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Work hours in big law

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So wait... if I'm a law student reading this, I'm thinking:

You can be @Jaggers, work in employment and bill 17-1800 hours, leaving by 7 most days, or you can work in M&A, bill over 2,000, spend a ton of that time "putting documents in folders", work well into the night, and both scenarios get the same pay for at least 5 years and the same exit options???? Doesn't seem like a hard choice which practice area to pick.....
 

 

Edited by providence
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12 minutes ago, providence said:

So wait... if I'm a law student reading this, I'm thinking:

You can be @Jaggers, work in employment and bill 17-1800 hours, leaving by 7 most days, or you can work in M&A, bill over 2,000, spend a ton of that time "putting documents in folders", work well into the night, and both scenarios get the same pay for at least 5 years and the same exit options???? Doesn't seem like a hard choice which practice area to pick.....
 

 

To be fair I don't know how literally you can take "putting documents in folders"; it is typically a task delegated to students (at least in my practice and from what I've observed). I also don't know if having the same exit options is true (not saying that it isn't; I actually just don't know), but will let others who have gone through that process comment on that.

Point taken though that there is a point of diminishing returns for working a greater number of hours (regardless of the practice group; presumably you could turn down work like Stonewall Jackson once you hit 1700, or pace yourself for a different number), but at that point other considerations would factor into that point such as interest, learning opportunities etc.

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2 minutes ago, testcase said:

To be fair I don't know how literally you can take "putting documents in folders"; it is typically a task delegated to students (at least in my practice and from what I've observed). I also don't know if having the same exit options is true (not saying that it isn't; I actually just don't know), but will let others who have gone through that process comment on that.

Point taken though that there is a point of diminishing returns for working a greater number of hours (regardless of the practice group; presumably you could turn down work like Stonewall Jackson once you hit 1700, or pace yourself for a different number), but at that point other considerations would factor into that point such as interest, learning opportunities etc.

I was (partly!) kidding about the documents in folders ☺️ There's also sitting around waiting for the deals to be signed....

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All jokes about document sorting and folders aside, I'm not sure I have/had the some exit options as an M&A associate. I'm still practicing law, but my non-law career paths now tend towards the HR side, whereas someone with expertise in M&A probably has options on the GC and corporate development paths, which tend to be more lucrative.

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7 minutes ago, providence said:

I was (partly!) kidding about the documents in folders ☺️ There's also sitting around waiting for the deals to be signed....

:D

There are definitely less exciting parts about this job...

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5 minutes ago, Jaggers said:

All jokes about document sorting and folders aside, I'm not sure I have/had the some exit options as an M&A associate. I'm still practicing law, but my non-law career paths now tend towards the HR side, whereas someone with expertise in M&A probably has options on the GC and corporate development paths, which tend to be more lucrative.

Fair. I meant you both have the same ability to work for what you can and get out, not that you’d do the same things or earn the same. I guess that more money later would be a reason to choose M&A after all....

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54 minutes ago, providence said:

So wait... if I'm a law student reading this, I'm thinking:

You can be @Jaggers, work in employment and bill 17-1800 hours, leaving by 7 most days, or you can work in M&A, bill over 2,000, spend a ton of that time "putting documents in folders", work well into the night, and both scenarios get the same pay for at least 5 years and the same exit options???? Doesn't seem like a hard choice which practice area to pick.....
 

 

First off, I have no idea how bonuses work whatsoever. But, would the M&A associate with 2000+ billed get a bigger bonus than the 1700 labour associate? And in that regard they aren't really paid the same?

Edited by FingersCr0ssed

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11 hours ago, Introduction said:

Like I needed more tears today.... 😥

No one should blame themself, but he really shouldn't have had a gun when he was in this state. So sad. A good reminder to cherish your loved ones, keep communicating and never let the bleakness overtake you too far. Thanks for sharing. 

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On 10/30/2018 at 10:34 AM, TheScientist101 said:

lol - now I'm worried I'm doing something wrong. 

