Sunday, March 27, 2011

Law Firm Salaries: How Much Do Corporate Lawyers Really Make?

In short, the important answer to this question is: just enough to keep you chained to ur desk, but not enough to really propel us into that level swinging dick-ness that you might find at say, goldman sachs. i.e., we for the most part remain normal people with normal wants and desires, capable of finding peace at a normal job, and not, for example, transformed by our money hungriness into sex-crazed monkeys with egos bigger than mandingo's piece. but anyway, so what i really wanna talk about is perspective.

I was having dinner with my banker dingo the other day at this bar downtown, and we were talking about a mutual friend who works at STB or something, and she had done that thing where she got paid to do nothing or do charity work for 60k or something during her first year. But then she started her first real year last year, made it past december (yay!) and got her bonus, pro-rated for like 4 months (off of 7.5k) so not a whole lot. and as my buddy is talking about this and nears this more innocuous part of whatever shitty story he was actually telling, he hushes his voice to a whisper, takes some furtive glances around, and then proceeds to tell me with this horrific look on his face how little this poor girl made in her first year in terms of bonus and base. he almost fell off his chair laughing at "us". "that's so fucking puny" he cried, "man, i hope a pull in a buck this year, but i'll prolly only get six or eight hundred", he lamented as if he were the real one getting shafted, but really it's just him being a banker.  so, yes, he's been working for like five years at a bank that got fat on robbing middle america and AIG...BUT, a girl fresh out of college and law school, with NO work experience whatsoever, getting paid $160k + a lil something extra for tossing monkey dung around and spewing cow shit like a methane plant is still not bad. seriously, right? there are poor fuckers out there that work just as long hours as we do and get paid, um, 1/8th as much? there are poor fuckers out there that actually DO pick and clean shit up for a living. and they get paid a lot less too i bet. there are bums that live in their own urine-soaked clothes and eat out of garbage cans.  there are starving children in somalia.  lawyers are enveloped by a certain 'lifestyle' and constantly surrounded by other professionals like buddy banker that are basically given printing presses for cash in exchange for their integrity, humility and any semblance of super-ego; and i think this kinds of rubs off sometime - it can cloud ur vision pretty easily.  anyway, if u can manage to minimize ur time outlay carefully (e.g., not wasting time proofing ur internal emails 29 times - yes this happens), u can really make this whole coconut harvesting thing worth it i think. and that's not so bad. i can still remember in high school when $20 would last me like two months. honestly, with what we make all in, given at least how much I actually work, and the flexibility i have to do dodge work, this is not so terrible. sometimes it feels like shit, yes. and of course there is better, in terms of hours, money, lifestyle, work, but with the hand I've been dealt, not making out that bad. So, that's just some perspective.

i still can't believe that we got shafted in this whole YE / spring bonus thing though.  fucking cheap partners lining their pockets with banana chunks. I heard that STB was gonna give its first years 35K as their regular bonus this year, until they realized they could get away with 7.5K, so even with their spring bonus, the first years are still getting shafted by 20K. some pineapples for ur ass right there.

i dunno if any law students are reading this, but if there are and u r kinda curious about how much corporate lawyers actually do make in (or any lawyer actually), as i was when i was still in chump monkey training camp, here's a basic breakdown of the benjamins:

Base + Bonus + Allowances if applicable + Other Benefits

Compared to most professionals, lawyers get a lot in every category except for the bonus, which is like 10% or less of ur base. For actual numbers for individual firms you can look it up on above the law - they have a whole section dedicated to this in the career center section.  But as a starting point, here's what a typical lock-step wall st. firm will pay (recently) for the first two items above:

1st yr - 160k + 7.5k
2nd yr - 170k + 10k
3rd yr - 185k + 15k
4th yr - 210k + 20k
5th yr - 230k + 25k

This is a lot more than what (most of) our parents made. ever. so again, quit fucking whining about bonuses and bankers, u fucking greedy narcissistic prick. Note the biggest increase %-wise is between 3 and 4, if you are planning a strategic move.

Firms that have bonus levels tied to hours i'm guessing have about the same payout - except you may get zip in a slow year, but beat the market in recovery years.

