BigLaw Gets a SoloSmall Vacation Policy, Complains About It


From the land of BigLaw comes the news that some large-ish firms are offering unlimited vacation, which, at first blush, sounds pretty amazing. Except…how does that work, really? Do you just tell your high-priced clients that you will be peace-ing out for a few months? Also, in order to get this sort of perk, you work at GinormoFirm, which means you are, for several years, at the whim of partners and senior associates. Can you really see telling them that you are going to climb Everest this April and will be back in a month or maybe never? Honestly, you know full well if you are trying to leave the office for longer than a few days, you are taking your work with you.

Worse still, perhaps, is that, as Above The Law notes, “unlimited vacation” really means “we no longer actually pay out vacation when you leave.”

One tipster put it this way:

“Attorneys will be able to take an unlimited amount of vacation time, but no one will be paid out for accrued but unused vacation time when they leave the firm. Pitched by management as “take all the time you need” — but no one needed more vacation time when we can’t even use what we have. Pretty clear the firm just wants to stop paying out for accrued vacation time. Not sitting well with associates.”

Now, as solo and solosmall attorneys, you already have unlimited vacation time. You just don’t get paid for it. At least you don’t have to fight with a senior partner about the whole thing. Small blessings.

Featured image: “Business woman sitting in chaise lounge with laptop.” from Shutterstock.


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  • Lawyer20

    By the way, you still need to meet your billables. so imagine if the guys at Netflix told their employees take all the vacation and maternity leave you need…just make sure you arrange to work weekends and pull an all nighter for every day of work that you miss. Aren’t we so kind?

  • Diane Camacho

    From an administrative stand point for small firms with limited staff and limited resources to pay out thousands of dollars of unused vacation time, this is a good way to go. Most exempt employees and attorneys never really turn off. We check email from vacation and respond to immediate need requests. In these instances, it is difficult for management to determine how many hours the employee actually worked on their vacation day. Different employees use different standards for using the vacation code for their time. Firms end up having to pay out vacation when people leave based on what the various employees determine is vacation.

  • Ben

    There is a typo in this article: “Honestly, you know full well if you are trying to leave the office for longer than a few days, you are taking your work with you.” The author meant “hours” not “days”.