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    alkaline's Avatar
    alkaline Posts: 61, Reputation: 20
    Junior Member

    Jun 26, 2007, 08:14 AM
    Workloads and Hours
    As I have said before, I am a first year attorney.

    ďTechnicallyĒ we are scheduled to work 9-5 with an hour for lunch. Those hours are sort of just the times that you *must* be working, if that makes any sense. Theyíre almost like guidelines. If I have court in the morning I will start much earlier, and there has never been a day yet that I have actually left at 5pm.

    All that is fine, I donít mind that, really. I knew when I started this career that I wouldnít have a 9-5 job. And, since it is pretty much salary (aside from bonuses that are possible) I know I will make the same amount if I work an 8 hour day as a 15 hour day. Thatís life. Fine, cool, whatever.

    The way it works for us is we bill by 15 minute intervals. So, we have these little time sheets where we have to write down what we were doing for every 15 minute period during the day. This makes it tricky, because if you arenít doing anything (or are slacking off) you canít really hide it. Even if you lied (which is completely illegal and unethical) and said it took you twice as long to do something for a client, the firm will cut down your hours to the appropriate time your task should have taken. Most firms want you to have a certain number of hours you bill clients for, a minimum, because that is how the firm makes money and pays for overhead.

    Well, my biggest issue is my hours and productivity.

    If the partner that assigns me the majority of my work isnít in the office, I end up sitting here with nothing to do. I get caught up (or ahead) on what I am supposed to do (you have to wait for responses and stuff on a lot of things), and then Iím like ďÖnow what?Ē So, for the past few days, I have gone and asked the other attorneys for work. Iíve just told them straight up that so and so isnít here, Iíve done as much as I can on my files for my clients, is there anything at all I can help you with?

    Yesterday I asked them twice (I donít want to be a pest if they are on the phone or busy). I got done any work I *could* do, and most of it was total bull crap stuff that I was just doing to be nice for clients that isnít even something Iíll bill for, just to be busy, and even that was done by 11 am.

    Well, one of them comes in my office at 4:30, finally, and asks me to do research for him. So I end up being here late, when I spent 5 hours doing nothing but taking up space. It seems people like to put things on my desk between 4 and 5pm, but I guess thatís life.

    The same thing is happening today. I have nothing to do. Iíve asked for assignments or anything I can do to help, and no one has given me anything.

    I understand if there is no more work to give me. It just gets frustrating. I feel like a waste and a drain if I am sitting here at work and getting paid when Iím not producing. Iíve been reading continuing legal education books so at least Iím doing something law related, but I still feel guilty. And then I do get frustrated when I get work at the last minute to do. Itís like, I wish I could have been given that hours ago, damn.

    I donít want to complain, Iím the new person. Also, if they arenít giving me a hard time about not getting enough billed time in or enough things to bill for, I probably shouldnít complain because they must be aware of it and it must not be an issue to them.

    I guess itís just that the hours go by a lot faster when youíre busy. What do you guys think about this?
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
    Computer Expert and Renaissance Man

    Jun 26, 2007, 08:25 AM
    My philosophy throughout my career has always been, I am paid to do a job, I am not paid to be in an office from 9-5. If my job takes 8-6 on some days then so be it. On the same token, if my job takes 9-3 on some days, then I get to go home early. I've been pretty lucky with my employers in understanding and go along with this philosophy.

    If you have to be in the office and find yourself with nothing specific to do, I can suggest some possibilities. Law offices these days are very IT intensive. Many offices have document management software, time tracking software, litigation support software, etc. If your office uses such, you might try spending time learning them more completely. If they don't use such, you might try researching such products and making recommendations to senior management. You might try building your own time tracking application rather then filing paper time sheets. And, of course, you can spend free time on sites such as this offering others your legal knowledge.

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