Thursday, February 14, 2013

Surprise!

When I left the for Japan at the end of October, I was coming off a 45 hour September and found myself more than 200 billable hours behind pace.  I was convinced it would be impossible to qualify for a bonus (at my firm, we must log a minimum number of billable hours to be bonus eligible).  This was especially true given controversy over whether a significant sum of travel time to and from a client's office would count towards my hours.

Coming to Japan was by no means a hail mary attempt at a 2012 bonus.  That ship had sailed.  I was far more concerned with making sure no one could label me developmentally off-track.  My great fear, as I've moved from one slow office to the next, has been that I wouldn't have enough experience to land another job if I was laid off.

Some would point out that the firm never sat me down to hint at the possibility of a layoff.  That's true. But I don't think I've been wrong to worry and strategize.  By my willingness to volunteer or agree to "take one for the team" and the firm's willingness to move me around, we have avoided that conversation.

It has been enough to get me through my junior associate years, but I was convinced it wouldn't be enough to propel me to midlevel status here or at another firm.  So I came to Japan, to protect my investment in my law degree by catching-up on experience and booking a strong 2013.  And it's working.

The last few months of 2012 were busy enough that I met my hours obligation (by the skin of my teeth).  I still didn't expect a bonus--assuming the firm would back out my travel time to and from the client's office, which would be enough to disqualify me.  But the firm surprised me.  Today, I got a pay stub indicating that the standard firm bonus for an associate of my class year would be deposited into my account on Friday.

I am surprised and grateful (in a refresh the pay stub screen multiple times because I just can't believe it kind of way).  All of the bonus money will go to the Department of Education.  I am still paying off my loans, which is one of the big reasons that staying on track and staying employed at a big firm are important to me.  With each loan paid in full, I feel a little less stressed and a little bit closer to the day when I can choose to lead a more balanced life.

8 comments:

CM said...

Yay for paying off loans quicker!! Wow, you were 200 hours behind as of the end of October, and you made up ALL that time in the last two months? Plus you MOVED TO JAPAN during that same time period? Ouch. They should have given you a bigger bonus!

Elizabeth said...

That's fantastic! Congrats. I know exactly how you feel about loans. I was so happy to get rid of my 6-8% loans. That yearly statement where they tell you how much you pay just for interest killed me.

CP said...

Wow that's awesome news! Congrats!

Metal said...

Congratulations :)

Legally Fabulous said...

Congrats! very exciting. Hoping your days of using bonuses to buy fun stuff instead of loans aren't too far off!

Paragon2Pieces said...

Thanks guys!

MLU said...

Awesome news! I'm proud the firm stepped up and acknowledged the sacrifices you've made. It'll all pay off one day, in one way or another. "Big law" has its upsides and its downsides. This is one of those upside days! I'm sure the Dept. of Ed. will agree.

Brittany Jean said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! :D I am so proud of you. You have worked so hard and been so brave :).