Is it a bad idea to say to your boss “When do you need this by? Staying late isn’t a problem if you need me to!” when they ask you a research question at 3:30? Before I started visiting this subbromheads.tv, I would have thought that’s a perfectly normal question to ask, but apparently lawyers aren’t supposed to have a work-life balance. Is it expected that I’ll stay late? Would asking this be a faux pas? For context, I’m working at the public defender’s office this summer.

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EDIT: Bless you all for your responses!


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It's not a problem for the people I want to work for. Though the answer may be "tomorrow at 8am."


I’m working at the public defender’s office this summer.

You are committing an unholy sin against all noble defenders by staying late.

Is it a bad idea to say to your boss “When do you need this by? Staying late isn’t a problem if you need me to!” when they ask you a research question at 3:30?

No. If they don't tell me I tell them that I'll set my own deadline.


Public defender here. I would adore someone asking about deadlines and being responsible, because it’s a chaotic world, and the more certain things I can calendar, the better.


Staying late isn’t a problem if you need me to!

Opens the door to an expectation that you'll always stay late, even when it is a problem.


Not a bad idea at all.

You need to know when something is needed by so you can meet that expectation. Other important considerations are how much depth is needed and whether it needs to be neutral or argumentative.

The more information you have about the expectations, the better you can estimate how much time it will take and plan your priorities.


Totally okay to ask. In fact, I have been told by supervising attorney’s at my firm that I NEED to ask this. Also to get their opinion on what takes precedence if I have multiple deadlines.


I would ask when is this needed by and approximately how long is it expected to take. If you’re finding initial time spent is going to result in way longer spent on assignment than expected, I’d reach back out and let them know it’s taking x long instead of .

Then your boss can: adjust deadline, adjust who’s working on it, or ask you to devote more hours/day on it, including stay later. As an (early) summer, this is a more thorough approach because it tells your boss info that will help them divvy up and plan for various tasks more effectively. The thing you’re working on could either be critical and result in all hands on deck or much lower priority and result in a later deadline to accommodate more urgent work.


In my work on the staff at a law firm, it is very common to ask if something is due by a particular time. Actually, the lawyers will usually say something if it is really needed by a certain time, such as "can you get this back today?" If I am given several different tasks, they will usually tell me which is needed first. If not, I will ask. I should point out that, except during the summer, I am part-time and do much of my work at home.

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