Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

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Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:08 pm

Just wondering how common this is. Is it really frowned upon if you plan a vacation way early in advance? Assume it's not around holidays when there's huge demand for vacation time. Also do firms reimburse for cancelled vacations?

Hutz_and_Goodman

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:16 pm

No it's not a problem to take vacation as a first year.

No the firm will not reimburse if trip is cancelled.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby WestOfTheRest » Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:31 am

Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:No it's not a problem to take vacation as a first year.

No the firm will not reimburse if trip is cancelled.


Uh, yes they do? If the firm requires you to cancel a trip they will typically reimburse you. At least my firm does?

OP: Yes, take your vacation days. You're going to need them.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby PDXK » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:41 am

WestOfTheRest wrote:
Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:No it's not a problem to take vacation as a first year.

No the firm will not reimburse if trip is cancelled.


Uh, yes they do? If the firm requires you to cancel a trip they will typically reimburse you. At least my firm does?

OP: Yes, take your vacation days. You're going to need them.


Both the biglaw shops I've worked for have reimbursed for non-refundable expenses if you have to cancel for client work. (See also: missed concert/theatre tickets, race entries, etc.)

Also, I've taken almost all my vacation every year thus far five years running, including as a first year. Just make sure people have plenty of lead time, arrange coverage as needed, and don't take off when you're going to court or at launch or something.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:56 am

I'm a first year in TX biglaw and haven't taken any vacation yet, but I think it's fine to and it's better to have it planned further in advance if you can. I've seen a lot of people do the "deal just closed I'm buying tickets and outta here" as well.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby thesealocust » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:59 am

You definitely can, but probably expect 3+ months at least where it would be really odd to schedule a vacation (some firms will explicitly say you accrue one week every 3 months or something, for example).

As for holidays, keep in mind many other lawyers will want the time off, and you'll be on the bottom of the pile as a first year. It's not impossible, and everyone more or less gets the federal holidays themselves off, but you shouldn't hold out much hope for extra days around Thanksgiving/Christmas as a 1st year.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby nealric » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:01 am

The only vacations I took in biglaw were a few 3-day weekends and a week over Christmas. It's not that I couldn't have taken more, it's just that I found it extremely tough to make up the hours.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby barkschool » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:19 am

I'm curious whether anyone else's firm reimburses for cancelled vacations/ concerts/ events?

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:45 am

barkschool wrote:I'm curious whether anyone else's firm reimburses for cancelled vacations/ concerts/ events?


Mine does, but it is on an ad hoc basis - i.e., generally speaking, the partner whose matter forced you to cancel has to seek the reimbursement personally. I've only used that once, where I was required to cancel a $750 long weekend away, and the partner involved both arranged for reimbursement and, as an apology, bought my fiancé and I awesome seats to the US Open for a free night during the weekend.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:47 am

barkschool wrote:I'm curious whether anyone else's firm reimburses for cancelled vacations/ concerts/ events?

Vacations, definitely. I bet I could get reimbursed for a concert or something if I pushed for it, but it would be regarded as odd to ask, as the general sentiment seems to be that losing $50 or whatever every once in a while is the cost of doing business (and that any plans made on a regular old evening are made at your own risk).

When it comes to vacations, in my experience, the real risk is not being asked to cancel it but that you'll be expected to work through it. People generally don't want to be the jerk who made you cancel a trip, but don't feel as bad about "hey could you call into this meeting / revise this draft / just research this one issue" and before you know it you're working 4-5 hours a day on vacation. This is why it is always advisable to take your trips somewhere without reliable phone and internet access.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:50 am

thesealocust wrote:You definitely can, but probably expect 3+ months at least where it would be really odd to schedule a vacation (some firms will explicitly say you accrue one week every 3 months or something, for example).

As for holidays, keep in mind many other lawyers will want the time off, and you'll be on the bottom of the pile as a first year. It's not impossible, and everyone more or less gets the federal holidays themselves off, but you shouldn't hold out much hope for extra days around Thanksgiving/Christmas as a 1st year.

On the other hand, sometimes nothing is happening at all because everyone is on vacation. In that case, the best time to take time off is precisely when everyone else also is. But it's hard to predict this far enough in advance to plan for it.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby Bluem_11 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:46 pm

Vacations are tricky but certainly doable. Make sure when it's coming up you either pull a few long nights/weekend clearing your docket if needed, if you can get away without doing so god bless.

My firm looks down on vacations kind of (most attorneys cap around 1 or 1.5 weeks non holiday) but they typically won't care if you can meet your hours which is the real challenge. If you can find ways to be super efficient, and dodge bullets from your colleagues as they come up, you can for sure take 3 weeks a year. If anything, research shows taking those weeks off will help you be more energized to work, but I think a lot of attorneys are too conservative to risk it.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby sublime » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:49 pm

Do firms typically let you accrue vacation days and pay them out if you leave without using them? I think I read on vault that some did, during OCI, but vault is vault.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:05 pm

sublime wrote:Do firms typically let you accrue vacation days and pay them out if you leave without using them?


Some do, but the trend is to give you "unlimited" vacation days that don't accrue.

But my experience in BIG DC LIT is that you can pretty easily use three entire weeks if you space it out. Xmas-NYE is basically a free period. Showing up to work doesn't really count since nobody else comes in or works. You are an idiot if you dont take a week then. Then you can take a "spring break" super long weekend, I do this by waiting for a week I'm not busy in and just going. And a week off randomly in the summer. Plus extending holidays and making three day weekends.

The thing is that nobody ever tells you to go on vacation. So you gotta just do it.

