How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

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MAPP

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How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby MAPP » Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:58 pm

For those who are in, or recently left, NYC/DC biglaw, how long can an associate be at a firm before they are pushed out to find employment elsewhere? I'm trying to see how many years I can reasonably expect to receive a biglaw salary, hopefully under a lockstep system. Let's also try and make this scenario-specific:

Scenario A
Have been significantly under billable hour requirements for several years

Scenario B
Have been just slightly under billable hour requirements for several years

Scenario C
Have been at billable hour requirements for several years

Scenario D
Have been exceeding billable hour requirements

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First Offense

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby First Offense » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:21 pm

Had a conversation with some people at my firm in DC about this very thing.

General consensus was:

You could do literally nothing and probably last six months
If you did about half-time, you could probably last a year to a year and a half before they fired you/found you another job (more the second than the first)
You hit your billables (or are close) you can last until about year 9 or 10, whenever they finally force you out if you're never going to be counsel/partner.

Scenario C and D don't really have a difference at my firm.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby UVAIce » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:39 pm

It's slightly more complicated than the above and it depends on your practice group and firm. In the end it all boils down to one question: is it profitable to keep paying you X amount of dollars for the amount of revenue you can bring in.

While billable hours are in general a good proxy for your total revenue, what also matters is what your realization rate is for those billable hours. My firm is pretty transparent in terms of providing with our financial information.

The firm and practice group that you work in all matter in terms of what kinds of realization rates you are going to have and what kind of a billable hour requirement is going to be "acceptable." If you're making your hours in a busy practice and your time is generally getting collected at market rates no one is likely going to fire you. If you're almost making hours or are even quite a bit under the required rate and you have a good realization rate in a practice that is going through a down cycle or is not busy for some other reason you might be fine. You do the same thing in a busy practice where everyone is billing 2200+ and you're going to come under heavy scrutiny. In addition, if you're in a smaller practice group or one that is associate light you are likely going to be safer (firms want to keep a certain amount of institutional competence in their associates) than a practice group that is full of associates at every level of seniority.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby UnicornHunter » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:43 pm

MAPP wrote:For those who are in, or recently left, NYC/DC biglaw, how long can an associate be at a firm before they are pushed out to find employment elsewhere? I'm trying to see how many years I can reasonably expect to receive a biglaw salary, hopefully under a lockstep system. Let's also try and make this scenario-specific:

Scenario A
Have been significantly under billable hour requirements for several years

Scenario B
Have been just slightly under billable hour requirements for several years

Scenario C
Have been at billable hour requirements for several years

Scenario D
Have been exceeding billable hour requirements



3 is the median, so I'd plan on that.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby MAPP » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:44 pm

UVAIce wrote:
The firm and practice group that you work in all matter in terms of what kinds of realization rates you are going to have and what kind of a billable hour requirement is going to be "acceptable." If you're making your hours in a busy practice and your time is generally getting collected at market rates no one is likely going to fire you. If you're almost making hours or are even quite a bit under the required rate and you have a good realization rate in a practice that is going through a down cycle or is not busy for some other reason you might be fine. You do the same thing in a busy practice where everyone is billing 2200+ and you're going to come under heavy scrutiny. In addition, if you're in a smaller practice group or one that is associate light you are likely going to be safer (firms want to keep a certain amount of institutional competence in their associates) than a practice group that is full of associates at every level of seniority.


Doesn't the firm set the rate at which you bill clients (and I would assume they would set it at "market rate"), so wouldn't that be outside of the associate's control, and also likely the same for all associates at the firm?

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby MAPP » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:45 pm

UnicornHunter wrote:

3 is the median, so I'd plan on that.


Sure, but does that median include those who voluntarily left the firm? (I would assume it does)

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby UnicornHunter » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:52 pm

MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:

3 is the median, so I'd plan on that.


Sure, but does that median include those who voluntarily left the firm? (I would assume it does)


Of course but it's almost impossible to say what's voluntary and what's being forced out and what's kind of in between. Remember, we're talking about people who performed well at top law schools here- the firm lifestyle chews up everybody.

