What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

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Anonymous User
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What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:18 pm

Sorry all, please bear with these question. I'm not a litigation associate, but I've been asked to research and write about a legal issue and apply it to a certain fact pattern for a litigation partner. The facts and issues are of moderate complexity. What's a reasonable amount of time to bill for researching and writing the memo? I know this varies a lot, but examples would be helpful.

foregetaboutdre
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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby foregetaboutdre » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:23 pm

Varies a ton....

For lit IME... a good three questions to ask when assigned a legal research memo are:

1. What matter do I bill?
2. How much time should I put into this/deadline?
3. Do you have any thoughts or hunches what the answer is?

As of now I’d just try to gauge how much the partner wants you to sink into the memo. A subtle way of doing this is maybe clarifying the deadline etc... ( I know you said deadline is X (which I will meet, but I’m trying to prioritize work and want to know how much of a priority this is and how much time I should put into it)

Just don’t re-ask questions 1-3 after your initial assignment meeting too often or else you may appear annoying.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:32 pm

OP here. I was given about 4 days, which is a tight deadline.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:37 pm

I would suggest cranking it out - you only have four days. Bill as much as you need to and make it the best memo of your life. Treat other work that comes up as a break from the memo. Put all your time down. The partner can cut your time later.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I would suggest cranking it out - you only have four days. Bill as much as you need to and make it the best memo of your life. Treat other work that comes up as a break from the memo. Put all your time down. The partner can cut your time later.


Same. I'd bill every single minute worked and let partner write down the time.

foregetaboutdre
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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby foregetaboutdre » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. I was given about 4 days, which is a tight deadline.


Yeah just bill it all in that case. If you get repeat work ask questions 2 and 3 I posted.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby gregfootball2001 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Sorry all, please bear with these question. I'm not a litigation associate, but I've been asked to research and write about a legal issue and apply it to a certain fact pattern for a litigation partner. The facts and issues are of moderate complexity. What's a reasonable amount of time to bill for researching and writing the memo? I know this varies a lot, but examples would be helpful.

Unfortunately it really depends. A formal research memo rarely, if ever, takes less than two hours. A quick email answer can be faster, of course. Completely anecdotal, but most of my memos are between 3-6 single spaced pages, and the billable time typically ranges from 4-10 hours of time. Anything past that upper bound is pretty rare for me unless we're talking about researching multiple, completely separate issues, in which case it's essentially multiple research memos. Again, others may spend way less or way more time, but that's been my average over the past couple of years working in lit.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby ur_hero » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:27 pm

Bill every minute it takes. Don't short yourself - I think this is a habit that leads to things being much more depressing than they have to be.

Conversely, there's no set amount of time a memo should take....Depends on the nature/complexity of the issues, what the partner wants the memo for and to look like, when the Partner expects it, and how much time available you have to put into it.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby lolwat » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:52 am

I bill anywhere from 2 to 200 hours. Not kidding, either. The 200 hour memos were practically books, and the senior associates/partners I was working with at the time wanted it that detailed. I almost felt sorta bad for the clients.

Usually, though, moderate complexity means you should be finished with the legal research within a few hours. Applying it to the fact pattern and writing a memo should take longer. I'd say 10-20 hours is probably average, but it's also fine if you're going over that.

In any event, I'd err on the side of (a) getting the law right, (b) getting your analysis solid, and (c) making sure the memo reads well and has no typos, all of which are more important than how much time you're spending on it.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby deepseapartners » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:27 am

As a junior associate at your firm, are you often (or even sometimes) responsible for managing the amount of time you put into this kind of assignment?

I would say you usually either get one of (1) don't spend more than [30 min-2 hours] on this or (2) I would like a formal memo please. If it's (2), I would tend to agree with the above anons that you should work as much as you need to work until you turn in your completed memo. No junior associate should be responsible for writing off their own hours, and if you are, then you should be seeking advice from a not-anon senior lawyer at your firm instead of TLS.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby gregfootball2001 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:33 am

lolwat wrote:I bill anywhere from 2 to 200 hours. Not kidding, either.

Holy shit.

lolwat wrote: I'd say 10-20 hours is probably average, but it's also fine if you're going over that.

Just for my own curiosity, how many pages on average is a 10-20 hour memo?

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby jimmythecatdied6 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:10 am

Bill however long it takes, and there is no "reasonable amount of time" without more details. You are at a biglaw firm to generate revenue; not to worry about costs. Let the partners worry about that.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby jd20132013 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:23 am

jimmythecatdied6 wrote:Bill however long it takes, and there is no "reasonable amount of time" without more details. You are at a biglaw firm to generate revenue; not to worry about costs. Let the partners worry about that.

This should have been the first answer


no one ever got fired for billing too much

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby notDINGBAT » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:42 pm

jd20132013 wrote:
jimmythecatdied6 wrote:Bill however long it takes, and there is no "reasonable amount of time" without more details. You are at a biglaw firm to generate revenue; not to worry about costs. Let the partners worry about that.

This should have been the first answer


no one ever got fired for billing too much

Attorneys have gotten disbarred for billing too much

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deepseapartners
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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby deepseapartners » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:03 pm

notDINGBAT wrote:
jd20132013 wrote:
jimmythecatdied6 wrote:Bill however long it takes, and there is no "reasonable amount of time" without more details. You are at a biglaw firm to generate revenue; not to worry about costs. Let the partners worry about that.

