funny-pictures-hourglass-cat.jpgWe received over 2,200 responses to Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, which asked you how many hours you billed last year.

In fact, we received more responses than most of you billed hours.

Although today’s Am Law Litigation Daily points out that litigation in federal courts actually rose by 9 percent last year, that doesn’t appear to have done much for your timesheets.

The table below compares your 2007 hours and predictions for 2008 (from our November survey) with the actual experience you reported on Monday.

Results: How many hours did you bill in 2007 and 2008?

 Billable Hours   2007      2008 
(predicted) 
  2008 
(actual) 
Less than 1600     3.29%   7.93%   14.32%
1600 – 1699     2.58%   6%   5.75%
1700 – 1799     3.99%   5.61%   7.36%
1800 – 1899     8.45%   7.54%   9.37%
1900 – 1999     11.5%   16.44%   13.6%
2000 – 2100     22.54%   21.08%   18.11%
2100 – 2199     12.68%   14.31%     11.11%
2200 – 2299     11.03%   6.77%   7.98%
2300 – 2399     12.44%     5.42%   4.64%
2400+     11.5%   8.9%   7.76%

Back in 2007, roughly 70% of respondents billed at least 2000 hours last year (not counting associates with stub years), with over a third billing at least 2200. And over 11% — almost one in eight associates — were in the 2400+ zone.

But by November, almost 20% of associates thought they would fall short of 1800 hours for 2008. Even so, less than 8% feared they would not make 1600. And roughly 56% of associates still expected to hit at least 2000 hours in 2008. More than a fifth of respondents thought they would even reach 2200.

Reality was a bit less kind:

  • A crushing 14% of respondents fell short of 1600 hours, almost twice the number predicted back in November.
  • More than a quarter of respondents, 27%, could not make 1800.
  • And a little less than half of associates, 49.6%, broke 2000.

But even these numbers may paint too rosy an economic picture. As one commenter pointed out:

I billed over 2000 hours, but had over 300 pro bono this year.

Another suggested that this year’s performance will be much weaker than last year’s:

Hitting 2000 hours for 2008 was doable because the bulk of the slow-down didn’t occur until September/October. Only because I had very high hours before then was I able to just barely hit 2000 hours for the year. 2009 will be much worse. I’m worried.

Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments.

You know, as long as you’re not billing anything today.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.


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