104: Sleep and Sabbaticals

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After my wife told me this morning that I need to take a day or two off my day job to just rest and do some of my projects that I put off, David shares about his Sabbatical experience, Jason Snell uses the post to prod people to take some time off, and then Mike and David post their discussion on this topic. If this is meant for 1 person, I think it’s me today.

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An honest question from a non-lawyer for @MacSparky: Are all lawyers like this? Really, no offense… but working every day even when on vacation seems a little… absurd (?) to me? I mean… you need some time to recharge, don‘t you?

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As a lawyer myself (although in-house at a large company with other attorneys available to me), I can see how a solo-practitioner with a practice like MacSparky describes would find it difficult to take time off. Legal work is rarely work you can plan out - clients come to you last minute with an urgent deadline or they have a fire pop up that needs legal assistance. Being the attorney means that they need you to help them formulate the right strategy, add a level of seriousness to a response, or just assure them they are on the right track and keep them out of hot water. Some practices may allow for time off because the work is always planned in advance (like a real estate closing attorney who has closings scheduled and can plan the ahead to just not have closings during that time). The other part of it is that attorneys have ethical obligations to your client that other professions do not have or are not as stringent. For instance, if I’m your attorney, you expect me to be there for you when you have an issue - and it’s not as simple as just hiring another attorney if I’m busy or not available when you need me like you would an accountant or plumber.

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Yup … as @justinbradleysc says so.

I’ve always been a small (or solo) firm guy. There are so many advantages to this but also some disadvantages, one of which is you may get “the call” at any time. Maybe I’m just used to it, but it doesn’t bother me. I actually feel like I’m in the trenches with my clients (or I wouldn’t keep them), so it works out. I also have the kind of relationships with my clients where I can say, “This is not that important. Give me some time” and they will actually say, “okay.”

It was way worse when I was doing a lot of litigation.

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As the in-house attorney managing outside litigation counsel, I wear the hat of both client and lawyer often. So I get it. When wearing my client hat, I try to be understanding on the other end of that phone call unless we have a real emergency. That said - I also expect my attorneys to pick up when those real emergencies happen.

Listening now @MacSparky. For what it’s worth, I think you did your sabbatical right because it worked for you. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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Not @MacSparky, but a lawyer. This is a constant struggle for me and most of my colleagues.

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@MacSparky listening to you describe the warnings other lawyers gave you, my impression is they were probably a bit of concerned for you but mostly it was their own fears and mental limitations talking. Jealous that you were actually going to do what they don’t believe is possible. Glad you didn’t listen and did what what right for you. To paraphrase a great Roosevelt quote: it is not the critic that counts…the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.

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Thanks so much @AwfulOtter. Day made.

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