And "realization rates" doesn't refer to the $$$ you charge per hour, it refers to the fact that partners will write off a lot of your billable time if they don't think the client should or will pay for it. So say you bill 20 hours on a research assignment your partner thinks should only have taken 10, you'll end up only realizing half your billed time.

e. Obviously it's very possible to stay past 3 years. But I think it's kind of foolish to assume you will for planning purposes.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby First Offense » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:55 pm

UnicornHunter wrote:
MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:

3 is the median, so I'd plan on that.


Sure, but does that median include those who voluntarily left the firm? (I would assume it does)


Of course but it's almost impossible to say what's voluntary and what's being forced out and what's kind of in between. Remember, we're talking about people who performed well at top law schools here- the firm lifestyle chews up everybody.

And "realization rates" doesn't refer to the $$$ you charge per hour, it refers to the fact that partners will write off a lot of your billable time if they don't think the client should or will pay for it. So say you bill 20 hours on a research assignment your partner thinks should only have taken 10, you'll end up only realizing half your billed time.

e. Obviously it's very possible to stay past 3 years. But I think it's kind of foolish to assume you will for planning purposes.

Note I think this is likely to also be firm/city dependent. NY Corp is probably more likely to end after 3 years than DC regulatory.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby UnicornHunter » Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:01 pm

First Offense wrote:Note I think this is likely to also be firm/city dependent. NY Corp is probably more likely to end after 3 years than DC regulatory.


This is probably true but I don't think it's significant enough to change that you should probably just plan for 3. There's almost definitely a stronger push (lifestyle sucks) and pull (better exit options) for NY Corp though.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby First Offense » Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:14 pm

UnicornHunter wrote:
First Offense wrote:Note I think this is likely to also be firm/city dependent. NY Corp is probably more likely to end after 3 years than DC regulatory.


This is probably true but I don't think it's significant enough to change that you should probably just plan for 3. There's almost definitely a stronger push (lifestyle sucks) and pull (better exit options) for NY Corp though.

Fuck you I'm planning for 6.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby MAPP » Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:27 pm

UnicornHunter wrote:
MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:

3 is the median, so I'd plan on that.


Sure, but does that median include those who voluntarily left the firm? (I would assume it does)


Of course but it's almost impossible to say what's voluntary and what's being forced out and what's kind of in between. Remember, we're talking about people who performed well at top law schools here- the firm lifestyle chews up everybody.

And "realization rates" doesn't refer to the $$$ you charge per hour, it refers to the fact that partners will write off a lot of your billable time if they don't think the client should or will pay for it. So say you bill 20 hours on a research assignment your partner thinks should only have taken 10, you'll end up only realizing half your billed time.

e. Obviously it's very possible to stay past 3 years. But I think it's kind of foolish to assume you will for planning purposes.


Wow that's bs... how often do partners do this??

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby UnicornHunter » Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:29 pm

MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:
MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:

3 is the median, so I'd plan on that.


Sure, but does that median include those who voluntarily left the firm? (I would assume it does)


Of course but it's almost impossible to say what's voluntary and what's being forced out and what's kind of in between. Remember, we're talking about people who performed well at top law schools here- the firm lifestyle chews up everybody.

And "realization rates" doesn't refer to the $$$ you charge per hour, it refers to the fact that partners will write off a lot of your billable time if they don't think the client should or will pay for it. So say you bill 20 hours on a research assignment your partner thinks should only have taken 10, you'll end up only realizing half your billed time.

e. Obviously it's very possible to stay past 3 years. But I think it's kind of foolish to assume you will for planning purposes.


Wow that's bs... how often do partners do this??


Depends on the partner, the client, the matter, the firm, and the quality and timeliness of your work.

But it's pretty common post-recession. Clients are less willing to pay for bs work.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby Bob loblaw law blog » Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:34 pm

MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:
MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:

3 is the median, so I'd plan on that.


Sure, but does that median include those who voluntarily left the firm? (I would assume it does)


Of course but it's almost impossible to say what's voluntary and what's being forced out and what's kind of in between. Remember, we're talking about people who performed well at top law schools here- the firm lifestyle chews up everybody.

And "realization rates" doesn't refer to the $$$ you charge per hour, it refers to the fact that partners will write off a lot of your billable time if they don't think the client should or will pay for it. So say you bill 20 hours on a research assignment your partner thinks should only have taken 10, you'll end up only realizing half your billed time.

e. Obviously it's very possible to stay past 3 years. But I think it's kind of foolish to assume you will for planning purposes.


