Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

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Philafaler
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Philafaler » Fri May 02, 2014 6:46 pm

IAFG wrote:I want so badly to post ITT but no one cares about my incredibly niche practice.


I do.

toothbrush
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby toothbrush » Fri May 02, 2014 7:24 pm

IAFG wrote:I want so badly to post ITT but no one cares about my incredibly niche practice.

Solid TLS poster who can share an unknown aspect/practice of law? We care.

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Blessedassurance » Fri May 02, 2014 7:28 pm

FamilyLawEsq wrote:Small law attorney here in PA. 33 years practicing, 30 with my brother who retired at age 55 last year due to early onset dementia-Alzheimer's. Brought in a new partner April 1 to handle the family law cases so I can spend more time handling the real estate and business aspects of the firm. My sister in law handles the most lucrative part of the business: wills and estates.

I looked at my schedule for last week. I conducted 5 residential real estate settlements; had 3 meetings with opposing counsel to discuss divorce cases. I had 4 hearings/court matters and I met with 8 divorce and business clients. The rest of the week was spent answering emails, phone calls, working on client files etc. I negotiated a settlement in a case involving an easement which was scheduled for a non jury trial. On Wednesday, the attorneys made lunch for the staff for administrative assistant day and did the dishes! I typically leave early Tuesday for my golf league. I go to the office most Saturdays to catch up. I did manage to spend 3 non consecutive weeks in the Florida Keys this year and hope to spend more time at my beach home in DE once I settle into the new partnership. I love what I do.


did you start as a solo straight out of law school?

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horriblegb
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby horriblegb » Fri May 02, 2014 7:48 pm

bk1 wrote:
horriblegb wrote:Ill chime in, though I am about as green as they get

2013 grad, started at my current firm in secondary (maybe? I dont know about the markets) market, 14 attorneys, about 4 months, I suppose it is general civil litigation -- focus on business and real estate but I have done everything from construction to criminal at this point.

AMA?? I hope i can be of some help

Thanks for answering questions. To try and guide this and see if you can answer in a way similar to previous responses (and if that's not possible because you're green and things have been random, that's fine too since I'm sure people will have questions as well):

Could you describe the path that a certain type of case (e.g. real estate) would flow through your firm and how do you fit in that path and what kind of work you do along the way? For example, how does a case come in? Who is then responsible for the overall management of that case? Who then divvies up the work? Which of that work is assigned to you? How is that work assigned to you? Do you have a say in which work is assigned to you? What do you normally physically do for the kind of work that you are typically assigned for a case?


Alright awesome, i will get back to you on that, however, it is Friday afternoon sooooo, its brain off time! :)

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IAFG
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby IAFG » Fri May 02, 2014 8:33 pm

Now I am embarrassed about attention whoring for interest but here goes.

I'm Delaware local counsel in a bankruptcy practice.

My average day looks like:

8:55 - arrive. All the partners are already in and about half the associates have shown up. I sorta pretend to read Bloomberg/Bankruptcy 360 alerts. We will be staffed on at least one of the cases discussed because local rules require non-Delaware counsel to hire local counsel to practice before any DE state or federal court, and there are only so many DE firms with respected BK practices.

9:30 - start substituting dates and parties from a form motion, notice or application. Realize I am missing some key detail, go hassle my assigning partner or associate. Print it out, find errors, correct, print out, find another error, correct, print out, think it's clean, ask my secretary to look at it, she finds one more thing, and then I send it to assigning attorney to review.

11:00 - get asked to research whether a certain DE judge has allowed some certain specific thing. Ask the librarian to see what he can find on Bloomberg while I do some work on a nonbillable project. Because we are supposed to be experts on local law, we spend a decent amount of time collecting internal databases of information, for example a chart of pre-pack cases and some useful details about them.

1:00 - librarian emails me what they have but I go to lunch instead of looking at it.

2:15 - get back in and re-do most of what I got from the library. Summarize what I found in an email.

4:00 - work on another filing, this time making more significant changes to the form version but still nothing too strenuous. Print, proof, print, proof, secretary left, dammit, send.

5:45 - mistake found in my filing from this morning. God fucking dammit. Adopt change, get thumbs up, give to paralegal to file on the docket.

6:50 - shove nonbillable project in purse and leave. Never work on it.

Bad day - conflicts checks and only conflicts checks, all day. This means going through fat stacks of paper looking for entity names to make sure we don't accidentally end up representing clients on both sides of an adversary proceeding and get sued for malpractice.

Good day - researching and drafting dispositive motion for what is probably a case of first impression on some quirky point of law. This is just LRW without the shitty professor.

Best day - prepping for and attending hearing. That means putting together supply boxes, coordinating the assembly of documents for the partners to reference in the courtroom, doing an emergency research project to address an idea the partner had, running back to the firm for a fresh order reflecting some change agreed to in the hearing and taking notes on what happens.

