Billable Hours, How I loathe thee.

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Renault78law, May 5, 2006.

  1. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    I almost jumped up and down when I read this. YES!!!! Someone knows how I feel!

    I know all too well. I'll bet there are plenty of other lawyers here who have similar feelings. If it helps, it took me 7 years to ultimately decide that this was not how I wanted to live my life (but, then, I'm a little slow).
     


  2. javyn

    javyn Senior member

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    I'm about to get a Paralegal cert and was considering going to a big firm. Any advice? I guess I should be concerned about billing my hours and whatnot, but I'm actually kind of excited about it. Then again, I am single and money-hungry. My origional plan was to do government or corporate (so I can be lazy), but litigation seems like so much fun. Requests for admissions, rule 11 agreements, interrogatories, and a good time was had by all.
     


  3. RJman

    RJman Posse Member Dubiously Honored

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    Let me say that being a corporate lawyer does not mean being lazy. And I'll leave it at that.
     


  4. Patrick Bateman

    Patrick Bateman Senior member

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    I'm about to get a Paralegal cert and was considering going to a big firm. Any advice? I guess I should be concerned about billing my hours and whatnot, but I'm actually kind of excited about it. Then again, I am single and money-hungry. My origional plan was to do government or corporate (so I can be lazy), but litigation seems like so much fun. Requests for admissions, rule 11 agreements, interrogatories, and a good time was had by all.

    Dude, you're dreaming. If you want to make the big bucks be prepared to sweat blood for it.
     


  5. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    One thing you guys might want to consider is working for a large firm in a smaller market. That's what I decided to do coming out of law school. I had offers from big NYC firms with a starting salary of $140,000 but I decided to accept an offer from a big firm (about 300 lawyers just in the office where I will be working) that is headquartered in a smaller market for a lower salary (though, still six figures, so not bad). Part of the tradeoff for the lower salary is slightly better working conditions (about 60 hours per week instead of 80+). I think it's well worth the tradeoff (though, I'm starting as a first year associate this fall so we'll see how much of that is true and how much is hype).
     


  6. alflauren

    alflauren Senior member

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    Nice call with this thread, Renault78law. I've been wanting to bitch about billable hours for a while, even though I have it pretty easy. My firm's requirement is 1,800, and my total last year was 1,680. How'd I get away with it? Well, billable hours are important, but even more important is how much those hours bring in. After about a year on the job, I finally figured out the different (and totally arbitrary) rates that the firm billed me out at, and sought out the work with the highest billing rates and fastest-paying clients. The result is that my 1,680 brought in more than most people's 1,800.

    Now, don't get me wrong. I also cut my own time, and have a lot of non-billable work, so those hours were no cakewalk, but it did make things a bit more tolerable. The bottom line is that I'm done in August of 2007. I will be taking the GMAT soon and applying to business school this fall. If I get into a good business school, I'll go. If not, I'll quit my current job, move to where I actually want to live, and look for something else to do with my life.

    BTW, I always wanted to do the I-banking thing. I still do. But getting something has proven exceedingly difficult without an MBA. Hence, back to school. Now, if I could just use a calculator on the damn exam....[​IMG]
     


  7. GQgeek

    GQgeek Senior member

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    One thing you guys might want to consider is working for a large firm in a smaller market. That's what I decided to do coming out of law school. I had offers from big NYC firms with a starting salary of $140,000 but I decided to accept an offer from a big firm (about 300 lawyers just in the office where I will be working) that is headquartered in a smaller market for a lower salary (though, still six figures, so not bad). Part of the tradeoff for the lower salary is slightly better working conditions (about 60 hours per week instead of 80+). I think it's well worth the tradeoff (though, I'm starting as a first year associate this fall so we'll see how much of that is true and how much is hype).

    Not to mention the cost of living is likely a fraction of what it is in NY. Without getting in to specifics, I make good coin, but not six figures. Living in Montreal makes all the difference and my quality of life is GOOD. There is no driving or traffic jams and I can walk to both work and school. If I were in Toronto everything would be significantly more expensive and I'd be depressed every night when I finished my drive home.
     


  8. GQgeek

    GQgeek Senior member

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    Nice call with this thread, Renault78law. I've been wanting to bitch about billable hours for a while, even though I have it pretty easy. My firm's requirement is 1,800, and my total last year was 1,680. How'd I get away with it? Well, billable hours are important, but even more important is how much those hours bring in. After about a year on the job, I finally figured out the different (and totally arbitrary) rates that the firm billed me out at, and sought out the work with the highest billing rates and fastest-paying clients. The result is that my 1,680 brought in more than most people's 1,800.

    Now, don't get me wrong. I also cut my own time, and have a lot of non-billable work, so those hours were no cakewalk, but it did make things a bit more tolerable. The bottom line is that I'm done in August of 2007. I will be taking the GMAT soon and applying to business school this fall. If I get into a good business school, I'll go. If not, I'll quit my current job, move to where I actually want to live, and look for something else to do with my life.

    BTW, I always wanted to do the I-banking thing. I still do. But getting something has proven exceedingly difficult without an MBA. Hence, back to school. Now, if I could just use a calculator on the damn exam....[​IMG]


    You might look in to writing the CFA exams and look for jobs at a regional office as opposed to NY or London. I can't imagine they'd turn their noses up at someone with a law degree and CFA designation. The cost of the CFA course & exams is pretty cheap and it's something you do on your own time.

