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Hours of Lawyer...

collegefreak12collegefreak12 Posts: 377Registered User Member
edited July 2007 in Law School
I just wanted to find out...about what is the average hours of a lawyer? I want a job that I can not kill myself over ( like a doctor). I realize this is a general qustion, but on average, for the different types of lawyers, what is the general work hours per week? And the salary. Thanks.
Post edited by collegefreak12 on
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Replies to: Hours of Lawyer...

  • mommamiamommamia Posts: 321Registered User Member
    Lawyers who work 9-5 and do not kill themselves are mostly low paid government lawyers who work in suburban or rural areas. Most lawyers work long hours. Many work much harder in terms of hours than doctors do for comparable salaries. Why don't you look for a civil service job that does not require graduate school?
  • sallyawpsallyawp Posts: 2,059Registered User Senior Member
    If you are just looking for a career -- any career - that will not require you to work a lot of hours, than law is probably not for you.

    I think that you should also probably reconsider your assumption that medicine would not require you to work a lot of hours. At least for the years during your internship and residency (and perhaps fellowship as well), you will likely be working some crazy killer hours.
  • SoulinNeedSoulinNeed Posts: 293Registered User Junior Member
    Trust me, my parents are doctors. Doctors work a CRAZY amount of hours. Especially during residency.
  • alwaysamomalwaysamom Posts: 9,363Registered User Senior Member
    My H is a lawyer, as are a sister, brother in law, uncle, two nephews and a cousin. My family also includes 5 different kinds of doctors. With the exception of one of the lawyers, who works in a D.A.'s office, the lawyers all work far more hours than any of the doctors. This has been the experience over three decades of practice for both professions. Law is not the profession for you if you don't want to work long hours.
  • drusbadrusba Posts: 7,895Registered User Senior Member
    Lawyers I know in private practice, and I am one, generally do not have to worry about dealing with rush hour traffic since they seldom go home that early. My typical weekday starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends about 7:30 p.m. When doing trials, you can go 16 or more hours a day, including weekends. Note also that it is a fallacy that you will work less once you reach the senior partner stage in a firm since I have been in that stage for many years. Many government and in-house corporate lawyers maintain lower hours in the range of 40 to 50 hours a week.
  • younghov1983younghov1983 Posts: 157Registered User Junior Member
    i worked for a lawyer during the summer in a rural area who had his own practice. he worked about 8:30 to 5. he earns a little over 90 thousand.

    but on the downside, he has to purchase his own benifits. and there are various stresses about operating your own practice which lawyers in larger firms don't have.

    but i think his hours and salary are somewhat typical for rural lawyers.
  • younghov1983younghov1983 Posts: 157Registered User Junior Member
    hmmm. perhaps my rural law experience is not very representative.

    I'm carious though. is it possible to find a smaller firm job or government job, work 50 hours a week, earn 60 k, in a larger city?

    i guess that would be my ideal job (of course, if I could make more without changing my workload dramatically, that would be great).
  • GreybeardGreybeard Posts: 2,355Registered User Senior Member
    According to a 2006 California State Bar survey, 7% of California attorneys work 60 or more hours per week; 20% work 50-59 hours per week; 31% work between 41 and 49 hours a week; 16% work 35-40 hours a week, and 26% work less than 35 hours per week.

    7% make more than $300k over year from their law practice; 8% make between $200K and $300K; 11% make between $150K and $199K; 25% make between $100K and $149K; 24% make between $50K and $99.999K; 25% make under $50K.

    65% are in private practice; of these, 54% are sole practitioners. 10% work in-house.

    http://www.calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/reports/2006_State-Bar-Survey.pdf
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Posts: 1,185Registered User Senior Member
    greybeard - for some reason, i was unable to connect to the link you provided. do you know how they defined hours of work in the survey? ie billable hours vs. hours actually at the office?

