ITT: Share info about your billable hour reqs/actual hours

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Re: ITT: Share info about your billable hour reqs/actual hours

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 18, 2020 4:56 pm

One of the 2,500+ anons. I'm a mid-level now and worked a few hundred hours less when I was a junior associate. I haven't seen a decline in quality as my hours have increased, and none of the partners I've worked for have given me reason to think that my work product is suffering.

It probably comes down to what kind of work you're doing each day and how your hours are distributed. If you're doing discovery work all day, then yeah you're going to be a drone at 6pm. Same if you're drafting motions all day, or doing research all day. If you're doing a combination of all three, and can decided how to divide your time, you can keep the day interesting and stay alert. Throw in a depo or hearing every now and then to keep you personally invested in the quality of your work, and it's not overly difficult to do high-quality work over long hours. Covid has honestly been great for me in that it's given me back control over my daily micro-schedule now that I don't have to be as instantly accountable to partners.

Trial work also allows litigators to bill a ton of time while having relatively interesting and engaging work to keep them sharp. As I've gotten more senior, I've had a couple trials a year (or at least cases that make it to the eve of trial). You can easily bill 300+ hours in a trial month. But trials are some of the only opportunities that litigators have for truly collaborative work. Getting to see the results of you research/writing/prep work in real time also helps keep the energy going. It also doesn't hurt that most clients will let you bill from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed during trial.

I personally don't feel like my time above the minimum hours requirement is wasted. For one thing, my firm has progressive hour-based bonuses, so I still get compensated for those hour (even if it's at less than a pro-rata salary). But I get fulfillment from contributing to the firm. I like my colleagues, and my assistant, and the paralegals and staff that I work with. My extra hours, particularly now, help to pay their salaries and offset slower periods in other practice groups. Someday, I may need a corporate associate to bill a bunch of hours to offset a slow period for me. To the anon who feels differently, that's not on you. That's on your firm. It's sad to see that so many firms treat their employees as cogs and don't do anything to develop a sense of community or provide their associates with fulfilling, varied work. If my firm treated me like that, I'd probably feel the same as you.

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Re: ITT: Share info about your billable hour reqs/actual hours

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:19 pm

That sounds nice but the truth is it's likely the difference between $3mm PPP and $3.05mm PPP. Firms will hire and eliminate expendable associates and staff regardless of the revenue you are bringing in.

As a mid-level billing 2,000 hours, you earn your firm upwards of $1.75mm in revenue -- I'm not sure why you feel you need to contribute even more to the firm -- but I suppose good for you to keep this outlook.

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Re: ITT: Share info about your billable hour reqs/actual hours

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:19 pm
That sounds nice but the truth is it's likely the difference between $3mm PPP and $3.05mm PPP. Firms will hire and eliminate expendable associates and staff regardless of the revenue you are bringing in.
Ha! I'm the St. Louis anon, and I can promise you that no firm here is pulling in $3mm PPP. I wasn't trying to speak to anyone else's firm or experience. But your statement is not accurate for firms in my area and certainly not accurate for my firm. I have never been made to feel expendable by a partner, and associates are not "eliminated" here. That's one of the benefits we get in exchange for making less money than associates at a major market V100.

I understand why you feel the way you do, and I'd probably feel the same in your shoes. But our firms obviously have different values.

That said, it seems like we're coming up on the point that OP warned about where "people stop posting the actual info and start fighting about which firms suck," so probably best to leave it here.

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Re: ITT: Share info about your billable hour reqs/actual hours

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:03 am

Anon OP bumping since I’ve seen a few people talking about hours in the past couple of days and it would be interesting to hear from more people.

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Re: ITT: Share info about your billable hour reqs/actual hours

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 13, 2020 1:57 pm

Excellent117 wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:14 pm
Sackboy wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:30 pm

I find this view interesting.

When I was younger, I used to work for like $40 in an 8 hour day. The minimum wage was a nice $5.15/hr. I quite enjoyed my gigs. Now, I get paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars in the numerator and no amount of humanly possible hours in the denominator gets me remotely close to $5.15/hr. So, regardless of what I bill in a year, which is usually 2,400+, I chalk it up to a win.

