Partner reducing associates net billables?

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Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:45 pm

Associate at AM 200 defense firm.

I accepted a position at a defense firm, primarily based on the fact that they had awesome incentives. The salary was about 15k less than my asking salary range. They explained that they have incentives set up, so if you work 240 billable hours a month, that equates to a 4K bonus.

The partner I work for is notorious for being hard on associates, and has gone through 3 in the past 2 years. I get a call from her that she is reducing my hours billed on a Motion to Compel. It took me 14 hours (I’m compelling tons of documents, and my paralegal bailed on me at the last minute so I had to do literally everything, including filing.) She explained to me that they average the hours that she “eliminates” and reduce it from my overall net hours, wholly affecting the bonus.

Has anyone ever had their partner reduce hours? Is this common?

I was told that even if a motion takes you a while, never “skimp” on billing. Be truthful and transparent with your hours. Thoughts ?

ChickenSalad

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by ChickenSalad » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:07 pm

It’s not uncommon for partners to cut hours on a client bill but, at the firms I’ve worked at, they’re still billable hours credited and there isn’t a comp structure like you’re describing. It’s probably good she told you rather than just letting you wonder what happened. Any idea how much she cut?

The “don’t cut your hours” advice is generally good but I think it depends on the situation and your class year. I think it applies almost universally to junior associates. When you’re a mid level or senior associate and you take too long on something, it can make sense to modestly cut your time if you were inefficient or not particularly useful (eg if you did research and came up with nothing).

I think it also makes more sense when you’re working on really small teams and it’s just you and partner (instead of a massive case with tons of associates)

hdr

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by hdr » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:41 pm

Partners can sometimes do that. Most V100 firms don't have a formal system that penalizes associates when their hours are cut, but some do (e.g. denying raises or bonuses to associates that generate insufficient revenue).

As an associate you should never cut your own hours; by doing so, you're forcing yourself to work more hours to meet your target for no reason. Most of the time the partner will make no changes and the client will pay the bill. If a partner cuts your hours occasionally it's a non-issue; it's only a problem if it happens a lot.

AllyMcBail

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by AllyMcBail » Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:50 pm

This firm sounds awful. 240 hours/month is obscene. You should quit as soon as financially feasible and find another job. And reducing your hours is not OK. That said, you probably don't have much bargaining power, except that you can quit. Make it 4 associates quitting in 2.5 years. Good luck, and I hope you find a job that is livable.

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:23 pm

AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:50 pm
This firm sounds awful. 240 hours/month is obscene.
Um, a 4K bonus for 240 hours seems pretty freaking dope. My V50 gives out $400 for 250 hours. Still better than nothing.

Look, if you're in a group that's gets extremely busy and/or is leanly staffed, you may end up billing 250 hours a few times a year. You might as well get compensated for it.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:01 pm

It's common for partners to cut an associate's hours on the final bill (especially for junior associates). But it's not common for the associate to get penalized for it, because they have absolutely no control over how many hours actually get billed to the client. That's why most firms base their bonuses off of billable hours, not billed hours.

Do not cut your hours on your own. Maybe this is a one-off, but if the partner is consistently doing this and counting it against your bonus I'd keep an eye out for lateral opportunities.

AllyMcBail

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by AllyMcBail » Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:23 pm
AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:50 pm
This firm sounds awful. 240 hours/month is obscene.
Um, a 4K bonus for 240 hours seems pretty freaking dope. My V50 gives out $400 for 250 hours. Still better than nothing.

Look, if you're in a group that's gets extremely busy and/or is leanly staffed, you may end up billing 250 hours a few times a year. You might as well get compensated for it.
I'm not questioning whether $4,000 is better that $400 or $0. Rather, the amount of hours worked to bill that much would make life awful, and OP should find a better job (assuming OP enjoys having any live outside boring yet stressful work).

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 8:47 pm

I wrote about this a few weeks/months ago (what is time?).

A partner reduced my hours and didn’t tell me. They didn’t write it off like they’re supposed to. They went into my timesheet and changed it from billable to biz dev. That way, they don’t get the hit against them. It’s annoying, but I’ve gotten used to it.

