ANALYSIS: Lawyers Need a Vacation; Employers Can Take Them There

May 25, 2021, 9:00 AM

Lawyers seldom feel that they can take a work-free vacation. And while organizations may encourage their lawyers to disconnect while they are away, encouragement may not always be enough.

Organizations must go further by structuring their practices and legal departments in a way that allows lawyers to take time off free from the burden of constantly managing work-related tasks while they are away.

So Much Vacation, So Little Time

Lawyers frequently have enough vacation time to theoretically enjoy time off from work, but many feel they cannot freely take it. Tight deadlines, understaffed projects, overpromised clients, and a culture that shuns vacation takers are often to blame, leading to increasingly longer hours for attorneys—often without reprieve.

Designing a practice that allows for more vacation time may also make the workplace more flexible and less stressful for lawyers when they are in the office as well, helping to prevent overly burdensome workloads and improve well-being.

Better Planning, Better Outcomes

When organizations plan their workflows and projects, they should account for the time off and vacation needs of lawyers in addition to the typical considerations like costs, timelines, and deliverables.

Consider the following planning strategies to allow for more flexibility:

  • Build time for vacations into project timelines, and do not set unrealistic schedules and deadlines.
  • Provide a dedicated resource to assist lawyers in delegating their tasks to other lawyers when they are planning a vacation.
  • Staff projects adequately to ensure that lawyers taking vacation are covered.
  • Create a succession plan that details which lawyers will be the primary backup for other lawyers when they are out.

These actions take advanced planning but will lead to a more accommodating workplace. Once they are in place, lawyers can take off for vacation without worry.

Bloomberg Law has free resources available on our In Focus: Lawyer Well-Being page, including links to assistance programs.

Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content on our In Focus: Legal Operations page.

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