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My Thoughts on Law Firm Sabbaticals – An Opportunity to Go Solo

by Carolyn Elefant on August 7, 2005 · 4 comments

in Biglaw to Solo, Legal Profession Trends, Reasons to Solo

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Thanks David Giacalone for this post that lead me to an article from the Washington D.C. Bar Journal entitled, Time Out, time Off:  Lawyers on Sabbatical (August 2005).  The article describes that many large firm allow lawyers to take sabbaticals but that few lawyers take advantage of them.  I had a couple of thoughts.

First, I’d always thought that the purpose of sabbaticals was to allow lawyers to pursue professional endeavors.  Seems that some lawyers are using their sabbaticals to stay home with children for a six month or year period.  Seems to me that more lawyers should be taking time off for their kids regardless of whether  a sabbatical is available or not.

Second, I think it would be great if large firms encouraged young associates to take one to two year sabbaticals and use the time to start their own law firms.  During that period, the associates could take on court appointed work and gain court time and would develop more hands on experience at running a business and generating clients.  Associates would get real world experience, with the comfort of knowing that they could always return to the firm (though some probably never would) while law firms would save all that money they spend on mock trials and marketing classes that try to simulate business development or trial work for associates.  Sabbaticals for biglaw lawyers to try small firm practice – it’s a great idea waiting to happen!

  • Jay Gatsby

    The problem with your second point is that it’s contrary to the large law firm business model. As you must be aware, law firm associates are profit centers after their 2nd year. The goal is to recoup the 1st year training, and thereafter generate substantial revenues for the firm over the next 3-5 years. Large law firms care very little about whether their associates are personally fulfilled, nor whether they actually have legal skills beyond those that are necessary to turn a profit. Arguing substantive motions, trying cases and similar activities are mostly reserved to the partners and Of Counsels in large law firms. Absent doing such tasks, how else can they justify their involvement in cases at high fees?

  • Jay Gatsby

    The problem with your second point is that it’s contrary to the large law firm business model. As you must be aware, law firm associates are profit centers after their 2nd year. The goal is to recoup the 1st year training, and thereafter generate substantial revenues for the firm over the next 3-5 years. Large law firms care very little about whether their associates are personally fulfilled, nor whether they actually have legal skills beyond those that are necessary to turn a profit. Arguing substantive motions, trying cases and similar activities are mostly reserved to the partners and Of Counsels in large law firms. Absent doing such tasks, how else can they justify their involvement in cases at high fees?

  • http://www.flawills.blogspot.com Stuart

    I agree with Jay. Its a great idea that I support, mainly because I did it (left to go solo). But the large law firms are too shortsighted on profits to see the good in it.

  • http://www.flawills.blogspot.com Stuart

    I agree with Jay. Its a great idea that I support, mainly because I did it (left to go solo). But the large law firms are too shortsighted on profits to see the good in it.

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