Honestly - no one in my group (IP litigation) regularly works past 6. I do leave "early" at 5 but that's because I'm in at 730 and I usually stay "late" (i.e. 8pm) two days a week (most lawyers in my group come in between 9-10am). I do know colleagues at other firms who tend to work to 7-8 on a more regular basis but they also usually come into the office at 930am (perhaps that's the difference).  

Also work in IP litigation and it gets pretty quiet by around 7 as well. I think your schedule is very reasonable. So reasonable that I might adopt a similar one in the future :D (Currently one of those colleagues at other firms - I get in around 9am and stay later).

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22 hours ago, FingersCr0ssed said:

First off, I have no idea how bonuses work whatsoever. But, would the M&A associate with 2000+ billed get a bigger bonus than the 1700 labour associate? And in that regard they aren't really paid the same?

Yes. Some groups with better "work/life balance" won't see a bonus compared to an M&A/corporate lawyer that hits 2000 hours. At my firm, at least for the first number of years, bonus is tied pretty directly to hours, subject to some discretion.

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3 hours ago, Rashabon said:

Yes. Some groups with better "work/life balance" won't see a bonus compared to an M&A/corporate lawyer that hits 2000 hours. At my firm, at least for the first number of years, bonus is tied pretty directly to hours, subject to some discretion.

This.

Although one may reasonably conclude that the extra compensation (in and of itself) isn't worth the extra 300 hours billed. You'd probably have to have some other motivation for working that much beyond target besides the extra compensation.

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1 hour ago, testcase said:

This.

Although one may reasonably conclude that the extra compensation (in and of itself) isn't worth the extra 300 hours billed. You'd probably have to have some other motivation for working that much beyond target besides the extra compensation.

Agreed. I've hit max bonus before and it's not often worth it. Some level of bonus is nice though.

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I never once got a bonus and never thought it was worthwhile to try.

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1 hour ago, Rashabon said:

Agreed. I've hit max bonus before and it's not often worth it. Some level of bonus is nice though.

What sort of bonus are we talking? 

I'm at a boutique. Bonus is 100% worth it (imo) and serious money. 

Edited by QuincyWagstaff

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12 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

What sort of bonus are we talking? 

I'm at a boutique. Bonus is 100% worth it (imo) and serious money. 

I was just going to ask this. I have heard that, in some cases, it really can be worth it. 

However, at times, I doubt whether my hours will really contribute to the size of my bonus. Does it really matter whether I'm 200 hours over or 300 hours over? If all of my colleagues hit the target plus some hours won't we all just get about the same amount? We don't talk about it here (obviously super faux pas to ask fellow associates what their bonus was) and a part of me believes that the difference in bonus between an associate with 50 hours over and an associate with 300 hours over is marginal.

 

Edited by TheScientist101

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10 minutes ago, TheScientist101 said:

I was just going to ask this. I have heard that, in some cases, it really can be worth it. 

However, at times, I doubt whether my hours will really contribute to the size of my bonus. Does it really matter whether I'm 200 hours over or 300 hours over? If all of my colleagues hit the target plus some hours won't we all just get about the same amount? We don't talk about it here (obviously super faux pas to ask fellow associates what their bonus was) and a part of me believes that the difference in bonus between an associate with 50 hours over and an associate with 300 hours over is marginal.

 

That's a shame. I get more for every hour billed. 

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I only have a few data points to go off of, but I've heard that 20% bonuses are common for meeting minimum targets at large firms.  I've always wondered what a bonus for 2000+ hours would look like. 

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39 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

That's a shame. I get more for every hour billed. 

Unlimited?

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3 minutes ago, providence said:

Unlimited?

Yes. Isn't that how it should be?

The more I bill, the more money I make the partners, and I get my cut, of every single dollar. 

 

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1 minute ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Yes. Isn't that how it should be?

The more I bill, the more money I make the partners, and I get my cut, of every single dollar. 

 

Oh, but that's not a bonus as I understand a bonus. If you are being paid as a percentage of billings, period, or over and above a salary, then yes, you will make more on billings with an unlimited cap. But I understand a salary that is the same across the board with a target of hours that should be worked and a possible bonus later as being different - someone who is 200 hours over target is not necessarily getting a bigger bonus than someone who is 100 hours over, and at some point, you're working extra hours that won't be compensated.

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