Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Open Thread: "Am I Lazy?" Edition

I try to keep up on the local job market "for blog research purposes," and the other day a job posting popped up on Craigslist that made me wonder about the work hour expectations of firms here in Nevada. This job post titled "Bankruptcy law firm seeks associate attorney" seeks an attorney with 1-3 years experience in bankruptcy law or similar legal experience. What caught my eye was this:

An Associate Attorney is expected to work a full work day including 8:30-6:30 Monday through Friday and 3 Saturdays per month.
I don't have such a problem with the 8:30-6:30 weekday hours, but the 3 Saturdays per month surprised me.

Without going into too many details, I work at a fairly small firm that is pretty laid back as far as "face-time" is concerned. As long as I'm putting in enough in billing at the end of the month, my boss doesn't concern himself with how much I'm in the office. That doesn't mean that I roll into the office at 10:00 and leave at 4:00 every day. I'm usually in the office over 40 hours a week and I'll work a Saturday here and there when necessary. But I have a family at home and my Saturdays are pretty sacred to me.

I understand that some people want to work for big firms that pay a lot of money but with that pay comes an expectation that you'll be billing a hell of a lot of hours. Some people, like me, choose to take less pay for more flexibility in their work hours. But something tells me that the bankruptcy firm in that job post is not looking to pay an associate big law firm money. I guess in this job market they can do that.

So my question is, what expectations does your firm have as far as time you spend in the office? If you are a partner or solo attorney, do you work three Saturday per month? Those of you who have families, do you have a conflict with the amount of hours your firm expects you to work, and if so, are you looking to move to a firm that offers more flexibility?

-JD

39 comments:

  1. No one ever says "hey you're not working long enough." But they do say "hey, there's 100 things on your task list and they're all high priority so get them done! Oh and by the way, someone screwed up so I need you to write this emergency motion right now!"

    Take that as you will.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A.) Nothing good can come of responding to an anonymous ad for an attorney position on Craigslist.

    B.) That's totally and ad from Levinson looking to replace Mondejar, right? Run! Run away! Fast!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anyone know of any firms/solos hiring in the Las Vegas area?

    ReplyDelete
  4. My current job came from an anonymous craigslist ad, and it is an awesome firm with amazing people. So I cannot disagree more with 10:14.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Paragraph 8 of Case 2:12-cv-00661-RLH -RJJ.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The problem with young lawyers today is that they have an attitude of entitlement. They want to make six-figure salaries without putting in the work. I my day, 55 - 60 hours in the office per week was the norm with 50 - 55 of those hours being solidly and legitimately billable. You'd be hard pressed to find an associate in this town who is doing that today. Sure, a few of the young lawyers put that many hours on a sheet; but almost none legitimately do that much honest work.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "The problem with young lawyers today is that they have an attitude of entitlement."

    Horseshit.

    The most entitled generation alive today is the Baby Boomers. They took the inheritance from the WWII generation, and instead of passing it along to my generation, squandered it. Even worse, they now expect our generation to pay for their entitlements. I have a lot of patience, but one thing that I won't tolerate is being lectured about "entitlement" from a Baby Boomer.

    3:55 is obviously such a Boomer. Rather than see the obvious, he chooses to believe that today's young lawyers expect more while providing less. 3:55, when you graduated from law school debt was 1/4 of what it is now in real dollars, there weren't 22,000 jobs for 45,000 grads per year and jobs were being shipped off to India. It's highly probable that if you had had to compete in such an environment upon graduation, you wouldn't even have become an attorney.

    So to you and all the other deluded, entitled Boomers, a big STFU.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @3:53,

    Any reason why you just didn't quote it?

    "8. On or about April 20, 2010, Defendant Gary Nagle made false,
    defamatory and demeaning comments about Plaintiff calling into question his professional competence. Specifically, Defendant Gary Nagle stated, in the presence of third-parties, that Plaintiff was a “horrible attorney.” A reasonable person hearing this and other comments rendered by Defendant Nagle at the time would have been led to believe that Plaintiff is an incompetent lawyer. Defendant Gary Nagle further declared, also in the presence of third-parties, that Plaintiff has a “small dick.”

    Although apparently, Plaintiff's lawyers take after him. There's no allegation that the AIC requirement is met, just a demand for $500k.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @10:52,

    Southern NV Health District is hiring, as is Geico's staff counsel (Kathleen M. Barker), Brady Vorwerck, Brownstein Hyatt, and Hutchinson & Steffen. At least according to the Bar's job postings.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @4:01 - I could not agree with you more.

