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People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 9:33 am
by gaddockteeg
I hear this a lot from people who leave big law to in-house or big fed. No billing requirements or keeping track of your time is one of the best parts of leaving big law.

Why is this is so great? I'm a biglaw associate and Ive never seen the big deal about entering your time. 2.1 hours for this motion. 0.4 hours for this call. etc. Why is that so bad?

Or is it just the pressure that comes from tracking time and not the actual tracking time itself? ie. not having enough billable hours one week and stressing about it?

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 9:37 am
by ballouttacontrol
JMHO based on my firm experience:

pressure to ALWAYS BE BILLING I think.

it would be so nice to phone able to phone it in for a day... I do that when I'm ridic hungover or whatever, and then it's like, SHIT now I need to bill an extra 2 hours more the next 4 days to make up for that

also not having to worry about efficiency, realization, etc.... shit blows in practice areas that have low margins

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 9:55 am
by Bluem_11
You're always thinking about your hours. Every day be it a weekday, weekend or holiday. What am I on pace for? If I take off early today what do I need to sacrifice this weekend to make it up? How much can I bill from this matter? etc.

As opposed to a non-billing environment, where you just show up and do your job. If you have stuff to do, you do your stuff. If you don't have much stuff to do, you don't do much stuff and that's about as much thinking as you put into your workload.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 10:19 am
by Anonymous User
Bluem_11 wrote:You're always thinking about your hours. Every day be it a weekday, weekend or holiday. What am I on pace for? If I take off early today what do I need to sacrifice this weekend to make it up? How much can I bill from this matter? etc.

As opposed to a non-billing environment, where you just show up and do your job. If you have stuff to do, you do your stuff. If you don't have much stuff to do, you don't do much stuff and that's about as much thinking as you put into your workload.



This.

Billing is only not bad if you're slammed and have a ton to do. That, obviously, is its own downside.


E: accidental anon

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 10:23 am
by kalvano
I billed time on 23 different matters yesterday, and that was a light day. If I could just do my job without having to worry about allocating out time, I could be half again as efficient.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 10:57 am
by gaddockteeg
Anonymous User wrote:
Bluem_11 wrote:You're always thinking about your hours. Every day be it a weekday, weekend or holiday. What am I on pace for? If I take off early today what do I need to sacrifice this weekend to make it up? How much can I bill from this matter? etc.

As opposed to a non-billing environment, where you just show up and do your job. If you have stuff to do, you do your stuff. If you don't have much stuff to do, you don't do much stuff and that's about as much thinking as you put into your workload.



This.

Billing is only not bad if you're slammed and have a ton to do. That, obviously, is its own downside.


E: accidental anon


Ah. makes sense. I can see the enjoyment/value in that. I think I've always been fortunate to be slammed for the first 6 monhts of the year so that whenever I got slow later on, I didn;t think anything of it.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 11:05 am
by Bluem_11
gaddockteeg wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Bluem_11 wrote:You're always thinking about your hours. Every day be it a weekday, weekend or holiday. What am I on pace for? If I take off early today what do I need to sacrifice this weekend to make it up? How much can I bill from this matter? etc.

As opposed to a non-billing environment, where you just show up and do your job. If you have stuff to do, you do your stuff. If you don't have much stuff to do, you don't do much stuff and that's about as much thinking as you put into your workload.



This.

Billing is only not bad if you're slammed and have a ton to do. That, obviously, is its own downside.


E: accidental anon


Ah. makes sense. I can see the enjoyment/value in that. I think I've always been fortunate to be slammed for the first 6 monhts of the year so that whenever I got slow later on, I didn;t think anything of it.


Fortunate is an interesting way of looking at it.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 1:17 pm
by Anonymous User
As someone who started in government work and transitioned to biglaw, I can say that billing is the single worst aspect of practicing law. The constant pressure to bill for anything and everything you can throughout the day is awful. Even on vacation I found myself recalcuting how many hours I need to bill per day in order to make up for the days off. Out sick? Well, you have to account for those missed hours, too.

I was lucky enough to go into a practice area that is useful to many government agencies and, as a result, will be be giving notice to return to a reasonably balanced working environment very soon.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 1:27 pm
by lolwat
I think it's just the pressure, not knowing if you'll "make" your time, etc. The actual act of allocating time and stuff takes maybe 10-15 minutes out of the day, which is annoying because that can go towards billable time but not the worst ever. (It's bad when, as some attorneys here do, they don't put in their time until the end of the month, making it an hours-long process.)