In the third category is allowances - basically an expat package and some tax things if you are overseas. This varies but largely has been steadily increasing and homogenized between firms. Asia definitely has the highest expat packages; i think associates at a typical firm like the above may get 60k - 100k per year extra, which makes the total amount for a first year, in a bad year, almost a quarter of a million. In the UK and Europe, it's a bit lower than this, by about 20% or so - but varies on firms.  Some places may give u a bit extra if the local tax is higher (like about 10-15k per year - e.g., in Japan and mainland China), and some may do a sort of COLA adjustment or something tied to market real estate prices for housing.  All in though, you can generally count on basically an extra 40-50% boost in ur pay. If you aren't permanently based in another country but can finagle a stint abroad, that's also pretty good. you don't usually get a prorated package, but typically you'll get put up somewhere fancy and get some ridiculous per diem (some people i know got upwards of $150 a day for food and ALL expenses paid). now that's some prime monkey shit.

(do any of you have different packages? curious lemme know)

Being outside the US also has some other benefits, which gets us to the last category.  For one, you get a foreign income exclusion (assuming you pay US taxes) - basically you have to pay (hopefully lower) local tax rates only on the first ~100k you make.  Also, you don't have to pay your local state/city taxes.  Then there's a foreign rental deduction which various on ur country, but most 'cosmopolitan' places will let u deduct like another 100k or so.  Other benefits include business class travel on all trips (usually if you are in an a foreign office), always stay at five star hotels that you can usually pick, about $30 meal allowances for 8.5+hrs of work in a day, plus taxi/car service, home leave (again if you are in a foreign office, in better times i think some firms gave as much as $10k for a ticket wherever you wanted, now i think it's down a by a lot), tuituion subsidies for your kids, etc.  Firms usually have a lot of handy in-house services too, which are designed to help you do things normal people do themselves because they have time, but you can't because you're not supposed to - like dry cleaning or other crap.  i know one partner that uses the copy staff like his personal couriers.  i know one dude that uses his assistant as his dealer.  favorable parking rates, club memberships, gym subsidies, etc.  There are quite a lot of perks and the money is steady and good which is why, for all the fucking whining and griping that lawyers do when they get together, majority of them are still lawyers day after day.

Anyway, when i was looking for answers about how much law firm salaries really were and how much corporate lawyers made, i never could find a straight answer from people. I think people (non-lawyers) always confused how much a law firm or particular practice could generate versus how much individual lawyers make. Peons don't get a piece of the pie alright? So when you hear something like IP is a lucrative practice or corporate lawyers make so much, generally speaking if you work at a big firm you all get the same shit.

As a closing remark, while i'd say that i think lawyers shouldn't lose perspective on the cash they get, i don't necessarily think that our problem is so much a "we don't get paid enough to do this shit" problem, but more of a "why on god's green earth are there people paid to do the vacuous shit we are paid to do"?  and when you put it all together, u end up spending long hours or sleepless nights doing someone's stupid work for sometimes no good reason and don't really see where what you are doing helps society. so on one level, if you are no good at reducing ur actual hours worked, then u really are probably getting paid less than you could be in terms of a per hour take, but more importantly, on another level, no matter how much cash you grab, there's still that missing piece. some people call it "self-actualization". some call it happiness. something that money can't fill.  real question is, if u worked half as much and got paid half as much (or got paid the same) would u still be doing what u do? most of us i think r still in that realm of cash where we dont have fucked up personalities or narcissism complexes, can mentally take a significant pay cut and do that thing that u actually enjoy doing.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Playing Hooky II

i was just having drinking wiht an exbanker and she had this cool tip she used to use that i never thought of (or really had to use cuz i work in a pretty warm place)  but if u work in a place where its pretty essential that u have a coat and want to skip out early but need that coat but dont want to be seen 'leaving' - or a bag or whatever stuff you have. they would 'fedex' it. they woudl stuff it all into a fedex box, and run out the door sometime before fedex closed - like 5:30 or osmething? then it just looks like u r running to meet the deadline! u cd parlay this into other thigns too maybe more pertinent to the law - running to meet a dtc deadline, running to a client meeting, jury thing works tho cuz u get to carry a box!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Delegate that shit!