    I do wonder though. I'm a decade out of law school and I have to say that we hired a recent grad who really can't see beyond his iphone. He went to a good school, got good grades. But cannot, to save his life, keep his attention focused long enough on a task to truly understand it and therefore does a half assed job all the time. He never picks up an actual hard file. An he feels underpaid at $70K.

    Now, is this rare? Because I think this guy feels entitled.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hey nerds, that clown at 3:55 has no idea what she is talking about. Kind of like the bastards at my office that doomswitched me out of my rightful spring bonus. The $12.5K they gave me was hardly worth all of those 32 hour billable weeks. I swear if that's all I get for my July bonus, I will dial it way back.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The 9:37 post just proved the comment about entitlement to be right on the money.

    You can think like an associate, or you can think like a partner. If you're being handed billable work to do because you can't bring in any of your own business, then you ought to be really happy that you have a J.O.B. and are getting paid a reasonable salary to essentially do advanced paralegal work. If you don't like it, then leave your firm, start your own firm and then go BK when you realize that nobody is referring you any business. Then you can beg for your old position back.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The post at 9:13 proves that old people don't understand sarcasm.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wondering how baby boomers squandered your inheritance, 4:01 p.m. Yeah, my tuition was far less but I still held down two part time jobs, my wife held one part time job and we both worked a another job together. After graduating went active duty as a JAG and have worked my rear-end off since then.
    Not my job to give you an easier life. You do that yourself.

    And for those who think in-house defense positions are cushy 9 to 5 jobs, think again. Billing requirement is 1900 hours, 1900 hours with real time accounting, not inflating your time.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love that someone cited a 1900-hour billing requirement as proof that an in-house defense position is not a "cushy 9 to 5 job." Classic!

    ReplyDelete
  16. When I worked for an insurance defense CD firm in Vegas, the minimum billables were 2000 hours! Impossible to meet in my opinion. Think about how many hours you have to work to bill 2000 hours, 2500 or so?

    Now I work in the Middle East where it is 8 am to 4 pm with legally required 30 days leave plus holidays that are often 3-5 days at a stretch.

    Get out of the Nevada legal world as soon as you can.

    ReplyDelete
  17. How do you go from working at a Las Vegas CD firm to working in the Middle East?

    ReplyDelete
  18. 4:01 makes the statement: "when you graduated from law school debt was 1/4 of what it is now in real dollars."

    Perhaps 4:01 is the one who should "stfu". Did he ever consider the possibility that borrowing all that money to go to law school was, ahem, ill-advised? Or did he just follow all the sheep who figured they'd figure out a way to pay back their loans AFTER they were already hopelessly in debt.

    Here's the point: dont't blame those of us who carefully considered the economics of law school BEFORE attending, graduated in the early 80's, worked hard, and then paid back our loans over five years - for YOUR problems. If you don't like how your life turned out, that's a you issue.

    "[Baby boomers] took the inheritance from the WWII generation, and instead of passing it along to my generation, squandered it." Now there's some real horseshit! We don't owe you shit, you spoiled little brat. Why don't you go put another vacation on your credit card?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Man it's great to see an argument. Just like ole times.

    8:37 - Have you ever made a point without trying to piss people off? I don't think anyone is call you lazy. Even if times were better in the 80s, I'm sure you had to work hard, and I'll bet you have a better work ethic than younger attorneys.

    But you assume that none of us younger attorneys did the math. That we walked blindly into a hopeless situation. That is bullshit. We were lead down the primrose path by a general belief that lawyers are well paid and in high demand. The schools and the government were stuffing money in our pockets to pay not only tuition, but living expenses. Most schools don't allow students to work during school to offset even a penny. They gave us scholarships our first year based on our LSAT scores and then made them impossible to keep. They made the study of law impractical and left us without the important skills - to pass the bar and do the day to day. They told us career services and an alumni network would be there for us when we graduated. So those of us with reservations, who thought about the debt, never for one second knew the economy would collapse and we would be left in financial ruin, or barely able to get by.

    So you tell some guy to put another vacation on his credit card. Of course, the guy must be an idiot and throws money out the window by the bucket full.

    How about the reality. Not taking vacations and working through holidays for years on end. Not having the means to take a vacation, even it the time off were possible.

    No, we are not irresponsible. We're not suckers. We weren't all too stupid to consider the consequences. We got screwed.

