I can only recall one time when a partner “encouraged” me to use all of my vacation time. As I remember it, the conversation went something like this:
ME: I’m seriously considering killing you and all of the people in this building.
BOSS: Huzzah! I like that kind of fighting spirit. You will go far, young man.
ME: If I don’t sleep in the next two hours I cannot be responsible for my actions.
BOSS: Your tears make me strong.
ME: Fine. Fine! Enjoy the malpractice lawsuit I’m about to create with this priv log. Your treasured [senior associate] won’t catch my egregious errors. She’s so tired she’s here in sweatpants and a hairnet.
BOSS: Maybe you should take a vacation.
ME: Ya think?
BOSS: A permanent one.
ME: Exact… oh. Umm … [Elie starts to cry.]
BOSS: [Slurp] There, there. In a few weeks you will blow your entire budget on a last-minute getaway to Grand Cayman. You’ll feel momentarily better while at the same time convincing yourself that you cannot live without the salary I provide. Then you shall be [Slurp] refreshing … I mean “refreshed.”
But when I was working in Biglaw, the economy was booming, work was flowing, and all was right with the world.
Now, things are different. So it’s not that surprising that a firm like WilmerHale really wants people to use all of their vacation. Immediately.
WilmerHale recently pushed through changes in the vacation policy. The most notable one is that associates can no longer carry over vacation into the next year (which means that the firm will have to pay out less in accrued in vacation time when associates leave).
Here’s the relevant portion of the memo:
Vacation Policy: US Non-Partner Attorneys
Attorneys will continue to accrue up to 20 vacation days a year. Accrual will occur on a monthly basis, the 15th day of each month, rather than on a quarterly basis. The vacation plan year will continue to run from January 1 to December 31. Vacation time may only be taken in whole or half day increments.
We encourage attorneys to use all of their vacation time. The prior vacation policy allowed attorneys to carry over up to 10 vacation days into the following year. The revised policy, which is effective January 1, 2010, eliminates the carry-over. Attorneys, however, will be eligible to carry over a maximum of 10 accrued vacation days into 2010 and will have until June 30, 2010 to use any of the carried over days. Please see the revised policy for more detail.
Attorneys in these offices may request their projected vacation balance through 12/31/09 by clicking on the appropriate link belo
It’s probably a benign change. But you have to wonder why Wilmer is pushing people to get the hell out of the office. Isn’t there enough work to go around? One tipster thinks so:
WilmerHale is no longer letting associates carry over unused vacation time. Nice that we’re all encouraged to use our vacation time. Tell that to the partners for whom I work.
Hey, if WilmerHale associates are too busy to take a break, that is a good thing.
But if associates are just sitting around, they might as well take your vacation time. You’re not going to get laid off for lack of face time when you have no work. Right?
Earlier: Congratulations to WilmerHale on a Major Pro Bono Win
(Plus the WilmerHale warning, and thoughts on law firms trying to crack down on leaks.)