My firm paid like 1500 bucks to fly from DC to Chicago for Xmas, back to DC to work, and then back to Chicago last Xmas. But that was after me saying "I can do this remotely" and them saying "well we'd rather have in the office."

I agree that the real fear is that they just give you enough work that you have to do it while on vacation.

I'm actually a big fan of "secret" vacations. Don't tell anyone you are gone and triage any incoming work. I wouldn't do this for a big time vacation to Europe where working will kill the whole thing. But I go on a low-key fishing trip every summer and sometimes on long weekends. I won't tell anyone and if shit comes up I'll just do it while sitting out side with a beer and a nice view.

There is actually a phenomenon of asshole workaholics who literally give you work they wouldn't have because they know you are supposed to be on vacation. It's a sadistic way to test your loyalty.
Last edited by Desert Fox on Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:32 pm

For the people who just take off when you have downtime - how does this work with a SO? If you wanna spend some quality time and have a chance to squeeze in a couple days vacation, seems kind of hard to do when your SO needs to take work off as well.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby sublime » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:33 pm

Thanks, Df.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:01 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:For the people who just take off when you have downtime - how does this work with a SO? If you wanna spend some quality time and have a chance to squeeze in a couple days vacation, seems kind of hard to do when your SO needs to take work off as well.

You have successfully identified one of the ten million ways that working in biglaw is terrible on relationships. You probably can't take spontaneous long weekends like this with a SO.

The alternative is you make vacation plans as far out as you can, remind people as often as possible without being annoying, pray that it works out, and hope that if it doesn't your SO is unusually forgiving. Taking vacation is honestly almost more stressful than not taking vacation.

It also helps if you don't feel bad about saying "no, I'm going on vacation." Many people in biglaw are so afraid to disappoint people they ruin their own lives over agreeing to take on bullshit when if they said no, a partner would just go, "ok," hand it to someone else, and never think about it again.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby Bluem_11 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:38 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
LaLiLuLeLo wrote:For the people who just take off when you have downtime - how does this work with a SO? If you wanna spend some quality time and have a chance to squeeze in a couple days vacation, seems kind of hard to do when your SO needs to take work off as well.

You have successfully identified one of the ten million ways that working in biglaw is terrible on relationships. You probably can't take spontaneous long weekends like this with a SO.

The alternative is you make vacation plans as far out as you can, remind people as often as possible without being annoying, pray that it works out, and hope that if it doesn't your SO is unusually forgiving. Taking vacation is honestly almost more stressful than not taking vacation.

It also helps if you don't feel bad about saying "no, I'm going on vacation." Many people in biglaw are so afraid to disappoint people they ruin their own lives over agreeing to take on bullshit when if they said no, a partner would just go, "ok," hand it to someone else, and never think about it again.


I've heard so any stories like the bolded. Friends of mine haven't taken a vacation in 1-2 years because they "don't want to say no to a partner because it looks bad." In part I get it because jobs are easier, but still not incredibly easy to get for an experienced attorney, but at some point you have to live. I'd rather have a life even if it means not becoming an equity partner.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:00 pm

Bluem_11 wrote:I've heard so any stories like the bolded. Friends of mine haven't taken a vacation in 1-2 years because they "don't want to say no to a partner because it looks bad." In part I get it because jobs are easier, but still not incredibly easy to get for an experienced attorney, but at some point you have to live. I'd rather have a life even if it means not becoming an equity partner.

Yeah, don't get me wrong, it's a difficult balancing act knowing when to push back. It depends on a lot of factors including how important the task is, whether someone else can do it, how important the thing you'd be canceling is, your own reputation at the firm, how long you want to work there, whether you want the partner to be a mentor/resource, what your career ambitions are, etc. But some people honestly don't even seem to recognize that they could say no, and will rearrange semi-important things in their lives without even mentioning it because they want so much to be good soldiers. In reality, I don't think being a pushover who always takes on the annoying, inconvenient assignments really impresses anyone anyway. It's that whole, "if you can't advocate for yourself how can we trust you to advocate for our clients" thing.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Fri Jul 22, 2016 12:12 am

That's really good to know. I think it'd be a miracle to last even 3 years and I am not an ambitious person.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby SpeshulSnoflake » Fri Jul 22, 2016 11:17 am

First, I'm not Big Law, so you can disregard my input.

But...

In my small firm, in my 1st year here which is just about complete, I have taken a total of 2 vacation days. The partners take vacation days, but as an associate I don't feel comfortable doing so. Maybe next year.

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Re: Do people take their vacation days as first years in NYC biglaw?

Postby Bluem_11 » Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:38 am

Desert Fox wrote:
sublime wrote:Do firms typically let you accrue vacation days and pay them out if you leave without using them?


The thing is that nobody ever tells you to go on vacation. So you gotta just do it.

I'm actually a big fan of "secret" vacations. Don't tell anyone you are gone and triage any incoming work. I wouldn't do this for a big time vacation to Europe where working will kill the whole thing. But I go on a low-key fishing trip every summer and sometimes on long weekends. I won't tell anyone and if shit comes up I'll just do it while sitting out side with a beer and a nice view.


Certainly some good advice here.

I walked into my firm Friday and 1/2 the attorneys were gone by lunch and never came back to the office. Were they all home cranking out memos and research and reviewing documents? I'm skeptical. Only like 5% were officially on "vacation" that day.

You're a professional. You have to make it work for the client and your hours, and if you do both, your time is yours to spend.

Some firms are pickier about face time than others, but if you can make it work, you can also just choose to not show up on a Friday out of the blue when it's nice outside.



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