ever have one of those days u feel good about - just real solid? like u knocked it out of the park? a real homerun? i didn't  have one of those days. but i did have a day that i felt decent about. maybe like a solid double. whatever. this is all neither here nor there.  let me show you what my prime accomplishment was today:

and i didnt even have to use my fingers to type a single thing...well except i guess for dialing the phone to my assistant, and then the thank you email when she finished. prime work product the result of a solid relationship with a delegatee and my own ADD-esque meandering mind.  I also accomplished:
  • my taxes
  • practiced my third language
  • practiced my fourth language
  • got in at 10:30 AM, left at 4:30PM
  • billed 7 hours
  • kicked some dude's ass in squash
here's how:
  • taxes: delegated to our firm's tax preparer. i think most firms have them. unless you have super tricky things you want to do on your taxes (and by tricky, i mean monkey with the IRS - which can be done...but this is probably for another blog...) get them to do it! i don't need to do any real paperwork, just answer questions online (which i did) then sign when it's done. and most of the questions i delegated to my assistant.
  • 3d language: my assistant has a different native tongue than mine that i know a little of. so i cut a deal with her - half the days we communicate in that language and since i interact with her every day several times a day sometimes, get practice for free and without incurring any 'extra' time. (i also picked up this old book i found from the 70s that we look at sometimes; it has such useful phrases as "can LSD kill a person?", "although marijuana couldn't poison anybody, you would be muddle-headed if you took too much of it" and "you said that your yacht was sunk. is that true?" - ah the humble beginnings of the quintessential lawyer lexicon.)
  • 4th language: i ended up playing golf with one of my friend's mom, who is not native to this country. now we play occasionally but since she found out i can read and write some her language, all our emails are in that language. she loves it because there are not too many people here that speak or write to her in her language and about golf, and i get to set up golf outings at places i wouldn't normally go.
  • 10:30AM - was actually going to take my 10:30 call from home, but got a call at 10:25 (when i was still in my apartment) that i should go to the partner's office for the call. usually this would be a bit problematic, despite me being ten minutes door to door from the office. i wrote back to say i was hung up on something else and would be a few minutes late, and walked into his office at 10:35. call was delayed by ten minutes anyway, as almost all calls are with more than 3 parties. pushed all my non-essential work to the next day or delegated it to our word processor to run overnight so i had the next morning (e.g., i had to review some comfort letters, but didn't want to bother looking at all the precedents from the auditor, the sas72 std or icma or whatever, so i just grabbed em all, and told our word processor to run blacklines converting all the pdfs and just send them to me in the am), and by 4:30 i was a boner in a speedo.
  • 10:30 - 4:30 is only 6 hours you say. but i billed about an hour of time after i left, more or less, checking emails, writing emails...thinking about the law...haha jk. but ya.
  • kicking some dude's ass in squash - with style and finesse.
so as u can see, had a very productive day, even though many of my prime accomplishments were basically outsourced, and other things i didn't really have to 'make' extra time for, so had plenty of time to do my own thing. even had time to blog about it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

i fucking hate ipos

and fucking the "capital markets" and fucking being a monkey bitch cow dung licker and fucking slow cabbies and fucking stop lights that don't go your way and fucking people that take fucking forever in the security check as if they've never seen a goddamn conveyor belt before and have no brain and fucking 19 hour days getting up at 5 am to go to middle o nowhere bumfuck and come back on the same day and fucking airline food and fucking my landlord who wants to raise my rent by thirty fucking percent and fucking my bitch bosses and fucking stupid people and fucking nice people and fucking people that think they own the world and put their feet up on your armrest and fucking bankers that have allowed arrogance and vanity to consume their entire being and like a plague has supplanted the common sense part of their brain turning them into walking talking well-dressed down-syndrome dildos.

ugh. on a lighter note. i'm home now. will continue writing this post in thirty minutes...