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beepboopbeep
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby beepboopbeep » Fri May 02, 2014 10:05 pm

No idea why you thought this wouldn't be interesting. Might be the single best thread I've seen on TLS so far, overall.

IAFG wrote:8:55 - arrive. All the partners are already in and about half the associates have shown up. I sorta pretend to read Bloomberg/Bankruptcy 360 alerts. We will be staffed on at least one of the cases discussed because local rules require non-Delaware counsel to hire local counsel to practice before any DE state or federal court, and there are only so many DE firms with respected BK practices.


Seems cushy for DE firms. Sounds like nice job security?

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IAFG
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby IAFG » Fri May 02, 2014 10:33 pm

beepboopbeep wrote:No idea why you thought this wouldn't be interesting. Might be the single best thread I've seen on TLS so far, overall.

IAFG wrote:8:55 - arrive. All the partners are already in and about half the associates have shown up. I sorta pretend to read Bloomberg/Bankruptcy 360 alerts. We will be staffed on at least one of the cases discussed because local rules require non-Delaware counsel to hire local counsel to practice before any DE state or federal court, and there are only so many DE firms with respected BK practices.


Seems cushy for DE firms. Sounds like nice job security?

It's a pretty crazy thing we've got going.

forty-two
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby forty-two » Fri May 02, 2014 11:37 pm

I'm a public defender in a small town. Right now I have about 110 felony cases, but that number is about to jump up a bit because arraignment is coming up soon. I don't really have a typical day, but I think it might be useful to describe the stages of a criminal case and what my week generally looks like.

The investigator at my office goes to the jail almost every day to meet with everyone who has been arrested recently to see if they need a public defender. Everyone who needs a public defender gets assigned one later that day, and then files show up in my box for all of my new cases. At this point I really only know what the charges are. If my client was arrested for a probation violation, then I'll request a court date for them. If they were arrested on new charges, the files go into my new cases pile for people who are in jail and have not yet had a preliminary hearing. If they bond out, I put their file away and pretty much forget about it until arraignment. If they can't make bond or they judge initially denied them bond, then they are scheduled for a preliminary hearing.

Prelims are held once per week, and once I get the calendar for a given week, I'll go to the jail to meet my clients and see what they want to do with their cases. I try to figure out what their main concern is so I can focus on that. Some people just want a bond or lower bond so they can get out, some people just want to hurry up and plead guilty, and others need to see what the evidence against them is. This tells me whether I need to waive the hearing for a lower bond, prepare for and have a hearing, or file a motion to get my client in superior court for a bond reduction or possibly an expedited guilty plea. After all of this I file away these cases and hope that my clients can make their bond because it will be several months before anything else happens with their case.

After prelims, the DAs office gets their files. They make the ultimate charging decisions, and they indict or accuse these new cases as they see fit. After this happens, my clients get on an arraignment calendar. Arraignment takes place several months after they were arrested. Arraignment is technically a time to enter a formal guilty or not guilty plea on behalf of my clients. In reality, it's an overwhelming day when I pick up a bunch of new cases because most of the people who show up don't have a lawyer and they don't have the money to hire one.

After arraignment, I get discovery for all of my cases, so I make appointments with all of my clients to discuss their cases, go over the evidence, and see what they want to do. Before I meet with my clients, I go over the discovery myself and see if there and see if there are any suppression issues. I also try to get an offer from the prosecutor for a plea deal. When I meet with my clients, we go over the evidence together, and I ask what they would like to see happen with their case. Most people want to plead guilty and want to get the best deal possible. A few people want to fight their cases and take it to trial. Most of these people will change their minds and want to plead guilty if the offer gets good enough (this is because trials are always risky, and most people don't want to risk a ton of prison time if the offer is probation, for example).

Next comes a general calendar where we try to work out the cases. I'll call the prosecutors and try to discuss all of the cases before we get to court, but that isn't always possible. So these court days involve a lot of running around and talking to different people. If we can come to an agreement that makes everyone happy, then my client pleads guilty. If not, they either plead guilty and let the judge decide the sentence (also risky because you never know what the judge is going to do), they go on a trial calendar, or maybe another general calendar if there is a motion to suppress to argue in the case. These motions are pretty rare. I've only done two so far (I'm a 2013 grad).

Finally, we go to trial if we can't otherwise work the case out. These are very rare. I haven't had one yet. I almost had one a few months ago, but the day before trial the prosecutor offered a deal that my client couldn't refuse, so he plead guilty at the last minute.

