I’m averaging 180-200 billable hours a month, at a firm with small bonuses and salary slightly under Cravath (and the gap widens as you progress). I like the work and the people I work with. Advice on whether to stay put or seek more $$$?

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LMAO at people calling 180-200 “good hours.” If it’s just about money, go to a market rate firm, because you’ll probably bill similar hours most months (with the exception of right now, when times are truly crazy). But if you’re thinking long term, have partnership prospects where you’re currently located, and otherwise like your job, the extra money probably isn’t worth it.

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Depends on the firm and the group, but I would advise OP to make sure they are okay working 225-250 hours at least some months if they go to a Cravath scale firm. There is very much an expectation to be over 200 at my firm, and 180 will get another case added to your plate.

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I would stay. I'm averaging 220 but have been as high as 270 and the extra money is not worth the extra time. A good team with good hours is more important than what seems to be a slightly higher salary.

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Definitely agree!

Do you want to be a partner there? It gets harder to lateral as a senior unless you’re in a specialty practice or you have a good book and can lateral as a partner somewhere. But the fact you like the people you work with is worth a lot and can be hard to find.

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Is there room for salary or bonus negotiation at your current firm? Sometimes the best negotiation tool for that is an offer from a competing firm (but one that you are willing to actually take if the current firm says they won’t budge). I would inquire with a trusted mentor at the current firm about what it really takes to make partner there because it sounds like you like working there. Sometimes junior or nonequity partners don’t make too much more than 8th year associates, so it also would be worth it to poke around and explore your options. If your main concern is compensation then that’s an easier answer. But if you also want to enjoy the people you work with and have a decent WL balance, then see how much you can negotiate. Good luck!!

I would move. Midlevel is the sweet spot where firms really want you and you’re senior enough to hit the ground running but junior enough to build relationships again. You do not need to bill way more than the requirement to stay employed at Cravath scale. Meet your hours and do a great job on whatever you take on. Billing 250-300 is a not the only way to be a value add and make Cravath scale. I’ve been making Cravath scale my whole career. 180-210 is my normal, I’d say. The most I’ve ever billed is 240. There’s certainly people at my firm who bill more, but I’m not one of them, and I feel like I have good job security because I make myself a value add and have developed good relationships and my practice group is consistently busy.

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The more senior I get the more I realize is almost almost better to sacrifice pay for more happiness/better work life balance. Although your current situation is already pretty overworked so maybe you have nothing to lose by moving.

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Those seem like relatively good hours (could be much worse somewhere else), so since you like the people, the work, and are “quite happy” I would focus on pay negotiation there rather than making a move.

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