Travel / Vacation

Thanks to all who participated in the Turkey Day survey. I am happy/jealous to report that an overwhelming 93.2% of small-firm respondents are able to take time off for holidays. And 76.6% do not need to do any work from home during the holidays. Half of survey respondents, however, are still required to check email during the holidays.

So, is it easier to take time off at small law firms than at Biglaw?

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Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? What is not to love about a holiday that involves eating obscene amounts of food, lounging around, battling people at Black Friday sales, and working a short week? Unless, of course, you are Ted the Turkey.

As holiday season comes into full swing, I am reminded of my lawyer friends who are not able to celebrate because of work obligations. Many of my Biglaw friends lament the fact that they do not get to take time off for vacations or holidays. Is it any easier, however, for small firm attorneys? Indeed, with fewer attorneys, there are fewer people to share the workload. And even smaller matters have deadlines that often fall around the holidays.

If one of the reasons that Biglaw associates consider going to small firms is because of the greater flexibility to take time off for the holidays or vacation, it is my duty to prove (or disprove) this belief. Please take this survey and help us discover whether small firm practice truly means a better work/life balance, at least in this respect. Thanks!

Now that Thanksgiving is almost upon us, some of you may already be thinking ahead to the winter holiday season. That’s precisely what you should be doing if you want to take more time off than just your firm’s designated holiday days. For some associates, the holidays are a good time to use your vacation days, but you will need to plan ahead if you want your vacation to be a real break from work.

The Career Center, brought to you by Lateral Link, has compiled a list of the top five tips to help you have a happy holiday season away from the office….

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I once observed that federal judges are “the closest thing this nation has to an aristocracy.” If that’s the case, then justices of the United States Supreme Court are royalty — or maybe even deities, gods, and goddesses who walk among us (and occasionally crash into us, too).

Alas, it seems that two members of SCOTUS didn’t get the memo. They are comporting themselves in public in ways that are inconsistent with the dignity of the Article III judiciary.

This is a bipartisan problem. One of the offenders comes from the left side of the Court, and one comes from the right….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Eyes of the Law: Justices Who Are Slumming It”

I recently spent a week in Denver over two days (“ba dum bum”). The day I arrived, the temperature hit a record high of 80 degrees, and it snowed several inches the next evening. I was supposed to be attending (and enjoying) the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Annual Meeting, but instead, I was frantically trying to close deals for month end. A constant barrage of emails and calls from clients kept me from really focusing on the innumerable offerings at the conference.

I have written before in this space about my membership in ACC, and no, I don’t get paid to mention what a wonderful organization it is, and has been, for this fairly new in-house attorney. I cannot stress enough the importance of an organization like ACC for a new in-house counselor. Not only are there countless resources available on the ACC website — everything from forms, templates, e-groups, and career services — but there are also any number of networking opportunities for the enterprising lawyer….

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Many people have a cartoonish understanding of Brazil.

At Northwestern Law, the PC Police have a long and storied history. You are, of course, free to say what you want to say, but if you offend other people’s cultural sensibilities, you had best expect a reaction from other Northwestern students — whether the cultural slight was real or just perceived.

This week, a group of Northwestern Law students planning a study abroad trip in Brazil got smacked down by the PC police for being insensitive toward Brazil’s culture.

Now, in fairness, everything I know about Brazil comes from cultural stereotypes. If I went, I’d expect to be hanging out with amazingly attractive women who get horny for Jesus, while the men play soccer by day and capoeira dance-fight at night. It would all be a wonderful time, unless I went into the rainforest, where I’d die in short order from either a new species of venomous mammal or at the hands of illegal loggers who are selfishly destroying the world’s best carbon scrubber.

Is that wrong? According to some Northwestern kids, I am way off base….

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Judge Maryesther Merlo. Who will play her in the movie? Suggestions welcome.

Earlier this year, we brought you the story of Judge Rae Lee Chabot, a state court judge in Michigan. Judge Chabot was accused of taking three-hour lunch breaks and long shopping trips to the Gap, in the middle of the workday.

I wrote in defense of Judge Chabot, whose judicial work was well-regarded despite her, ummm, flexible work schedule. I opined that “[a]s long as a judge is reasonably current with his docket, he should be left alone. There is no face-time requirement for judges.”

But even I would have a hard time defending the latest judicial diva under fire, Judge Maryesther Merlo of Allentown District Court in Pennsylvania. Judge Merlo — or make that ex-judge Merlo, since she just got removed from the bench — allegedly missed 116 days of work, from September 2007 to December 2009. That amounts to over 23 weeks, in a period of about two years.

And that’s not all Maryesther Merlo stands accused of. Her treatment of defendants appearing before her may have strayed beyond the merely tough into the downright rude….

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(Not that she spent much time on it anyway.)

If you took the bar exam last month, you might be trying hard to forget the experience, or you might be flying far, far away on an exotic vacation. Maybe you are counting the days until results come out in November, or maybe you’re frantically searching for employment before those organ bill collectors start knocking.

This is the final installment of the Bar Review Diaries. We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the lives of three recent law school graduates as they prepared for the bar.

Let’s check in one last time with Mariah, Christopher and Mike, to see where they are headed next.

And if anyone has cool bar trips coming up or strange end-of-summer plans, please share them with us in the comments….

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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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