vacation Miami South Beach Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgFor our continuing survey of the perks or fringe benefits of large law firm life, we turn our attention to a subject we’ve received multiple requests for: vacation. Here’s a representative email:

Most Biglaw associates get four weeks of vacation. Do most people take much of their vacation time? If so, is it easier to take it in one big block or a few smaller blocks?

In our experience, it depends. When we were at a firm, we usually took a week at a time. But we had one colleague who would work like a madwoman for almost the entire year, then take a three-week jaunt off to some impossibly exotic location.
Here’s another email:

I had always assumed that all firms gave 4 weeks of vacation as standard, but I have learned recently that that is not the case. For example, a friend of mine recently lateraled to [firm X], and discovered when she arrived that they only get 3 weeks vacation. (This was not mentioned in her offer letter!)

Also, at Kirkland & Ellis, first through third years apparently get 3 weeks of vacation, while more senior associates get 4 weeks.

Giving more vacation as you get more senior is how the federal government works. You have to accrue vacation (“annual leave”) before spending it, and your accrual rate goes up as your tenure with the government increases. When you first start, you accrue at a rate of just four hours (or half a day) per two-week pay period. We had a colleague who made the most of this limited leave time by taking many three- or four day weekends.
Vacation has surfaced as a discussion topic in several prior perk threads, but this is the “official” post. So please discuss your employer’s vacation policies — and your strategies for making the most of it — in the comments. Thanks.

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