    I'm not sure how much weight they give it in the states, or whether it could substitute for an MBA, but in Canada they really like it (according to my uncle who was an I-banker that now runs an oil & gas company). I think most b-school grads do it during their analyst years.
     


  9. javyn

    javyn Senior member

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    I'm not trying to make mega bucks here, just enough to be able to live on my own. But yeah, I know how to work.
     


  10. andrebaron

    andrebaron Active Member

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    Geez, I went to a "famous" law school and joined a famous law firm and worked for a famous partner. I thought I would be "happy" achieving all these things and having the scratch to buy what I want, to boot. Well, wearing bespoke suits and JL cap toes whilst writing memos in the library got a little thin; I looked great, but only to the firm librarian(who was actually hot) and the drivers of the black cars that would shuttle me home late at night. I bagged my job , went to an I- bank, had more fun(because I was doing more "entrepreneurial" stuff--creating deals rather than servicing them)--but I work just as hard , if not harder. The key is to make sure what you do in your life, if you spend years in school and pay huge bucks to do so--is to make sure that you spend your days of labor on matters or assignments that give you some modicum of pleasure. To be fair, there are those who love the law--and all of the detail that goes with such a practice-and God bless them, for they actually enjoy that grind. To each his/her own, I guess.
     


  11. alflauren

    alflauren Senior member

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    I bagged my job , went to an I- bank, had more fun(because I was doing more "entrepreneurial" stuff--creating deals rather than servicing them)--but I work just as hard , if not harder. The key is to make sure what you do in your life, if you spend years in school and pay huge bucks to do so--is to make sure that you spend your days of labor on matters or assignments that give you some modicum of pleasure. To be fair, there are those who love the law--and all of the detail that goes with such a practice-and God bless them, for they actually enjoy that grind. To each his/her own, I guess.

    See, that's it. Just the sort of thing I'm looking to do for precisely the same reasons. I don't mind longer hours, but the work has to be better. Frankly, the only reason that I went to law school was because no decent MBA program will take a college grad with no work experience.

    There are certainly people who do love the law. There are plenty at my firm, and they spend their time cleaning up others' messes. But I'm not terribly fond of that role in society. I'd rather be the one doing the deal in the first place.

    GQgeek - the CFA is an interesting idea. Thanks for the suggestion.
     


  12. Earthmover

    Earthmover Senior member

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    Let me say that being a corporate lawyer does not mean being lazy. And I'll leave it at that.

    Totally agree. I don't know how anyone would get an impression otherwise.

    As a corporate lawyer, I actually don't worry about billable hours at all. The reason for it is that I work just too damn much and the billing more than takes care of itself. I really do like my job, however, so that helps a lot, but it also means that I take on an ungodly amount of work, often leading to late nights and plenty of weekends. If someone can afford to be lazy in a NYC corporate law firm, I think the most likely answer would be that they are not very good.

    It does help immensely that all of my firm's clients are considered excellent - no bickering over hours and pay promptly, especially on the corporate side. Therefore, there's no pressure to cut my time at all; I bill exactly what I worked, which takes a lot of pressure off of the billable hours. I think Litigation isn't as care-free with the billing, which does help cause more stress.
     


  13. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    I don't know of a job that offers this AND insanely great pay. You want the dime, you gotta do the time.
    One my relatives was an art/antiques dealer. Sometimes he would make $100,000 or more minus certain expenses on a single day, which only required him to invite potential clients for dinner and drinks.
     


  14. tiger02

    tiger02 Militarist

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    Renault, sounds like it's time to quit and open a wine bar [​IMG]
     


  15. RJman

    RJman Posse Member Dubiously Honored

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    As a corporate lawyer, I actually don't worry about billable hours at all. The reason for it is that I work just too damn much and the billing more than takes care of itself. I really do like my job, however, so that helps a lot, but it also means that I take on an ungodly amount of work, often leading to late nights and plenty of weekends. If someone can afford to be lazy in a NYC corporate law firm, I think the most likely answer would be that they are not very good.

    It does help immensely that all of my firm's clients are considered excellent - no bickering over hours and pay promptly, especially on the corporate side. Therefore, there's no pressure to cut my time at all; I bill exactly what I worked, which takes a lot of pressure off of the billable hours. I think Litigation isn't as care-free with the billing, which does help cause more stress.

    Re the first paragraph -- exactly. My firm has no billable, and we're all lockstep, which means that everyone is supposed to be neurotic enough to pull their weight. Amazingly, it works, and the rare slacker gets HATED. When I'm busy, I'm insanely busy. When I'm not, I'm not. Last week I billed 30 hours straight from a Sunday afternoon to a Monday night, and then the rest of the week luckily scrounged a few hours here and there. In Paris I work harder than I worked in the US, for the most part, but I get to be in Freedom. However, the people I know who are partner live and breathe the law. You have to, for it to take so much precedence in your life, over sleep, family and to many appearances, a personal life. Be warned. For the moment, I'm trying to learn what I can and figure out what to do next with my life that supports my greed, since I don't really think I'm partner material, leastways not here.
     


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