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Career Center: Billable Hours – Firms Vary Wildly

Welcome to the next in our series on the results of the 2010 ATL/Career Center Associate Satisfaction survey. We’ve used the survey results to revamp the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link, with completely updated profiles. Each week, we are highlighting insider information that Members shared about their firms in the eight key areas of associate satisfaction covered by the Career Center.

Today, we look at how your firm and others measure up in one very important aspect: Billable Hours.

  • This Texas-based firm, with one of the world’s leading energy practices, does not have a billable hours requirement, although bonus amounts are contingent upon meeting certain hours thresholds.
  • While this "top-notch" New York-based firm has no official billable hours requirement, Lateral Link Members report that the unofficial expectation is between 2,100 and 2,400 hours. 
  • This California-based firm, which focuses on intellectual property, has an unusual billing system based on "billed, not billable, hours," and although the billable minimum is only 1,700 hours, hours "recorded but not billed out to the client are disregarded." 
  • First-year associates at this East Coast firm are required to bill 1,900 hours per year, while other associates are required to bill 1,950 hours, a requirement that Members concur is “attainable and reasonable.”

More highlights — check to see if your firm is featured — after the jump.

  • This Texas-based firm recently changed its vacation policy and "[v]acation days are no longer banked or credited toward the nex[t] year, and associates are no longer compensated for unused vacation."
  • Known for its work in government regulation, this Washington, D.C.-based firm has an annual “billable hour benchmark” of 1,950 billable hours, but Members report that the firm is not particularly strict about the requirement.
  • This New York-based firm, with a strong international presence, does not have a stated minimum billable hours requirement, and associates are eligible for bonuses regardless of hours.  
  • This firm, founded in Boston 150 years ago, has an "activity target" of at least 1,900 billable and pro bono hours, and Member report that associates should bill at least this much to receive a full bonus. 
  • While there is no official minimum billable hours requirement at this "Magic Circle" firm, Members report that associates are expected to bill at least 1,850 hours annually to receive a bonus.
  • Under this firm’s new compensation policy, associates who don’t meet the 1,950 billable hour requirement will not receive a salary increase for the following year; however, if they meet their hours in the following year, they will be paid the difference in deferred compensation.

For more on billable requirements and everything else you wanted to know about Big Law firms, visit the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link.