On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 01, 2016 3:21 pm

I appreciate the helpful responses. I am the "trending upward" poster. I agree with OP that it feels strange to get paid this much for the amount of work I actually do.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 01, 2016 4:00 pm

Depending on what your billing rates are, you are probably break-even at ~50 hours per month. Firms don't like to fire first years for reputation-based reasons, so all else equal they will keep you. However, the firm incurs an opportunity cost in that they could hire someone else, pay them the same and get more output (provided there is enough work) or shove the 50 hours to somebody else (and save your compensation cost). Whether a first year is fired or not depends in part on whether the firm is willing to take the reputation hit and/or eat the costs (either until work picks up or you get more work). More profitable/busier firms usually eat the cost because it means less to them. FWIW, I know of some associates who have hung on for 6+ months billing double digits consistently before being let go (with severance).

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Jun 01, 2016 4:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Depending on what your billing rates are, you are probably break-even at ~50 hours per month.

Ummmm, no.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby bear patrol » Wed Jun 01, 2016 4:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote: FWIW, I know of some associates who have hung on for 6+ months billing double digits consistently before being let go (with severance).


i know it's not a good career move (most likely) but this sounds awesome

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Pokemon » Wed Jun 01, 2016 4:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Depending on what your billing rates are, you are probably break-even at ~50 hours per month. Firms don't like to fire first years for reputation-based reasons, so all else equal they will keep you. However, the firm incurs an opportunity cost in that they could hire someone else, pay them the same and get more output (provided there is enough work) or shove the 50 hours to somebody else (and save your compensation cost). Whether a first year is fired or not depends in part on whether the firm is willing to take the reputation hit and/or eat the costs (either until work picks up or you get more work). More profitable/busier firms usually eat the cost because it means less to them. FWIW, I know of some associates who have hung on for 6+ months billing double digits consistently before being let go (with severance).



That is not how it works. Billing 50 would be break even if those 50 hours were generated by you. However, they are generated by partners. A partner would prefer to take away those 50 hours from you, give them to another associate, and save on your compensation and related costs.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 01, 2016 5:11 pm

There are people who are always busy. You should always worry if you're billing 50 hours a month. Either you're being shat on behind your back or the firm isn't profitable. It being the firm, and not you doesn't help the situation. It arguably makes it worse, because you can't make your firm less stupid. The firms that have less work to go around also tend to be the ones that are less prestigious. Say the firm did fire a first year, and told them they will be blackballed if they told anyone. How many people 25 year old's would have the kahunas to out the firm? I'm sure it happens every year.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:19 pm

Every firm I have worked out has let 1st/2nd/3rd years go. It happens. Usually its a personal thing (outrageous behavior, disobedience, chronic unavailability, etc.) Poor work product, unless it is so toxic as to make your teams life harder, usually takes about 3 years to get you fired (maybe longer depending on firm/group/location/work flow). Poor firm performance is also a factor, I know of 2 vault 50 firms that sent people packing last year to trim staff (10 - 20 junior level associates and some service partners). There was no ATL story or reddit post. The folks tried to get jobs, salvage their careers and move on. The firm shut its mouth. The omerta of Biglaw. At a better firm, most wouldn't have been canned for another year or two, but when the work drys up its the fringes that get dry first.

OP, if the firm is doing okay (you generally can tell a shit show firm in just a few weeks of working there), and you haven't burned any work product bridges (plus your hours are trending up), I wouldn't worry about it. If either, or both, your firm (or group) are performing poorly or you have some work product wreckage in your review mirror then I would be more concerned.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby patentlitigatrix » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:25 pm

Is anyone else not curious as fuck as to what car OP has? My car payment is 550, and I feel like I have a pretty sweet ass car.

So I will ask, OP what car do you have that has a $1k car payment?

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:26 pm

OP here. Thanks for the feedback everyone. The twist in my situation is that I happen to be at a big firm where, so far as I can tell, the average associate does not bill 2000 hours. The other juniors in my group are at about 80% utilization, while the partners usually are at about 50-60% utilization. Multiple midlevel associates have told me they do not know of people getting fired for lack of work. Everyone from partner on down say to not worry, put in good faith effort to look for work, we don't fire people, etc. But it is hard to trust them because it seems too good to be true to be working a 9 to 5:30 that pays a 97th percentile salary with four weeks of annual vacation. It is plausible that I have lucked out into some kind of a biglaw paradise where I can get by for years billing 1600 while taking home NY-level base pay. But I am skeptical, hence the worry. My experience so far has been NOTHING like what TLS says big law should be.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:28 pm

patentlitigatrix wrote:Is anyone else not curious as fuck as to what car OP has? My car payment is 550, and I feel like I have a pretty sweet ass car.

So I will ask, OP what car do you have that has a $1k car payment?


OP here. I should clarify that my car payments are only $1k because I plan on paying it off in 18 months instead of 3-4 years to save interest. It's a regular $25k sedan.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby patentlitigatrix » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
patentlitigatrix wrote:Is anyone else not curious as fuck as to what car OP has? My car payment is 550, and I feel like I have a pretty sweet ass car.

