How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.

How many hours are you working?

Less than 35
4
7%
35-45
0
No votes
45-55
12
21%
55-65
23
40%
65+
19
33%
 
Total votes: 58

ebb44

New
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:51 pm

How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby ebb44 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:59 am

Just wanted to get an idea of how many hours people are putting into their biglaw jobs before I go to LS. I'd also like to know the chances of getting a job with 40-50 hrs a week and at least $100K pay.

cyrilfiggis

New
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:35 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby cyrilfiggis » Mon Jul 20, 2015 10:09 am

ebb44 wrote:I'd also like to know the chances of getting a job with 40-50 hrs a week and at least $100K pay.


Low chance

If you're looking to work 40-50 hours a week, law is probably not the best place to turn

legends159

Silver
Posts: 1090
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 4:12 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby legends159 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 10:27 am

You gotta go in-house or government for those kinds of hours. It's also not guaranteed in every in-house gig, really depends on the company and size of the legal team. But these jobs definitely exist and are not uncommon - but you typically need to go through biglaw to get them. Once you've gone in-house, it's a lot easier to get another in-house job.

NonTradHealthLaw

Bronze
Posts: 462
Joined: Mon May 03, 2010 2:44 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby NonTradHealthLaw » Mon Jul 20, 2015 10:33 am

There's also a learning curve between hours working and hours billed. 12+ hour billable days are not uncommon; 14+ days are also common when you have meetings, dinners, networking, etc.

User avatar
OhBoyOhBortles

Gold
Posts: 2473
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:01 am

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby OhBoyOhBortles » Mon Jul 20, 2015 10:40 am

http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=249546&hilit=300+hours+billed

Poll could have been interesting, but your options here aren't realistic.

User avatar
thesealocust

Platinum
Posts: 8523
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jul 20, 2015 11:08 am

ebb44 wrote:Just wanted to get an idea of how many hours people are putting into their biglaw jobs before I go to LS. I'd also like to know the chances of getting a job with 40-50 hrs a week and at least $100K pay.


The unpredictability is often at least as bad as the hours. The difference between working for 14 hours on a Monday, and working for 8 hours on a Monday, being ready to leave, then having a crisis that takes 6 more hours of work, is pretty huge. Many jobs in the legal industry require responsiveness and bursts of effort on projects, so you don't always have much ability to control your schedule.

As to your question, attorney starting salaries are very 'bimodal' - lots of people start at $160,000 (or slightly less in smaller cities), and most others earn significantly less than 6-figures (more like $40k to $50k). The former category of jobs will be much, much more work than "40-50" hours, and honestly the latter often is too - it just pays less.

ebb44

New
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:51 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby ebb44 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:18 pm

I understand that attorney salaries are bimodal. Going to law school for 40-50K afterwards is not a good bet for me. I just want to see if there are jobs paying 130-160K that have less hours.

ebb44

New
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:51 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby ebb44 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:18 pm

OhBoyOhBortles wrote:http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=249546&hilit=300+hours+billed

Poll could have been interesting, but your options here aren't realistic.

What should I change it to?

User avatar
thesealocust

Platinum
Posts: 8523
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:30 pm

ebb44 wrote: I just want to see if there are jobs paying 130-160K that have less hours.


The answer a pretty hard no, at least at entry level. It's definitely possible after getting a few years of experience, but the hours are probably more "less long" than they are actually short.

User avatar
OhBoyOhBortles

Gold
Posts: 2473
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:01 am

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby OhBoyOhBortles » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:31 pm

ebb44 wrote:
OhBoyOhBortles wrote:http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=249546&hilit=300+hours+billed

Poll could have been interesting, but your options here aren't realistic.

What should I change it to?


Start with 45-55 and work your way up to 105-115. Should probably have a 115+ option as well, just in case. Ask those responding to average their last 8 work weeks so that you account for the way work-level varies week to week.

There are also plenty of threads like the one I quoted for you to check out if you're interested in reading more accounts about big law work hours.

Hutz_and_Goodman

Gold
Posts: 1550
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:42 am

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:33 pm

OhBoyOhBortles wrote:
ebb44 wrote:
OhBoyOhBortles wrote:http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=249546&hilit=300+hours+billed

Poll could have been interesting, but your options here aren't realistic.

What should I change it to?


Start with 45-55 and work your way up to 105-115. Should probably have a 115+ option as well, just in case. Ask those responding to average their last 8 work weeks so that you account for the way work-level varies week to week.

There are also plenty of threads like the one I quoted for you to check out if you're interested in reading more accounts about big law work hours.


