No life at the beach. Billable hour expectations in some big law firms might not be what you’d expect. According to the 2003 release of NALP’s annual Patterns & Practices: Measures of Law Firm Hiring, Leverage & Billable Hours, most firms reporting required a minimum of either 1,900 or 1,800 hours in 2002 (22.6 percent and 21.6 percent of respondents, respectively). The three toughest towns? Miami, Chicago and Austin, Texas. A hefty 40 percent of Miami law firms set 2,000 hours as their minimum, while 39 percent of Chicago firms and 33 percent of Austin firms expected 2,000 hours. Despite their tough reputation, a paltry 28 percent of New York City firms required 2,000 billable hours. In Silicon Valley, most law offices required 1,900 or 1,950 hours. In contrast, half or more of the offices in Denver, Hartford, CT, Portland, OR and Seattle required less than 1,900 hours per year. To put it into perspective: Meeting the 2,000-hour annual minimum means billing an average of 167 hours per month. If you take two weeks off for vacation, that’s 40 billable hours per week. Go to www.nalp.org for details—and check out your firm’s numbers at www.infirmation.com/shared/lss.