During the year, many attorneys have court appearances and other commitments that make it extremely difficult for them to take any real vacation. However, one of the best times for lawyers to take off from work for a long vacation is the end of the year due to the natural slowdown. Nevertheless, in my own experience, it seems like fewer people than usual are taking time off at year’s end despite the benefits.
Earlier in my career, I worked at a law firm that paid attorneys and staff modest salaries. In exchange, the law firm offered a number of nonmonetary benefits, which included letting employees actually take weeks off for vacation each year without judgments or questions. While working at that firm, I decided to take the last two weeks of the year off entirely, as did many others at the firm. There were fewer disadvantages to taking this period off than other days in the year.
I did not travel anywhere during this time off, but the vacation was amazing. In a similar vein to the film “Office Space,” I basically did nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be. I focused on hobbies more than I was able to during other periods of the year, and I caught up on all of the movies and television shows that interested me.
The experience had a positive impact on my outlook when I finally returned to work. Having enjoyed the holidays to the fullest since I did not need to think about work responsibilities, I was able to interact with family and friends in ways that were not possible at other points of the year. Since I was able to recharge my batteries, I was also in a solid position to complete work tasks when I finally returned to work in the new year.
Even though the end of the year is naturally a good time to take off from work, people may refuse. Some attorneys and staff like to take performative steps to show supervisors that they are dedicated to a job even though these steps may not impact the bottom line for employers. Showing up to work around the holidays is one such performative step, and if you are early in your career, or are on thin ice at work, I can understand the strategy. Indeed, shortly after starting a new job once, I showed up to the office on President’s Day — even though most attorneys and staff did not — for the express purpose of showing my new employer that I was dedicated to my job.
However, a career is a marathon and not a sprint, and in most circumstances, people have no good reason to be at an office around the holidays. More people should embrace a long time off from work toward the end of the year to recharge their batteries and take advantage of the natural slowdown of this time of year. This can have a number of personal benefits that can also make an employee even more effective when they return to work in the new year.
Jordan Rothman is a partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website discussing how he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan through email at email@example.com.