Wow that's bs... how often do partners do this??



My experience with billing is from the PR business, so it might not be exactly the same just i can't see why it wouldn't be: It's not BS, it's being realistic. Clients know not every hour billed gave then the same value and partners know that if they admit that and are willing to work with clients about the total at the end they can foster a much better relationship between the client and the firm. Also the client may just straight up refuse to pay if the bill seems inordinate. Much better to avoid that kind of standoff and admit not everything associates (and sometimes partners) did for them was worth the going rate. Paying people to think is tricky and sometimes compromises are made.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby MAPP » Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:36 pm

So, if a firm requires 2000 billables in a year, we're really looking at putting in 2200?

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby UnicornHunter » Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:44 pm

MAPP wrote:So, if a firm requires 2000 billables in a year, we're really looking at putting in 2200?


Tough to say. Which is kind of the point I'm making about all of this- it's really impossible to say what your big law experience will be like. So for planning purposes, assume it will be median.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby MAPP » Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:30 pm

UnicornHunter wrote:
MAPP wrote:So, if a firm requires 2000 billables in a year, we're really looking at putting in 2200?


Tough to say. Which is kind of the point I'm making about all of this- it's really impossible to say what your big law experience will be like. So for planning purposes, assume it will be median.


TLS should have a ranking of firms from most chill to most brutal to make my choices easier once I have to make them :lol:

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:33 pm

MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:
MAPP wrote:So, if a firm requires 2000 billables in a year, we're really looking at putting in 2200?


Tough to say. Which is kind of the point I'm making about all of this- it's really impossible to say what your big law experience will be like. So for planning purposes, assume it will be median.


TLS should have a ranking of firms from most chill to most brutal to make my choices easier once I have to make them :lol:

Except it varies by practice group and partner you work for, more than by firm.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby First Offense » Mon Dec 05, 2016 10:44 am

MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:
MAPP wrote:So, if a firm requires 2000 billables in a year, we're really looking at putting in 2200?


Tough to say. Which is kind of the point I'm making about all of this- it's really impossible to say what your big law experience will be like. So for planning purposes, assume it will be median.


TLS should have a ranking of firms from most chill to most brutal to make my choices easier once I have to make them :lol:

Law students should realize that rankings are irrelevant after they decide on their law school as a 0L and stop looking for some objective list on the types of shit that just flat out aren't objective.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby kalvano » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:36 am

MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:
MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:

3 is the median, so I'd plan on that.


Sure, but does that median include those who voluntarily left the firm? (I would assume it does)


Of course but it's almost impossible to say what's voluntary and what's being forced out and what's kind of in between. Remember, we're talking about people who performed well at top law schools here- the firm lifestyle chews up everybody.

And "realization rates" doesn't refer to the $$$ you charge per hour, it refers to the fact that partners will write off a lot of your billable time if they don't think the client should or will pay for it. So say you bill 20 hours on a research assignment your partner thinks should only have taken 10, you'll end up only realizing half your billed time.

e. Obviously it's very possible to stay past 3 years. But I think it's kind of foolish to assume you will for planning purposes.


Wow that's bs... how often do partners do this??


I say this with the most gentle intentions, but I feel as if working in a law firm is going to be quite a shock to your system.

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:25 am

First Offense wrote:
MAPP wrote:
UnicornHunter wrote:
MAPP wrote:So, if a firm requires 2000 billables in a year, we're really looking at putting in 2200?


Tough to say. Which is kind of the point I'm making about all of this- it's really impossible to say what your big law experience will be like. So for planning purposes, assume it will be median.


TLS should have a ranking of firms from most chill to most brutal to make my choices easier once I have to make them :lol:

Law students should realize that rankings are irrelevant after they decide on their law school as a 0L and stop looking for some objective list on the types of shit that just flat out aren't objective.


They should realize this before choosing a law school as well

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Re: How long can you typically last in NYC/DC Biglaw?

Postby ghostoftraynor » Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:36 pm

A lot of top firms don't really cut that many hours. To some extent, it's going to come down to how much leeway the firm has with its bills.



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