<40 minutes later>

so i had a long day. shit happens. even this corporate monkey lawyer goes a bit ballistic sometimes. nobody's perfect. i guess what not to lose sight of is that i should not dwell on the disastrous and more importantly not go to bed angry at the world - u kno the feeling when u lie down and ur heart is still throbbing in your chest and all you can think about is work - i will sleep poorly have bad dreams (about work) and have an even shittier day tomorrow. as u might be able to tell, ive already calmed down a bit - i feel the lackadaisical drone of my typing and general aloofness creeping back over my body.  remember to do ur de-stress just a little bit when u most need it.  i came home tonight ready to punch and kick and maim every thing in sight - any corporate monkey knows the feeling - u r sleep deprived, overworked and unhappy. there have been law review articles written about how lawyers are the most likely bridge jumpers in the world (if you haven't read that article - i recommend it for some perspective...especially if u still in law school man).  and yet we still go through it for our fucking banana chunks like fucking chumps, feeling like every morning u will kick through the stupid plexiglass and knock out the crazy cabbie, reach over the counter and strangle the new/airhead barista or put a retarded paralegal's head through ur computer screen.  one of my ex-colleagues used to say all the time that he wished he would just get hit by a bus, because then, at least, at the hospital he could sleep....

anyway here's what i did after i got home. i turned on some soothing music five times too loud, took a shower hot enough and long enough to melt my skin off, sat on the couch, drank some hot peppermint chocolate milk and and just oozed. and i felt better already. now i'm going to watch some kick-ass anime with guys that say things like, "i have a become more powerful than you in more ways than you can imagine and surpassed every known limit of supernatural ability, and thus will smite you fantastically", in japanese, and i will feel even better and go to bed inspired for a new day of escaping the monkey chain rather than wanting to jump in front of buses.

and, if u say that u don't have time to do any of that shit because u have to go back to work early or something just HAS to be done, bullshit. like i said (or will say later), JDs are fucking doctors of jurisprudence - that's a FAKE science if you didn't realize it - no one is dying. there's a reason why MD's are actually called "doctors" and JDs are not. get some rest and shirk the fucking work as long as u can.  if ur de-stress is to just sleep rather than do all that shit i said, fine (i'd still suggest unwinding for a few minutes first cuz of the bad dream thing though - u will dream about work otw).  when i used to pull all-nighters at the office for deals, when it got to that point in the early morning when i was just too tired to continue typing whatever the fuck i was typing or chase whoever i was supposed to chase, i just stopped and went to bed under my desk on a pillow with my eye mask, indefinitely. and it was fan-fucking-tastic. that 45 min or 1 hour of sleep or whatever until the senior guy came in or starting yelling from his office "hey! what the fuck r u doing??" - totally worth it. and guess what: no one died. check. deals got done. check. ended up better mentally and physically than a real chump. check. same amount of banana chunks. check check check.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Playing Hooky

I don't really know what it means to be a "professional" or to be in client services - other than bending to clients' every beck and call and getting paid a premium for it.  Because of the (sometimes) severe hours, i take advantage of my free hours as much as possible. When it's a cat4 day (see my post about average days), or even a light cat2/3, like today, (or even sometimes a cat1 day, because how important is someone's fucking prospectus or contract, really? not like someone's going to die), i need to get as much of my time back as possible - i.e., turn those typical business hours for 9-5ers into my own personal time so that i'm only working/at work 40 hours per week rather than 80, and pulling the same premium.  A big part of this is getting out of the fucking office.  You could stay in the office and do your own stuff, but there is always the chance someone will come by looking for you specifically or anyone really - and just pile it on like a ton o bricks on ur monkey chump ass. If you are not there, that person will just go on finding someone else, or if they really need you, will email or call, and they can't make you pick up that call/check that email. Usually they'll just assume you're not at your desk, and you can respond from home or from your blackberry with something noncommittal and vague but shows your responsiveness, like "Will do." or "will get to that as soon as i take care of some other things" - or just not respond at all.  The point is by avoiding face-to-face contact, you can effectively screen your life, and hopefully eventually learn when it really is important that you specifically do something and when it's only important that someone (else) do something.  But if someone repeatedly looks for you and finds you gone, or a partner casually mentions that they didn't see you around, or someone else just calls you out, then, you have one of your canned excuses ready.  So here are few different scenarios in which i will typically play hooky, and the excuses i have ready if i get called out:

  1. Category 4 day: if you're not doing anything and have no expectation of work, there's no reason to be in the office even. People won't be looking for you, and if they are, they'll just send you an email or leave a message if they can't find you. Don't bother coming in at all unless you have other reasons.  Best to just say you're sick or working from home. Who knows what you're really doing at home? No one! This goes well with a sick excuse because not only are you focusing on recuperating, but protecting others from your cold/chicken pox/bubonic plague etc.  One time i played dead and still ended up having lunch right across the street from the office...i put on some more casual work clothes and just in case someone saw me, i could always say i was feeling ill in the am, and 'back' in the office later (and then if they don't see you again later, you can say you felt like shit again after eating!).

