Six months to a year off

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Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Six months to a year off

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:06 pm

Here is a crazy question: How feasible is it for a 5th year associate at biglaw or midlaw to take that much time off, to say, go travel around the world -- and still keep his job? Ever heard of such a thing?

Alternatively, If I quit biglaw to pursue this, how difficult would it be to re-enter the lateral market after such an extended absence?

Finally, is there anything at all that I could do as a junior associate to make this possible?

I am a 2L with an SA lined up.

Life is short, and I am not as young as most of you. While the biglaw grind does not scare me, there are some dreams I would like to realize before I croak. This is a serious question.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273476
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Six months to a year off

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:49 pm

To answer your direct question: If you took 6-12 months off without a job lined up for your return after only 5 years of practicing law, it would be very, very difficult -- probably impossible -- to resume a legal career. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but suffice to say that you would be indistiguishable from the many other laid-off or otherwise unemployed lawyers who can't find a job. Even pre-ITE, you would no doubt be viewed as a big firm reject who couldn't find another job. I have heard of attorneys taking sabbaticals up to a year, but these all had 20+ years of experience and were partners in their firms. (And only one of those was longer than 3 months.)

But all is not lost! What you need to do is to try to line up a job for your return. Several years ago, our family relocated from a big city to a medium-sized city, and I timed it to allow for 2-3 months in between jobs, which we used to go to Europe for an extended stretch of time. Now, that was really stretching it, and most firms won't hire for even 6 months out -- much less a year -- but there are other options. Two especially come to mind.

First, and most likely, judges (federal ones, at least) hire for clerkships about a year in advance, and the offplan judges that like alums often hire even earlier. Assuming good grades, you could try to secure a clerkship in June 201X, starting in September 201X+1, leave your firm sometime in the fall, then travel until the following summer. Heck, your firm might hold your job in that scenario -- on the one hand, it will frown on the extended leave, but on the other, my understanding is that firms generally frown upon the "lame duck" period before a clerkship.

Second, you could ask at your firm if you could take an unpaid sabbatical. If you are a "superstar" and they really don't want to lose you, they might let you go, especially if you gave them enough warning so that they could staff your matters during your absence. CAUTION: Make sure you are a superstar before you even ask; otherwise, you're going to be fired forthwith, probably right after the next performance review.




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