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Associate here working on a matter where everyone's time will be written off. Does it reflect badly on me or the responsible partner to have a lot of time written off?

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It depends. How much time are we talking? Why is time being written off? Is it a pro bono project or a favor for a close friend of a cash cow client? Is your firm stuck in a matter due to ethical constraints or the need to protect some other party or advance some other financial or political interest? Or....Is your team working and billing inefficiently, overstaffing projects, billing for tons of internal emails as conversations or having 3-4 lawyers spending weeks writing and editing one brief that doesn’t really matter? The firm’s perception of the responsible partner (and their team) probably hinges on the answers to these questions. Some write offs are expected , some are strategic, others are the result of bad lawyering or bad business practice (which runs from the top down)


I’d say par for the course and there shouldn’t be a negative perception. If there is, it’s probably more on the partner than you. Most firms realize it’s the partner’s job to manage revenue producing assets (you) appropriately. Unless this becomes a pattern (where your time is constantly being written off and eaten and you are a net loss) I wouldn’t think twice about it.


Sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I hate when I’m doing a lot of work that I know will be written off because revenue collected is a big factor for partnership consideration at my firm

Higher billables looks better. Just make sure you are working as much as you can on stuff that won’t be written off to balance it. I don’t think it’ll be a black mark


They might hold it against you if they want to be dicks. Happened to me as an associate a few times. How I handled it was explaining the situation up front to the member of the comp committee I knew, and providing email documentation of the fact I was told to do the work despite the expectation it would be written off. One time it resulted in a bunch of my comp being held back for a year, but I eventually did get it all. It was actually kind of nice, as the combined holdback plus bonus was enough for a downpayment on a house and a new minivan for the wife.

It just be like that sometimes.

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