal reports" when you obviously have produced several peer reviewed empirical studies on the breakdown of private immigration lawyer hours and salary.


This.

utlaw2007
Posts: 783
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:49 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:22 pm

OP. I own a law firm and know much about the business aspects of small law firm practice. Immigration is no different in terms of having to spend many hours marketing for yourself.

The guy that told you to ignore us clearly doesn't understand what it takes to run a law firm. His statements contradict those aspects. If he does own his own law firm, he's free to come in and correct me. But if you think that owning your own law firm as a solo practicing immigration only includes your substantive law practice concerning immigration absent any of the business aspects which take more time, your business/firm will die a horrible death. I can assure you that.

There is this thing called, fishing for business. You know, so you can actually get cases so you can earn money. That takes a lot of time and effort.

utlaw2007
Posts: 783
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:49 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:09 pm

priorities2 wrote:Thanks for the reply. What about a solo practitioner/smaller practice that focuses less on employment based immigration?


Given that OP asked this question, our responses were more than appropriate and plenty on topic.

Jacques_Bentley
Posts: 41
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:49 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby Jacques_Bentley » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:25 pm

timbs4339 wrote:We're not talking about private immigration practice, buddy. We're talking about being a general solo and about government work. And I'm sorry for providing "irrelevant anecdotal reports" when you obviously have produced several peer reviewed empirical studies on the breakdown of private immigration lawyer hours and salary.


The post which you originally quoted and responded to referenced a desire to become an immigration lawyer. Not going solo or doing government work.

Jacques_Bentley
Posts: 41
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:49 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby Jacques_Bentley » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:46 pm

utlaw2007 wrote:OP. I own a law firm and know much about the business aspects of small law firm practice. Immigration is no different in terms of having to spend many hours marketing for yourself.

The guy that told you to ignore us clearly doesn't understand what it takes to run a law firm. His statements contradict those aspects. If he does own his own law firm, he's free to come in and correct me. But if you think that owning your own law firm as a solo practicing immigration only includes your substantive law practice concerning immigration absent any of the business aspects which take more time, your business/firm will die a horrible death. I can assure you that.

There is this thing called, fishing for business. You know, so you can actually get cases so you can earn money. That takes a lot of time and effort.


Certainly, forming and managing a law firm is a different animal entirely. To succeed in that endeavor, good entrepreneurship and business acumen are arguably even more important than legal proficiency. I also would not dispute that running a successful firm is extremely time-consuming, at least in the first few years.

Again, however, the post you were quoting from referenced private immigration practice. In any event, a number of the statements you made were categorical/absolute, NOT qualified to going solo, and were thus ignorant and misleading: e.g.:

"You should not consider going to law school if you aren't ready to work more weekly hours than what you stated [40-50]." -- This is implies there are virtually no viable legal positions requiring fewer than 50 hrs of work per week, which is patently false.

You then reinforced this silliness when you asked OP rhetorically "what good would he be" to a small firm if he was unwilling to work more than 50 hours, again implying that there are no small or medium sized firms which exist that expect their employees to work only 40-50 hours a week. Again, patently false.

You might own your own firm, and that's great, but that doesn't make your advice in this thread sound, nor should you assume that every similar sized firm adheres to your particular business model or practice preferences.

rad lulz
Posts: 9844
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:53 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby rad lulz » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:57 pm

OP is from 2012 doodz

utlaw2007
Posts: 783
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:49 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:46 pm

Jacques_Bentley wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:OP. I own a law firm and know much about the business aspects of small law firm practice. Immigration is no different in terms of having to spend many hours marketing for yourself.

The guy that told you to ignore us clearly doesn't understand what it takes to run a law firm. His statements contradict those aspects. If he does own his own law firm, he's free to come in and correct me. But if you think that owning your own law firm as a solo practicing immigration only includes your substantive law practice concerning immigration absent any of the business aspects which take more time, your business/firm will die a horrible death. I can assure you that.

There is this thing called, fishing for business. You know, so you can actually get cases so you can earn money. That takes a lot of time and effort.


Certainly, forming and managing a law firm is a different animal entirely. To succeed in that endeavor, good entrepreneurship and business acumen are arguably even more important than legal proficiency. I also would not dispute that running a successful firm is extremely time-consuming, at least in the first few years.

Again, however, the post you were quoting from referenced private immigration practice. In any event, a number of the statements you made were categorical/absolute, NOT qualified to going solo, and were thus ignorant and misleading: e.g.:

"You should not consider going to law school if you aren't ready to work more weekly hours than what you stated [40-50]." -- This is implies there are virtually no viable legal positions requiring fewer than 50 hrs of work per week, which is patently false.

You then reinforced this silliness when you asked OP rhetorically "what good would he be" to a small firm if he was unwilling to work more than 50 hours, again implying that there are no small or medium sized firms which exist that expect their employees to work only 40-50 hours a week. Again, patently false.

You might own your own firm, and that's great, but that doesn't make your advice in this thread sound, nor should you assume that every similar sized firm adheres to your particular business model or practice preferences.


I'll give you everything you said about my posts. But as it relates to going solo, I can assure you that what I do and what I know qualifies my take on that aspect to be gospel for the most part. You might want to check out my solo thread for a closer look.

utlaw2007
Posts: 783
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:49 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:49 pm


utlaw2007
Posts: 783
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:49 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:52 pm

I don't assume that similarly sized firms employ my business model. And that is the problem for most.

Jacques_Bentley
Posts: 41
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:49 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby Jacques_Bentley » Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:04 am

utlaw2007 wrote:I'll give you everything you said about my posts. But as it relates to going solo, I can assure you that what I do and what I know qualifies my take on that aspect to be gospel for the most part. You might want to check out my solo thread for a closer look.


Thanks, I'll take a look at your thread. If you've managed to run a successful firm so shortly after graduating (I assume, based on your name, that you graduated in '07), then that deserves a tremendous amount of respect. But I would still contend that there are reputable and successful small- to medium-sized firms out there that have family-friendly hours.

User avatar
BlueLotus
Posts: 2428
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:18 am

1L doing immigration work this summer. Both of my supervising staff attorneys typically have the same family-friendly 9-5 schedule that I do.

User avatar
bizzybone1313
Posts: 996
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:31 pm

Re: How many hrs must a private immigration attorney work/wk?

Postby bizzybone1313 » Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:58 pm

rad lulz wrote:OP is from 2012 doodz


This thread is still relevant and a good one. Not everyone that attends law school aspires to practice corporate law for 70 hours a week. I have had a hard time finding answers to this very question for a very long time. I either want to practice immigration or plaintiff side employment law. It seems that immigration is more realistic and easily attainable. Like other peeps, I would like to choose one area of the law and zero in on it as much as possible in order to make getting a job easier.




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: mccracal and 4 guests