The High Expectations of Billable Hours at Big Law Firms

When considering a job at a Big Law firm, it is important to understand the expectations of the firm when it comes to billable hours. Billable hours are the hours you spend working on client matters that are billed to your clients. Big Law firms typically have high expectations when it comes to billable hours, and meeting these expectations is necessary to succeed and advance in your legal career.

Expected Billable Hours

This number can vary depending on the firm, but the expectation is generally between 1,800-2,400 billable hours per year. These hours can include time spent on client matters, legal research, writing memorandums, and attending meetings. The number of billable hours may also vary depending on the type of law the firm practices. For example, most firms that practice corporate law have higher billable hour expectations than firms that practice family law.

Non-Billable Hours

These hours are not charged to clients, and often include activities such as pro bono work, taking continuing legal education courses, or attending networking events. The number of non-billable hours expected by a firm can vary greatly, so it is important to ask about it when considering a job.


This system allows associates to track their billable hours and submit them for approval. Firms use different timekeeping systems, so it is important to understand the system your firm uses and how to use it properly.

Client Billing

Associates are expected to be accurate and honest in their billing, and to ensure that the services they are providing are billed properly. This is important because billing mistakes can be costly to the firm.

Time Sheet Deadlines

Deadlines vary by firm, so it is important to ask about them when considering a job. Missing deadlines can result in disciplinary action, so it is important to be mindful of them.

Working at a Big Law firm can be a rewarding and challenging experience. Understanding the expectations of the firm when it comes to billable hours is a crucial part of succeeding and advancing in your legal career. By understanding the expectations of the firm, you can make sure that you are meeting the expectations and billing clients accurately.

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