So I will ask, OP what car do you have that has a $1k car payment?


OP here. I should clarify that my car payments are only $1k because I plan on paying it off in 18 months instead of 3-4 years to save interest. It's a regular $25k sedan.


That is WAY less fun than what I was imagining.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks for the feedback everyone. The twist in my situation is that I happen to be at a big firm where, so far as I can tell, the average associate does not bill 2000 hours. The other juniors in my group are at about 80% utilization, while the partners usually are at about 50-60% utilization. Multiple midlevel associates have told me they do not know of people getting fired for lack of work. Everyone from partner on down say to not worry, put in good faith effort to look for work, we don't fire people, etc. But it is hard to trust them because it seems too good to be true to be working a 9 to 5:30 that pays a 97th percentile salary with four weeks of annual vacation. It is plausible that I have lucked out into some kind of a biglaw paradise where I can get by for years billing 1600 while taking home NY-level base pay. But I am skeptical, hence the worry. My experience so far has been NOTHING like what TLS says big law should be.


Oh, everyone gets fired eventually. That's part of the paranoia that doesn't exist at other jobs. My wife is a teacher. She'll work at her job for the next 30 years plus. I have eight, at best. And then a massive paycut.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby mvp99 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
patentlitigatrix wrote:Is anyone else not curious as fuck as to what car OP has? My car payment is 550, and I feel like I have a pretty sweet ass car.

So I will ask, OP what car do you have that has a $1k car payment?


OP here. I should clarify that my car payments are only $1k because I plan on paying it off in 18 months instead of 3-4 years to save interest. It's a regular $25k sedan.


couldn't you get a car loan with a VERY low interest rate? money in your pocket for an emergency is better than paying off your car in 18 months, saving $600 in interest spending and having 10k as in your emergency fund (I'm guessing here).

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby patentlitigatrix » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:45 pm

mvp99 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
patentlitigatrix wrote:Is anyone else not curious as fuck as to what car OP has? My car payment is 550, and I feel like I have a pretty sweet ass car.

So I will ask, OP what car do you have that has a $1k car payment?


OP here. I should clarify that my car payments are only $1k because I plan on paying it off in 18 months instead of 3-4 years to save interest. It's a regular $25k sedan.


couldn't you get a car loan with a VERY low interest rate? money in your pocket for an emergency is better than paying off your car in 18 months, saving $600 in interest spending and having 10k as an emergency fund (I'm guessing here).


I was going to say this too. If you are going to buy instead of lease, I think it is pretty easy to get a car loan with ~1% interest, and buying a lightly used car gets you the most car for your money... If you have 1% interest or so, no reason not to just pay it off over 5 years or whatever.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby HonestAdvice » Wed Jun 01, 2016 8:10 pm

patentlitigatrix wrote:Is anyone else not curious as fuck as to what car OP has? My car payment is 550, and I feel like I have a pretty sweet ass car.

So I will ask, OP what car do you have that has a $1k car payment?

It's a much more mellow version of what happens with pro-athletes. Some of the figures are ridiculous, but some of it is related to cost efficiency being a skill people develop, and the probability that OP never had a job before. I also don't understand the cost-benefit analysis of weekly $500 dates. Either you're exaggerating or you should turn to the guy you just gave an Omega to for some perspective.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Yes, I like to think so. Small satellite office with only a few partners to give work in my practice group. I'm on several matters (litigation), but none of them has any activity right now. The other associates with more experience are all billing at least 40 hours/week. It seems I just get the leftovers.


Sounds similar to me. I'm in a small satellite office with a few partners and one other mid level associate in our group. The mid-level, however, has been even slower than me. Partner I do most of my work for has been extremely slow; luckily some of the other partners have kept me from billing peanuts the past few months (they usually do all their work themselves/don't use associates). At this point I would be happy at hitting 1250 hours.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:46 pm

patentlitigatrix wrote:
mvp99 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
patentlitigatrix wrote:Is anyone else not curious as fuck as to what car OP has? My car payment is 550, and I feel like I have a pretty sweet ass car.

So I will ask, OP what car do you have that has a $1k car payment?


OP here. I should clarify that my car payments are only $1k because I plan on paying it off in 18 months instead of 3-4 years to save interest. It's a regular $25k sedan.


couldn't you get a car loan with a VERY low interest rate? money in your pocket for an emergency is better than paying off your car in 18 months, saving $600 in interest spending and having 10k as an emergency fund (I'm guessing here).


I was going to say this too. If you are going to buy instead of lease, I think it is pretty easy to get a car loan with ~1% interest, and buying a lightly used car gets you the most car for your money... If you have 1% interest or so, no reason not to just pay it off over 5 years or whatever.


OP here. How does one get a car loan with 1% interest? Mine is 3%. The dealer said I have good credit but no credit history, so the best I could get is 3%. Is one supposed to haggle? I just looked into re-financing but the best I found was 2.7%.

