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Fight for Your Right to Party, or How Lawyers Can Take Vacations

Move to France.

That's the short answer to how lawyers can demand vacation days. In France, employees are entitled to five weeks of paid vacation each year by law.

Unlike most countries, however, the United States has no right to paid vacation or paid holidays. So if you are an American lawyer, you may have to work a little harder to take time off.

Plan Around Work

There is a practical reality to every job -- you can't just leave work for a vacation. Even if your employer offers vacation time, you have to plan your vacation around work.

For most lawyers, that usually means you can't take vacation during trials, closings or other crunch times. It's also not a good idea for associates to play when the bosses are away.

But in America, it is a great idea to work while you play. What employer can say "no" to a lawyer who is willing to do that? And what IRS agent is going to audit a modest travel expense?

Education Vacation

Lawyers have to take time away from work for continuing education classes. So if you can find a business benefit, you are on your way to an education vacation.

Bar associations often host educational retreats, including discount rates, for members and their spouses. California Lawyers for the Arts, for example, is an authorized MCLE provider and offers travel programs around the world.

Of course, maybe you want to take a vacation from lawyers. That may be a little harder, especially since there are so many of them.

Back-Up Plans

If you are going to take a real, non-working vacation, you are living a dream. Seriously, dream on because it's not really going to happen.

The law is a jealous mistress and she has a pendant watch that doubles as a noose if you miss a deadline or an ex parte notice. Don't be that guy, and give notice to everybody that you're not that guy.

Make a back-up plan with a secretary, paralegal, colleague, or even a contract attorney to cover for you. Check your cell zones and your time zones.

This is America, remember, not France. Vive le 14 Juillet!

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