Here at Above the Law, we’re committed to exploring the (sometimes harsh) realities of Biglaw life. One of those realities, of course, is timekeeping. That’s when you sit down and realize that, despite spending twelve hours in the office, somehow you only got eight hours of work done (maybe ’cause you spent too much time reading Perez Hilton and gossiping with your officemate about Project Runway).
Anyway, one curious reader emailed us:
Just wanted to see if there was any interest in seeing what large firms across the country’s policies were for timekeeping (daily, weekly, monthly) and what the penalties were for falling behind. I had heard that one firm withholds paychecks after enough time.
Funny you should ask! A second reader sent us this tip:
The abysmal associate morale at Fried Frank will not be improved by a new mandate to close out all time in full by the next business day or face sanctions.
Wow, that’s a harsh policy — but it’s true.
Check out the memo, and discuss your own firm’s policies on entering your hours, after the jump.
Here’s the memo. No, we did not make up the name “Justin Spendlove.” He’s a real person (pictured at right).
FRIED FRANK HARRIS SHRIVER & JACOBSON LLP — TIME RECORDING MEMO — AUGUST 2007
From: Valerie Jacob and Justin Spendlove [at right]
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2007 5:48 PM
To: NY Associates & Special Counsel; DC Associates; DC Special Counsel; London Associates; Paris Associates; Frankfurt Associates; Hong Kong Associates
Cc: FFHSJ All Partners; Bernard, Alison; Smith, Don; Parsons, Alan; Hallihan, Jonathan; Kaye, Michael; NY Office of Attorney Development; Alcott, Kathy
Subject: Requirement for Daily Time Recording in Full
To: All Associates and Special/European Counsel
Cc: All Partners; Alison Bernard; Don Smith; Alan Parsons; Jonathan Hallihan; Michael Kaye; NY Office of Attorney Development; Kathy Alcott
From: Valerie Jacob
Re: Requirement for Daily Time Recording in Full
Commencing today, the firm is instituting procedures to ensure compliance with the firm’s requirement that all timekeepers submit time sheets on a daily basis. Accordingly, time should be posted (and “closed out”) on our carpe diem system no later than the next business day after the time is incurred. The members of our secretarial staff are ready and willing to help, and we encourage you to utilize their assistance. In particular, we believe many people will find it helpful to establish routines with their secretaries to regularize the daily submission of timesheets and to put in place protocols for periods when the timekeepers expect to be out of the office, including on vacation.
Notification of non-compliance will be given to the Office of Attorney Development as well as to the leader of the delinquent timekeeper’s department or practice group. Failure to comply will impact the performance evaluation of a timekeeper and, in repeated cases, will result in a timekeeper no longer being eligible for direct deposit of his or her compensation.
The firm’s requirement for daily time recording is very important. We know that a substantial amount of billable time is lost through late time recording. It is very important, too, that all time is recorded in full.