For a typical week, I'll maybe have some in office meetings, and I'll go to the jail once or twice to meet with my clients there with upcoming court dates. I have prelims once per week, and I typically also have one or two general court calendars. I'll maybe have one or two days per week when I catch up on everything, finally respond to my 20 voice mails, and read and respond the letters my clients send me from the jail. This is also when I do most of my legal research and work on my motions to suppress or any cases slated for trial. I usually end up having to bring that stuff home to work on though because there are always things that pop up that I need to deal with and fires that I need to put out.

I'm always busy and slightly overwhelmed while at work, but my days are typically 8:45-5:00. If I have to stay late at court or bring work home (which I typically do a few times per week), my office lets us take that time off in the future.

Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to be as detailed as possible. I hope it was helpful. If anyone's interested in being a PD, feel free to ask specific questions or PM me.
Last edited by forty-two on Fri May 02, 2014 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri May 02, 2014 11:40 pm

If any practitioner working in civil Legal Aid could chime in, I would greatly appreciate it!

desertlaw
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby desertlaw » Sat May 03, 2014 1:32 am

This thread is one of best that TLS has ever had.

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North
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby North » Sat May 03, 2014 4:39 am

desertlaw wrote:This thread is one of best that TLS has ever had.

Yes. TY BK.


I'd love to hear from someone working at a state Attorney General's office if one's lurking.

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papercut
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby papercut » Sun May 04, 2014 5:15 am

Tag. Awesome info everyone. Thanks :)

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IAFG
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby IAFG » Sun May 04, 2014 9:37 am

North wrote:
desertlaw wrote:This thread is one of best that TLS has ever had.

Yes. TY BK.


I'd love to hear from someone working at a state Attorney General's office if one's lurking.

lol me too

Question Everything
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Question Everything » Sun May 04, 2014 10:00 am

forty-two wrote:I'm a public defender in a small town. Right now I have about 110 felony cases, but that number is about to jump up a bit because arraignment is coming up soon. I don't really have a typical day, but I think it might be useful to describe the stages of a criminal case and what my week generally looks like.

The investigator at my office goes to the jail almost every day to meet with everyone who has been arrested recently to see if they need a public defender. Everyone who needs a public defender gets assigned one later that day, and then files show up in my box for all of my new cases. At this point I really only know what the charges are. If my client was arrested for a probation violation, then I'll request a court date for them. If they were arrested on new charges, the files go into my new cases pile for people who are in jail and have not yet had a preliminary hearing. If they bond out, I put their file away and pretty much forget about it until arraignment. If they can't make bond or they judge initially denied them bond, then they are scheduled for a preliminary hearing.

Prelims are held once per week, and once I get the calendar for a given week, I'll go to the jail to meet my clients and see what they want to do with their cases. I try to figure out what their main concern is so I can focus on that. Some people just want a bond or lower bond so they can get out, some people just want to hurry up and plead guilty, and others need to see what the evidence against them is. This tells me whether I need to waive the hearing for a lower bond, prepare for and have a hearing, or file a motion to get my client in superior court for a bond reduction or possibly an expedited guilty plea. After all of this I file away these cases and hope that my clients can make their bond because it will be several months before anything else happens with their case.

After prelims, the DAs office gets their files. They make the ultimate charging decisions, and they indict or accuse these new cases as they see fit. After this happens, my clients get on an arraignment calendar. Arraignment takes place several months after they were arrested. Arraignment is technically a time to enter a formal guilty or not guilty plea on behalf of my clients. In reality, it's an overwhelming day when I pick up a bunch of new cases because most of the people who show up don't have a lawyer and they don't have the money to hire one.

After arraignment, I get discovery for all of my cases, so I make appointments with all of my clients to discuss their cases, go over the evidence, and see what they want to do. Before I meet with my clients, I go over the discovery myself and see if there and see if there are any suppression issues. I also try to get an offer from the prosecutor for a plea deal. When I meet with my clients, we go over the evidence together, and I ask what they would like to see happen with their case. Most people want to plead guilty and want to get the best deal possible. A few people want to fight their cases and take it to trial. Most of these people will change their minds and want to plead guilty if the offer gets good enough (this is because trials are always risky, and most people don't want to risk a ton of prison time if the offer is probation, for example).

Next comes a general calendar where we try to work out the cases. I'll call the prosecutors and try to discuss all of the cases before we get to court, but that isn't always possible. So these court days involve a lot of running around and talking to different people. If we can come to an agreement that makes everyone happy, then my client pleads guilty. If not, they either plead guilty and let the judge decide the sentence (also risky because you never know what the judge is going to do), they go on a trial calendar, or maybe another general calendar if there is a motion to suppress to argue in the case. These motions are pretty rare. I've only done two so far (I'm a 2013 grad).

Finally, we go to trial if we can't otherwise work the case out. These are very rare. I haven't had one yet. I almost had one a few months ago, but the day before trial the prosecutor offered a deal that my client couldn't refuse, so he plead guilty at the last minute.

