Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

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audrey hepburn
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Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby audrey hepburn » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:23 am

Hello everyone,

Recently, everyone that I know and even on this forum have been warning me that as a lawyer I would have to work at least 70-80 hours/week. I know to make the most money you would have to, but do you guys know anyone or know if it's possible to work only 40 hours a week and make a decent living (70K +)? I'm looking to go into patent law but I really don't want my life to revolve around my work only. I'm willing to give up the 160K salary for a better quality of life.

Thanks in advance to everyone who responds.

Leeroy Jenkins
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:33 am

If you do patent prosecution, you will definitely start out working more than 40 hours a week. There is simply no way you're going to be time-efficient and at worse, your managing partner will probably cut down the number of hours you can bill even if you work more hours at 100% efficiency.

I doubt I need to tell you about what litigation is like.

Now the more lenient patent pros firms have minimum billables around 1800/yr (comes out to 35hrs a week) and still pay market, at least for first years. I would reckon 50hrs/week at such firms when you start out just to make the minimum billables

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audrey hepburn
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby audrey hepburn » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:38 am

Leeroy Jenkins wrote:If you do patent prosecution, you will definitely start out working more than 40 hours a week. There is simply no way you're going to be time-efficient and at worse, your managing partner will probably cut down the number of hours you can bill even if you work more hours at 100% efficiency.

I doubt I need to tell you about what litigation is like.

Now the more lenient patent pros firms have minimum billables around 1800/yr (comes out to 35hrs a week) and still pay market, at least for first years. I would reckon 50hrs/week at such firms when you start out just to make the minimum billables



Thanks-50 hours I can deal with. It's just I don't want to be one of those lawyers that misses out on all activities and holidays with family and friends because of work. I want to try my best to keep a balance but lately I've been wondering if that's even possible in a career as a lawyer.

Leeroy Jenkins
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:42 am

audrey hepburn wrote:Thanks-50 hours I can deal with. It's just I don't want to be one of those lawyers that misses out on all activities and holidays with family and friends because of work. I want to try my best to keep a balance but lately I've been wondering if that's even possible in a career as a lawyer.

It is possible but it may be difficult to find the job at the right firm, but on the plus side you have a higher chance of achieving a life-work balance in patent law than you would in any other field of law that pays commensurate
Last edited by Leeroy Jenkins on Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:42 am, edited 1 time in total.


ughOSU
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby ughOSU » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:07 am

Is there such a thing? yes. I used to work at one of those firms.

Is it common? no. You basically have to find an employer who is more concerned with quality of life than making as much money as possible, and most of those people aren't employers. The people who run the firm I used to work in pretty much all previously worked in big firms billing many more hours, but started this firm because they wanted more time and a better work/life balance. I would guess that is how most of these firms are.

Kochel
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby Kochel » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:14 am

Very few professionals work a truly 40-hour work week. For lawyers, going in-house is, however, reliably close. In several years of in-house work, I've worked only two weekends, usually leave the office by 6 o'clock, and rarely bring work home.

Of course, in order to get the in-house job, I had to pay my dues for several years in Biglaw. :)

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pleasetryagain
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby pleasetryagain » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:18 am

Kochel wrote:Very few professionals work a truly 40-hour work week. For lawyers, going in-house is, however, reliably close. In several years of in-house work, I've worked only two weekends, usually leave the office by 6 o'clock, and rarely bring work home.

Of course, in order to get the in-house job, I had to pay my dues for several years in Biglaw. :)


I will give your authenticity the benefit of the doubt. How did you make the transition? Connections? Mass resume-ing?"

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thinkbig
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby thinkbig » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:19 am

Yes, in-house corporate counsel.

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Sauer Grapes
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby Sauer Grapes » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:22 am

....
Last edited by Sauer Grapes on Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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pleasetryagain
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby pleasetryagain » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:31 am

Sauer Grapes wrote:
pleasetryagain wrote:http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/CDO_Public/cdo-billable_hour.pdf

Thanks for that. :cry:


this should make you happy as it runs contrary to everything you read on TLS about how ridiculous the hours are. granted I doubt a first year lawyer will bill as efficiently as this analysis requires, but looking at 55-60 hour weeks for (hopefully) $100k+/year doesnt seem that bad. I work 50 hours a week now for $9/hour at a mindnumbing monkey job.