  2. Long Lunch: on all but the busiest days, i always have the option to take a loooong lunch. sometimes, i go home for lunch (i live about 10 minutes from work) - not necessarily to eat lunch, but to just relax. in the summer i might go for a swim. then make lunch, then take a nap, then watch some tv. But really, the world is your oyster - i could do anything in a few hours time - i might go to the gym, go somewhere further than expected for lunch, go to the apple store, get a pearl milk tea so i can shoot the bubbles out of the straw at passerby monkey suits, play tennis, play video games, watch a movie, have some beers, go to an oyster bar on the pier.... the best way i've found to maximize my lunch time with minimal questions and chances of getting interrupted is to leave right after the typical lunch hour starts (when the earliest people will start to leave). that way, if anyone asks about where you were late in the afternoon, you just say you took a late lunch and had a coffee, i.e., you left right before everyone else came back, which gives you an extra hour or so of time you don't need to explain.

  3. Afternooner/Leaving Early: if it looks to be a slow day but there's a chance you'll need to be in the office for something so don't want to be at home the whole day (especially if you live far away), you can always bugger out for a few good hours if you want.  there's no magic to it, but when i want to leave in the middle of the day or the morning, timing again can be important. don't go first thing in the morning unless you know all your bosses get in late too. if you want to leave early and take basically a half day off, best thing is to come back after lunch, walk around, and then leave well before anyone else will really leave - 4:30 - 5:30 - anytime later and you risk running into partners skipping out (who maybe just as anxious/needlessly embarrassed as you if they saw you in the lift - it's happened to me) or other people just seeing you ditch. Once you are past 6 and into 7, it's more difficult because people may see you go and will assume you are not busy and leaving early. Again, i don't think it's bad at all (it shouldn't be at least) to leave early if you have nothing to do or nothing urgent to do, but i tend to try and prolong my non-busy-ness as long as possible, and if the office is crushed and people see you running off at 6pm, they're gonna find you sooner rather than later.  the beauty of leaving super early is that everyone will assume if they see you that there's no way you could be leaving so early - the thought won't even cross their mind.  if you do want to leave early, but it's already 6, and you are nervous about being seen, sometimes instead of waiting in the lift lobby, i actually walk down a few flights of stairs so i can wait in a different elevator bay. my god it's so ridiculous how nervous people are when i see them waiting in the lift lobby. i dont know why but it's literally a monkey boiler room - unless it's past 9pm, people literally jump out of their pants when they get 'caught' leaving. so stupid.  sometimes i also bring a bag or coat or something that i won't need, and leave it conspicuously on or around your desk, so people will still think i am "around" even if i've ran off. and i generally try to not wear a coat or bring a briefcase or shit like that too, so when people see you they don't assume you are out for the day. if it's cold, wear a sweater and keep it on the whole day. (and by the way, when i say "people", i generally mean partners and other associates that don't share your philosophy - those that do may give you kudos for getting out - but those that don't will run and tell big daddy that a monkey's getting away and it's no fair and then ur in for a spanking. anyway, if you ever get called out while you're out or leaving, u can tell 'em u were running errands - the bank, post office, dry cleaning, tailoring, kids from school etc. people appreciate this because we work long hours and somethings you just need to get done during regular work hours. it helps if you don't name something you already have an in-house service for. another good one is a doctor's/dentist's appointment and that brethren - but not too often. if you work pretty independently and/or everyone else is too busy to really know, you can tell people you were at off-site meetings, off-site DD, client lunches or even traveling for work. partners generally will not know what deals you are on (unless they are working with you actively) and how busy or whatever you are - so as long as you don't get caught up in some tangled web of misdirection, you should be ok.
  4. Coming in Late: if you're going to be in late for whatever reason and don't want people to know, have someone like your assistant turn on your office lights for you.  and when you do come in, don't carry a bag or briefcase, it'll be too obvious. sometimes though it might be nice for people to see you coming in late and try to make it known that you are late because you were up all night working.
There are a lot of good options out there, but these are just a few that i know have been used and that i use and work well. There are a few caveats though.  For example, you really need to know the type of person you work with.  If they are really hard-asses and constantly calling you on your office line, coming by your office, or generally don't appreciate 'personal time', this may be hard to pull off (although, most people i work with are normal and are okay, and if you are busy enough that you expect people to come look for you, you probably shouldn't be escaping the office anyway). On the other hand, if the people you work with generally like to work remotely or MIA, this is even better.

