Travel / Vacation

Career Center AboveTheLaw Lateral Link ATL.jpgLast week, we brought you information about which firms respect your weekends — and which don’t. This week, we tackle a related topic: vacation. As noted earlier today, it’s an area where firms have been making changes lately.
At which firms are your vacations safe? And at which firms might vacation time be at risk — assuming your firm hasn’t given you a permanent vacation (a la McDermott)?
Most associates at top law firms said that it is uncommon for vacations to be canceled, but it happens sometimes. Firms where vacations appear to be the safest include Akin Gump, Sidley, Weil and Winston, where more than one-third of the associates at each firm report that it is very rare for associates to be expected to cancel vacation.
Honorable mention goes to Dechert, Baker & McKenzie, Milbank, Orrick, Skadden, and Willkie.
At which firms is vacation cancellation more likely? After the jump.

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Sedgwick logo.JPGRecently, we’ve seen a lot of law firms take creative approaches to cutting costs. At Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, the firm’s new approach to attorney vacations could save a bit of money, especially if the firm decides to go through a round of layoffs.
While discussing the Morrison & Foerster face-time policy, a commenter pointed out:

It is the same way in “firm holidays” and “vacation days”. When you have a minimum billable requirement, it doesn’t matter if the firm gives you unlimited amounts of vacation, because if you miss your expected hours, you will be more than able to take all the vacation you want when you are fired.

It appears that Sedgwick is doing just that. Last month, the firm decided to do away with the traditional concept of “vacation days.” The firm’s new approach allows attorneys to take as much time off as they want/need, provided they schedule it within their group. Here’s how the firm memo explains the new policy:
Sedgwick vacation policy 1.JPG
Sound great? A tipster explains the flip side of the new plan after the jump.

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schulte logo.JPGMaybe work is booming at Schulte Roth & Zabel? The firm is changing its vacation policy to make it more stringent. Could it be that the firm wants all hands on deck? A tipster reports the major changes:

* Personal days are now limited to 5 per year (there was previously no limit). Any days in excess of 5 count as vacation.
* SRZ previously reimbursed attorneys for nonrefundable costs associated with vacations that the firm cancelled due to work obligations. The new policy states that reimbursement will now be considered on a case-by-case basis.
* Weekend trips will only be reimbursed when the firm requires them to be cancelled if the trip has been previously approved by the partner appointed to approve vacations. The firm previously did not require attorneys to request approval for weekend trips.

Another tipster quips:

Schulte Tries Increasing Egg Production by Choking the Chicken

But it could also be that Schulte’s new vacation policy has an eye towards layoffs.
Read more, after the jump.

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Philippines Filipino beach.jpg
We’re running late to the airport, so we’re keeping it short and sweet. If you’re looking for an entertaining vacation memo, try this one or this one instead.

Your above-signed scribe — who has been writing more for these pages lately, as some of you have noticed — will be out of the office, from now until Tuesday, May 12. We’re heading off to the ancestral homeland, for the weddings of two cousins (not to each other; but those of you who have taken the New York bar know that this is acceptable in the Empire State).

Although internet access is plentiful in the Philippines, we’ve decided to go “off the grid” for this vacation. We won’t be checking email or voicemail. We won’t be on AIM or Gchat. We won’t be on Facebook or Twitter (but feel free to friend us or follow us, and we’ll accept the request or return the follow when we get back to NYC).

Please send all tips, questions, complaints, requests for comment moderation, and suggestions for Non-Sequiturs to [email protected]. The tips feed goes to both Elie and Kash, who will keep you enlightened and entertained over the next two weeks. You can also reach Elie by telephone: 212-334-1871, ext. 3. For advertising information, see here.

Maraming salamat! See you in May.

Earlier: Elie’s Vacation Memo
How Does A Turkey Write A Vacation Memo?

The Venetian Vacation large.JPGTO: ATL Readers, Commenters, Tipsters

CC: The General Public, The Grammar Police, NYPD, LVPD

FROM: Elie Mystal

SUBJECT: Whereabouts and Other Sundries

I will be out of the office from right about now until Monday, February 23rd.

I have not been fired (so far as I am aware). My performance is not under review. I’m not having a heart attack. Nobody took my stapler. I’m not stuck at “the Sizzler” waiting for the jaws of life to pry me out of the door. I’m just taking a little vacation.

Above the Law won’t miss a beat. Lat and Kash will both be around as always, breaking news, providing insight, and keeping all of the readers in the loop.

But, for extra help during these crazy times, we’re bringing in a guest editor.

You know her, you love her, many of you voted for her six months ago: Marin will be girl-in-the-know next week on Above the Law. I trust that everybody will treat her with the same kindness and respect that I’ve come to so thoroughly enjoy.

