Natasha Lydon

It’s that time of year. The never-ending winter is finally retreating and we’re getting the few weeks that pass for spring in New York, before the city turns into a humid swamp for four months. The lucky ones who pocketed spring bonuses want an excuse to spend them. Minds drift to thoughts of vacation — a temporary escape from billable hours and fleeting chance to remember what sunlight feels like. If only it were that simple.

Fact: Americans on average get far fewer paid vacation days than workers in other developed countries, including Japan, which invented the concept of karōshi (death by overwork). Sadder fact: most Americans don’t use the precious few vacation days that they have.

Lawyers are particularly bad about this. Biglaw attorneys are lucky enough to get four weeks of vacation each year, but most don’t use them. These 20 paid, get-out-of-jail-free days are part of your compensation package. Refusing to use them is essentially giving your firm 20 days of free labor. I don’t know anyone who negotiates a lower salary or feels guilty about taking advantage of the firm health plan. Why should vacation be different? The Firm has no qualms about taking up all 24 hours of every one of the other 345 days of your year. Why wouldn’t you use your vacation days?

Associates whine that taking vacation from Biglaw is impossible. No it isn’t. Sure, it may be difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible.

All it takes is little common sense….

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Ed. note: Natasha Lydon is a new writer who will be helping out around Above the Law. She graduated from NYU Law School and spent years at a Vault top 50 law firm. She’ll be writing posts and working on some long-term projects. Also she’ll occasionally stop Elie from murdering the English language.

While most of us have been busy watching the worst championship game in history, scandal continues to brew over in that other college sport. Investigators recently issued their official report cataloging all of the alleged wrongdoing that has gone down in relation to the Fiesta Bowl, one of college football’s most prestigious bowl games. If you have a weekend to spare, you can read the public version of the Final Report here.

The Fiesta Bowl commissioned an initial investigation in early 2009 after rumors of campaign contribution improprieties first surfaced. This investigation was conducted by Grant Woods, a former Arizona Attorney General, who offered the Fiesta Bowl the oral conclusion that he had found “no credible evidence” of wrongdoing.

After The Arizona Republic went public with the rumors and people started to suspect that Woods’ investigation was improper (more on this later), the State of Arizona initiated a more serious investigation. Two Fiesta Bowl representatives teamed up with a former Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court to choose an appropriate investigator. The winner was the law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi.

After five months of investigating, the firm issued a 276-page tome that reads like an issue spotting nightmare…

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