For a typical week, I'll maybe have some in office meetings, and I'll go to the jail once or twice to meet with my clients there with upcoming court dates. I have prelims once per week, and I typically also have one or two general court calendars. I'll maybe have one or two days per week when I catch up on everything, finally respond to my 20 voice mails, and read and respond the letters my clients send me from the jail. This is also when I do most of my legal research and work on my motions to suppress or any cases slated for trial. I usually end up having to bring that stuff home to work on though because there are always things that pop up that I need to deal with and fires that I need to put out.

I'm always busy and slightly overwhelmed while at work, but my days are typically 8:45-5:00. If I have to stay late at court or bring work home (which I typically do a few times per week), my office lets us take that time off in the future.

Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to be as detailed as possible. I hope it was helpful. If anyone's interested in being a PD, feel free to ask specific questions or PM me.


110 felony cases and counting -- WOW! Have you watched the HBO documentary "Gideon's Army"? If so, do you feel it's an accurate representation of the life of a PD? Do you plan on staying where you are or do you have other career aspirations? I have a great deal of respect for PDs. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to sign up to do an exceptionally difficult job, with little pay and even less prestige.

Anonymous User
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 04, 2014 10:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a patent prosecutor. Patent prosecutors obtain patents for their clients. We work with the examiners at the USPTO (patent office).

My assignments are mainly split between responding to Office Actions and drafting applications.

Responding to an Office Action involves me writing to an examiner and explaining why they're wrong, or if they're right how my amendments are not covered by whatever other patents the examiner is citing. On those days, I come in around 11 am, read the news until lunch, work anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, and then go home. I submit 10-15 "hours" for that 15 minutes to 2 hours because we're mainly fixed fee. These are the best days. I can probably bill 4000 hours in office actions. A large part of responding to an office action is pure skill, so if you have what it takes, it's the easiest job in the world. The budgets are much higher than the effort for me.

When I'm drafting an application, I have to work a bit more because it involves much more effort. I schedule an interview with the inventor and talk to him/her about the invention. Usually I try to meet them in-person. The more sophisticated clients have an in-house counsel involved, too. Then I vanish for a few weeks, draft up some paper (a lot more writing than a response to an office action), and then turn it in. The bar in the field is extremely low, so it's usually a smooth process.

Overall, I probably do about 20-25 hours of work/week and submit 30-50 fixed-fee "hours." However, when I'm drafting an application, I sometimes lose focus during the day, leave, and then have to do the work in the evening.

The work is extremely isolating. I can probably go 1 week without even saying a word to anyone in my office other than my secretary. The people are incredibly introverted. A lot of people are not efficient, so they're constantly struggling in completing the work. I really miss working in a team like I did as an engineer, so I plan on going in-house.


Different anon here.

At some patent pros shop, being a junior, you do first draft of everything: office action response, patent application, then give to midlevel/senior or partner to review for redline, then you get it back and accept their redlines then give it back to midlevel/senior or partner and they'll file it. The fixed fee hours would then be split between you and the reviewing attorney, and they bill at a higher rate than u, thus its not nice and dandy like you bill "10-15 'hours' for that 15 minutes to 2 hours."

Oh, and when inputting your billing hours, you have to bill every 0.1 hour you work on a case. So keeping track of your hours sucks.

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Lincoln
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Lincoln » Sun May 04, 2014 11:07 am

Sorry--got outed at work.
Last edited by Lincoln on Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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twenty 8
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby twenty 8 » Sun May 04, 2014 11:56 am

Typical is the hope, but some days are totally for rants.

I can knock out a dozen deals without any drama but then comes the party who wants to use their “local attorney.” Some local attorneys have no idea about the basic protocols of a particular industry so they begin reinventing the wheel. If the industry standard is 10% escrow they want a third, or if the penalty on breaching an NDA is X they want XXX, etc. Trying to explain the typical industry procedure usually ends as a fail…. ditto trying to convince the principal to use an attorney familiar with the field (I supply names of experienced attorneys/firms). Typical response… “my attorney knows how to read a contract,” or “s/he has been my lawyer for a hundred years.” I have several comebacks for those comments, but again, usual result is, fail. Sometimes I get lucky but nearly a quarter of these transactions go south. Anyone run into this?

(afterthought…I’ve considered the possibility of a local lawyer who doesn’t want his client to sell the asset because the local collects lucrative legal fees by handling the asset. We all know a lawyer can kill a deal.)

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 04, 2014 12:25 pm

I'm a law clerk in federal district court.

Like my appellate counterpart who posted earlier, a lot of what I do is reading and writing. However, in addition to that, we also have to go to trials and hearings and the like.