    [for any prospective lawyers who do not already know -- lawyers in private practive keep track of their hours for the purpose of billing their clients -- the number of hours that can be billed to a client is your billable hours. not every minute you are at the office is billable -- the additional hours you are at the office will depend on: 1) your efficiency (and newer lawyers tend to be more inefficient in their time), 2) the nature of the practice, 3) the nature of the work you are doing at the given time, 4) how much administrative work you have, 5) how much time you spend reading to keep up on your field (at least when I was in practice, my firm allowed associates, but not partners to count 4 & 5 when they talked aobut how many hours an attorney put in). So lawyers often talk about their hours as billable hours which doesn't really tell you what type of hours they are putting in at the office. If you are ever talking to a lawyer and he says he works X hours a week -- ask the follow-up questions - does he mean "billable hours" and what time does he/she get into work and what time do they leave at the end of the day. And don't just assume that you will bill close to 100% of your time.]
  • sallyawpsallyawp Posts: 2,059Registered User Senior Member
    "According to a 2006 California State Bar survey, 7% of California attorneys work 60 or more hours per week; 20% work 50-59 hours per week; 31% work between 41 and 49 hours a week; 16% work 35-40 hours a week, and 26% work less than 35 hours per week."

    I think there's a good chance that a significant number of attorneys working 60+ hours per week didn't have the time to respond to the survey. :)
  • CareerChangeCareerChange Posts: 91Registered User Junior Member
    In the link, the number of hours comes from "On average, how many hours per week do you work in your law practice?”

    Also, I was surprised by the high % of sole practitioners Greybeard listed (thanks for the post Greybeard). I think the document says 40%, not 54%. An additional 22% are in firms of 2-5 members.

    Also of note, 64% were over age 45.
  • CareerChangeCareerChange Posts: 91Registered User Junior Member
    I just had this feeling you couldn’t be wrong Greybeard. Sorry! It says, like you said, that 54% of those in private practice are sole. Forty percent of the total are solo.
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Posts: 1,185Registered User Senior Member
    In the link, the number of hours comes from "On average, how many hours per week do you work in your law practice?"

    if that is the case, i think the wording is not the best -- it seems subject to different attorneys interpretting it differently as to whether it means billable or all hours at the office. i also think that ther could be variations based on the type of firm -- ie at smaller firms, an attorney may have more administrative responsibilities that they might have included -- which could make the differences between large and small firms seem less than they may really be.

    my point in general is not the validity of the survey per se -- just to point out that one has to be careful in trying to assign meaning to "numbers."
  • GreybeardGreybeard Posts: 2,355Registered User Senior Member
    Attorneys who aren't in private practice generally don't track their billable hours.

    I've been in-house for almost ten years, a sole practitioner for five years, a partner in a two-attorney firm for over five, and a small-firm associate for three. I've never tracked all of my "billable hours."

    When I was in private practice, much of my time was spent representing plaintiffs in contingency cases. In other matters, I negotiated flat fees.

    Even if those cases where my clients were willing and able to pay an hourly rate, I would look at the work I performed, and estimate how much time it would have been an idealized version of myself (an more efficient, less inherently distractable Greybeard) to perform those tasks, and would bill accordingly.

    I suspect that those attorneys who do track their billable hours are painfully aware of the difference between hours worked and billable hours.
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Posts: 1,185Registered User Senior Member
    at one firm i worked at, a partner once specifically told me that he only kept track of his billable hours, not all the hours he spent in the office working on non-billable time because he would just get too depressed if he ever looked at what that total number was. if you asked him what he worked, i'd be willing to bet he'd refer to his billable hours.

    not all attorneys may track billable hours, but it was common, at least in my experience at the two firms at which i worked, for attorneys to focus on their billable hours -- since that was often what the partners focused on at review time. partners didn't want to hear about how late you were at the office -- the only measure of hours that mattered were the ones that ended up on a time sheet. and billable hours was the common language when associates within a firm compared their workload or when they spoke with colleagues at other firms to compare workloads.
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