How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

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Anonymous User
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How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:50 pm

Just wondering how much I can push back on a random pro bono assignment that would leave me working all of Christmas week?

I’d scheduled a few days off. I’m not normally super into holidays, but my mom is going through chemo at the moment and I don’t want to say I spent her last Christmas on my laptop. I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving that as a reason, obviously — just not sure how to approach this without looking like a slacker.

PorscheFanatic
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby PorscheFanatic » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:01 pm

Is it requiring holiday work because the partner you're working with asked that you work on it over the holidays? Or is it the pro bono client asking for holiday work?

If the latter, just tell them you're off on the holidays or slammed with other billable work trying to finish some stuff before the new year. They're getting free legal work, they can't make you work holidays.

If it's the former, this is tougher. But I encourage you, regardless of how you decide to handle it, to not work during the holidays this year. Biglaw will be there waiting for you in January, and if you feel like you're being punished for not working, you may have to just tell the truth and people will understand.

Anonymous User
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:09 pm

OP here. There is a filing deadline in early January that makes holiday work “necessary” — although there would still be a week and a half after I’m back in the office. I don’t know the scope of what’s needed yet, but I find it kind of hard to believe that it couldn’t wait a few days.

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glitter178
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby glitter178 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:21 pm

Absolutely push back. There is no need for you to work on this over the holidays. And if the partner pushes back, I would tactfully explain to the partner your situation. If the partner is even remotely a considerate human being, he/she will encourage you to take the time and just work on it after the holiday. I'd be #sorrynotsorry on this one.

thebrownnote
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby thebrownnote » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:34 pm

I don't mean this to be criticism, but I'm curious why you don't feel comfortable saying, "I'm sorry, my mother is going through chemo right now, so I won't be available on these days to work. I can take care of this when I get back though." I have a hard time imagining them saying no, but I'm also not a lawyer.

BenJ
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby BenJ » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:51 pm

As a biglaw senior associate, if you said exactly what you said about this possibly being your mother's last Christmas, especially since this is just a pro bono matter and not a billable matter (but, at least for me, even if it were billable work), it would be fine and we'd find someone else to do the work.

You should not feel uncomfortable about giving honest, genuinely good reasons for pushing back on work in a reasonable context.

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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:59 pm

OP here. I’m just a private person and it makes me very uncomfortable to talk about it. Some of my friends don’t even know the situation. I wish I could get by just saying I’m somewhere remote with limited internet access or something — but obviously this is important enough to me that I can suck it up and disclose if anyone gets too fussy.

PorscheFanatic
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby PorscheFanatic » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:18 pm

Sorry OP. I think sometimes in demanding jobs you have to be willing to come out of your shell with honesty to protect your reputation. Obviously that's not a rule, but I imagine that the truth would be quickly accepted by superiors, giving you that week off with no questions asked. I'm sure you could also just talk to the one partner you're working with behind closed doors and ask that he not share this with others.

The remote area with limited access excuse could be, albeit unfairly, viewed as a lapse in judgment to take a vacation to a remote place when there are filing deadlines coming up. And could cause some unnecessary resentment if the partner picks up the slack and does the work over the holidays, begrudgingly holding it against you as the partner misses time with his/her family so that you could be on "vacation."

I think with the truth, even if the partner picks up the slack himself, it won't be begrudgingly, he'll understand the situation.

BenJ
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby BenJ » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:53 pm

Agree with the above. Good reasons are good reasons, but you have to be willing to tell people the good reasons in order to get credit for them. In biglaw you are sometimes expected to work over vacations and on holidays (this varies from firm to firm, group to group and person to person to some degree, but as a general matter the availability demands are a big part of why biglaw pays so well). If you don't provide a good reason for not working, there are negative inferences. That means sometimes you have to have conversations that are uncomfortable for you, unfortunately. The alternative is to lie about alternative good reasons, but that is obviously not a good solution and a risky one to boot.

shock259
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby shock259 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:00 pm

Agree with the above - honesty is the best policy here, and you should really take time to be with your mom. And some time for yourself. It's easy to think you are irreplaceable when you are a junior, but (a) the partner can probably find someone else to do it and (b) the partner can always do it his or her self. And most people would be happy to help in this situation to give you some time.

I had a very close friend suddenly die last year, and I was surprised at how quickly folks jumped on my matters to give me time to deal with everything. We had a deal closing in a few days and the partner found another associate to help, stopped copying me on emails, and gave me over a week to get my shit together. The transaction closed just fine and no one held it against me.

Also, sorry for your situation.

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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:29 pm

I'm only a stub, but I've seen an associate get pulled off and covered for last minute on a Closing because an urgent family matter came up without a second thought from anyone on the deal team. I have to think a Pro Bono matter with a week notice should be easy.

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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:40 pm

I have a suspicion i know what you might be working on, but you can't get an extension or reach to opposing counsel to push the deadline back?

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okaygo
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby okaygo » Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have a suspicion i know what you might be working on, but you can't get an extension or reach to opposing counsel to push the deadline back?


Not to derail (although I think OP's question has been thoroughly answered). But, you know what "random pro bono assignment" anon OP is referencing? How on earth?

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anon sequitur
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby anon sequitur » Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:20 pm

Try to get an extension from the court, if opposing counsel agree, a 14 or 30 day extension for the holidays is super, super common at this time of year

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anon sequitur
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Re: How Much Can I Push Back on Holiday Work?

Postby anon sequitur » Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:21 pm

Try to get an extension from the court, if opposing counsel agree, a 14 or 30 day extension for the holidays is super, super common at this time of year




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