On a day where there is no trial/hearings scheduled:

I get into work around 8:30 AM. The JA is usually there before I am, my co-clerk usually isn't. I eat my breakfast and pretend to go through my emails and the ECF email account to see if anything requiring immediate attention has come up. If there is something massive that needs immediate attention - an allegation of problems with one the criminal defendants or a request for a TRO or something - I get to work on it immediately and call the judge to let him know. Otherwise, once I'm suitably awake, I start work on whatever motions I have budgeted to get completed that day/week/month.

In our chambers, the clerks are the first drafters of orders and opinions and the like. So I sit there and I read through the motion that I'm focused on. They're always dispositive motions (motions for summary judgment, judgment on the pleadings, motions to dismiss, etc.), non-dispositive stuff typically goes to the magistrate judge (exception: in our district, the district judges handle motions to suppress and joinder/severance, which isn't true of all districts). Sometimes, working through the issues presented by the motion will require an in-depth reading of other things on the docket, certainly it involves reading the opposition (if any was filed). So reading, research, writing. Typically, I try and get through at least one motion each day unless whatever I'm working on is unduly complicated (I had a securities fraud MTD that took me a good week, albeit with interruptions for other stuff). I draft an order or, if the issue needs it, a memorandum opinion and an order. I give that stuff to the judge, and start working on the next motion.

We might take anywhere from one to two hours for lunch, depending on the judge's mood.

When I get something back from the judge, I go through his suggestions and edits and tweak whatever it was. Rarely do I have to do a complete overhaul, but occasionally it happens. This part is much faster than the initial drafting, since the framework is already in place.

This goes on for most of the day, with occasional interruptions for random stuff that pops up, and depending on the judge's mood we can leave as early as 6 PM or as late as 10 PM. (The latter is most likely during the months of our CJRA deadlines.)

Days with trail/hearings:

First, prior to trial or hearing, whichever law clerk is assigned to the case has to draft whatever benchmemos are necessary. Usually this is just dealing with motions in limine that are likely to come up and that the judge will rule on from the bench, rather than via order. Then we have to draft jury instructions and verdict forms, if it's a jury trial, or a benchmemo on the ultimate issues if it's a bench trial or a hearing (suppression/competency/etc.)

On the day trial/hearing begins, I get to work around 7:30 AM to make sure that I can catch anything the parties filed last minute. Then I toss on my jacket, and take whatever paper stuff I need into the courtroom and set up my computer in there. During hearing/trial, I move back and forth between the docket and westlaw/lexis, answering any legal questions that come up for the judge and feeding him information from the docket if necessary to deal with issues. It's my job to act as the judge's second eyes and ears - so I pay attention, and I listen carefully, even during times where issues aren't super likely to come up.

Trial goes from 9 AM to maybe 6 PM, depending on the day and how asleep the jury looks. I get maybe half an hour for lunch, some of which is taken up by dealing with issues that came up after the jury was sent to lunch and preparing drafts of the instructions and verdict form.

Towards the end of trial, it's a flurry of activity getting the final instructions ready, the verdict form ready, and figuring out if the impending motions for judgment of acquittal (criminal) or for directed verdict (civil) can be dealt with from the bench or will require more time and a memorandum opinion/order.

Bottom line: I read a lot, I write a lot. I watch a lot of advocacy, both good and bad. Not a bad first gig, all things considered.

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papercut
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby papercut » Sun May 04, 2014 12:39 pm

Lincoln wrote:I'm a first-year associate in litigation at a V5 firm in NYC. I've only been working since September, and in that time 99% of my time has been spent on one case that went from early document discovery through trial in that time, so (1) I haven't really had "typical" days since it has all depended on what stage of the case we're in at any given time, and (2) I've been extraordinarily busy. (To illustrate the last point, I've billed almost 1100 hours since Jan 1, and if you include non-billables—CLEs, sick-days, etc.—it approaches 1200.) The last few weeks we've been writing our post-trial brief and arguing with the other side about what was admitted at trial and for what purpose, so I'll use a day in that period that wasn't too crazy as an example.

9:45: Arrive at the office. My sr associate who is running the case is a morning person, so by that point I've probably received a handful of emails and responded to some of those on my way to work. I quickly address anything that needs to be done urgently or that just requires me to start it so that, say, the paralegals can get going on whatever needs to be done. I eat breakfast at my desk while checking the news, then check in with the other first-year on my team to see what she's working on and to assess the general mood of the team.

10:30: Work on list of admitted exhibits. Put together our responses to other side's objections or questions.

12:30: Grab lunch from caf and eat at my desk while putting together email to sr associate with update on exhibit list. Call paralegals and talk about things that need changing.