I often liked gunning it for the first half of the year, getting where I meet the official "minimum" by September/October, and then semi-coasting for November and December (only working hard if there are deadlines etc) knowing I've already locked in the hours needed. But, if I had an option of NOT having to do that, and just worrying about getting shit done, that would be even better.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 2:15 pm
by gaddockteeg
Bluem_11 wrote:
gaddockteeg wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Bluem_11 wrote:You're always thinking about your hours. Every day be it a weekday, weekend or holiday. What am I on pace for? If I take off early today what do I need to sacrifice this weekend to make it up? How much can I bill from this matter? etc.

As opposed to a non-billing environment, where you just show up and do your job. If you have stuff to do, you do your stuff. If you don't have much stuff to do, you don't do much stuff and that's about as much thinking as you put into your workload.



This.

Billing is only not bad if you're slammed and have a ton to do. That, obviously, is its own downside.


E: accidental anon


Ah. makes sense. I can see the enjoyment/value in that. I think I've always been fortunate to be slammed for the first 6 monhts of the year so that whenever I got slow later on, I didn;t think anything of it.


Fortunate is an interesting way of looking at it.


I think in comparison to the inverse (slow for the 6 months, then slammed for the latter 6), I was/am fortunate, but I get the humor in what youre saying.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 2:30 pm
by lameslice57
Anonymous User wrote:As someone who started in government work and transitioned to biglaw, I can say that billing is the single worst aspect of practicing law. The constant pressure to bill for anything and everything you can throughout the day is awful. Even on vacation I found myself recalcuting how many hours I need to bill per day in order to make up for the days off. Out sick? Well, you have to account for those missed hours, too.

I was lucky enough to go into a practice area that is useful to many government agencies and, as a result, will be be giving notice to return to a reasonably balanced working environment very soon.


Out of curiosity, what practice area?

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 3:38 pm
by dudders
I never worked biglaw, but i interned and paralegaled at places where I had to bill. Keeping track of, allocating, and entering time wasn't the worst thing in the world. I work for government and don't bill, and I frequently say not billing and not having clients are two enormous advantages to this job.

I work a lot when I'm in trial mode and can coast when I'm not as busy. I am never worried about how much I have worked this week, month, or year. No one cares as long as I'm not dropping the ball on my workload. No one has any idea that I've spent most of my day today on TLS, shitting my pants over Trump's proposed PSLF repeal, and reading a library book that's overdue. I've been in court for everything I need to be today and I'm hungover and not motivated, so whatever. I worked a ton Mon-Wed this week and I'm kind of over it. My boss can't log into a timekeeping software and see that I've only billed like 1.5 hrs of work today. I am a person who would obsess over the hours in terms of my own performance, but I'd probably also be thinking in terms of my rank among peers. I think I work better without that unnecessary pressure (well, most of the time. today's not a great example.) When I am working, my focus can be on my work and my personal and professional development, not just billing x number of hours to get my bonus. No one is going to raise an eyebrow at me if I spend more time on something than I technically need to, because it's on a matter I feel strongly about or it's a new topic for me and I really want to learn it. Likewise, I wouldn't want my supervisors to be able to track that I haven't done anything on a major file in weeks (because even if literally nothing needs to be done, that kind of stuff makes the higher-ups freak out).

I wish my secretary had to bill though because she DOESN'T DO ANYTHING.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 3:59 pm
by Quichelorraine
Billing is also just no fun, even beyond the "will I make my hours?" concerns outlined above. I used to work for a not-for-profit, where the pressure to "bill" was quite low; we kept track of our hours on the off chance we'd win a case at trial and be able to sue for fees under the EAJA. Even without pressure, billing still sucked. It was menial, it was distracting, it's damn hard to keep track of time if you happen to have an iffy attention span, and so on. It's amazing how much better you feel when, with the precise same work, you have no obligation to keep track of time.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 2:32 pm
by Seffer15
I never minded entering or keeping track of my time in big law, but after going in-house I would agree that this is one of the best parts of the job. It's hard to explain why. I think it comes down to (1) not stressing about your hours for the week/month/year, (2) not tying your self-worth to how many hours you bill in a given day or week, and (3) being able to sit down and solve a problem/complete an assignment without having to worry about whether you spent too much or too little time on it. I remember doing things in my personal life during big law and equating everything to billed time ("It took me 1.2 hours to assemble that piece of furniture" or "I can't believe I'm commuting for .7 hours every day"). It's just a very obsessive way to think about breaking up your day, and it's much better from a QOL perspective to truly not have to think about it.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 2:42 pm
by Danger Zone
Why did this thread need to be made

What masochist thinks billing is anything besides miserable

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 3:24 pm
by dixiecupdrinking
I'm also pretty much constantly concerned someone will say I'm either lying or billing too much time on things, even though I'm doing neither. You put 0.5 for a phone call that another lawyer puts 0.3 or whatever and a client (or partner) gets irritated. It's just the worst mixture of tedious, annoying, and oddly stressful.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 4:27 pm
by Anonymous User
On a related note, if you're interviewing with a lawyer for an in-house but non-practicing position, is it okay to say that billable hours are part of the reason you want to leave private practice?