Also, to be clear, I am not buying an Omega watch every month, just last month. I am not that profligate -- on average I've been saving $3k a month.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby 20160810 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:24 pm

150-160 is, without question, The sweet spot. You can cruise at that level four months or even a year without it ever being a problem because at the end of the year even if you didn't quite meet hours you are so close that you would not ever be fired for hitting that level. Plus the odds are that once or twice a year at least you're going to hit a busy patch in any group. 150 baseline plus a couple busy patches means (1) a pretty chill year and (2) not getting canned.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby patentlitigatrix » Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. How does one get a car loan with 1% interest? Mine is 3%. The dealer said I have good credit but no credit history, so the best I could get is 3%. Is one supposed to haggle? I just looked into re-financing but the best I found was 2.7%.

Also, to be clear, I am not buying an Omega watch every month, just last month. I am not that profligate -- on average I've been saving $3k a month.


That is your issue. 2.7-3 is still lower than the vast majority of investments out there though.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:25 pm

I don't think 2.7 is the lowest, and you should've haggled. You didn't have a credit history, which while probably not true at all is more irrelevant than not if you're pulling down big enough bucks.

Putting all that to the side for a moment. I want to put paying down that principal/interest into perspective in terms of risk v. reward. One baseline, perhaps the best baseline, for defining the minimum return for risk-free investment is the U.S. Treasury 30 year yield. So far this year the return on giving money to the U.S. Federal government and functionally 'betting' that the world will not be turning into an apocalyptic hell hole in the foreseeable future is at around three percent.

Could you get higher returns by doing almost anything at all? Sure. For instance, municipal or state bonds--which are 'riskier' than Federal government bonds--return five or six percent. Such volatility. Much return. Wow. And they're you're really just betting Los Angeles or Atlanta or someshit doesn't explode and fall into the sea.

Everyone's financial situation is different. Putting the money to the car's interest instead of buying treasury bonds is probably not the way forward, especially if you plan on keeping the vehicle longer than the U.S. average (~six years). But I sincerely believe that paying off a 3% principal is a less effective way of managing your money than doing almost anything else.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:44 pm

also a 1st year associate here, in a satellite office of a vault firm, corp M&A. Last year for about 4 months I billed 600~700 hours, but this year so far I'm only around 200...I know this is probably the office's problem but now most mid-levels have picked up, just wondering how long will it take to get the work down to 1st years.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 02, 2016 5:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:also a 1st year associate here, in a satellite office of a vault firm, corp M&A. Last year for about 4 months I billed 600~700 hours, but this year so far I'm only around 200...I know this is probably the office's problem but now most mid-levels have picked up, just wondering how long will it take to get the work down to 1st years.


Not a direct answer, but often what happens when work is/has been slow, non-juniors will do more menial tasks to pick up their hours. So, to answer, probably at the point that the midlevels want to tap out given their deemed hour capacity.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 02, 2016 5:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:also a 1st year associate here, in a satellite office of a vault firm, corp M&A. Last year for about 4 months I billed 600~700 hours, but this year so far I'm only around 200...I know this is probably the office's problem but now most mid-levels have picked up, just wondering how long will it take to get the work down to 1st years.


Not a direct answer, but often what happens when work is/has been slow, non-juniors will do more menial tasks to pick up their hours. So, to answer, probably at the point that the midlevels want to tap out given their deemed hour capacity.


appreciated it, that's what I thought too, I am staffed on a few deals but they are going nowhere (also not a lot of dd), figuring there's not much I can do atm.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:13 pm

I find the TLS wisdom that if you're in biglaw you need to be at 90%+ utilization every month or else you're in danger of being canned hard to believe, to say the least. At two V50s in my city (not NY but pays NY base), MANY associates don't hit 2000. Some sections at my V50 (e.g. tax) routinely bill 1600-1700 in a good year. Many senior counsel and partners billed in the low 1000s last year. There are many Vault firms without 2000 hour requirement but use bonuses to reward associates who work hard to hit that 2000 or more. Those firms don't advertise this fact or say they are a "lifestyle" firm (for obvious reasons), but at these places I think the general attitude toward billing is quite different.

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Re: On track for 1250 hours first year, worry?

Postby 20160810 » Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I find the TLS wisdom that if you're in biglaw you need to be at 90%+ utilization every month or else you're in danger of being canned hard to believe, to say the least. At two V50s in my city (not NY but pays NY base), MANY associates don't hit 2000. Some sections at my V50 (e.g. tax) routinely bill 1600-1700 in a good year. Many senior counsel and partners billed in the low 1000s last year. There are many Vault firms without 2000 hour requirement but use bonuses to reward associates who work hard to hit that 2000 or more. Those firms don't advertise this fact or say they are a "lifestyle" firm (for obvious reasons), but at these places I think the general attitude toward billing is quite different.

You'd never enjoy such slothfulness at a V45.



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