1:15 : Get email from midlevel asking me to research something for post-trial brief. Spend 3 hrs on it without finding a single good case but a money quote from a treatise that I know the mid-level won't use.

4:30: Metting w sr associate who tells me the status of the admitted exhibit list is unacceptable and I really need to stop making mistakes. I tell him new list, without mistakes, will be ready later that night.

4:45: Call paralegals and tell them I'll get fired if we don't figure out the exhibits. Talk about steps to make sure any mistakes are fixed.

5:00: Continue research, put together email to mid-level with what I found and suggestions for how we can get around the lack of a case.

5:40: Sr. sends me section of brief to read. I read and provide comments.

6:30: Spend 30 mins deciding what to order on seamless. End up ordering same thing as day before.

7:00: Paralegals send me updated exhibit list. I review, make a few changes, send to sr associate with draft email to opposing counsel.

7:30: Mid-level asks me to draft section of brief based on research I did in the morning. Get started on that.

7:50: Sr asks me to explain every step I took to put together admitted exhibit list. Ends up sending email to opposing counsel without changes.

8:30: Draft section of brief, send to mid-level around 11:00.

11:30: Get comments on section of brief. Asked to turn by the noon the next day. I'll leave that for the morning.

11:35: Send emails to paralegals with assignments for the morning. Respond to any other emails that were missed during the day. (I get around 50 emails per day—up to 250 when it's really insane—that I have to read to make sure it doesn't involve anything I need to do.)

11:45: Car service home.


How much of this time would you say you actually billed?

09042014
Posts: 18280
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby 09042014 » Sun May 04, 2014 12:41 pm

papercut wrote:
Lincoln wrote:I'm a first-year associate in litigation at a V5 firm in NYC. I've only been working since September, and in that time 99% of my time has been spent on one case that went from early document discovery through trial in that time, so (1) I haven't really had "typical" days since it has all depended on what stage of the case we're in at any given time, and (2) I've been extraordinarily busy. (To illustrate the last point, I've billed almost 1100 hours since Jan 1, and if you include non-billables—CLEs, sick-days, etc.—it approaches 1200.) The last few weeks we've been writing our post-trial brief and arguing with the other side about what was admitted at trial and for what purpose, so I'll use a day in that period that wasn't too crazy as an example.

9:45: Arrive at the office. My sr associate who is running the case is a morning person, so by that point I've probably received a handful of emails and responded to some of those on my way to work. I quickly address anything that needs to be done urgently or that just requires me to start it so that, say, the paralegals can get going on whatever needs to be done. I eat breakfast at my desk while checking the news, then check in with the other first-year on my team to see what she's working on and to assess the general mood of the team.

10:30: Work on list of admitted exhibits. Put together our responses to other side's objections or questions.

12:30: Grab lunch from caf and eat at my desk while putting together email to sr associate with update on exhibit list. Call paralegals and talk about things that need changing.

1:15 : Get email from midlevel asking me to research something for post-trial brief. Spend 3 hrs on it without finding a single good case but a money quote from a treatise that I know the mid-level won't use.

4:30: Metting w sr associate who tells me the status of the admitted exhibit list is unacceptable and I really need to stop making mistakes. I tell him new list, without mistakes, will be ready later that night.

4:45: Call paralegals and tell them I'll get fired if we don't figure out the exhibits. Talk about steps to make sure any mistakes are fixed.

5:00: Continue research, put together email to mid-level with what I found and suggestions for how we can get around the lack of a case.

5:40: Sr. sends me section of brief to read. I read and provide comments.

6:30: Spend 30 mins deciding what to order on seamless. End up ordering same thing as day before.

7:00: Paralegals send me updated exhibit list. I review, make a few changes, send to sr associate with draft email to opposing counsel.

7:30: Mid-level asks me to draft section of brief based on research I did in the morning. Get started on that.

7:50: Sr asks me to explain every step I took to put together admitted exhibit list. Ends up sending email to opposing counsel without changes.

8:30: Draft section of brief, send to mid-level around 11:00.

11:30: Get comments on section of brief. Asked to turn by the noon the next day. I'll leave that for the morning.

11:35: Send emails to paralegals with assignments for the morning. Respond to any other emails that were missed during the day. (I get around 50 emails per day—up to 250 when it's really insane—that I have to read to make sure it doesn't involve anything I need to do.)

11:45: Car service home.


How much of this time would you say you actually billed?


Doesn't matter. He won't get a better bonus if it's 8 or 12 hours. And he can't politely turn work down either

forty-two
Posts: 434
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:33 am

Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby forty-two » Sun May 04, 2014 2:08 pm

Question Everything wrote:
110 felony cases and counting -- WOW! Have you watched the HBO documentary "Gideon's Army"? If so, do you feel it's an accurate representation of the life of a PD? Do you plan on staying where you are or do you have other career aspirations? I have a great deal of respect for PDs. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to sign up to do an exceptionally difficult job, with little pay and even less prestige.


