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#DearFindLaw: Should I Go Home for Thanksgiving?

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on November 17, 2014 7:53 AM

#DearFindLaw - Advice for New Lawyers and Law Students from @FindLawLP

This week in #DearFindLaw, it's almost time for the first major break of the school year. For a blessed week at the end of November, there will be no classes -- but that doesn't mean there isn't work to be done. Whether you're a 1L freaking out about final exams (what's the Rule against Perpetuities again?) or a 2L struggling to finish the draft of your law review note (and praying the Supreme Court doesn't rule on your case until after you've published), you're a long way from free to do what you please.

In a Q&A here in the Bay Area, Justice Stephen Breyer once said that being a lawyer means having homework for the rest of your life. Does that mean you should go home for Thanksgiving? Here are a few pros and cons:

Pro: Avoid Burnout.

Taking an actual break over Thanksgiving break is a good idea for preventing burnout. There are some folks out there who think that if you're not working or studying eight hours a day, you're doing something wrong, or you're going to fall behind.

In reality, you'll end up like Jessie Spano in the only episode of "Saved by the Bell" that anyone remembers. After working your buns off since August, take a breather and read a fiction book for a change before your head explodes. ("There's no time! There's never enough time!")

Con: You'll Lose Valuable Time.

The end of the semester is nigh, and that means final exams and term papers. If you have a paper due at the end of the semester, Thanksgiving break is a fantastic time to buckle down and work on it for a few hours a day. Heck, you could even finish the paper during break if you put your mind to it, freeing up the rest of the semester for studying or whatever else you need to do.

And, before you say, "But I'm going to --," no you're not. If you go home for Thanksgiving, you're not going to study. You're not going to write that paper. You're going to visit with the few people left in your hometown that you know, or spend the day watching "Law & Order" reruns so your brain can veg out for a while.

Pro: Your Family Misses You.

Law school is so engrossing and smothering -- like a blanket made of live bears -- that you may not have seen your friends or family for a long time. Take Thanksgiving to get back in touch with actual humans (no, the members of your study group don't count) who aren't concerned with the common law limitations on felony murder. It will remind you that there's a world beyond law school, which is good, because taking yourself too seriously can turn you into an unpleasant ogre.

Con: Welcome to the Rest of Your Life.

Guess what? "Constant stuff to do" is what you signed up to do. If you can't get through a couple months without taking a week off, then you're going to be ludicrously unprepared for a BigLaw future, where you'll be pulling 14-hour days for months at a time. Consider law school your training ground for the high-stakes environment that's coming. And no, you don't get a week off in the middle of a multimillion-dollar M&A deal that's keeping you up at night.

Law students and recent grads, send us your questions! Write to us via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals) using the hashtag #DearFindLaw.

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