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!