Do you want lawyers to take time off? This law firm finances vacations

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

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  • Goodwin Procter said it will pay lawyers’ vacations in 2022
  • Companies get creative to reduce lawyer burnout and employee turnover

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Jan 26 – Will lawyers’ vacation pay be the next escalation in the law firm’s talent wars?

At least one major U.S. company offers to pick up the bill for employees and other non-partner attorneys to spend a week at the beach, visiting wineries, relaxing at a spa, or taking the family to a Disney park. Goodwin Procter said it will offer “thoughtfully curated week-long trips” worth $5,000 to $10,000, depending on attorney seniority.

“The goal of this program is to ensure eligible attorneys can take a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation at the firm this year!” the Boston-based 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 attorney burnout and improve recruitment and retention in an increasingly tight recruiting market. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe launched Orrick Unplugged in March 2021, which encourages lawyers to take a week off and awards them 40 billable hours. O’Melveny & Myers began offering Peloton subscriptions to employees in October. And companies have been introducing several rounds of raises and bonuses for employees since the summer in a bid to keep their junior lawyers locked in.

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 (Orrick launched a similar program in 2018 that is no longer active.)

“I’ve never seen this before and I love it,” said Kate Reder Sheikh, partner at recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. “It’s the next step to really encourage people to take time off and avoid burnout.”

According to the Goodwin memo, all employees, professional rail attorneys, science counselors and science lawyers are eligible for the vacation program, provided they have been billed for 1,950 hours or more by 2021. The highest account holders are given priority.

Participants can choose from holidays arranged by the company’s travel agency or create a tailor-made trip. A Goodwin spokesperson did not immediately clarify whether participants will receive billable hours credit during their free time.

“A $5,000 bonus would feel a bit shabby compared to what’s happening in the market right now,” Sheikh said. “But if it’s specifically labeled with a vacation and downtime, that feels a lot more meaningful and tangible.”

(NOTE: This story was updated to reflect that Orrick offered a vacation program for lawyers in 2018.)

Read more:

Peloton enters the law firm ‘wellness’ market

Orrick unplugged: company requires all employees to take 40 hours of technology-free leave

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Karen Sloan

Karen Sloan covers law firms, law schools, and legal affairs. Reach her at karen.sloan@thomsonreuters.com

Sara Merken

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

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