Out of Office Reply

Summer in Japan; Beautiful cherry blossoms; Radiation low.

Some of you are just getting back today after a nice summer vacation. Others are working in half-empty offices because their colleagues left for vacation this week.

But few of you will bring the kind of poetic grace to your out-of-office replies as one of my friends did. This elegant lawyer conveyed all the information anybody needed to know in two haikus….

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As I approach the completion of my third full year at Above the Law, you’d think I wouldn’t feel the need to write a memo every time I take a week off so people don’t start partying like I’ve been fired. Yet… well, let’s just say that Dan Savage came to me in a dream and said, “It gets better — except for you, Elie.”

I jest. As regular readers know, this is the time I take off to celebrate my wedding anniversary. I leave you in the always capable hands of managing editor David Lat and ATL’s newest staff writer, Staci Zaretsky. Please send all tips and story ideas to them at [email protected].

Marriage has been on my mind a lot this summer. I attended the wonderful wedding of an old friend last weekend. But mainly I’ve been thinking about marriage and family in the context of the many strong reactions to my debt posts.

Some of the most surprising reactions were from people who contended that I was essentially being a bad husband by quitting my Biglaw job while still saddled with serious debts. According to these people, including some women, a better husband would have stuck it out in Biglaw for however long it took until my wife and I could be debt-free.

Are these people insane?

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July is turning into a cushy month for me in ATL Land (not a real place; more of a state of mind). The first Monday of the month was the Fourth, meaning a much-appreciated day off for my colleagues and me. Then there’s this post today, which is nearly half done and I haven’t even said anything yet. Then I’m off for two weeks on vacation, and back the last week of the month. Two more posts and another month in the books. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. (Yeah, I don’t know what that means either.)

Good thing I don’t get paid by the post. Wait, what? Really? Huh. OK, apparently I do. I’ll try and make this one count then.

It occurs to me as I pack for two weeks off that vacation is a difficult issue for small-firm lawyers. It’s easier at Biglaw: You get your four weeks a year, and there are armies of other lawyers to cover for you while you’re away. (Actually, that’s only half true; many big firm lawyers struggle to take all of their allotted time.) But in small firms, it’s much harder to take vacation or to get adequate coverage while you’re away.

It took me some time, but I finally figured out how to do it. Here then are my vacation-related tips for small firm lawyers, including the most important thing you can do to protect your vacation time….

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As regular readers know, this is usually the time of year I go to Vegas, blow my bonus, and come back to work a week later angrier than ever.

Well, this year, it’s going to be different. Oh, don’t worry, when I return to Above the Law’s pages on March 14th, I’m sure I’ll be all kinds of pissed off. It just won’t be because a security guard prevented me from committing suicide by MGM lion enclosure.

No, for my vacation — which begins now and ends a week from this coming Monday, in case you’re wondering — I am going to start the process of quitting smoking….

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– A Parisian lawyer who knows the true meaning of work/life balance. Check out Roll on Friday to find out what firm this guy works for and to see his snazzy picture.