Q: I'm a college freshman interested in pursuing law (not civil), and I was just wondering, on average, how many weeks of vacation a starting out lawyer would receive. Also, is it easy to take time off in the law field, or do you have to plan your vacations around your work?
A: Vacation time for lawyers is a chronic problem. The demands of many
law practices are extremely intense, and vacations are often sacrificed
to client needs and litigation schedules. Many lawyers with a good
sense of balance in life make a conscientious effort to set aside
vacation time, as well as evening and weekend time, for themselves and
their families. However, these efforts often face serious pressure.
Many lawyers have a highly developed sense of duty, and business
pressures in private practice often make it difficult to tell an anxious
client to 'wait.' Many personal and family relationships of lawyers
suffer harm as a result, and many lawyers themselves feel profound
distress that their lives have fallen seriously 'out of balance.'
If you are significantly motivated by a desire for regular and generous
vacations, you may wish to consider another field -- for example,
teaching, which may offer holiday and summer vacations. If law remains
of interest, you may wish to consider law practice with the government,
which will often promise a less hectic schedule and more predictable
(though not particularly long) vacations. However, as a college
freshman, you have plenty of time to think about this -- and many other
things -- before you decide. I encourage you to focus on your studies
and life interests for the next couple of years, and think again
graduate school in your junior year. If you are interested in time off,
a great time to do this is after college. Why not take a year or two,
and see the world? There is no rush. You have the rest of your life to
"work," if you choose. Take the time now to live a little.