Slaves to the billable hour

From the lawjobs.com Career Center, an article about the insanity of large-law-firm salaries and hours.

11 Responses to “Slaves to the billable hour”

  1. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Lawyers have no lives? Shocking.

  2. Former (Miserable) M/A Atty says:

    There is a great line in the movie Road to Perdition that goes something like, “This is the Life that we’ve chosen!”

    I had a big firm life for close to six years and hated every single hour of it. I lost a wife, relationships with friends and family, and respect for myself. Mind you none of this was really “the firms” fault. It was mine, mine for twisting my personal view of success, having an affair with greed, and drinking the big firm Kool-Aid.

    When I turned 30 it took me less than three months to leave NY and start a new life. I teach at an “un-prestigious” law school making about 1/8th of my former salary…but I’ve chosen to be happy. I do however still have the occasional nightmare about billables.

    What I found most astonishing during those years was the fact that there were a few people who did appear to be rather happy with the path they had chosen. At the same time there did not seem to be any correlation between competency and happiness – us “more capable” ones were just as unhappy as our peers w/ poor annual reviews.

  3. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Living by billable hours is an awful existence. I work in an industry that uses billable hours. I also worked for “a big firm” in this industry. Former (Miserable) M/A Atty is right. You are expected to not only meet but exceed those 2,000 hours.

    One day I was offered a promotion at this firm. I was told I could only have it if I agreed to work basically every weekend and evening. I chose my family over the firm (much to my chagrine at the time but to my benefit later on).

    Billable hours are the ultimate Faustian deal. You have all this money, and no time to use it.

  4. Jay Johnson says:

    It’s a miserable existence working countless numbers of hours, just to meet/exceed a target. Doing it as an associate is even miserabler. You’re driving your own life into the craphole to make someone else rich.

    That’s why I now happily work for myself. I actually like going into the office. I like knowing I can work on/accept/reject whatever cases I want to without being forced into mindless and mindnumbing reviews of cases and drafting of letters that serve no purpose other than to generate time.

    It’s not worth the sanity you spend trying to stay ahead of the wave.

  5. DCLit says:

    2,000 is a joke. Most lit attorneys I work with did more like 2,400, but didnt say that when I was a summer. I averaged 300 a month til June of this year. The difference beyond 2,000 is that it comes out of your flesh -sleep,eating,working out- you dont even have time to realize you dont have a life. And so that some company can make money.
    Rising 3ls: keep that in mind when thinking about accepting your offers.
    M/A is dead on. If you choose that life, it is YOUR CHOICE and dont let things like loans be an excuse.
    At one point you probably wanted to be a “different kind of lawyer.”

  6. Angrier and Angrier says:

    “Slaves to the Billable Hour”

    Isn’t this Biblical?

    “And Pharoah said unto Moses, ‘Your people shall work on the Wasserstein account this Passover’ and Moses replied, ‘Let my people go!”

    Funny how Passover was already a holy day AND was created at the same time.

  7. Jay Johnson says:

    I think this cartoon from Savage Chickens pretty well expresses the slave to the billable hour…

    http://www.savagechickens.com/blog/2007/08/eight-steps.html

  8. Wobbly H says:

    I have a quota of billable hours. It, and the horrible things my clients make me do, has made me so numb that I engage in the most lewd acts of sadomasochism just to feel something.

  9. Nadine says:

    Jay,
    I *****ADORE****** Savage Chickens!!!
    Every chance I get I translate them for my friends. You are now on my amoureux list.

    I am VERY concerned Becky and Brenden don’t understand how little time that may have together once he starts working. It is such a change from the flexible schedule of university.

  10. Jay Johnson says:

    Shucks, Nadine, I appreciate being put on your amoureux list (isn’t that something that you use to make gumbo?), even though I’m not exactly sure what that is, country boy that I am.

    The Savage Chickens are hilarious. I love the simplicity of the comic in an age of overly complex artwork in a lot comics. The content is also great, and his sense of humor is very much in line with my own.

    BTW, still loving the MacBook Pro so far…

  11. Nadine says:

    Jay,
    LOL!
    …”amoureux list (isn’t that something that you use to make gumbo?)”