Kochel
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby Kochel » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:34 am

pleasetryagain wrote:
Kochel wrote:Very few professionals work a truly 40-hour work week. For lawyers, going in-house is, however, reliably close. In several years of in-house work, I've worked only two weekends, usually leave the office by 6 o'clock, and rarely bring work home.

Of course, in order to get the in-house job, I had to pay my dues for several years in Biglaw. :)


I will give your authenticity the benefit of the doubt. How did you make the transition? Connections? Mass resume-ing?"


When I was ready to leave my Biglaw firm, I called up a headhunter. (In normal economic times, they swarm around Biglaw associates.) I interviewed with my current employer within days and presto! I became a Biglaw exile. And I've never regretted it.

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thearchduke
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby thearchduke » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:34 am

I have the impression that many government lawyers don't work as much as firm lawyers. This is not to say all, but there are good positions. Obviously, a zealous district attorney looking to work their way up the chain in New York City is going to be putting in long hours, but enforcement and compliance lawyers in state and local governments often have something more like an 8-5 or 8-6, plus they receive an amazing amount of leave. These jobs often come with reduced earnings, which you can research online since government jobs are in pay bands that are published, but in general, I'd say the government probably pays about 60-80% of private market rates in any particular area. I have worked at a state agency and have known a few government attorneys in my life, and many say that their decision to work there involved taking a pay cut and having more free time. It's worth keeping in mind.

Kochel
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby Kochel » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:50 am

thearchduke wrote:I have the impression that many government lawyers don't work as much as firm lawyers. This is not to say all, but there are good positions. Obviously, a zealous district attorney looking to work their way up the chain in New York City is going to be putting in long hours, but enforcement and compliance lawyers in state and local governments often have something more like an 8-5 or 8-6, plus they receive an amazing amount of leave. These jobs often come with reduced earnings, which you can research online since government jobs are in pay bands that are published, but in general, I'd say the government probably pays about 60-80% of private market rates in any particular area. I have worked at a state agency and have known a few government attorneys in my life, and many say that their decision to work there involved taking a pay cut and having more free time. It's worth keeping in mind.


It all depends which private firm lawyers you're comparing the gov't lawyers to. Biglaw lawyers, or in-house lawyers with Biglaw experience, generally make much more than gov't lawyers with equivalent seniority. A number of my law school classmates now work for federal agencies, and I probably earn twice as much as they. The disparity will likely widen with time, also. But it's true that they work no more than I do.

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Sauer Grapes
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby Sauer Grapes » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:01 am

....
Last edited by Sauer Grapes on Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

JOThompson
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby JOThompson » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:05 am

JAG attorneys are known to have less intensive schedules, about 40-50 hours per week.

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pleasetryagain
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby pleasetryagain » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:07 am

Sauer Grapes wrote:
pleasetryagain wrote:
Sauer Grapes wrote:
pleasetryagain wrote:http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/CDO_Public/cdo-billable_hour.pdf

Thanks for that. :cry:


this should make you happy as it runs contrary to everything you read on TLS about how ridiculous the hours are. granted I doubt a first year lawyer will bill as efficiently as this analysis requires, but looking at 55-60 hour weeks for (hopefully) $100k+/year doesnt seem that bad. I work 50 hours a week now for $9/hour at a mindnumbing monkey job.

Thanks for the perspective on it... I looked at it from the 2100 billable hours perspective, but I don't have to seek a job out like that. 1700-1900 billable hours wouldn't be bad at all.


well I guess if you are planning on working at one of those firms then yes, it would suck a lot more. in opposition to most on TLS I personally don't mind working at a smaller, less prestigious firm if it means not killing myself 70 hours a week 50 weeks a year.

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Sauer Grapes
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby Sauer Grapes » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:10 am

....
Last edited by Sauer Grapes on Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

rando
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby rando » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:12 am

People tend to mass-generalize the 70-80 hr work week. Most biglaw associates I know say they average high 50's and they work a lot. Even that Yale post put you barely over 60hrs for a 2200 billable target.

lawschoollll
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby lawschoollll » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:26 am

rando wrote:People tend to mass-generalize the 70-80 hr work week. Most biglaw associates I know say they average high 50's and they work a lot. Even that Yale post put you barely over 60hrs for a 2200 billable target.

