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Reality of life at City firms

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    Hi all,

    Looking for advice from people who are/know City lawyers (US, MC, SC, T50).

    Is there really much difference between them in terms of hours?

    Is it more of a case of average finishing times being 7/8 but the only real issue being the unpredictability of these finishing times (told to stay when plans made etc).

    Best!
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    (Original post by O'Doyle Rules)
    Hi all,

    Looking for advice from people who are/know City lawyers (US, MC, SC, T50).

    Is there really much difference between them in terms of hours?

    Is it more of a case of average finishing times being 7/8 but the only real issue being the unpredictability of these finishing times (told to stay when plans made etc).

    Best!
    Depends on the department/practice area you are sat in even within the same firm.

    The more international the firm and its clients, the longer the hours can be. You will be leaving earlier if the matters have less cross over with the US, but if you are working on matters that cross over with Asia, then you might find some early starts instead.

    Firms working on more domestic matters will find their hours far closer to 9-7.

    I wouldn't say there is an "average" finishing time for many firms - it will vary massively between firms, departments, and even individuals and how they choose to work (how efficient they are/whether they choose to work from home past a certain time etc).

    The main bit of advice I heard from a senior lawyer about the unpredictable nature of hours was learning to pick your battles. There will be times you won't want to give up your plans as they are important to you, and then its about communicating that to colleagues and ensuring they can cover the work for that time. And then being open to being that colleague when someone comes to you with a similar important request.

    Also finishing times aren't everything. Some firms are pretty open minded to their lawyers rocking up at 10 or 11 if they have been working late.
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    Following J-SP's excellent advice, the hours are unpredictable and it does vary considerably depending on the department you're in.

    What you will hear often is that the hours come in peaks and troughs. The severity of the peaks and troughs depends on the nature of work of the department and the volume of work coming in and a little bit of luck. A friend of mine in Debt Finance gets so immensly busy when he is busy that he works 7 days a week and anywhere between 12-18 hours/day for 2 weeks straight. However, when it gets quiet, he is literally reading the Guardian and checking posts on Facebook and disappearing at 5.30 on the dot because he had had nothing to do all day long.

    Compare that to my seat in a contentious team and the latest I ever worked was one lone night when I was in until just after 11. Ordinarily, I was out the door between 6.30-8 on any given day, however, I was usually busy all day long and there were very few days when I found myself twiddling my thumbs due to having nothing to do.

    It is true that things are unpredictable and you learn quickly that evening plans may not work out exactly as you hoped. But I think that is more a skill of learning the vibe of the department you're in and making it very clear that there are some engagements that you have to keep and the team will usually make do, especially if you give them notice. In over a year of my traineeship, I cannot think of a single time when I have told any of my supervisors that I had important plans one evening and they made me cancel them. The trick is to inform them in advance and make sure that they understand that this is important to you.
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    Completely agree with the above two posts. If you're reasonable (i.e. don't expect to leave every evening at 7 because you have plans) then you will normally be fine and it is very rare that you will have to miss important plans.

    I did have to cancel one evening when I was supposed to be going to the theatre but there was no way that they could have got by without me (things were dumped on us last minute with an obscenely tight turnaround) but they paid for the ticket and gave me a day off in lieu. Obviously doesn't make up for missing the theatre but definitely makes it easier to stomach!

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