How many hours a week do lawyers work? Is it possible to keep a work-life balance while being a lawyer? Does a lawyer need to work overtime? Why do I work so many hours? Are there any law firms that actually respect young lawyers? Why does the court system look like this?
These are the questions that you’ve been asking yourself during study at law school and hard times as a freshman in the lawyers’ world.
Now, when you’re an independent lawyer, you are ready to open your own law firm, and you can set your own rules. If you’re happened to still be one of the law students or a freshman, this is the article that may give you some hope.
Because every year, more law firms start respecting usual office hours. Especially when it comes to experienced lawyers still working for them, instead of starting their private practice.
Track your billable hours with TimeCamp
👉 Find out more about billable hours best practices
How many hours a week do lawyers work?
Let’s divide this question into two parts then; one exampling more to the young ones still in law school (or willing to start studying) and one for those of you who are starting their private practice soon or already run one.
👉 Read our article on how many hours you should work a day.
Do you need to work more time at the beginning of your career?
If you have just finished law school, it is possible, actually. Every great lawyer needs to start somewhere, and usually, it means working for the large firms first more hours per week than you wished to.
Many new lawyers practice under the wings of their older colleagues, sometimes in the public sector, but more often in big private law firms. Some decide to stay legal assistants for the life, too. But that’s your choice, of course.
You will need some writing skills, and a lot of patience because you will also need to survive many phone calls from nervous clients. And doesn’t matter if you dream about working as legal representation, help people with legal advice or go into family law, you will be asked for working additional hours per week more often than senior lawyers.
For sure, you will also want to make at least an additional course per year. No one is going to pay you for this, the majority of people won’t even consider it as a job, but… it is the only way to get better, right? So, feel free, to treat it as a part of your journey to become the best lawyer you can be.
But don’t get so used to long hours. As I mentioned before, the law world is starting to change and many lawyers try to make new rules. Rules which say that job is not as important as family and spending more time with beloved ones is not a crime. Workaholism does not lead to anything good.
👉 Read also about the 4 day work week.
How many hours a week do senior lawyers work?
Many law students and new lawyers think that if they want their career to be great, they can’t work just 40 hours per week. They feel that law is different from other professions. Maybe a little closer to medicine, but definitely different from casual office work.
Work-life balance seems to them as an impossible dream. Like lawyers work so much because it’s a must. But is it true? How many hours do lawyers work actually? Is it impossible to have some flexible hours while being a lawyer?
As with most of the things in life, it depends. Most of the experienced lawyers know this, many lawyers-to-be as well. The final judgment depends on what lawyers make the judges believe in, not on the truth. And that depends on the lawyer’s skills and clients’ money. Sometimes it also depends on who is judging this time. Getting a job at best law firms depends on… contacts and the right law school.
So many things depend on other things. The only certain things in life are taxes and death.
This is actually good because it means that many lawyers will find a way to be successful and maintain mental health and work-life balance on track. Proper working hours may be available even for those who dedicate their lives to big law.
Let’s ask some additional questions, then.
Does every successful lawyer work more than 40 hours per week?
The majority of people would say that, yes. They watch movies, they have friends working in law, they hear the news. And many lawyers indeed work more than 40 hours per week.
But no one ever said that it was a must. Of course, if you’re working for some law company, you don’t have clients on your own, you need to adjust. Also, if you’re an in-house counsel.
But all these additional hours are normal overtime work and if you’re an employee, you deserve overtime payment as well. Which is 1.5 times more than the normal salary per hour.
Feel free to point that to your supervisor, of course in a polite way. If you’re not sure how to count your overtime hours, use our overtime calculator.
How to run a law private practice and maintain a work-life balance?
Having your own private practice is a dream of many lawyers. Family lawyers, corporate lawyers, attorneys… most of them can actually have a private practice and don’t work longer than 40 hours per week.
In these circumstances, how many hours per week you work depends on you. If you care about your mental health, just decide if long hours are something good for you or not. You won’t be able to help your clients anyways if you just ruin your health, right?
The best idea is to maximize your productivity at work to get more done in less time, so you can succeed but still, keep your mental health (and add to your life some physical activity). Time trackers like TimeCamp are one of the greatest solutions.
TimeCamp is a good choice for big law firms, but also for a small office. This is a time tracking for lawyers that won’t disappoint you. You will be able to track all the activities on your desktop. Thanks to this, you will see how many hours exactly do you spend on each task and if there are some distractions.
By analyzing your whole week, you will be able to boost your productivity and save some time. And time is money, right?
How do law firms count their lawyers’ work time?
Well… they don’t. Many new lawyers suffer from working highly overtime. It happens that the boss doesn’t even know how many hours lawyers work at their company. So, they don’t pay them for extra hours, either.
Most lawyers are really focused on their job, and the best ones just love it. That is why so many lawyers tend to forget about counting hours. They simply don’t notice how much time do they spend at the office.
As they don’t control their own timing, they have even bigger issues with controlling the overtime hours of their younger colleagues.
That’s why a good time tracking system is an answer for every law business and every lawyer. TimeCamp can help with keeping lawyers’ mental health, controlling overtime, but that’s not all.
Most lawyers charge their clients per hour.
TimeCamp will show the exact time every lawyer spent on each case. It also allows you to generate great reports which you can show to clients. This way, they will be sure why do they pay a certain amount of money.
If you already work in some law firm, show this solution at your office. If you’re an in-house counsel or run a private practice, implement it by yourself.
Start controlling how many hours per week do you work. Or how many hours lawyers work at your company. Get control of your business and life.