I have seen it. I think it's good at showing how emotionally draining the job can be, but I think it over dramatized some things. I interned at two offices before I got my job at a third, and all three of them are big on the work life balance thing. I think people like Travis are very rare, and there's a reason for that. If I let my job overwhelm me and take over my entire life like he did, I would burn out so quickly.

Right now I really like my job and have no plans to change jobs any time soon. Eventually I might want to go into private practice or work at a federal defenders office, but I'll see how I feel in a few years.

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kalvano
Posts: 12000
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby kalvano » Sun May 04, 2014 2:28 pm

twenty 8 wrote:Some local attorneys have no idea about the basic protocols of a particular industry so they begin reinventing the wheel. If the industry standard is 10% escrow they want a third, or if the penalty on breaching an NDA is X they want XXX, etc. Trying to explain the typical industry procedure usually ends as a fail…. ditto trying to convince the principal to use an attorney familiar with the field (I supply names of experienced attorneys/firms). Typical response… “my attorney knows how to read a contract,” or “s/he has been my lawyer for a hundred years.” I have several comebacks for those comments, but again, usual result is, fail. Sometimes I get lucky but nearly a quarter of these transactions go south. Anyone run into this?



Yes, a lot. Telecom work is very niche and the contracts, while at their core option and/or license agreements, are unique and require knowledge of what to look for to protct the landowner. If they take them to a regular real estate attorney, he'll jack up the rent and send it back as "good" without addressing 20 different things that could have been vastly improved. But they want to use their contracts attorney, so what can you do other than offer suggestions and tell them which ones are critical.

peter2009
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:06 pm

Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby peter2009 » Sun May 04, 2014 8:17 pm

Delaware local bankruptcy counsel is the best gig out there. Let NYC main bankruptcy counsel handle the heavy lifting and then work on the rest.

IAFG wrote:Now I am embarrassed about attention whoring for interest but here goes.

I'm Delaware local counsel in a bankruptcy practice.

My average day looks like:

8:55 - arrive. All the partners are already in and about half the associates have shown up. I sorta pretend to read Bloomberg/Bankruptcy 360 alerts. We will be staffed on at least one of the cases discussed because local rules require non-Delaware counsel to hire local counsel to practice before any DE state or federal court, and there are only so many DE firms with respected BK practices.

9:30 - start substituting dates and parties from a form motion, notice or application. Realize I am missing some key detail, go hassle my assigning partner or associate. Print it out, find errors, correct, print out, find another error, correct, print out, think it's clean, ask my secretary to look at it, she finds one more thing, and then I send it to assigning attorney to review.

11:00 - get asked to research whether a certain DE judge has allowed some certain specific thing. Ask the librarian to see what he can find on Bloomberg while I do some work on a nonbillable project. Because we are supposed to be experts on local law, we spend a decent amount of time collecting internal databases of information, for example a chart of pre-pack cases and some useful details about them.

1:00 - librarian emails me what they have but I go to lunch instead of looking at it.

2:15 - get back in and re-do most of what I got from the library. Summarize what I found in an email.

4:00 - work on another filing, this time making more significant changes to the form version but still nothing too strenuous. Print, proof, print, proof, secretary left, dammit, send.

5:45 - mistake found in my filing from this morning. God fucking dammit. Adopt change, get thumbs up, give to paralegal to file on the docket.

6:50 - shove nonbillable project in purse and leave. Never work on it.

Bad day - conflicts checks and only conflicts checks, all day. This means going through fat stacks of paper looking for entity names to make sure we don't accidentally end up representing clients on both sides of an adversary proceeding and get sued for malpractice.

Good day - researching and drafting dispositive motion for what is probably a case of first impression on some quirky point of law. This is just LRW without the shitty professor.

Best day - prepping for and attending hearing. That means putting together supply boxes, coordinating the assembly of documents for the partners to reference in the courtroom, doing an emergency research project to address an idea the partner had, running back to the firm for a fresh order reflecting some change agreed to in the hearing and taking notes on what happens.

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Lincoln
Posts: 1155
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:27 pm

Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Lincoln » Sun May 04, 2014 9:51 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
papercut wrote:
Lincoln wrote:I'm a first-year associate in litigation at a V5 firm in NYC. I've only been working since September, and in that time 99% of my time has been spent on one case that went from early document discovery through trial in that time, so (1) I haven't really had "typical" days since it has all depended on what stage of the case we're in at any given time, and (2) I've been extraordinarily busy. (To illustrate the last point, I've billed almost 1100 hours since Jan 1, and if you include non-billables—CLEs, sick-days, etc.—it approaches 1200.) The last few weeks we've been writing our post-trial brief and arguing with the other side about what was admitted at trial and for what purpose, so I'll use a day in that period that wasn't too crazy as an example.

