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Law

With regards to bonuses, at 2100 hours/yr, the firm I have an offer with offers bonuses 2x yearly. Does this mean going above and beyond, or hitting target hours as it sounded? I’d assume above/Beyond

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What is the base salary? 2100 is not crazy talk - especially if you will get 2x your salary... but if you’re starting at 50K then the firm is getting a hell of a deal on you.

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67.5

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2100 hard billable hours is a lot. A lot of biglaw firms have an hours expectation of 1800-2000. A lot of associates at vault 100 firms get significantly fewer hours than the expectation, and while they probably don't get a bonus, they also probably don't get fired. My firm has a 1950 hours expectation, of which, up to 50 can be pro bono. Qualifying approved internal legal work is also supposed to count (but it doesn't show up in any tracking tools). 1950 works out to 162.5/month. In January, there were 23 weekdays, including two holidays. I had one bad day where I spent a ton of time on something non-billable, but most days I was working from 9 am to 9 pm and billing 8-10 hours. I also worked 6 hours on a holiday and a few hours one weekend. I ended up with about 190 billable hours and 10 pro bono. So, if you work hard and never run out of work, then 2100 hours is doable. But it's a real time commitment. If you have a family, then 2100 hours will be rough no matter how you do it. Think about it like this: a normal, 9-5 job would result in 8 hours in the office per day, maybe 6-7 of which would generally be billable. You can push yourself to bill more of your time, but if your honest, that means not taking breaks, not reading the legal news in your area, not chatting with the other lawyers, not participating in firm events, not writing content for the firm's blog, not doing pro bono work (in excess of what your firm counts as billable), and not helping other people when they have problems. Assuming 6.5 billable hours per day, 20 days per month, would yield 130 hours per month, and 1560 hours per year. That's what I would consider a fairly easy pace, but it also assumes that you never run out of work. If you are a stellar associate, then everyone will always want you to do things. But for many associates, it's not that simple. Many people find that they run out of work periodically and may lose entire days or weeks that they would otherwise have worked as a result. And, on the flip side, when you do have work, it always has a deadline, so frequently you find yourself in a rather uncomfortable cycle of feast and famine. Rush rush rush to get X out the door, and then sit on your hands and wish you had something you could bill for. So, if you aren't a particularly stellar associate and your firm or practice group has a feast and famine aesthetic, then when you have work to do and can waive your magic wand with respect to how long it will take you, you have to work really grueling hours, stay focused, and bill all of your time just to catch up to the target. All that said, some top associates in biglaw manage to bill 2700-3000 hours in a year. They work all the time, and they never run out of billable work.

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The folks who bill in that range would all be disbarred if their time entries/tracking were watched with scrutiny. Fight me.

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Some firms have a “structured bonus” if you hit certain goals throughout the year. The “double bonus” usually means it is split into 6-month periods and if you hit above say 1,050 in each 6-month period, you will receive a set, nominal amount. The firms tends to save the “real” bonus until the end of the year when they factor in whether you hit 2,100 and how far above you went. 2,100 is not a difficult number to hit in many practice areas.

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