For the junior associates out there, I’m a 2020 call and am convinced that I’m taking a lot of time while working on deals. I’m also not really sure how my efficiency compares to other associates as I’m the only junior in the group. The junior partner I work with primarily always tells me to rack up my hours but I’m also afraid of looking inefficient with the more senior partners. Does anyone ever write down their own time? Or is ashamed of how long it takes to draft say a direction to pay?

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No. Never write down your time. Let the partner write it off. Who cares. If it would’ve taken a partner 1 hour to do something and they bill at $1000/hr, you taking 1.5 hours at $500/hr is still cheaper to the client. Bill ALL your time.

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The party line across all firms is to never write down your time...but don't be oblivious to certain scenarios. For years 1-4, bill everything and focus on the quality of your work product over efficiency. Efficiency usually improves naturally as you gain more experience, which takes years not months. But if you want to make a run at partner, your efficiency absolutely comes into play in the three years before partnership. When you are up for partnership, the firm will look at your stats for the last several years and inefficiency will show up through write offs (lower realization rates), through reputation (fewer opportunities), and general reputation. I'm not sure that self-sensoring your own time will cure all of these problems, but it might hide them if you need a little more runway to improve. But if you aren't in it for partnership, bill away, get your bonus, and leave collection problems to the partner.

likehelpful

Thank you, this is very useful information.

Bill all your time! We expect you to take a ridiculous amount of time to do anything at the beginning. I’m a 7th year and I’ve never once been spoken to about over billing (always be ethical, of course).

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Never edit your own time

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Never write down your time. The parners know that you will be slow (you’re new after all) and they want you to bill every single minute. Your time sheet will be proofread, edited and adjusted by senior associates/partners, but they will never ask you to write down your times.

likesmart

Yeah, I’m tasked with reviewing bills for a bunch of my clients with a particular partner and for those clients, I’m the only attorney reviewer.

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For those of you who may suffer from ADHD or just super distracted because you’re hating your life in this extremely busy time for deal lawyers… do you ever edit your time in those cases for when, for example, you spend time browsing Fishbowl and respond to posts like this? Asking for multiple friends (you, you all and me are the friends)

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I have adhd and I generally will pause the timer if im spending more than 5 min doing something else like going to the bathroom for a long time, but if it’s a quick 1 min text or something then no

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Thank you for your responses everyone. I guess it’s mostly in my head. Really appreciate the consensus here!

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Often partners set high fee expectations for M&A clients and, as a result, will not write off as much of your time as you'd think. Don't self edit. Bill it all.

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Agree generally with thoughts here; also think it depends on the practice group. At my prior firm, where I did mega M&A, the clients always paid the bills. Always. One of our deals was in the news for highest legal fees ever for a transaction. I could bill 14 hours for literally nothing and nobody would ever know or care. Even the eighth year was padding his bills (and made partner).

Now I’m in emerging companies and need to always keep the bill in mind. This does not mean I write off my time, though, it means I focus my time in an efficient manner.

You won’t know how to do this as a junior, nor will you be expected to. But depending on the practice, this may be a useful (or even necessary) skill to develop.

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Never write off your own time. The main and most important rule for every first year associate is that one. The partners expect you to know almost nothing and take a loooooot of time doing anything. They will write off a little bit of your time when editing the bills, but that’s normal and you will not be judged for that. Just bill, work and give your best effort, that’s all they expect from you.

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Do not write down your own time.

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