BrainsyK

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by BrainsyK » Thu Jun 11, 2020 8:56 pm

OP, have you considered that if your firm only does defense (I assume you mean insurance defense), it probably isn't that profitable, and what little profit margin they're able to maintain, they maintain by setting up an incentive system but making it really hard to actually achieve the milestones? This would go doubly so in this economy, and if everyone around you is swimming in cash from overwork, then I guess this theory goes out the window, but I suspect that that's what might be happening.

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jigiwo1898jupiter

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by jigiwo1898jupiter » Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:09 am

AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:23 pm
AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:50 pm
This firm sounds awful. 240 hours/month is obscene.
Um, a 4K bonus for 240 hours seems pretty freaking dope. My V50 gives out $400 for 250 hours. Still better than nothing.

Look, if you're in a group that's gets extremely busy and/or is leanly staffed, you may end up billing 250 hours a few times a year. You might as well get compensated for it.
I'm not questioning whether $4,000 is better that $400 or $0. Rather, the amount of hours worked to bill that much would make life awful, and OP should find a better job (assuming OP enjoys having any live outside boring yet stressful work).
I assume you're not in biglaw?

AllyMcBail

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by AllyMcBail » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:01 pm

jigiwo1898jupiter wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:09 am
AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:23 pm
AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:50 pm
This firm sounds awful. 240 hours/month is obscene.
Um, a 4K bonus for 240 hours seems pretty freaking dope. My V50 gives out $400 for 250 hours. Still better than nothing.

Look, if you're in a group that's gets extremely busy and/or is leanly staffed, you may end up billing 250 hours a few times a year. You might as well get compensated for it.
I'm not questioning whether $4,000 is better that $400 or $0. Rather, the amount of hours worked to bill that much would make life awful, and OP should find a better job (assuming OP enjoys having any live outside boring yet stressful work).
I assume you're not in biglaw?
I was, and it was awful, so I quit. And even by biglaw standards, 240 is a lot. That would be 2880/yr.

jigiwo1898jupiter

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by jigiwo1898jupiter » Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:46 am

AllyMcBail wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:01 pm
jigiwo1898jupiter wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:09 am
AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:23 pm
AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:50 pm
This firm sounds awful. 240 hours/month is obscene.
Um, a 4K bonus for 240 hours seems pretty freaking dope. My V50 gives out $400 for 250 hours. Still better than nothing.

Look, if you're in a group that's gets extremely busy and/or is leanly staffed, you may end up billing 250 hours a few times a year. You might as well get compensated for it.
I'm not questioning whether $4,000 is better that $400 or $0. Rather, the amount of hours worked to bill that much would make life awful, and OP should find a better job (assuming OP enjoys having any live outside boring yet stressful work).
I assume you're not in biglaw?
I was, and it was awful, so I quit. And even by biglaw standards, 240 is a lot. That would be 2880/yr.
Good you figured it out it wasn't for you. Are you here to advocate for your dislike of biglaw?

Yes, it is a lot (and I can multiply it by 12, too), but it certainly isn't unheard of or uncommon for most folks, I expect. And it seems very rare that firms would give you a cash bonus for a heavier month, especially $4,000. Seems totally sweet.

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tyrant_flycatcher

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by tyrant_flycatcher » Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:49 am

jigiwo1898jupiter wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:46 am
AllyMcBail wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:01 pm
jigiwo1898jupiter wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:09 am
AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:23 pm
AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:50 pm
This firm sounds awful. 240 hours/month is obscene.
Um, a 4K bonus for 240 hours seems pretty freaking dope. My V50 gives out $400 for 250 hours. Still better than nothing.

Look, if you're in a group that's gets extremely busy and/or is leanly staffed, you may end up billing 250 hours a few times a year. You might as well get compensated for it.
I'm not questioning whether $4,000 is better that $400 or $0. Rather, the amount of hours worked to bill that much would make life awful, and OP should find a better job (assuming OP enjoys having any live outside boring yet stressful work).
I assume you're not in biglaw?
I was, and it was awful, so I quit. And even by biglaw standards, 240 is a lot. That would be 2880/yr.
Good you figured it out it wasn't for you. Are you here to advocate for your dislike of biglaw?

