Want lawyers to take time off? This law firm is bankrolling vacations

3 minute read

Tourists relax on the beach in Bridgetown, Barbados, November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville

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  • Goodwin Procter said it will pay for lawyer vacations in 2022
  • Firms get creative to cut down on lawyer burnout and turnover

Jan 26 - Is paying for lawyers' vacations the next escalation in the law firm talent wars?

At least one large U.S. firm is offering to pick up the tab for associates and other non-partner lawyers to spend a week at the beach, visit wineries, relax at a spa or take the family to a Disney park. Goodwin Procter said it will provide “thoughtfully curated week-long trips,” valued at $5,000 to $10,000, depending on lawyers' seniority.

“The goal of this program is to ensure that eligible lawyers are able to take a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation on the firm this year!,” the Boston-founded firm said in an internal memo on Friday announcing the program.

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Law firms have spent the past year trying to reduce lawyer burnout and improve recruitment and retention amid an increasingly tight hiring market. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in March 2021 launched Orrick Unplugged, which encourages lawyers to take a week off work and credits them with 40 billable hours. O'Melveny & Myers in October began offering employees Peloton subscriptions. And firms have rolled out multiple rounds of associate salary increases and bonuses since the summer in a bid to hang on to their junior lawyers.

But with its “Recharge On Goodwin” program, Goodwin Procter appears to be the first major firm to organize and directly pay for attorney vacations since the pandemic. (Orrick launched at similar program in 2018 that is no longer active.)

“I have not seen this before, and I think it’s great,” said Kate Reder Sheikh, a partner at recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. “It’s the next step in truly encouraging people to take time off and trying to prevent burnout.”

According to the Goodwin memo, all associates, professional track attorneys, science advisors and science law clerks are eligible to for the vacation program provided they billed 1,950 or more hours in 2021. The highest billers will get priority.

Participants may select from vacations arranged by the firm’s travel agency or put together a custom trip. A Goodwin spokesperson did not immediately clarify whether participants will receive billable hour credit during their time off.

“A $5,000 bonus would feel kind of paltry compared to what’s happening in the market right now,” Sheikh said. “But when it’s specifically tagged to a vacation and downtime, that feels much more meaningful and tangible.”

(NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that Orrick offered an attorney vacation program in 2018.)

Read more:

Peloton rides into the corporate law firm 'wellness' market

Orrick unplugged: Firm mandates all employees to take 40 hours of tech-free leave

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at karen.sloan@thomsonreuters.com

Thomson Reuters

Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at sara.merken@thomsonreuters.com