This should have been the first answer


no one ever got fired for billing too much

Attorneys have gotten disbarred for billing too much

A random Biglaw junior associate who bills 40 hours to write a research memo (aka OP + OP's time constraints) is not going to get disbarred.

jd20132013
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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby jd20132013 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:10 pm

notDINGBAT wrote:
jd20132013 wrote:
jimmythecatdied6 wrote:Bill however long it takes, and there is no "reasonable amount of time" without more details. You are at a biglaw firm to generate revenue; not to worry about costs. Let the partners worry about that.

This should have been the first answer


no one ever got fired for billing too much

Attorneys have gotten disbarred for billing too much

you knew what I meant so I won't bother responding to this seriously

jimmythecatdied6
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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby jimmythecatdied6 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:12 pm

notDINGBAT wrote:
jd20132013 wrote:
jimmythecatdied6 wrote:Bill however long it takes, and there is no "reasonable amount of time" without more details. You are at a biglaw firm to generate revenue; not to worry about costs. Let the partners worry about that.

This should have been the first answer


no one ever got fired for billing too much

Attorneys have gotten disbarred for billing too much


An attorney was disbarred for accurately billing their time on a project? Fraudulent billing (i.e., padding hours), is obviously a problem. But last time I checked, being inefficient and billing more than a hypothetically more competent attorney does not strike me as an ethical issue. If that was the case, half of the legal profession would be disbarred.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby lolwat » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:14 pm

Just for my own curiosity, how many pages on average is a 10-20 hour memo?


I'd say probably around 10 pages, single spaced, size 12 font. I often have to hunt for some of the background stuff myself, though, rather than being given a relatively discrete set of facts and legal issues to research and analyze. I also think I could probably always save at least 2-3 hours if I cut corners in things like editing the memo for style/grammar and stuff like that.

A random Biglaw junior associate who bills 40 hours to write a research memo (aka OP + OP's time constraints) is not going to get disbarred.


Perhaps true in biglaw, but some other places put a premium on efficiency and also generally doesn't like overbilling clients. So it might be fine for the first time if you take 40 hours on what people would consider a 20-hour memo, but you can't do it more than the first few times or you'll eventually get a talk about your efficiency and how much time you're spending on an assignment versus how much time the firm can realistically bill the client for. It's all about knowing what the expectations are, whether you get that directly through asking or just spending enough time at the firm to figure it out.

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby notDINGBAT » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:12 pm

jimmythecatdied6 wrote:
notDINGBAT wrote:
jd20132013 wrote:
jimmythecatdied6 wrote:Bill however long it takes, and there is no "reasonable amount of time" without more details. You are at a biglaw firm to generate revenue; not to worry about costs. Let the partners worry about that.

This should have been the first answer


no one ever got fired for billing too much

Attorneys have gotten disbarred for billing too much


An attorney was disbarred for accurately billing their time on a project? Fraudulent billing (i.e., padding hours), is obviously a problem. But last time I checked, being inefficient and billing more than a hypothetically more competent attorney does not strike me as an ethical issue. If that was the case, half of the legal profession would be disbarred.


An attorney I met not too long ago got disbarred for accurate billing. Parts of the findings were:
- some of the work should have been farmed out to paralegals, underlings, or outsourced, for a lower rate
- being a slow old fart is not a valid excuse when no competent attorney would spend that much time on that matter
Nowhere in the verdict was there any indication of fraudulent billing, just extremely wasteful/sloppy/slow

jd20132013
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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby jd20132013 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:25 pm

notDINGBAT wrote:
jimmythecatdied6 wrote:
notDINGBAT wrote:
jd20132013 wrote:
jimmythecatdied6 wrote:Bill however long it takes, and there is no "reasonable amount of time" without more details. You are at a biglaw firm to generate revenue; not to worry about costs. Let the partners worry about that.

This should have been the first answer


no one ever got fired for billing too much

Attorneys have gotten disbarred for billing too much


An attorney was disbarred for accurately billing their time on a project? Fraudulent billing (i.e., padding hours), is obviously a problem. But last time I checked, being inefficient and billing more than a hypothetically more competent attorney does not strike me as an ethical issue. If that was the case, half of the legal profession would be disbarred.


An attorney I met not too long ago got disbarred for accurate billing. Parts of the findings were:
- some of the work should have been farmed out to paralegals, underlings, or outsourced, for a lower rate
- being a slow old fart is not a valid excuse when no competent attorney would spend that much time on that matter
Nowhere in the verdict was there any indication of fraudulent billing, just extremely wasteful/sloppy/slow



Lmao I don't believe this story one bit (not calling you a liar--calling him a liar)

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notDINGBAT
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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby notDINGBAT » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:26 pm

jd20132013 wrote:
Lmao I don't believe this story one bit (not calling you a liar--calling him a liar)


He didn't tell me. I read the case file. I'll PM you

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notDINGBAT
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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby notDINGBAT » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:27 pm

notDINGBAT wrote:
jd20132013 wrote:
Lmao I don't believe this story one bit (not calling you a liar--calling him a liar)


He didn't tell me. I read the case where he got sued. He had to reimburse approximately 80%.
Afterwards, the disbarment merely took the judgment and said he violated Rule 1.5

(a) A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses

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Re: What's a reasonable amount of time to bill to research/write a memo (jr associate)?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:59 pm

40 hours on a research memo is a lot. 10-15 hours strikes me as more realistic depending on how discrete the question is.




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