Junior associate at a mid-sized reputable law firm that is not strict about hours. I am consistently under hours due to lack of work (goal is 1800, I bill 1200 on average). Love the partner I work for and learn a lot from them but they don’t push enough work down, despite me asking for it. Any advice?

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Firm is cool with you billing 1200? In that case my advice would be don’t mess up a good thing. Also, where can I apply

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Thanks. Most days I am very grateful :)

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Ask other partners for work.

Also, make sure you are billing everything until they complain. So, if you're in the shower and thinking about the case you should bill. Cooking breakfast and thinking about the case, bill.

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I used to feel like that was cheating until I spent 45 minutes in the shower one morning, mentally composing an argument for a motion.

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If they’re cool with it and you’re cool with it, let it be and enjoy your free time. I know of several “lifestyle” firms where associates have a formal 1800 requirement but none of them can possibly meet that goal due to workflow. Its pretty much just a way of making sure no one qualifies for a big bonus, the partners are cool with it so long as stuff is getting done right and on time, and the associates have really great work life balance as a result. If you don’t mind about the bonus/you’re happy with your compensation, and still feel like you’re growing as a lawyer, don’t fix what ain’t broken.

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AA1 that’s a fair point but I’m not concerned that I’m getting passed up for work. I’m part of a niche practice group headed by one partner and I’m the only associate, so I’m the only associate who can do this type of work. The work ebbs and flows but is generally on the slow side.

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One thing to consider doing is asking to help with article writing, business development, opportunities to learn more, etc. And if you aren't already, review the higher level work that the partner does and ask questions (without being annoying). This will help them be more comfortable pushing things down to you in the future and show that you're not just skating by.

Everyone else is probably right that you're lucky to be in this situation, but I'll say as a caution that this could signal a lack of sufficient demand for your specialty within your firm (this could be a reason why your partner is not pushing down work...). I think it's probably fine, but just something to be aware of.

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I should have clarified, I have significant nonbillable work - seminars, client alerts, etc.

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Sounds to me like you have it made. Enjoy the ride and pray for the rest of us during your free time!

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As long as you’re satisfied with your pay and the experience you’re getting, don’t mess with a good thing. But maybe start asking the partner about nonbillable, business development type work you can help with. Not as a hint, but as a way to get trained on the other aspects of legal practice. Plus, it makes you look invested in the group.

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Enjoy it - I had that at a previous firm (a good month was 130 for me) and now at a different firm where they expect 180 even though 160 would hit goal. Missing those days!

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Needed to hear this! Thanks!

I'm in a very very very similar situation. Recently we had a bunch of deals come in and maybe I'll hit 1500 this year. If the culture of the firm is cool with it, and you're comfortable with the money you're making with these hours then take the comfort and peace. As many have said, don't mess with a good thing.

If the reason you're worried about hours is bonuses/pay then maybe a different firm will have those hours.

I'm good with it, personally. I could make more money elsewhere while billing more. But I make more money than most of my friends and I'm happy. That's enough for me.

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Wait you bill 100 hours a month? Lol

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Yikes!!!

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I had a very good rainmaker mentor who said: every minute you’re not billing should be spent marketing. I realize you’re doing non-billable work from your comments, but I’d suggest starting to think about ways you can market less passively (articles are a very long play) and eventually get yourself busy on your own work.

I don't have advice but I'm in a similar-ish position. I think our goal is 1900 but I barely hit over 1600 and so far no one has complained. I'm also paid below market, but don't mind the lower pay for a healthy work-life balance. Though most of my friends are in big law and sometimes talking to them makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong... I can't even imagine billing 2100 hours...

Thanks for this- that’s exactly how I feel! I’m content most of the time and love the work life balance, but I do sometimes want to be in a busier practice where I’m learning more and making more money. I also feel like I’m doing something wrong but based on everyone’s comments, it sounds like we should consider ourselves lucky.

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