How much vacation time in big law???

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Anonymous User
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How much vacation time in big law???

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:46 am

At Big law firms, with the 70+ hours per week, 6 days a week, work, where does vacation fit into the picture? Do you get any vacation days, or do they work you 52 weeks a year?

Its especially complicated in my case because my children live over-seas and I need time during the year to visit them. If you put in your dues will they give you some vacation time each year?

Thanks

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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:22 am

I know this may be atypical, but I have been doing research primarily into sunshine state big-law (What...omfg it exists?) and the two or three firms I have really looked into offered 15-20 days paid vacation during your first 4 years, after 4 years it increased to 20-25.

Since all three offered the same thing, i would imagine this is the standard, at least for Florida anyway.

Anonymous User
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:31 am

Just to be sure: That's 15-2o days during first 4 years FOR EACH YEAR, right?

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Cupidity
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby Cupidity » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:33 am

Each year---don't know why I posted the first anonymously.

secretasianman
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby secretasianman » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:33 am

whatever it is, it's not enough. my business law professor told me he quit his job at a big law firm in NYC and became a college professor because he had absolutely no life while he was there

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liplaw
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby liplaw » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:36 am

my business law professor told me he quit his job at a big law firm in NYC and became a college professor because he had absolutely no life while he was there
whatever it is, it's not enough. my business law professor told me he quit his job at a big law firm in NYC and became a college professor because he had absolutely no life while he was there


How many years of crazy hours does one usually have to deal with before it becomes more manageable (assuming you are NOT on partner track)?

secretasianman
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby secretasianman » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:43 am

liplaw wrote:
my business law professor told me he quit his job at a big law firm in NYC and became a college professor because he had absolutely no life while he was there
whatever it is, it's not enough. my business law professor told me he quit his job at a big law firm in NYC and became a college professor because he had absolutely no life while he was there


How many years of crazy hours does one usually have to deal with before it becomes more manageable (assuming you are NOT on partner track)?


i have no idea but i think a big part of him calling it quits was the type of law he practiced(corporate) where he, from what i was told, would sit in a room and jsut literally go through piles and piles of contracts all day every day.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:How much vacation time in big law???


LOL.

Typical billing requirements for firms appear to be 2150-2200 hours. Break that down into 52 weeks and that's ~42 hours a week, and that's billed hours (so add another 20-30 to that to cover downtime, face time, lunch, dinner, travel time to and from work, etc, etc).

Then there are the firms that have "no billing requirement". What that really means is that you will work every waking hour of your life.

There are some firms that have 1800 hour billing requirements, but those aren't the firms that pay 160K year and are often in secondary markets. Even 1800 hours divided across 52 weeks comes to 35 hours a week though, and then figure in at least another 20 for downtime, etc, etc.

So in other words, you get approximately 50.2627647355 weeks /year of vacation in biglaw.

Best plan seems to be to work biglaw for 2-3 years, pay off your student loans, save up some money to give yourself a head start financially, and get the fuck out (keep in mind there are a lot of pretty good exit options from more prestigious biglaw firms, particularly if you leave before you get canned). I'm trying to think of biglaw as more of a "frat hazing" type event.

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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby Aeroplane » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:47 am

I've heard of some firms saying "there's no official amount of vacation, take as much as you need". My guess is that this is a ploy to make people take less than they wouldl've if they had 3-4 weeks officially, but yet to still sound more generous. Eeeeevil. In my area, 3 weeks seems to be the standard.

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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:19 am

Do religious holidays (no more than a day or two in a row a few times a year) count towards vacation days?

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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 24, 2010 12:59 pm

My girlfriend's father is a BigLaw partner in DC. He goes on vacations all the time. The family's flown all over the world, and I'm guessing that he takes at least 5-6 long trips a year. His oldest daughter lives across the country and he goes to visit her all the time.

Yes, there are times during these vacations where he has to take a conference call or spend a morning writing e-mails, but that's just the bad that comes with the really, really, really good.

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chadwick218
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby chadwick218 » Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:02 pm

Aeroplane wrote:I've heard of some firms saying "there's no official amount of vacation, take as much as you need". My guess is that this is a ploy to make people take less than they wouldl've if they had 3-4 weeks officially, but yet to still sound more generous. Eeeeevil. In my area, 3 weeks seems to be the standard.


I have heard this echoed as well. I have also been told that at many firms that once (if) things pick back up again, 2-3 weeks is about average for new associates.

I'm already starting to miss the 5 weeks of vacation offered in public accounting.

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MC Southstar
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby MC Southstar » Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:04 pm

The place I work now has almost no holiday days off and only 10 vacation days a year. Hopefully, it's not worse than that.

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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:05 pm

Image





Vacation? Vacation is for wimps!








Even if you have vacation time it isn't vacation. Your blackberry is on and you're responding to emails. --LinkRemoved--

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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:30 pm

I'm a patent agent in the IP department of a GP firm that's considered "big law". I get 20 days paid vacation per year. There are 10 paid holidays per year on top of that, as well as at least 5 paid sick days and I believe 2 personal days as well. (I'm not really sure about the personal days because I haven't ever used all the time.)