    ReplyDelete
  20. To 9:57 -

    "We were lead down the primrose path by a general belief that lawyers are well paid and in high demand."

    ** From whence did you obtain this belief? Did you speak with hiring partners at law firms or simply watch a few episodes of Allie McBeal? Because if you'd done your homework, you'd know that the legal job market has been in trouble since even before the 1980's. The ABA has allowed too many second- and third-rate law schools to become accredited and the Federal government has made access to loans too easy. It's been a 30-year trend.


    "The schools and the government were stuffing money in our pockets to pay not only tuition, but living expenses."

    ** Did they tell you that if you did not take the money you'd be shot? As far as I recall, no one ever held me down and forced me to take out a loan.


    "They told us career services and an alumni network would be there for us when we graduated."

    ** Never ask a car salesman whether you need a car.


    "So those of us with reservations, who thought about the debt, never for one second knew the economy would collapse and we would be left in financial ruin, or barely able to get by."

    ** There are many of your vintage who have succeeded and thrived by way of foresight and hard work. You cannot blame the economy for your situation forever (well, you can, but it won't get you anywhere).


    You have the mentality of a victim. You did not get "screwed" by anyone. Until you realize that any failure or success you might have in your career will be predominantly attributable to your own efforts, you'll continue to wallow in mediocrity. I'm sure that you're a good person; however, many of your generation, and you, do indeed tend to see yourselves as entitled. It is evident from your message above.

    ReplyDelete
  21. To 11:11: My generation of attorneys might tend to be too idealistic and maybe a bit lazy; but your generation of attorneys tends to be angry and mean.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am thankful that I work in a field that, on average, pays more than the average American makes in a year. I am thankful knowing that I can make a difference in other people's lives, if I choose to do so. I am thankful that I have learned the practice of law and have gained an expertise that people may need at some point in their life. I cherise my license to practice law and will do nothing to jeopardize it.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have no response to wise 11:11. I am beaten, battered by life, shackled by my own small mind and drowning in my mediocrity. I bet it all on Ms. McBeal – and she led me astray. Bitch.

    My only advice is to try to see the grays. That's where it's at.

    ReplyDelete
  24. It was those short mini-shirts she wore, wasn't it? Messed with your concentration and sense of reality.

    ReplyDelete
  25. The picture painted by 9:57 reminds me of that scene in Private Benjamin "There must be some mistake. You see, I joined the other Army, the one with the private rooms and the condos." The primrose path of assumption was just that: assumption. This profession is no different than any other: those who have the fortitude or fortune can make a very comfortable living. The parade of rose petals that the world is to throw at your feet because you made it through 3 years of law school is a mirage.

    Those who say that they got screwed are confusing molestation with masterbation; the only person who screwed you is you. Nobody broke into your home and made you become an attorney. And if you hate it and feel that it is not commensurately lucrative enough for a person of your talents, charms and skills, the State Bar will not break into your home and make you remain an attorney.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Confusing molestation with masturbation. Nice.

    OK. So let's say 11:11 is right. Everyone who opted to finance law school is stupid, lazy and lacking in fortitude or fortune.

    So, we can't blame the schools, the government, etc.

    So then why did so many young attorneys make such an unwise decision? We're talking about a lot of people. And this Spring another batch of idiots will graduate from law schools all over the country in this economy with tons of debt.

    What is it that makes so many people so stupid in your opinion?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Good question. But you're not not going to like the answer. Here it is: complete lack of planning, preparation, and foresight.

    It does not take a PhD in statistical analysis, a Doctorate in economics, or Nostradamus to foresee that borrowing $140,000 to attend Cal Western (or some such) is not a good plan.

    Borrowing to attend any law school not in the top third is usually financial suicide. That's been true for a while. It wasn't really bad in Nevada until Boyd came along and screwed things up for the Cal Westerns and Southwesterns, and Golden Gates, and Whittiers, etc. But nationwide, borrowing to attend anything but a top law school has been a bad idea for a very long time. Law School has been overpriced for twenty or more years and that is getting worse every year. The legal job market has been in general decline for over twenty years relative to the economy in general and that shows no signs of dramatically turning around.

    So the real question becomes this: Why would anyone borrow a huge aount of money to buy an overpriced product with declining utility?

    ReplyDelete
  28. I tend to disagree with the notion that borrowing to attend any law school not in the top third is "financial suicide." I graduated from Boyd in 2008, just before (during?) the bust of the legal market.