Yes, it is a lot (and I can multiply it by 12, too), but it certainly isn't unheard of or uncommon for most folks, I expect. And it seems very rare that firms would give you a cash bonus for a heavier month, especially $4,000. Seems totally sweet.
Seconded. Let’s stop pretending 240
hour months never happen.

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AllyMcBail

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by AllyMcBail » Sat Jun 13, 2020 12:15 pm

jigiwo1898jupiter wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:46 am
AllyMcBail wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:01 pm
jigiwo1898jupiter wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:09 am
AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:23 pm
AllyMcBail wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:50 pm
This firm sounds awful. 240 hours/month is obscene.
Um, a 4K bonus for 240 hours seems pretty freaking dope. My V50 gives out $400 for 250 hours. Still better than nothing.

Look, if you're in a group that's gets extremely busy and/or is leanly staffed, you may end up billing 250 hours a few times a year. You might as well get compensated for it.
I'm not questioning whether $4,000 is better that $400 or $0. Rather, the amount of hours worked to bill that much would make life awful, and OP should find a better job (assuming OP enjoys having any live outside boring yet stressful work).
I assume you're not in biglaw?
I was, and it was awful, so I quit. And even by biglaw standards, 240 is a lot. That would be 2880/yr.
Good you figured it out it wasn't for you. Are you here to advocate for your dislike of biglaw?

Yes, it is a lot (and I can multiply it by 12, too), but it certainly isn't unheard of or uncommon for most folks, I expect. And it seems very rare that firms would give you a cash bonus for a heavier month, especially $4,000. Seems totally sweet.
This isn't a "biglaw" forum, it's a law forum. If you can't handle dissenting views, how do you handle biglaw?

texanslimjim

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by texanslimjim » Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:50 pm

AllyMcBail wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 12:15 pm
This isn't a "biglaw" forum, it's a law forum. If you can't handle dissenting views, how do you handle biglaw?
No surprise you couldn't handle biglaw when you try to impose your personal preferences on other people and then get huffy when dare disagree.

Buglaw

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by Buglaw » Sat Jun 13, 2020 4:05 pm

texanslimjim wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:50 pm
AllyMcBail wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 12:15 pm
This isn't a "biglaw" forum, it's a law forum. If you can't handle dissenting views, how do you handle biglaw?
No surprise you couldn't handle biglaw when you try to impose your personal preferences on other people and then get huffy when dare disagree.
240+ hours is pretty terrible. There's nothing wrong with saying it (or that you don't like big law). I mean it obviously happens, but I've been in big law for awhile and it is a 1-2X a year sort of thing and I almost always consider quitting afterwards. If they are regularly billing 240 hours, I agree they should find another job if they don't like it.

There are plenty of big law firms where 240 hours is not common place.

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tyrant_flycatcher

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by tyrant_flycatcher » Sat Jun 13, 2020 4:48 pm

Buglaw wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 4:05 pm
texanslimjim wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:50 pm
AllyMcBail wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 12:15 pm
This isn't a "biglaw" forum, it's a law forum. If you can't handle dissenting views, how do you handle biglaw?
No surprise you couldn't handle biglaw when you try to impose your personal preferences on other people and then get huffy when dare disagree.
240+ hours is pretty terrible. There's nothing wrong with saying it (or that you don't like big law). I mean it obviously happens, but I've been in big law for awhile and it is a 1-2X a year sort of thing and I almost always consider quitting afterwards. If they are regularly billing 240 hours, I agree they should find another job if they don't like it.

There are plenty of big law firms where 240 hours is not common place.
No one is arguing that. OP said he gets an incentive if he bills more than 240. Someone wrote back and told him that the firm sounded awful or whatever. It was unnecessarily hostile. Probably someone who wanted to pick a fight.

AllyMcBail

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Re: Partner reducing associates net billables?

Post by AllyMcBail » Sat Jun 13, 2020 5:22 pm

texanslimjim wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:50 pm
AllyMcBail wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 12:15 pm
This isn't a "biglaw" forum, it's a law forum. If you can't handle dissenting views, how do you handle biglaw?
No surprise you couldn't handle biglaw when you try to impose your personal preferences on other people and then get huffy when dare disagree.
Oh hi new internet friend. I could handle it and I chose to quit. I was lending my opinion to OP, who requested it. It's interesting how much of a huff you get into.

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