However, I've almost never gone on "vacation" without taking work with me. You still have to meet your deadlines, which in patent prosecution are plentiful when you have a full docket of 200-300 cases. Also you still have to meet your yearly billable requirement, so if you actually take 20 vacation days per year and don't work on the 10 paid holidays, etc., you have to work like crazy the rest of the year. Also, in case some "emergency" comes up, you're expected to do your best to be available (that is, bring your blackberry), and only rarely does someone ever go away without checking their e-mail AT LEAST once every two days, but usually more like 2x a day.

If you bill any time on a certain day you don't have to count it as a vacation day, even if you're billing from out of town, and even if it's only 0.1 hour of billable work.

So the real problem isn't the number of vacation days you have (I've never maxed out on my # of vacation days), but the fact that you're never really ON vacation.

I'm sure though that depends on how busy your docket actually is and on your department/ firm culture.

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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:28 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:Then there are the firms that have "no billing requirement". What that really means is that you will work every waking hour of your life.


CRAVATH SECURE

oh wait

CRAVATH DEFERRED :lol:

-

That is true, though. "No billable hour requirement" or "take as much as you need" is, at least with major market BigLaw firms, doublespeak for "we own you and you're not taking anything. Unless work is slow in which case you may be fired." I don't really object to this since people presumably know what they are getting into.

I think you can break it down as 1800 = probably get decent vacation; 2000 = take at your own risk; 2200+ = you get a vacation when you quit. Every additional 200 hours basically translates to another month worth of work time.

Generally, the nature of law isn't that conducive to long, planned vacations. People can and will fuck something up that has a deadline whether you agreed with it or not. There's even some gamesmanship that cuts directly into holiday time. Doing deals over holiday weekend to avoid press, bombing the other side with a TRO filing, you name it.

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rayiner
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby rayiner » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:42 pm

Meh. My dad worked in international development (for a lot less money than that) and didn't take any substantial vacations until he was in his 40s. If anything biglaw sounds better than his job --- you might be at work 70 hours a week, but at least you get to come home afterwards and not back to a hotel in some god-forsaken part of Africa. Yet, he still managed to spend plenty of time with my brother and I...

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Georgiana
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby Georgiana » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:49 pm

As much as you want as long as you are still fulfilling billable hour requirements.

tesoro
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby tesoro » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:51 pm

0L but I know some lawyers.

My understanding is that while you're offered X vacation days, it's almost a battle among associates to see who takes the least. For example, if you take 5 vacation days, Joe next to you is going to work while you're gone and bill more hours. The idea is that Joe gets promoted while you get fired.

Good thing I'll never work biglaw.

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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby hiro86 » Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:32 pm

It has sort of been touched on already, but by taking vacations you are just creating more work to do when you get back (so that you can reach your billed hours target). I would think it is best to assume that you will not be taking multiple week long vacations as an associate.

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underdawg
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby underdawg » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:01 pm

some people don't seem to realize that the firms' official spins on what happens isn't what actually happens in real life

it doesn't matter what the firm's official policy is; it matters what actually happens. plenty of firms that have vacation policies will in real life discourage people from taking them...

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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby 270910 » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:05 pm

Yeah. This is good reinforcement of the concept that biglaw is NOT a 9-5 job. One of the reasons you can be compensated so highly is that you're serving clients - whatever the deadline may happen to be. If you want to go into biglaw, be prepared to live at the mercy of your schedule.

That being said, I've never talked to any lawyers who claimed to work 80 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. But I'd imagine it's very hard to 'plan a vacation' in any meaningful sense, especially at the beginning.

bahama
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby bahama » Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:27 pm

If business is good there will be a lot of pressure from your bosses to not take vacation because there is so much that needs to get done.

If business sucks you are afraid to take vacation lest it be held against you in the next round of firings.

Even if you do plan to take some time off, there is really no guarantee you will get it. Just as an example, I have a friend who is an Associate at a big NYC firm who had to cancel long made plans (which his boss was aware of) to attend his college reunion ON A SATURDAY because of something that came up Friday and required him to be in the office Saturday.

A couple of people have told me it's realistic to expect a week around Christmas/new years and another week in the summer plus maybe a couple long weekends if you have a wedding or something to go to. And you'll be on email/blackberry at least twice a day.

You may "get" 20 days of vacation but how much and when you get to take it is another matter. Any job that pays as well as BigLaw and a lot that pay less expect you to be available 24/7/365 if needed. If you can't/won't they can find plenty of people who will. This is not just a lawyer thing, it is true in a number of other fields as well.

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rayiner
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Re: How much vacation time in big law???

Postby rayiner » Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:44 pm

bahama wrote: If you can't/won't they can find plenty of people who will. This is not just a lawyer thing, it is true in a number of other fields as well.


My friend is a chemical engineer. I came to visit Atlanta over the New Year's Eve break, and got woken up three times by calls from work one night. When a crisis means that shit is literally on fire, you gotta be on call...




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