Anyone averaging 115+, just wow

User avatar
OhBoyOhBortles

Gold
Posts: 2473
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:01 am

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby OhBoyOhBortles » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:34 pm

I'm hoping no one would select it, but after reading some of the threads on here...

User avatar
KMart

Gold
Posts: 4368
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:25 am

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby KMart » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:35 pm

OhBoyOhBortles wrote:I'm hoping no one would select it, but after reading some of the threads on here...

I'm sure there are weeks it happens. Averaging, over the course of an entire year, is probably pretty extreme.

Hutz_and_Goodman

Gold
Posts: 1550
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:42 am

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:40 pm

I'm going to be working NYC big law, and expecting that I will range between 50-90hrs per week depending on how busy things are. I'm good on 3-4 hrs of sleep, but beyond that I don't how anyone can do work that involves any level of thinking.

User avatar
thesealocust

Platinum
Posts: 8523
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:26 pm

When I worked in biglaw, I kept a receipt on my desk from the drug store across the street from the office. It was from 4:30 a.m. and was for a bottle of caffeine pills, a bottle of ibuprofen, a toothbrush and tooth paste.

It was a reminder to seek alternative employment :lol:

ebb44

New
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:51 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby ebb44 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:42 pm

I'm more interested in an average over a year. I don't believe there is a sizable group working 100 hr * 46 wks (estimate)= 4600 hours a year or more. Some firms on NALP list average total hours worked by associates in addition to billable hours and I saw nothing above 2300. Is there anywhere I can get more information about total hours worked?

User avatar
KMart

Gold
Posts: 4368
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:25 am

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby KMart » Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:49 pm

ebb44 wrote:I'm more interested in an average over a year. I don't believe there is a sizable group working 100 hr * 46 wks (estimate)= 4600 hours a year or more. Some firms on NALP list average total hours worked by associates in addition to billable hours and I saw nothing above 2300. Is there anywhere I can get more information about total hours worked?

Average hours is flame on the NALP. Employee works half a year and finds another job elsewhere but only works 500 hours? Put it in the average. Maternity leave and doesn't work for months and ends up at 1100 for the year? Put it in the average.

User avatar
jrf12886

Bronze
Posts: 283
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:52 am

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby jrf12886 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:57 pm

You need to clarify if you mean hours worked or hours billed. I generally try to bill the vast majority of my time in the office, but that can be harder for transaction attorneys (I hear).

I have billed about 1300 for the year so far and will probably end up somewhere around 2200-2400 depending on how the rest of the year goes, and I've been told I'm on track for where I need to be. Do the math to figure out my weekly average. NYC biglaw.
Last edited by jrf12886 on Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Johann

Diamond
Posts: 19699
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:25 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby Johann » Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:00 pm

KMart wrote:
ebb44 wrote:I'm more interested in an average over a year. I don't believe there is a sizable group working 100 hr * 46 wks (estimate)= 4600 hours a year or more. Some firms on NALP list average total hours worked by associates in addition to billable hours and I saw nothing above 2300. Is there anywhere I can get more information about total hours worked?

Average hours is flame on the NALP. Employee works half a year and finds another job elsewhere but only works 500 hours? Put it in the average. Maternity leave and doesn't work for months and ends up at 1100 for the year? Put it in the average.


I only know hours for like 5 NYC associates, and not one was below 2400. One was at 3k and the other 2700. As for Chicago, there is a lot more around the 2k mark, but I don't know anyone besides me under 2k. All of my friends who have stuck around multiple years are at 2400ish too.

ebb44

New
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:51 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby ebb44 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:28 pm

jrf12886 wrote:You need to clarify if you mean hours worked or hours billed. I generally try to bill the vast majority of my time in the office, but that can be harder for transaction attorneys (I hear).

I have billed about 1300 for the year so far and will probably end up somewhere around 2200-2400 depending on how the rest of the year goes, and I've been told I'm on track for where I need to be. Do the math to figure out my weekly average. NYC biglaw.


I mean hours worked, not hour billed.

Assuming 46 weeks of work a year (2 weeks holidays and 4 weeks vacation)

Hr / yr -> hr/week assuming 46 work weeks
1800 -> 39
2000 -> 43
2200 -> 48
2400 -> 52
2600 -> 57
2800 -> 61

Is 2400 hr a year a good estimate? That's about 52 hours a week which is not far from my original 40-50 ideal range.

cyrilfiggis

New
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:35 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby cyrilfiggis » Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:32 pm

That calculation looks like you're assuming that hours worked=hours billed. And it's not likely that you'll have a steady predictable schedule that you can get those "52" hours done per week consistently.

User avatar
Johann

Diamond
Posts: 19699
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:25 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby Johann » Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:45 pm

ebb44 wrote:
jrf12886 wrote:You need to clarify if you mean hours worked or hours billed. I generally try to bill the vast majority of my time in the office, but that can be harder for transaction attorneys (I hear).

