So...as I've posted on here before, I've struggled to get work the past few months. I'll be 100% honest...I've been billing less than 100 hours per month for four months now and just haven't been able to get out of the rut. I don't know if it's because there's no work or because partners don't trust me (I thought I was doing good work).
It's been very stressful and has been a huge reason why I'm looking to potentially open up my solo practice here soon.
And now...the president of the firm (who otherwise never talks to me) just stopped by and said that the board wants to meet with me tomorrow at 9:30.
I'm stressed as hell. This has to be one of two things: (a) them telling me I need to bill more hours in 2016, or (b) them firing me.
Can any of you guys talk me off the ledge? I would greatly appreciate it haha.
First off - you will be fine. You will bounce back from this. In my experience, these things aren't as bad as I worry they will be ahead of time. Nice people to work with might ask you what's up, and want to hear your game plan for the future, but won't start with the "you're outta here" speech right from the gate. If they suck as people, then maybe it'd be a blessing in disguise to get on the job hunt.
That's my encouragement. If you want unsolicited advice re: low billing, continue reading. Otherwise, stop here. :)
Are you affirmatively asking for work? (Obviously, this only applies if your meeting tomorrow goes okay and you decide to stick it out for at least a little longer at your current firm). At my firm, partners easily forget about associates. They were uniformly impressed, however, if I saw a conflict check for a matter that looked interesting (they were sent to the whole office, with a short description of the kind of work), called the responsible partner, and asked if I could help out on it. Doing good work is only half of the equation.
Relatedly, have you been spending your free time looking for business to bring to the firm? If you have, BRING THAT UP AT YOUR MEETING. Even if the raw dollars and cents aren't there in the billing records, talk about how you've been using your time to find paying clients. If the meeting is about your hours, that will really take the sting out of it for your bosses. If you haven't ... um, I kind of think you should put a hold on the going solo plan, at least until you have a little bit of client-finding practice under your belt. If you go solo, you won't have ~100 hours a month of work from partners. Going from zero to sixty on your own hustling will be a rough transition, IMO. (Full disclosure, I have never [and will never] go solo. I don't have an entrepreneurial bone in my body. This is why I stick with larger firms, and really focus on asking for work from partners I like to work with. I often end up overwhelmed with work while associates down the hall are twiddling their thumbs.).