M & A Law Prof Blog

Editor: Brian JM Quinn
Boston College Law School

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bankers' hours

Emma Jacobs at FT has a take on why the recent fashion of limiting junior bankers hours is doomed to fail.  In short it boils down to things:  the nature of the clients and the nature of the people who work for banks.  [By the way, everything I am about to write is equally true for lawyers.]  

First, clients pay big money.  They want service.  And that typically means they will dump an assignment on you in the afternoon/evening and expect to hear from you the next day.  That means you work all night.  Or, they hand it to you on Friday and expect to see it on Monday.  There goes your weekend.  You don't want to do that?  Fine, they'll find someone else.  

That brings me to Jacobs' second point, the people in these kinds of banker and lawyer jobs are all alpha types.  If you tell them not to work too hard, they will work hard just to show you they can.  In these places there is a culture of hard work.  If you take time off, you're a slacker and not up to par.  For example, this is probably true in many, many places.  You greet a co-worker in the morning and you say,"Hey Jim, how are you?"  What does Jim respond? "Fine"? More likely, he says,"Busy!"  Being busy is a sign of value and worth.  You may feel terrible because you have worked two all nighters in the past week, but you are valuable because you are busy.

Anyway, limits on bankers' [lawyers'] hours are doomed to fail.  They all have smartphones and laptops anyway.  They may not be in the office, but they will be busy!



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