We here at ATL are big believers in push-back. Tell the partners and your colleagues about your personal needs and desires, and try your best to take some control over your work schedule. The firm can survive without you.
But the theory behind successful push back is that you are not the most important person at the firm. It seems that one first-year associate didn’t learn that lesson. He sent out the following “vacation memo,” after just three days at the firm:
1. I will depart for vacation on Wednesday, November 26th (the Wednesday before thanksgiving). I plan to return to the office on Tuesday, December 2nd (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving).
2. In case of emergency, I will be staying at [redacted]. I can best be reached on my cell phone at [redacted]. I will be visiting my parents, and their house has a landline [redacted].
3. The secretaries in my pool will open my mail. These are [redacted].
4. I will be answering my own phone at the numbers listed above.
5. I currently have received no matters, though this will undoubtedly change by Thanksgiving.
6. I will send out an update and official vacation memorandum with this information a week before Thanksgiving.
Some helpful advice, after the jump.
We know many fresh fish are just starting out on their Biglaw journey, so let’s do a “close read” of this spectacular miss:
1. I can see what you are thinking: “If I tell them in September, there’s no way they can cancel my Thanksgiving vacation. I’ve given them fair warning!” Sorry man, it just doesn’t work that way. Everybody has plans over Thanksgiving; most people will be able to keep them, but some won’t. It’s about luck, not warning.
2. Mommy can’t protect you now. Remember: parents < children < clients.
3. Hahaha ... Your secretary isn't opening your mail. Is this the 1970s? You’re not even getting any mail. You might get boxes and boxes of documents, but they are going to require attention that “opening” cannot provide.
4. Yes. You will be answering your phone. You will be.
5. Okay, so you say you haven’t been staffed on any matters yet. Then how did you come up with the distribution list for your vacation memo? Here’s a tip that you’ll want to internalize as soon as possible: if you haven’t been staffed on any matters, STFU!
6. You need to learn why God invented vacation memos in the first place. They don’t exist so that you can “announce your vacation.” They are only around so people much more important than you can find you no matter which corner of the Earth you flee to.
At some level the BlackBerry has rendered the vacation memo obsolete. But there is never a need for a vacation memo two months ahead of the actual vacation. Never.
Hopefully, this first-year reads ATL, so he can learn this powerful lesson.