Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Job Tips: Flexing Your Schedule

A reader wants your input on attorney schedules--specifically wondering about flexibility concerning the workday for attorneys and whether they are expected to be present from 8 to 5 or if they can set their own schedule (assuming they are present for court and meetings).  How does it work for you? Do you have to "use leave" for doctor appointments? If you work large numbers of hours in the early week and finish a huge project, etc., can you take a three-day weekend without "using leave?" Do you have to "use leave" at all or do you just come and go as you please so long as you meet your hours? It be would helpful if you identify whether you are an associate or partner and whether you are in private practice or are working for the government.

28 comments:

  1. Did anyone see Drudgereport's headline this morning? I am offended...amused...but offended

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    1. ugh. Bad play on words Mr. Drudge, bad play on words

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. There's a nuke in her snizz. A snuke.

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  3. I work in private practice for a firm, but dictate my own schedule. As long as hearings and depos are covered and I bill my hours, I can come and go as I please. That's the problem though--still expected to hit the hours...

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  4. My schedule is somewhat flexible. I come early and leave early, but I have to be in the office every day and bill my hours every day.

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  5. Work at a regional firm, you are allowed to come and go as you please as long as you are responsive to emails and bill your hours. If I have to go to the DMV or to a kids school play, I just go. Nobody cares as long as you hit your hours.

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    1. 9:08 here, private practice, senior associate

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  6. Formerly -- associate at smaller PI firm. Didn't matter if I worked til 8 pm, I would still get dirty looks from the partners if I came in later than 9 am the next day.

    Now -- in-house counsel. Doesn't matter if I come in after 9 am, I still get dirty looks from the boss if I'm here after 5:30 pm.

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    1. What's the boss doing there after 5:30 p.m.?

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  7. 8 am? To 5 pm? You guys work in a different world than the one I work in. It doesn't matter what time I show up, because I'll inevitably learn at 4 pm that I'll be working until midnight. So I'm more of a 10 am to midnight guy. Oh but my firm is on a list of prestigious firms! And the alcohol I need to fall asleep at night hasn't corroded my liver yet! So there's that!

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    1. 9:50 AM Couldn't agree more. Funny to think this is what I thought I wanted as a delusion-ed law student five years ago.

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  8. When I worked for a regional firm (around 20 attorneys in Nevada, rest out of state), we had to hit 2,000 hrs/year. As long as we got our work done, as long as we were responsive to emails if an emergency came up, and we did our job, we could come in at any time. Of course, that's "within reason". If each month you didn't hit your hours and after a couple months it gets to a point where it is clear that you won't be able to hit your hours at the end of each six month 'review cycle', then you get called in to explain why you took so much time off.
    Now - private practice on my own with one other attorney (spouse) and we work 4 days/week and I enjoy it substantially more.

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    1. is that 2000 (gross) hours billed or 2000 (net, after the partners steal their share and cut the remainder)?

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    2. It was 2,000 gross BUT there was a 'realization' ratio that showed the amount of hours actually billed to the client compared to the amount of hours the associate submitted to be billed to the client. The partners siphoned some of those hours off and it reduced 'realization' by about 10% regularly. And.... bonuses were based on realization.

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    3. I interviewed with a few big firms in LA and New York. They were amazed to hear that bonuses were based on realization at the Vegas firm I spent a summer at. They all followed the Cravath bonus scale, where everyone that hit their minimum hours (2000) got the same bonus.

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  9. I have worked for the EJDC as a law clerk and in private practice (plaintiff side). At the EJDC, as long as I had all the briefing and memos done for the day and/or week, I could leave. Which meant on very rare fridays i could leave at noon! This was only because I would be proactive by taking work home with me during the week and sometimes weekend (when we had big MSJs or Habeas Corpus briefs) in order to stay ahead. My first private practice job sucked, because I would literally be in from 5am to 5pm and work from home at nights and weekends and still would get chided for leaving "right at 5pm" by the boss. They were flexible with me taking time off or leaving to go get stuff done during work hours as long as it was calendered and it didn't affect my overall work performance. But the workload and hours were brutal. My second private practice stint felt more corporate...we couldn't take time off unless we had enough PTO time accumulated. and lunch was strictly 12-1 unless otherwise calendered...and I was not in much control of my calendar as the paralegals would calendar stuff for me. that place sucked for varying reasons as well. my current firm is 8-5pm and the office as a whole closes 12-1 for lunch. You are welcome to come in earlier and/or stay later to work, but it wont be held against if you don't. And if I need to get certain things done during work hours (dentist, dmv, life crap) I just have to calendar it and off I go. It's definitely much easier at my current place. Overall I havn't had to worry about billables as a plaintiff only practitioner, but that doesnt mean I get a free pass as it depends on your bosses and how they want you to be around the office and what youre overall workload is like.

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    1. anyone at the DA's office going to weigh in? Aren't you the group that has paid time off?

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  10. Private practice allows for different personalities. I have worked for "face time" firms and "just get it done" firms. I prefer the latter. Everyone is different. I can draft a quality brief on the beach, in a cafe, at the airport (and often do), or I can do it my office. Not everyone is like that. C'est la vie.

    The reason government jobs require face time is because that's the only measure they can claim is remotely objective. That is why I do not and never will work for one.

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  11. I work at a Big Law firm. Similar to what most have said, bill your hours, be responsive to e-mails/calls when you are not in the office, get your work done and do it well, and you can come and go as you please (subject to what you have going on with your work calendar). Current firm provides a cell phone (pays the bill), a myfi, and a laptop. My previous Big Law firm was not so flexible, but I've noticed it has substantially more to do with the managing partner of the local office than it does the firm itself. Last managing shareholder regularly "caught up with people" after 5. Current boss is usually out-of-office meetings in the afternoons and evenings. Both places also allow for reduced schedule (i.e., 80%, 90%) after 1-2 years. Gauge the people you are reporting to - in my experience, their schedules will often dictate what they expect your schedule to be. Also, I think it's reasonable to expect more flexibility once you've put in some time and have experience under your belt. I don't think 1st and 2nd years should expect to work remotely and come and go as they please.

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    1. You bring up a very important point: flexibility comes after you have some idea what you are doing. You need to work 6.5 days a week the first couple of years. If I interviewed a newbie who claimed to need flex time my first thought would be: then why did you become a lawyer?!?!? You need a couple thousand hours under the belt before you are anything but a liability to your clients, firm and the Bar.

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  12. Anyone have a recommendation for a plaintiff's employment attorney?

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    1. Andrew L. Rempfer

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    2. Lani Estaban Trinidad

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    3. Mary F. Chapman

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    4. None of the above.

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  13. I don't think I've ever worked for anyone who wasn't tolerant of a reasonably flexible scheduled - "reasonably" being not all THAT subjective. What I've noticed over 20 years is that the people who tend to get frowned upon for absenteeism and tardiness are also the people who seem to have the most crises requiring other staff to cover them, extra labor to cover deadlines and, especially, extra motions. People who don't have these problems associated with their work don't in my experience get a lot of scrutiny as they come and go.

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