I also think pegging your notion of fair compensation to whatever hour "requirement" your firm has stated is a great way to achieve unhappiness. My firm just tells me to bill, so that's what I do. I get paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars to bill. Some years it's up and some year it's down, but I put in my genuine effort to take all of the work that I can handle without a mental breakdown/destroying my life. That's good enough for me, and it seems to be good enough for my firm. Now, if I was at a firm that told me bill 1950 for your salary/bonus, I'd find it pretty toxic to my own well being to count every hour after that as "uncompensated." What good does that do me? Let's be real. At 90% of firms, the hour requirement is just a general guideline so they can hit the financials they want. You're not actually getting paid X to do 1950. You're getting paid X to work as many hours as it takes to service the client matters you've been given.

Maybe I'm just a sheeple, but counting "uncompensated hours" just sounds like a depressing way to practice.

Regardless, as America's greatest thinker has been heard saying, "It is what it is."
This is absolutely not how I practice. I’m getting paid for my work up to my hours expectation/bonus requirement. My goal for each billable year is to do very high quality work, but to go over that hours number by as little as possible. I view each additional billable hour over that threshold as a little bit of a personal failure.

Then again, I have no desire to ever make partner, as ending up with the life of a law firm partner seems like a true worst case scenario from my perspective.

Also, the current estimates in this thread seem highly unrepresentative of the legal community as a whole right now.
+1. I think everyone who approaches this differently as stockholm's syndrome.


Firm Type: Biglaw
Firm Name or Vault range: It's Skadden
Practice Area: Corporate
Market: NYC
Billable Hours Minimum (& consequences for not meeting?): 1800 (no bonus, sometimes partial bonus, general shame)
Allowed to count pro bono towards minimum? Unlimited
Informal Expectation? People act like its 2k+ but really I feel like it's like 1850. Or more importantly, 1650 by November 30 (since the bonus is based on annualized hours in mid-Dec)
Current Estimate for Year (or avg. from past years): Annualizing a shade over 1800 this year (like, literally 1802) -- was 1950 last year, and 2100 year prior though.

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Re: ITT: Share info about your billable hour reqs/actual hours

Post by NoLongerALurker » Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:01 pm

Sackboy wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:30 pm

I find this view interesting.

When I was younger, I used to work for like $40 in an 8 hour day. The minimum wage was a nice $5.15/hr. I quite enjoyed my gigs. Now, I get paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars in the numerator and no amount of humanly possible hours in the denominator gets me remotely close to $5.15/hr. So, regardless of what I bill in a year, which is usually 2,400+, I chalk it up to a win.

I also think pegging your notion of fair compensation to whatever hour "requirement" your firm has stated is a great way to achieve unhappiness. My firm just tells me to bill, so that's what I do. I get paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars to bill. Some years it's up and some year it's down, but I put in my genuine effort to take all of the work that I can handle without a mental breakdown/destroying my life. That's good enough for me, and it seems to be good enough for my firm. Now, if I was at a firm that told me bill 1950 for your salary/bonus, I'd find it pretty toxic to my own well being to count every hour after that as "uncompensated." What good does that do me? Let's be real. At 90% of firms, the hour requirement is just a general guideline so they can hit the financials they want. You're not actually getting paid X to do 1950. You're getting paid X to work as many hours as it takes to service the client matters you've been given.

Maybe I'm just a sheeple, but counting "uncompensated hours" just sounds like a depressing way to practice.

Regardless, as America's greatest thinker has been heard saying, "It is what it is."


I can sort of respect this view, but I also think the firm makes a sort of faustian bargain when they decide to implement an hours requirement. By putting a floor of 1950, they're telling an associate who bills 1900 one year that she isn't worth the bonus. Fine, but the same associate billing 2000 the following year should absolutely feel the firm isn't worth the extra 50 hours of (literal, honest-to-god) lifetime that was expended just to be a "team player" for a company that stiffed her 12 months ago.

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