Right. I think this has to be true. I've worked a few 80-hour weeks as a paralegal, and 2 100+ hour weeks (including all-nighters), and I was ready to quit halfway through each time. I can't imagine doing that on a consistent basis - in fact, I'd guess it's nearly physically impossible, and that there are diminishing returns for employers.

Even a 60-hour week is 8:30am - 8:30 pm Monday through Friday.

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jcl2
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby jcl2 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:30 am

pleasetryagain wrote:http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/CDO_Public/cdo-billable_hour.pdf


If you include your lunch and commute, as this calculator does, as part of your work day then no-one works anything close to a 40 hour week. By those measures I currently work 50 hrs per week in a government job, and I only get paid for 40.

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pleasetryagain
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby pleasetryagain » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:31 am

lawschoollll wrote:
rando wrote:People tend to mass-generalize the 70-80 hr work week. Most biglaw associates I know say they average high 50's and they work a lot. Even that Yale post put you barely over 60hrs for a 2200 billable target.

Right. I think this has to be true. I've worked a few 80-hour weeks as a paralegal, and 2 100+ hour weeks (including all-nighters), and I was ready to quit halfway through each time. I can't imagine doing that on a consistent basis - in fact, I'd guess it's nearly physically impossible, and that there are diminishing returns for employers.

Even a 60-hour week is 8:30am - 8:30 pm Monday through Friday.


oh...you'll be working Saturday..maybe Sunday too. :twisted:

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jcl2
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby jcl2 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:39 am

rando wrote:People tend to mass-generalize the 70-80 hr work week. Most biglaw associates I know say they average high 50's and they work a lot. Even that Yale post put you barely over 60hrs for a 2200 billable target.


Yes, people exaggerate like crazy about the hours that lawyers have to work. Most of the people making outrageous claims about how you will be working 80-100 hour weeks every week once you work in biglaw have probably never worked anything close to that and don't realize that it would not be physically possible to do perpetually.

I always have to post these links when this topic comes up:
http://www.averyindex.com/longest_hours.php
http://www.averyindex.com/shortest_hour_law_firms.php
At a few of the very prestigious New York firms associates average between 65 and 70 hrs per week, but at the vast majority of big firms associates average between 50 and 60. Makes me wonder why anyone wants to work for those super prestigious firms, actually. Sure there will be the occasional 80- 100 hour weeks, but there will also be plenty of 50 hr weeks.

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dibs
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby dibs » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:07 am

thinkbig wrote:Yes, in-house corporate counsel.


TITCR

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BigFatPanda
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Re: Is there such a thing as working 40 hours a week as a lawyer

Postby BigFatPanda » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:22 am

audrey hepburn wrote:Hello everyone,

Recently, everyone that I know and even on this forum have been warning me that as a lawyer I would have to work at least 70-80 hours/week. I know to make the most money you would have to, but do you guys know anyone or know if it's possible to work only 40 hours a week and make a decent living (70K +)? I'm looking to go into patent law but I really don't want my life to revolve around my work only. I'm willing to give up the 160K salary for a better quality of life.

Thanks in advance to everyone who responds.


I know three particular patent examiners who went to law school and remain with the patent office to become Patent Attorney for the BPAI. They are basically telling me that they averaged around 40-50 hours of work each week. Also, patent attorney is a GS15 employee with a patent office adjusted pay rate of around $130k (GS15 step 1) to $155k (GS15 Step 10) depending on the number of years worked for the Federal government.

http://jobview.usajobs.gov/GetJob.aspx? ... %3a39%3a00

Bear in mind, however, two of the three were former Primary Examiners and Supervisory Examiner (GS14 and GS15 respectively) and the third was a GS12 examiner who left the patent office to work in the industry for nearly 10 years.

To sweeten the pot, one of them is hoteling from his Palm Beach mansion (or some where close by) in Florida starting this biweek....talk about quality of life if you don't want to make partner at a law firm.

And from what i heard, most JAG attorneys do work 40 hour week because most of them are not litigating the heck out of themselves. However, you will need to run 3 miles in 18 minutes and do 20 pull ups to qualify for it :mrgreen:

For those who cares, i was pleasantly surprised that the USAF recently went looking for patent attorney (found it on USAJOB and I think its civilian) that is substantially an in house counsel but they require at least three years of practice in the private sector.




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