I have billed about 1300 for the year so far and will probably end up somewhere around 2200-2400 depending on how the rest of the year goes, and I've been told I'm on track for where I need to be. Do the math to figure out my weekly average. NYC biglaw.


I mean hours worked, not hour billed.

Assuming 46 weeks of work a year (2 weeks holidays and 4 weeks vacation)

Hr / yr -> hr/week assuming 46 work weeks
1800 -> 39
2000 -> 43
2200 -> 48
2400 -> 52
2600 -> 57
2800 -> 61

Is 2400 hr a year a good estimate? That's about 52 hours a week which is not far from my original 40-50 ideal range.

You can add about 15% of nonbillables to hours billed. Everything was billable above, so 2400 billable (which is pretty common) will get you 2750 for the year. 60 hour weeks seem pretty normal on average.

User avatar
LA Spring

Bronze
Posts: 194
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2015 12:52 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby LA Spring » Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:50 pm

I am well on my way to surpass 2,000 hours. Hours are generally, 9A-7P. About a dozen times, or more, I have arrived at 7AM and stayed until 9P. More recently, on Fridays, I have left at 4P. 2-5 weekend hours at home…last two weekends an hour at most. Trick for less hours is saying, "no and can't." I should add that the "summers" have been a help...will hate to see them go.

User avatar
thesealocust

Platinum
Posts: 8523
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:51 pm

ebb44 wrote:
jrf12886 wrote:You need to clarify if you mean hours worked or hours billed. I generally try to bill the vast majority of my time in the office, but that can be harder for transaction attorneys (I hear).

I have billed about 1300 for the year so far and will probably end up somewhere around 2200-2400 depending on how the rest of the year goes, and I've been told I'm on track for where I need to be. Do the math to figure out my weekly average. NYC biglaw.


I mean hours worked, not hour billed.

Assuming 46 weeks of work a year (2 weeks holidays and 4 weeks vacation)

Hr / yr -> hr/week assuming 46 work weeks
1800 -> 39
2000 -> 43
2200 -> 48
2400 -> 52
2600 -> 57
2800 -> 61

Is 2400 hr a year a good estimate? That's about 52 hours a week which is not far from my original 40-50 ideal range.


Here are the issues (in the context of a large law firm):

(1) As others have said, you will work far more hours than you bill. When busy, you'll get pretty efficient, and if you bill 10 hours you may only spend 11 or 12 in the office.

(2) When you're not busy, you might still need to be at the office or work weird hours and not be able to bill efficiently at all. You could be at the office from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and only bill 4 hours. The project nature of large firm work makes the hours you're "working" stretch well beyond the hours you can bill over the course of a year.

(3) I've never heard of a firm that tracks hours worked as opposed to hours billed, so I would be inherently skeptical of those figures. Big firm associates enter billable hours into software, but don't punch time cards when they get to the office or anything.

Monthly totals paint a much better story than yearly totals in my experience. It's the 300 hour month that really kills people - that's basically flat-out the entire month. Holidays, vacations, and slow stretches means nobody bills 300 hour months all year, but when they do, it's brutal.

If you back that out to hours per week, that's "only" 67 hours per week billed - but it will look more like 80+ hours at the office and/or working in some capacity or another, and it's brutal.

As a final point, work doesn't come in neat little hourly packages. You'll be juggling multiple projects, partners, and deadlines - sometimes you'll be totally overwhelmed, other times you'll feel guilty for having nothing to do, but your mind will be focused on getting things done (or finding things to do) much more than on the hours. Hours are more of an afterthought, a permanent reminder of "wow, that month really was terrible" after the dust has settled.

User avatar
jrf12886

Bronze
Posts: 283
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:52 am

Re: How many hours are you working in Biglaw?

Postby jrf12886 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 4:35 pm

I agree with those who posted above.

If you are on a large, long-term project, you may get your hours worked = hours billed. For example, if you are reviewing documents all day, you could bill the entire day to that one billing code (subtract a few minutes to grab lunch if you're a boy scout). On the other hand, if you are doing multiple smaller tasks throughout the day (as is more common as you get more senior) then you will have gaps which will reduce your billable/worked ratio.

I typically get in at 9:30A and leave around 8:00P, and maybe do a little work from home if necessary. But there will also be days when I'm at the office until 10 (if I'm backed up) or midnight (if we're filing). Weekend work from home also occasionally happens but not too frequently that I hate my life (yet). Occasionally I'll leave a little earlier to go to summer events or get drinks with people in my group.



Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Posterboy13 and 17 guests