That all being said, billing around 2,300 is pretty smooth sailing. Sure you'd have some 70 maybe even 80 hour weeks, but definitely not bad at all! Just for reference, you could take 5 weeks vacation, bill 40s in th summer, have 5-6 months of various 60 - 80 hour billing weeks, and hit some good numbers for the year. I tip my hat to anyone that can bill above 2,500. I couldn't keep up with that.
Your main point is quite right, but billing even in the low 2000s is not easy. Definitely not smooth sailing. Just about the only lawyers who can factor in even 3-4 weeks of vacation are JAG officers and government attorneys.
There's a big
difference between the numbers on a screen and the numbers on a timesheet. Moreover, for all new lawyers these hours are not easy hours, especially without clerkships or part-time work or a guardian angel. They will be, in their own way, as stressful as first year.