Short-term Disability in Biglaw

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Short-term Disability in Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 03, 2021 8:12 pm

I am wondering if anyone has gone on short-term disability leave in biglaw and can talk to me about what it was like, career ramifications, risk/reward, etc. I'm currently a first year at a V-10. Overall, the work hasn't been as bad as expected, I might even say I like it. The problem is, I was assaulted during 3L and have been diagnosed with PTSD. It's made daily life a complete struggle. I sleep poorly/have nightmares, am emotionally volatile to where I will cry randomly throughout the day for seemingly no reason and still have panic attacks. If I'm on a contentious call where I can hear an angry tone of voice, I disassociate and won't remember anything from the call. I've lost hours of my day disassociating. My short term/working memory is shot. You get the picture.

I've been doing everything I can to recover as quickly as possible. I do multiple trauma therapy modalities and have treatment-related appointments four days a week. I'm also on medication. This has also become an issue because I think my deal teams have noticed that I'm always unavailable at the same times.

I'm doing my absolute best to hold it together keep the affects on my work to a minimum, but honestly, I don't think I can hold it together much longer. It doesn't seem like it's getting better with time, despite all the therapy. If anything, it seems to be getting worse as my hours have ramped up and expectations from my teams have grown in the past six months. My primary therapist has recommended multiple times that I take a disability leave and after a particularly awful day today where my PTSD symptoms just wouldn't allow me to get work done, I'm considering trying to take the leave to just focus on therapy and recovering, and hopefully coming back in a few months in a much better place.

My biggest concerns are getting denied leave and then having all my personal business out there/being gossiped about/getting a reputation as a slacker for even trying to take leave. Or, even if I am able to take leave, I still have the same concerns about coming back and being gossiped about/ruining my reputation at this firm, and then not being able to lateral with a few months' gap on my resume. Would appreciate anyone's thoughts.

2013

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Re: Short-term Disability in Biglaw

Post by 2013 » Tue May 04, 2021 7:43 am

I’m sorry you are dealing with all of that.
I know this is hard to do, but don’t worry about the professional ramifications of requesting and taking. It sounds like you need to take time to deal with this. At the end of the day, this is only a job.

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

Re: Short-term Disability in Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 04, 2021 1:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 8:12 pm
I am wondering if anyone has gone on short-term disability leave in biglaw and can talk to me about what it was like, career ramifications, risk/reward, etc. I'm currently a first year at a V-10. Overall, the work hasn't been as bad as expected, I might even say I like it. The problem is, I was assaulted during 3L and have been diagnosed with PTSD. It's made daily life a complete struggle. I sleep poorly/have nightmares, am emotionally volatile to where I will cry randomly throughout the day for seemingly no reason and still have panic attacks. If I'm on a contentious call where I can hear an angry tone of voice, I disassociate and won't remember anything from the call. I've lost hours of my day disassociating. My short term/working memory is shot. You get the picture.

I've been doing everything I can to recover as quickly as possible. I do multiple trauma therapy modalities and have treatment-related appointments four days a week. I'm also on medication. This has also become an issue because I think my deal teams have noticed that I'm always unavailable at the same times.

I'm doing my absolute best to hold it together keep the affects on my work to a minimum, but honestly, I don't think I can hold it together much longer. It doesn't seem like it's getting better with time, despite all the therapy. If anything, it seems to be getting worse as my hours have ramped up and expectations from my teams have grown in the past six months. My primary therapist has recommended multiple times that I take a disability leave and after a particularly awful day today where my PTSD symptoms just wouldn't allow me to get work done, I'm considering trying to take the leave to just focus on therapy and recovering, and hopefully coming back in a few months in a much better place.

My biggest concerns are getting denied leave and then having all my personal business out there/being gossiped about/getting a reputation as a slacker for even trying to take leave. Or, even if I am able to take leave, I still have the same concerns about coming back and being gossiped about/ruining my reputation at this firm, and then not being able to lateral with a few months' gap on my resume. Would appreciate anyone's thoughts.
Assuming its approved, you don't have to give anyone details about the reasoning - thats between you and the insurance company (and maybe HR). Just say its a medical leave. People will NOT ask what the medical issue is. People take medical leaves all the time, and it also will not show up as a gap on your resume - in the same way as maternity leave is not a gap on your resume. Take the time. One of the few, tiny benefits of working at big law firms is people come and go for things like this all the time and generally the system is built to be ready for that and to move things around to accommodate. I think its much easier to take a leave like this at a firm than if you're, say, the one person in house at a company in a certain area.

bwh8813

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Re: Short-term Disability in Biglaw

Post by bwh8813 » Tue May 04, 2021 2:24 pm

Your firm likely has a leave coordinator or someone designated in HR and also likely has a 3rd party administrator that handles leaves and the various back-office issues that comes with them. Find out who that person is in HR and contact them - it should be in your firm manual if not on an internal portal. Law firms are rightfully pretty conservative when it comes to handling leaves because they're well aware of employment laws and ramifications as well as bad publicity that can easily come with not handling properly, so don't be too concerned about that. As a poster above said, your business won't be all out there and you'll just be on a medical leave as far as anyone you work with knows. Take care of yourself.

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papermateflair

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Re: Short-term Disability in Biglaw

Post by papermateflair » Tue May 04, 2021 2:40 pm

OP, I'm sorry you are having a hard time. HR will keep the issue private (to the extent they need to know any details), and if they don't, then they're bad at their jobs. You can't stop people from gossiping, of course, but when associates have gone on leave at my firm due to mental health or medical issues (or both) no one has said anything remotely bad about them behind their back - just concern and worry. If when you come back you feel like your reputation has suffered (which is unlikely) you can always lateral to a new firm and start over there, but your focus right now should be on dealing with this. If you are concerned your leave will be denied, get copies of the policies, read them through, and see if your therapist/doctor thinks you qualify for leave, or ask HR (again, they should keep it discrete). Please take care of yourself - anyone who wants to give you a hard time in your career because of what happened to you isn't worth your time.

Anonymous User
Posts: 370498
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Short-term Disability in Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 05, 2021 3:18 pm

OP here. Thank you everyone for the input, I'm going to ask HR for a copy of the policy to be sure I qualify, and assuming I do, take the leave.

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