First Post: Flexibility as an Attorney

Am I expected to be in front of my laptop during business hours every single day or can I make an appointment or head to the gym at certain times?

For background, I’m a newly minted attorney at a small to mid-size firm with reasonable billable hours (under 2000 annually). I also get to work from home multiple days a week. There has been no mention of expectations and the turnover rate is so high, I don’t know who to ask.

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Depends on how toxic your firm is, honestly. I think it’s not practical or realistic for you to be immediately available all the time (what if you’re on another client call? what if you have to poop?) but that doesn’t mean it’s not the expectation. Set boundaries early!

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Thank you for your feedback!

In a good workplace for a salaried professional you should have all that flexibility. If you really can’t ask someone then observe others in what they do then take baby steps with an off the noon hour lunch or appt and see if it’s received badly. We give free reign on schedules to our attorneys and expect professionalism and all work getting timely done

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Great insight!

I’d say depends on your workload, schedule and type of partners you work for. Do partners expect you to respond asap during work hours? Are you in litigation where docs need to be served and filed before a certain time (4pm in my jurisdiction)?

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And yes, I am in litigation but we have until midnight to serve documents. 🙌

Thank you for your feedback!

I put workout classes on my schedule and will go during the workday but only on slower days without pressing deadlines and meetings. My old firm requested I respond to all emails asap, even on vacation. It wasn’t sustainable so I recommend setting some reasonable boundaries

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Yes, reasonable boundaries are what I am in search of!

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When in doubt, ask your supervisors. From my POV, this job doesn’t have real “work hours” since we are generally expected to be responsive all the time. Because of that, I take care of my personal things when it makes sense for me. Sometimes that means a massage, workout class, grocery trip or other personal errands during the workday. It also definitely means I make all my doctors appointments for during the workday. It does depend on what your workload is at the given moment — is the deal trying to sign? If so, that’s probably not the best time to run to Nordstroms to return something. But if not, why not? And again, when in doubt, ask your supervisors or even just more senior folks in your group (if there are any left) who may have a better idea of what is expected.

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Great insight!

I had a partner tell me that it's not acceptable to call back 5 mins later and I need to pick up right when they call bc they are so busy. I have other partners that are much more flexible. Its a game.

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Yeah, I know for sure it’s not that much pressure on my end.🙌

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