Curious about non-US attorneys: are you working the crazy hour weeks most of us in the US do? Or are your weeks closer to 40 hours? I hear a lot about the working hour caps, vacation requirements, etc in Europe/Canada. Curious if that flows into legal practice... or if it gets ignored. To clarify—I’m talking about BigLaw. I’m sure there are smaller firms with reasonable hours, the same exists in the US.

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Appreciating the input. I don’t have any intent of moving, but was really curious as to what legal life was like in other places.

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Can't imagine any law firm attorney working 40 hr weeks

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I’m a US attorney, but I do a lot of work for international clients and therefore end up working with a lot of European lawyers. My understanding is the hours can be just as brutal as in the US, but the main difference I’ve noticed (mostly with UK lawyers) is that their “annual leave” (vacation time, which I believe they get 5 weeks of) is legitimate time off where they aren’t expected to (and do not) answer emails, phone calls, etc. This is fairly different from US, where at least during my time in big law, you were generally expected to still be available and responsive during vacation time.

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Canadian practicing in the US here. I used to work in Toronto Big Law. The hours are similar, probably a bit lower than NYC/other metro areas. Usually a 1800 minimum, but it’s not uncommon to bill 2000+. You get 4 weeks vacation but plenty of associates don’t use it. And yes, the pay is lower. I disagree with A2 about partnership though - a flatter firm structure means easier partnership track in Toronto than in the US.

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Defer to LA 1, anyone reading this–definitely a more knowledgeable source than me! ☺️

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Speaking for big law/ magic and silver circle/ large French firms in France: we work as much if not more and we’re paid less than in the US. Work environments can be much less politically correct and much more toxic. There is very little HR involvement or oversight since we’re not employees and there is very little emphasis on training and development. We also have monstrous bar association and other fiscal obligations which take away at least 50% of our gross “remuneration”. We’re also “independent contractors” so we are not eligible to any welfare benefits you typically hear about for France

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Wow

Its mostly a function of firm size - not location. We have a very international practice, and since we are at a small firm we tend to have relationships with small firms in jurisdictions we need. My hours are mostly 9-6, and I'm available if needed later (but that's rare). Firms we work with similarly work ~40-45 hour weeks, and are available if we need them outside of normal hours. When we need to talk, or if we need to communicate with each other's clients, we just schedule a time and make it work. We also work with some bigger firms in some jurisdictions, and the hours are just as brutal as in the US, but attorneys we work with seem more willing to strike out on their own and start small firms.

Non-US lawyer working for a US firm: definitely a myth that we work less.

And much less pay than the US equivalents

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