Hours

This coming Friday, it is the inalienable right of all Americans to sleep off their hangovers, or riot at Walmart, or do anything at all rather than work for The Man. But Biglaw is a different country. As illustrated by Elie’s decision matrix, the “choice” of whether to work on this sacred day is, for the denizens of the law firm world, fraught with other pressures and expectations. We all know that Biglaw careers demand a Faustian bargain: in return for their fat paychecks (and bonuses?), lawyers are expected to work grueling, unpredictable hours. This time of year, that reality is brought into sharp relief: the “holiday season,” with those “family obligations” and so forth, is something that occurs elsewhere.

But law firm billable expectations are not homogeneous. There are significant differences across practice areas, seniority levels, and, of course, individual firms. So how do the various practices, employment statuses, and firms stack up?

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Washington, D.C. has the most densely concentrated population of lawyers in the nation. The capital has an astounding 1,356 percent more lawyers per capita than New York. One in 12 District residents is an attorney. The nation’s capital is home to just one-fifth of one percent of the national population but accounts for one in every 25 of its lawyers. Could there be some correlation between this total saturation of D.C. with J.D.s and the seeming contempt that the rest of the country holds for the place? Washington’s negative perception problem is such that Slate’s political gabfest felt compelled to devote this week’s podcast to explore the proposition “Washington Is Really Not That Bad.” Examples of this not-badness included the fact that people don’t have to bribe officials to get their social security benefits. So it was kind of a low bar.

In any event, D.C.’s lawyers work in myriad capacities in Congress, government regulatory agencies, non-profits, and lobbying firms. But obviously Washington is very much a Biglaw town as well. The frustration and malaise brought on by the sequester and partisan gridlock seem to be affecting the business of Biglaw. As Lat noted yesterday, large firms there are struggling: revenue, demand and productivity are all lagging at D.C.-based law firms when compared to firms nationwide. So this might not be the ideal time to check in on how lawyers at large D.C.-based firms perceive their professional experiences. But we’ll do it anyway.

Our ATL Insider Survey (13,500+ responses and counting) asks attorneys at firms to evaluate their employers in terms of compensation, hours, training, morale, and culture. After the jump, we’ll look at how firms in Washington stack up in these categories — and how they compare to the national averages…

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Unless you’ve made some deliberate, heroic effort to not know, you are aware that the most feverishly anticipated baby since 0 A.D. is now finally among us. This is a huge deal. People love babies. People love princesses and what not. So: huge deal. Thus, as we await the naming of the boy Windsor and as a flimsy topical pretext, let’s have a look at how the Magic Circle, the UK’s legal royalty, rate in the ATL Insider Survey.

The Magic Circle comprises five venerable London firms: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Linklaters, and the terrifyingly-yet-diffidently named Slaughter and May. Powerhouse “Slaughters” is the only one of this prestigious group lacking a New York office. The other four are among the most truly global firms and are among the top ten firms in the world measured by revenue. S&M is also the only one of the group for which we lack sufficient survey responses to generate ratings based on the ATL Insider Survey. After the jump, see how the others’ New York offices stack up in terms of Compensation, Hours, Training, Firm Morale, and Culture.

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There is a woman out there who can literally say, “I got screwed by my attorney, and he charged me for it.”

That’s right, in an amazing cacophony of bad behavior, today we have a story about a lawyer who didn’t just have an inappropriate relationship with his client, he also billed her for the time they spent having illicit relations.

Bet you none of these would-be bros have pulled that off….

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... but it will never be granted.

* Most Americans can look forward to a tax increase in 2012 because our elected officials would rather bicker with each other than do their jobs. Happy freakin’ New Year! [Los Angeles Times]

* Duncan Law’s dean sheds some light on why the ABA might have denied the school provisional accreditation. Come on, what’s not to like about a median LSAT of 147? [National Law Journal]

* Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed underwear bomber, has put in some special requests for a new lawyer. Beggars can’t really be choosers, though, so I wouldn’t count on it, buddy. [Reuters]

* More ex-NFL players are suing over brain injuries. You shouldn’t be allowed to sue over your career in football when you knew that a helmet was a required part of your uniform. [Bloomberg]

* If everyone with a professional degree could sue over lost sleep and long hours, then almost every lawyer in the country would be a plaintiff, especially those in Biglaw. [New York Post]

Earlier this week, we ran an open thread how people are doing on their hours. We also had a survey asking people to tell us how many hours they are on track for. We received strong reader participation in the poll, but there was a flaw in the survey. According to commenters:

elie. you need to leave an option to “view results” w/o checking. Law students and others will be interested in this, but will have to choose a selection to view results….

Well, I assumed that law students would just wait until the today’s follow up post since I clearly stated I would do one:

I just checked the category that includes 0 hours to view the results, so the stats are skewed. FAIL!!!

Have you ever heard of a little thing called patience? Can we please act like adults?

0

In house.

GOD. Fine. I screwed up. Sorry for expecting readers to exhibit a modicum of restraint and not click on a poll to which they didn’t have an answer.

With the caveat that the numbers for the “less than 1600″ category are skewed by people who couldn’t wait two days for the follow up, the results of the survey appear below…

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It’s June 1st. Summer is upon us! Yay.

So how are you doing for hours? As much as we talk about merit-based compensation and alternative fee arrangements — surprise — billable hours are still here and still very, very important.

But if in-house attorneys have anything to say about it, your hours will be low this year…

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