9:45: Arrive at the office. My sr associate who is running the case is a morning person, so by that point I've probably received a handful of emails and responded to some of those on my way to work. I quickly address anything that needs to be done urgently or that just requires me to start it so that, say, the paralegals can get going on whatever needs to be done. I eat breakfast at my desk while checking the news, then check in with the other first-year on my team to see what she's working on and to assess the general mood of the team.

10:30: Work on list of admitted exhibits. Put together our responses to other side's objections or questions.

12:30: Grab lunch from caf and eat at my desk while putting together email to sr associate with update on exhibit list. Call paralegals and talk about things that need changing.

1:15 : Get email from midlevel asking me to research something for post-trial brief. Spend 3 hrs on it without finding a single good case but a money quote from a treatise that I know the mid-level won't use.

4:30: Metting w sr associate who tells me the status of the admitted exhibit list is unacceptable and I really need to stop making mistakes. I tell him new list, without mistakes, will be ready later that night.

4:45: Call paralegals and tell them I'll get fired if we don't figure out the exhibits. Talk about steps to make sure any mistakes are fixed.

5:00: Continue research, put together email to mid-level with what I found and suggestions for how we can get around the lack of a case.

5:40: Sr. sends me section of brief to read. I read and provide comments.

6:30: Spend 30 mins deciding what to order on seamless. End up ordering same thing as day before.

7:00: Paralegals send me updated exhibit list. I review, make a few changes, send to sr associate with draft email to opposing counsel.

7:30: Mid-level asks me to draft section of brief based on research I did in the morning. Get started on that.

7:50: Sr asks me to explain every step I took to put together admitted exhibit list. Ends up sending email to opposing counsel without changes.

8:30: Draft section of brief, send to mid-level around 11:00.

11:30: Get comments on section of brief. Asked to turn by the noon the next day. I'll leave that for the morning.

11:35: Send emails to paralegals with assignments for the morning. Respond to any other emails that were missed during the day. (I get around 50 emails per day—up to 250 when it's really insane—that I have to read to make sure it doesn't involve anything I need to do.)

11:45: Car service home.


How much of this time would you say you actually billed?


Doesn't matter. He won't get a better bonus if it's 8 or 12 hours. And he can't politely turn work down either


On a day like that, I probably billed 10-11 hours, depending on my work:procrastination ratio. My situation is a bit different than most in that I work for one partner, so my hours are completely dependent on how busy he is. In that sense, I can't even impolitely turn down work. No one calls to ask how busy I am; it's just expected that I get it done. But my hours also don't matter in the slightest. Because I have no control over them, no one cares what they are compared to other first-years. But at the rate I'm going, I'll bill 2500 pretty easily even if things slow down a bit, so I'm not really concerned about that.

smallfirmassociate
Posts: 400
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:47 pm

Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby smallfirmassociate » Mon May 05, 2014 12:55 pm

sighsigh wrote:
smallfirmassociate wrote: Yes, that's my week. I'm on pace to bill just under 1,000 hours this year, but based on the normal yearly cycle (slow months vs. busy months), that should be around 1,100 by the end of the year.

That's pretty amazing. I didn't think billable hour requirements like that existed anywhere in the entire USA.


I have a friend in another state in a similar gig, and he billed 1200 hours last year. It makes sense. He's in a fairly low cost of living area (not quite as low as mine, but similar), and I think his rate is $150 per hour. That's $180,000 in gross revenue, of course just simplifying and ignoring flat fee or contingency cases and bad debt write-offs. Let's say his salary is $50k - $55k, so that leaves about $125k left. Depending on if he has a dedicated assistant and how his office is set up, his portion of overhead is $45k - $70k (keep in mind that his office's rent is measured in hundreds per month and not thousands). So that leaves $55k - $80k that he's leveraged to go in the pockets of partners, which is exactly the range that peer firms want per associate. At 5-8 partners, that's an extra $10k in each partner's pocket.

The business model here supports it, but that's because the associate has more bargaining power here than at a big firm. That's because the firm's investment in each associate is relatively high, and there is a barrier to entry before a new associate becomes profitable -- generally six to eighteen months. It takes that much time for the firm to adjust and bring in additional work (e.g. stop turning down the same work it normally turns down), for the associate to learn how to do anything, etc. An associate with 1-2 years of experience has quite a bit of pull in negotiations. Partners HATE losing experienced associates, as some leave for bigger cities / bigger firms, in-house, etc. They'd rather the associate build a book and help stabilize the firm's income as a profitable partner.

Sorry if that's off-topic, but figured I'd extrapolate on that since at least one person seemed interested.




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