    I got average grades in law school but I've been employed at a decent salary since I graduated. Even if you take out the monthly payments on my student loans, I still make 10-20% more than the average college graduate.

    That doesn't mean that I like what I do for a living, but I am financially stable in spite of the fact that I have ~$80k in student loans.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I never heard 11:11 state that "[e]veryone who opted to finance law school is stupid, lazy and lacking in fortitude or fortune." Quite to the contrary, 11:11 (who is not me) stated "** There are many of your vintage who have succeeded and thrived by way of foresight and hard work."

    Why did so many young attorneys make such an unwise decision? The answer is that legal aspirants have been making unwise decisions for a long time (much as real estate buyers made profligate decisions for a long time). Law school became a pleasant enough place to spend 3 pedagogical years before bearing the yoke. However the margin for error diminished. An economy which formerly forgave mistakes was no longer forgiving. The economics did not pencil for everyone and have not penciled for a long time.

    With that being said, 12:37 has it right. Law school is a good investment for some but not all. While the concept that a law degree coming with a set of keys to the Denver Mint has no element of truth, I do not have any friends who I consider hard-working, industrious attorneys who are not making a good living.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I borrowed money to attend a private law school "not in the top third" and I am doing just fine. It wasn't financial suicide. I make more a year than I owe, which I figure puts me a pretty good situation.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Read carefully, 1:55. He said "Borrowing to attend any law school not in the top third is usually financial suicide". Usually.

    It's nice that you consider yourself an exception to the rule. But, on average, it's going to take you an awfully long time to pay back that $80k (and that's a lot less than most borrow). Over that period I bet you'd take "10-20%" less in pay in exchange for not having to send Sallie Mae $750 per month. Agree?

    ReplyDelete
  32. The expectation of 3 Saturdays a month is a bit much. I work for a "big firm" in NYC and even here that expectation would not go unnoticed. Unless you are signing up to be a criminal defense attorney and would be the attorney "holding down the fort" so to speak on a Saturday, it seems to me that so long as the associate completes the work in a timely manner, mandatory Saturdays are unnecessary. 8:30 to 6:30 5 days a week could easily be replaced with 8:30 to 8:30 4 days a week with an early departure on Fridays. Blackberry's exist for a reason. When a partner needs you, you get an email and are expected to respond.

    ReplyDelete
  33. @3:58 - I was aware of the "usually" in his statement. But I still don't think it holds up. Every graduate I know from my class at Boyd currently has a decent job (that doesn't mean everybody from my class, I'm just not aware of any who don't have a job). I think "usually" is an overstatement and I don't think I'm the exception to the rule.

    As for the 10-20% less in pay in exchange for not having to send Sallie Mae $750/month? I'd take my student loans any day. The 10-20% that I make more than the average college graduate is in addition to my monthly student loan payment. Why would I give up 10-20% of my pay just so that I don't have to worry about a monthly loan payment that I can afford?

    And I'm hoping that in the future my earning potential will put me much higher than 10-20% more than the average graduate.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Anyone who saw a "primrose path" saw it because that was what he or she wanted to see. Likening it to the housing market is a good analogy. When we bought our house, banks would have lent me and my spouse $2 million, which is just dandy except we knew we could not pay back $2m, so we didn't borrow it. The banks were astonished that we did not want to borrow the money they were shoving at us. To use an ancient adage, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I don't think people who don't see that are stupid, and I certainly don't think I am some genius for seeing it. I am baffled at how so many generally intelligent people fail to see it. If I had to borrow $100 to go to law school, I simply would not have gone - would have figured out a plan B. (And no, I don't come from money - fortunately we could survive on my spouse's income for 3 years.)

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have had discussions with younger attorneys whose student loans are insane, $100K and up. Yeah, I took out student loans when I went to law school but the loan amount per year was capped at $5,000.00. And the law school I chose to go to charged tuition that still left money for books and some living expenses (and yes, I was admitted to McGeorge, USD, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, Gonzaga, etc. but saw no reason to exhaust a student loan each year just to pay tuition, so I, my wife and young daughter went somewhere in the mid-west). Still got a good education and needless to say, the $15K is long paid off....
    Needless to say, if I went to that same school today, tuition is now roughly $16K... Yeah, that's a far cry from schools where tuition is $25K or higher a year.
    wish I could say it was my great timing or strategy or something but clearly, it was because of when I went....

    ReplyDelete
  36. Fools: http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/occupy-student-debt/

    ReplyDelete