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 4:32 pm
by Danger Zone
Anonymous User wrote:On a related note, if you're interviewing with a lawyer for an in-house but non-practicing position, is it okay to say that billable hours are part of the reason you want to leave private practice?

No. You need to think about this from the employer's perspective and then answer that question in a way that shows you'll bring value to the company. Crying about billables won't get you anywhere.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 5:12 pm
by elendinel
Bluem_11 wrote:
gaddockteeg wrote:
Ah. makes sense. I can see the enjoyment/value in that. I think I've always been fortunate to be slammed for the first 6 monhts of the year so that whenever I got slow later on, I didn;t think anything of it.


Fortunate is an interesting way of looking at it.


:lol:

I guess it's a matter of perspective but many people aren't into the masochism that is feeling fortunate to be working 300+ hours a month for half a year so that you can "afford" to be sick, take a vacation, have an off day, to have a slow day at work, etc.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 5:35 pm
by gaddockteeg
elendinel wrote:
Bluem_11 wrote:
gaddockteeg wrote:
Ah. makes sense. I can see the enjoyment/value in that. I think I've always been fortunate to be slammed for the first 6 monhts of the year so that whenever I got slow later on, I didn;t think anything of it.


Fortunate is an interesting way of looking at it.


:lol:

I guess it's a matter of perspective but many people aren't into the masochism that is feeling fortunate to be working 300+ hours a month for half a year so that you can "afford" to be sick, take a vacation, have an off day, to have a slow day at work, etc.


Like I said already, it's fortunate compared to the inverse.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 5:55 pm
by lolwat
Yeah, anyway, while billing at a law firm just sucks for all the reasons stated above, I suppose a solo could find billing time a little more exciting because they'll actually see that translate into $$$ (if they can collect from their client). "Woot 0.5 phone call. +$250!" Or some shit, lol. (It's Friday and I wanna stop billing now. :))

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 6:33 pm
by Anonymous User
If you actually have to break out your time and/or use codes to describe specific tasks, billing is terrible and awful and one of the worst parts of the job. If you can block bill, it is merely annoying.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Sat May 20, 2017 12:15 pm
by elendinel
gaddockteeg wrote:
elendinel wrote:
Bluem_11 wrote:
gaddockteeg wrote:
Ah. makes sense. I can see the enjoyment/value in that. I think I've always been fortunate to be slammed for the first 6 monhts of the year so that whenever I got slow later on, I didn;t think anything of it.


Fortunate is an interesting way of looking at it.


:lol:

I guess it's a matter of perspective but many people aren't into the masochism that is feeling fortunate to be working 300+ hours a month for half a year so that you can "afford" to be sick, take a vacation, have an off day, to have a slow day at work, etc.


Like I said already, it's fortunate compared to the inverse.


I read what you said. My point is not everyone is into the kind of masochism that makes you have to choose between those alternatives to begin with.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Sun May 21, 2017 6:09 pm
by patentlitigatrix
I am one of the few weirdos that actually like the concept of the billable hour. Even though some of my matters are fixed fee or done on a contingency fee basis, I still bill my time for internal timekeeping. It provides an objective measure of my hours spent, both so I know whether or not to take on more work, take a 3 week vacation, etc., and also for bonus purposes. This goes along with why I like lock-step salaries-I don't feel like I am being cheated out of pay, and it becomes hard to do that with lock step salaries and bonuses tied to hours. (But hey, I am a female minority, so I am probably more worried about that than others.)

The disadvantage I see is that efficiency may not rewarded, and can be punished because less hours spent on good work could be viewed less favorable than more hours spent on mediocre work.

Re: People always say "no billing" is one of the best parts of leaving biglaw. why?

Posted: Sun May 21, 2017 8:42 pm
by Anonymous User
patentlitigatrix wrote:I am one of the few weirdos that actually like the concept of the billable hour. Even though some of my matters are fixed fee or done on a contingency fee basis, I still bill my time for internal timekeeping. It provides an objective measure of my hours spent, both so I know whether or not to take on more work, take a 3 week vacation, etc., and also for bonus purposes. This goes along with why I like lock-step salaries-I don't feel like I am being cheated out of pay, and it becomes hard to do that with lock step salaries and bonuses tied to hours. (But hey, I am a female minority, so I am probably more worried about that than others.)

The disadvantage I see is that efficiency may not rewarded, and can be punished because less hours spent on good work could be viewed less favorable than more hours spent on mediocre work.


For sure when your docket is light and you get an assignment done ahead of time there is incentive to 'review' your work for an extra hour or two.