BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021? Forum

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BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 3:21 pm

I am currently clerking after about one year at a V20 firm. Associates at my previous firm seemed to work hard but there was also an understanding that we all needed to take vacation every so often to recharge, etc. I probably took 5-7 days off during my 9ish months at the firm, and my time there did not overlap with the major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years), for which I would have taken a few more days.

I am now interviewing at other firms for a number of reasons, and one thing I read about Mayer Brown on Chambers Associate piqued my interest in this question. According to their survey, the average number of vacation days taken by associates was "six and a half – three once we had removed a couple of outliers who had taken significantly more vacation than the majority." Six seems low to me, and three seems concerningly low. I'm not particularly interested in taking tons of vacation but am wondering whether I should be concerned about this being a bad indicator of sweatshop like conditions more generally. Looking to avoid sweatshop-type firms, as I hope to stay in biglaw as long as I can. More data points would help.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:07 pm

Midlevel big law associate in a secondary market. I took 17; two full week vacations and then a few days off throughout the year and around the holidays. That being said, my hours were solid. I think the general consensus at my firm is that if your hours are good, you can take whatever time off you need. If I wasn't going to make my hours for the year, I would have definitely kept this number below 10 and possibly below 5.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:17 pm

Midlevel at V40 in DC. 2021 was the first year I felt the brutal crush of BigLaw. If vacation day means telling co-workers I'm off and not really checking emails, etc., I took zero non-holiday vacation days. Had a fair share of chill long weekends around holidays, and while traveling for work would sometimes take most of the travel day to see the town I was in, but that's about it.

I don't consider my firm a sweatshop, and those zero days were a combo of poor planning on my part and 2021 being a bonkers busy year for apparently all firms. That said, a year (more like 18+ months) with no real vacation, and knowing that most midlevels I work with and partners I work for averaged maybe 5-7 vacation days, has me looking at exit opportunities from BigLaw entirely.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:25 pm

I took four separate one-week vacations. I handed off my work before vacation, so I didn't really work on those vacations unless to forward emails or respond here and there at the end of the day.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:43 pm

I've been at a firm with 'unlimited' vacation and people took between 0-3 weeks a year but it seemed like everyone just kinda kept working during vacation. There also seemed like a bit of a fluid culture where vacations didn't really exist as distinct from regular days. People just said "I won't be in the office on X days". Which is even blurrier when we all went remote for COVID.

At a firm now with 4 weeks accruing vacation and people take it very seriously. I think almost everyone takes all of it and you're not really supposed to email/bother people while they're gone.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:53 pm

what is a "vacation" I'm confused

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:56 pm

I'm a V50 M&A midlevel associate. Associates are given 4 weeks of vacation per year. I take 100% of my vacation time every year (typically two separate two-week vacations) and all of my peers do too. Vacation is completely respected and I've never been bothered.

However, I have voluntarily cancelled vacations at the last second because a closing was rescheduled and I didn't want to abandon the team (I have never been asked to cancel my vacation).

I previously worked at an investment bank on the business side and taking vacation at my V50 law firm has been MUCH easier and MUCH more respected than the investment bank.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 8:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:17 pm
If vacation day means telling co-workers I'm off and not really checking emails, etc., I took zero non-holiday vacation days.
Third-year lit associate at a V10 in DC. By that definition, two.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Neff » Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:22 pm

I took 120 days of vacation* this year and was paid $580k total for the year (inclusive of various bonuses, including a signing bonus at the beginning of the year).

*counting 4 months of (secondary) parental leave as vacation.

Life is good.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:04 pm

Zero. It was admittedly my first year but it still stings.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:06 pm

Neff wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:22 pm
I took 120 days of vacation* this year and was paid $580k total for the year (inclusive of various bonuses, including a signing bonus at the beginning of the year).

*counting 4 months of (secondary) parental leave as vacation.

Life is good.
Well done. I similarly took 6 weeks of paternity leave (only technically allowed 4, but no one noticed), another two weeks after giving notice, then lateraled and took six weeks off between jobs which were paid by the incoming firm, and then two more weeks at the new firm plus holidays for a grand total of about 16 weeks. Got all my special bonuses, a full year of salary and end year bonus.

In 2020, by contrast, I think there was not a single weekday that I did not bill.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:06 pm
Neff wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:22 pm
I took 120 days of vacation* this year and was paid $580k total for the year (inclusive of various bonuses, including a signing bonus at the beginning of the year).

*counting 4 months of (secondary) parental leave as vacation.

Life is good.
Well done. I similarly took 6 weeks of paternity leave (only technically allowed 4, but no one noticed), another two weeks after giving notice, then lateraled and took six weeks off between jobs which were paid by the incoming firm, and then two more weeks at the new firm plus holidays for a grand total of about 16 weeks. Got all my special bonuses, a full year of salary and end year bonus.

In 2020, by contrast, I think there was not a single weekday that I did not bill.
I am doing biglaw wrong and really need to lateral somewhere...

