Published: Sep 12, 2017
Everyone needs a break now and then. But do attorneys actually get to take them? When you’re paid by the billable hour, taking a vacation is simply cutting into the time you have to bill for the year (so in some ways, all attorney vacations are unpaid). And with worldwide, 24-hour connectivity and demanding clients/partners, no vacation is truly safe from interruption (a honeymoon was the only vacation that garnered near 100% respect at one of my old firms). On top of that, many associates don’t feel comfortable using all the vacation days they are allotted (which is generally 20 days at BigLaw firms).
In our recent survey of law firm associates, we asked “Do you feel comfortable using all of your vacation days?” Only 74% of respondents said that they do feel comfortable. And this number varied widely by office location. In New York, 82% of associates are comfortable taking their vacation days—the highest of any large market—while in Cleveland that number is a miserable 56%. Other above-average cities include Los Angeles (76%) and Boston (76%), DC (74%), San Francisco (74%) are right at the national average, and Chicago (70%), Atlanta (69%), Houston (68%), and Philadelphia (60%) are well below average.
Associates taking our survey also had a lot to say about vacation time at their firms, both good:
So how do you know before you sign on at a firm whether you’ll be in the 74% of associates who get to take their vacation, rather than in the over-worked 26%? Well first, perhaps look in a big market. New York, LA, San Francisco, and DC all fared better for vacation use than smaller markets like Atlanta and Philly. Also, read Vault’s associate profiles. The comments above were all pulled from Vault law firm profiles, where you’ll get the inside scoop of how associates feel about many aspects of their firms, including whether the firm respects time off and personal endeavors outside of the office. And finally, ask. You can safely ask junior associate about this either in an interview or as an email follow up. Junior associates will generally be pretty honest about how they feel about vacation time and it’s not likely to raise red flags.
A holiday weekend often presents the perfect opportunity to take a longer vacation, by extending it a few days. But sometimes getting away can be more stressful than relaxing, especially when the end of summer and early fall are a busy season for many businesses.
Over on his Marginal Revolution blog, Economist Tyler Cowen reports that German auto firm Daimler has given some 100,000 employees the option to have any incoming emails auto-delete while they are on vacation.
According to the FT piece cited by Cowen, "The sender is notified by the 'Mail on Holiday' assistant that the email has not been received and is invited to contact a nominated substitute instead.
For those who are invested in such things, be they prospective students assessing which school to attend or alumni wondering how the prestige of their alma mater is faring, the new US News law rankings released on March 28. There was one extremely significant event in the ranking shifts this year, as some predicted given the changes in US News' methodology over last year.
You’ve just received word that your job is going to switch to the fully remote paradigm. That means no more travel expenses or traffic, no more rushing frenetically from place to place, and no more of the crushing outfit dilemma you’ve faced with each new day.
On Friday, May 20, 2022, Vault Law will host an OCI Readiness Summit for law students looking to prepare for and find summer and other associate positions through OCI. You can register for this free informational summit here, and learn more about it below.