Secondly, it's extremely important to have a trustworthy and reliable assistant/secretary and/or friends in the office that will help you out and cover for you.  If you are out in the middle of the day and people call your line and your assistant just says "he's been gone for x hours" or something, that doesn't look great.  But if they say that they think you're in a meeting, or you're not feeling well, that works better. So be good to them and they'll be good to you.

Lastly, i don't work at a firm where "face time" is important, and i can't imagine what i woudl do if i did. i'm not sure what really happens anyway if you don't give that face time where it is "important" - do you just get chewed out? can it affect your bonus? at the worst i guess you could get fired, but then you could find a job where face time isn't important ya?

It's about lunch time now, maybe i'll go for a nap in the park, stroll around, and if no emails come in for me by 3:30, i'm out like a boner in a speedo.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Monkey

My typical day starts at around 9:00AM, when I hear my alarm.  I like to keep my alarm clock (my blackberry) in the living room, and have it play real soft soothing music.  This accomplishes a few things: (1) it forces me to get out of bed to actually turn it off, (2) it keeps me from checking my blackberry in the middle of the night or early in the morning - the absolute best way to ruin your night and any good dreams, and (3) found that it inadvertently does what that sleep cycle app does - wakes me up at the end of my REM cycle - because it's soft enough that it will only wake me up when i'm already kind of stirring, so i get up sometime actually between 9 and 9:30. By the time i'm out the door it's usually about ten to ten or close to ten, and it takes me ten minutes door to door to get to work.

From this point onwards, my day splits generally into one of four types:

(1) Fucking busy.  Staffed on multiple active deals, or just one one that is taking up all of your time. On these days, i just hit the ground running and don't stop 'til i get home, which will not be early but not too late.  Basically, i'd have a set of things that i know need to do either leftover from another day or just things that need to get done, and then there will be random emails or calls that come in all day from other attorneys or clients interrupting your flow.  Order in lunch or quickly grab something, no personal email, internet surfing, news reading or stock trading.  Just pandora and go go go.  Because of this, i usually can get out by 10 (unless for some odd reason i absolutely have to stay in the office - like all-night negotiation or i just want to be in the sure...i'd go home and if i need to work just work at home). These are days i'd bill basically every hour and then some, you know, for the time i spend thinking about work while i dream, which i inevitably do a bit. these days tend to be more and more rare the better i get at monkeying shit off my back.

(2) Capital markets busy.  Typical day when you're own capital markets deals that are not super busy generally end up being filled with useless crap (and actually especially when you are really busy, even more useless crap), especially if you are running or one of the few running the deal.  This is because typical capital markets work consists almost exclusively of completely vapid paper-chasing monotony - if you are pre-launch, you fight over how to say the same thing 50 times (and for Reg S/144A deals that most do, to protect against the pretty much nil risk that some institutional investor would sue over disclosure); if you are pre-pricing, you lob comments on the purchase agreement, opinions, comfort letter, other docs back and forth, like monkeys throwing their worthless smelly shit at each other; and if you are pre-closing, you spend all your time chasing down different people to give you signed pieces of paper that no one will look at again, ever in their life unless they need for some reason need to wipe their ass and that's all they got.  And the whole time, you'll have brainless bankers calling you incessantly to ask you things like "can we have a pre-call call to discuss some things in advance of the pre-call we our going to have with the larger group for our weekly update call that will be postponed to next week, in case it doesn't get postponed or if we have another meeting to discuss the potential pre-call issues?" But usually, if you know what you are doing generally, will get out to the gym during lunch or after work, have some time for leisurely lunch or dinner.  Maybe out between 7 and 8+. i'd bill pretty much a full day here, less the leisurely lunch or gym as noted before.