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by TrynaLaw » Thu Jan 13, 2022 11:47 pm

First year, NYC V20 corporate, took 15 days, not sure if that ruffled any feathers, but don't think they'll fire me in this market.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:53 am

at a firm w/rep for bad hours/as a corporate meat grinder, and we are genuinely encouraged by partnership to use the vacation days. it's seen by exec comm, cynically, as a tool to stop M&A associates from quitting/killing themselves

couldn't give an exact number average # of days taken by associates, but we're given 3 weeks, and even the partnership-focused senior associates take some, setting up out-of-office etc. (although most still check/respond to emails on delayed basis unless they're in Africa or something)

anyway, just my 2 cents: if you just can't take vacation---ie, you're taking shit for from partners, people are telling you to cancel---that sucks and the people you work with suck and you should lateral.

if you're not even trying to book them because you want to impress folks or think it's a bad look or w/e....only hurting yourself, in my experience. no one will know/care you went 18 mo's without a vacation day

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 15, 2022 12:29 am

Senior associate. Probably two ish weeks of actual vacation and another three weeks where I worked half days or something. Still billed 2200+. Nobody gave a shit because I manage what’s due when I’m out. I’m also big into last-minute trips, so I plug them in when I have availability due to settlements or whatever.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 15, 2022 2:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:44 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:06 pm
Neff wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:22 pm
I took 120 days of vacation* this year and was paid $580k total for the year (inclusive of various bonuses, including a signing bonus at the beginning of the year).

*counting 4 months of (secondary) parental leave as vacation.

Life is good.
Well done. I similarly took 6 weeks of paternity leave (only technically allowed 4, but no one noticed), another two weeks after giving notice, then lateraled and took six weeks off between jobs which were paid by the incoming firm, and then two more weeks at the new firm plus holidays for a grand total of about 16 weeks. Got all my special bonuses, a full year of salary and end year bonus.

In 2020, by contrast, I think there was not a single weekday that I did not bill.
I am doing biglaw wrong and really need to lateral somewhere...
Hate to say it, but lateraling and having a kid are really the only way to get a decent vacation in most biglaw jobs. The exceptions folks will point to prove the rule. You also have to set your priorities and make your own luck. I scheduled a two week trip abroad in fall 2019 and just went on it, although I did have to do some work during. A partner told me that he’d need me during that time and I did it anyway and took calls in whatever time zone I was in. That’s just the way it was.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 15, 2022 5:43 pm

Midlevel associate. I took 5 days.

Don't be like me. Take more time off.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Sackboy » Sat Jan 15, 2022 9:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:04 pm
Zero. It was admittedly my first year but it still stings.
This is peak stupid. Take vacation 1st years.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jan 16, 2022 9:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 8:59 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:17 pm
If vacation day means telling co-workers I'm off and not really checking emails, etc., I took zero non-holiday vacation days.
Third-year lit associate at a V10 in DC. By that definition, two.
Mid-level checking in, 7 days total.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jan 16, 2022 6:29 pm

I took the full 20 days as a first year last year (V10 corporate). In my experience, nobody cares as long as you arrange coverage.

Even if someone has a problem who cares, in 2 or 3 years you'll be at another firm or in-house, or will have quit the law. Some senior or partner crying about you taking vacation when you were a first or second year won't matter.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jan 16, 2022 10:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:43 pm
I've been at a firm with 'unlimited' vacation and people took between 0-3 weeks a year but it seemed like everyone just kinda kept working during vacation. There also seemed like a bit of a fluid culture where vacations didn't really exist as distinct from regular days. People just said "I won't be in the office on X days". Which is even blurrier when we all went remote for COVID.

At a firm now with 4 weeks accruing vacation and people take it very seriously. I think almost everyone takes all of it and you're not really supposed to email/bother people while they're gone.
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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jan 16, 2022 11:59 pm

Sackboy wrote:
Sat Jan 15, 2022 9:11 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:04 pm
Zero. It was admittedly my first year but it still stings.
This is peak stupid. Take vacation 1st years.
Not necessarily.

My firm carries over vacation days. If they fire you unexpectedly, they have to pay them out. BUT it's not until your second year onward that you would max out on vacation days that can carry over. So once you're in your second year then you should use the days you can't carry over (that is, use the days that can't be paid out if you're shown the door unexpectedly).

That's how I look at it anyway. Not that other first year, but that was my logic for not taking vacation until this year. It's biglaw, and I can't rely on not getting fucked for something beyond my control (economy, partner who doesn't like me, etc.).

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jan 17, 2022 1:56 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 10:04 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:43 pm
I've been at a firm with 'unlimited' vacation and people took between 0-3 weeks a year but it seemed like everyone just kinda kept working during vacation. There also seemed like a bit of a fluid culture where vacations didn't really exist as distinct from regular days. People just said "I won't be in the office on X days". Which is even blurrier when we all went remote for COVID.

At a firm now with 4 weeks accruing vacation and people take it very seriously. I think almost everyone takes all of it and you're not really supposed to email/bother people while they're gone.
what firm are you at now?
DPW

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 20, 2022 10:14 am

Took 12 days total, as well as a week between jobs. lateraled about halfway through the year so took a week at my old firm and a week + 2 days at the new one. didn't work at all on any of my vacation days.

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Re: BigLawyers, How Many Vacation Days Did You Take in 2021?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 20, 2022 10:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jan 17, 2022 1:56 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 10:04 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:43 pm
I've been at a firm with 'unlimited' vacation and people took between 0-3 weeks a year but it seemed like everyone just kinda kept working during vacation. There also seemed like a bit of a fluid culture where vacations didn't really exist as distinct from regular days. People just said "I won't be in the office on X days". Which is even blurrier when we all went remote for COVID.

At a firm now with 4 weeks accruing vacation and people take it very seriously. I think almost everyone takes all of it and you're not really supposed to email/bother people while they're gone.
what firm are you at now?
DPW
That checks out — I’ve heard consistently good things about vacation policy, respect, and coverage at Davis Polk. Any other BL firms that are known for being good on this issue?

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