I’ll not be checking email or voice mail, nor will I be scanning the sky for smoke signals. Carrier pigeons and other messenger fowl will be shot on sight.

Please send all of your tips, questions, concerns, hot documents, and non-sequitur ideas to [email protected], so that Lat, Kash, and Marin know what you want to read about.

And if you happen to be in Vegas this weekend, feel free to stop by and say hi. I’ll be the loudest guy at Venetian, the broke guy in the Bellagio poker room, or the mentally unstable, homeless-looking person taking money from people with no understanding of European history at Excalibur.

vacation memo from a turkey.jpgWe 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.

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funny-pictures-pawshank-redemption.jpgIn last Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we asked you whether you were taking any vacations this summer.
We received just under 900 responses, and the overwhelming majority of you reported that you will be escaping the office for at least a little while this summer.
Overall, 86% of you have taken, or will take, a vacation, or at least a vacation day:
  * About 24% of respondents are taking a quick break of 1 to 3 days.
  * Another 18% of respondents reported summer vacations of 4 or 5 days.
  * 16% are taking between 6 and 8 days, and 13% are going for two weeks.
  * About 5% of respondents are taking 3 or more weeks.
Among the attorneys who aren’t taking vacation this summer, 46% said that they just have too much work to get done. But 35% have the opposite problem: they need the hours. A surprisingly high number of respondents, 28%, said that they just don’t feel comfortable taking vacations. Only 7%, however, said that a partner told them not to take a vacation this summer. Another 7% are sticking around because they want to impress people, which will perhaps cause their peers to want to take more vacations themselves.
Of course, whether in the office or out, not all attorneys can completely escape their responsibilities. An unlucky 13% of respondents have had to cancel vacation plans this summer, and 55% of respondents with uncancelled summer plans either did work or expect to work during their vacations.
But hey, a busy summer is much better than the alternative, right?

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

Blackberry Crackberry young addict.jpgBloggers tend to be so hyper-connected that being away from Internet service for more than two hours can feel like an eternity. Due to the numerous e-mails flying around law firms, and the expectation of rapid response, lawyers tend to have a similar connectivity addiction. The Blackberry is the sweet, sweet drug that feeds the need.
We know how dedicated you all are to your Blackberries. What if you were forced to give it up in order to really go on vacation and get away from the firm?
UK-based Linklaters is doing just that, reports Law People.

Linklaters is reported having decreed, in a fit of concern for work/life balance, that lawyers leave their Blackberrys at home while on holiday (vacation to us).The order is designed to insulate associates, in particular, from the relentless rat race for a few sweet weeks a year, according to management. “Sometimes it’s the small things that count,” one partner averred. While another lawyer confessed that “I feel naked without my Blackberry and there are times when you just have to be reachable.” Whether the firm is successful in enforcing this edict is not yet clear.

We think this will just result in compounding of guilt, as attorneys feel the shame of obsessively checking their Blackberries while “on holiday,” and the need to hide the illicit Blackberry checking from the firm. What do you think about the policy?

Blackberry Withdrawal [Law People]

dont-go-pleez.jpgIn today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, it’s time to focus on time off.
ATL has previously reported on firms trimming the length of their summer programs, in part because of economic doldrums, but also at least purportedly in part because of vacation cycles.
As one firm’s managing partner put it: “We believe that the August vacation season for our attorneys is simply not a period that is conducive to a positive Summer Associate experience.”
So, it being “vacation season,” are you taking any?
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

travel.jpgWith bar exams taking place at the end of this month, a bunch of almost-lawyers are furiously studying away. It’s not the worst way to spend the dog days of summer… but it’s pretty bad. If you’re in that boat, we wish you luck (and encourage you to spend your study breaks here at ATL).
While few look forward to taking the bar, many look forward to post-bar, pre-start-date travel: the legendary, celebrated bar trip, your last hurrah before immersion into the grim realities of law firm life. With Biglaw start dates pushed back at quite a few firms (see here, here, and here), some of you may have more travel time than expected.
So where are you headed, and how long are you staying there? Or where are you considering going? Is Europe still a desirable destination, or does the weakness of the dollar put it out of reach? Is southeast Asia still a popular pick, or is a post-bar trip to Thailand so “five minutes ago”? Please share your views, in the comments.
If nothing else, this post should trigger you to buy airplane tickets — e.g., on a 21-day advance fare — if you haven’t done so already. Last-minute airfare deals seem to be a thing of the past (perhaps due to rising fuel costs). If you want to get a ticket using frequent flyer miles, you need to act fast — heck, you may even be too late — given the dwindling supply of such seats.
Kash leaves today for two months in Hong Kong — an unfortunate destination in terms of weather right now, described by the Lonely Planet guide as “punishingly hot and humid” during the summer. Hope you’ve made wiser choices!

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