(3) M&A busy.  When i'm on M&A deals, it can be hell or chill. There can be a lot of paper pushing but generally i think it's a lot of fielding client requests, client phone calls, and ancillary docs, depending on whose counsel you are. But if you are in the long period pre-signing, generally you'll be working on the docs with your client, DD, checklists, comparison charts and similar stuff, but until they start pressing to sign or unless there are other time pressures, you won't be too rushed until you start negotiating with the other side.  Anyway, generally have a lot more down time in the day, which i use to get snacks, go to the gym, walk around, blog, get a beer at the rooftop bar nearby, play tennis, etc., but sometimes you'll get requests that come in super late or calls at weird times.  Also depending on who you work with, you can get out of the office relatively early, and just work remotely if you need to - probably between 7 and 8+ too. same billing as for cat 2.

(4) Chillin like a villain.  Okay, on days when i have nothing to do, i'll generally get up later, and get to work later, maybe before 11am.  Do stuff on my computer - my own projects or personal things, take a long lunch with friends or go home and nap and play video games, go to the gym, blah blah blah. Show my face in the afternoon and do some work (if i really have absolutely no work to do, i'll probably just not go to work - not not show up, tell my secretary to tell people some excuse, and go play golf or something), and make my move to go home - usually before 5:30. The trick is not to leave when the partners are leaving, which is around 6 i think, otherwise they'll know you're free and start thinking of giving shit for you to do. also, on these days, i try to make sure i don't bring a coat, bag or anything else, so that whenever i leave at 4:30 or 5, it looks like i'm just kind of stepping out rather than leaving for good (note that i don't think it's a big deal to leave if i have no work, but i just want to have no work for as long as possible). Then, once i leave work, i do whatevvaa the fuck i want. word. billing for this is a bit more tricky, i try not to input any time at all so i don't make it blatantly obvious i did zero work that day. so i'll just note and return to it at the latest possible time. then i'll stretch what i did in terms of non billables and be gracious with the billables i did do (i don't feel guilty about the latter part because all our deals are capped and it's hard enough to collect so it's not like what we bill actually gets paid, it's just a metric for how much more work i'm going to get).

Notwithstanding my mantra of maintaining efficiency and billing all hours you are in the office, it's not really my goal to be in and out as fast as possible on any given day. I could, for example, on medium busy days, plow through everything and be out by 4 or 5, but generally would rather take the hour or so off to hit the gym or swim or meet fiends for a drink in the middle o the day and leave by 7 - still billing the same. and another common thread is that even on days where i may fairly busy or medium busy, i'll always leave at a very reasonable hour, and if i need to do work later i'll do it later. honestly, no one is going to die if i don't do things as soon as they are asked of me, i'm only a "doctor" of jurisprudence, whatever the fuck that means.  so just because some dickhole banker or client impresses some sense of urgency on you, remember it's ur job to calm him the fuck down and talk some sense into him. if it makes u happy to relax a bit in the day, ull be much more productive and do better work faster.

Of course the one big caveat to all this is that on any given type of day, you could get that one call, or that one email, that just fucks your whole night, day, life.... Just as an example, i remember one night i was in a category 2 or 3 day, and i had decided to stay just a few extra minutes to wash my face...went back to my office to grab my bag, and just i as i was bending over i spied out of the corner of my eye, a partner lurking around...a partner that doesn't work on my floor...and i knew i was one of the last people on my floor there.  I actually thought for a split second of hiding under my desk...but i thought he might of seen me out of the corner of his eye first...and that would be...AWKward. Anyway, so he caught me, called me up to his office, and some client request came in to prepare a first draft of an SPA for them over night, and a senior came in, gave me some general guidelines at 11pm, and i basically worked until 9am, doing that shit, and then nothing happened. that was so super i went right back to the partner and said "thank you sir! may have another?" and proceeded to throw my shit at his face. metaphorically. in my head. twice.

Anyway, that's a day in my corporate monkey lawyer life.