Fun + Lifestyle

The Holidays Are Coming! Why Planning Your Time off in Advance Is Essential


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  • Planning ahead for the holiday season benefits you, your firm, and your clients
  • There’s no such thing as asking your boss about time off for the holidays too early—worst case, you’ll be told to ask again later
  • If you wait too long, you risk not being able to take off the days you need; however, there are sometimes ways to reach a compromise if time off isn’t possible

It’s always important for lawyers to request time off from work with as much advance notice as possible, but this is especially true during the holiday season.

After all, clients still have needs regardless of the time of year, and your boss is most likely juggling a bunch of time-off requests from other associates as well.

Lawyers who wait until the absolute last minute to request and plan for time off do so at their own risk. By planning for holidays in advance, however, your days away from the office can be everything you hope for and more—without a feeling of impending doom when you return after the new year.

It Benefits You

Inquiring about holiday time off from work and getting a plan in place as soon as you can will benefit you, first and foremost. If you talk to your bosses about taking the time with significant leeway, there’s a better chance you’ll be granted the time off you request. But it’s also worth putting a plan in place to make sure any work that needs to be done during the holiday season while you’re away is completed and that you’re in a position to hit your billable hour requirement. This will help maximize your relaxation during your time away, as well as prepare a smooth return to the office after the holidays.

It Benefits Your Firm

There’s no way you’re the only person at your firm who needs or wants to travel during the holiday season or just wants to use the time to rest up and recharge. Accordingly, your bosses need to make sure that there are still at least some employees around to get work done in November and December. Clients’ needs don’t cease just because you’re preoccupied with roasting a turkey, after all. By asking about time off in advance and putting a plan in place so your work is covered, you’re helping your managing attorneys ensure they’ll be able to deliver on promises to clients.

Has your office ever been thrown into chaos by someone’s absence around the holidays?

It’s Never Too Soon

Some lawyers who’ve been there suggest planning your vacation a whopping six months in advance—and yes, that includes speaking to your manager about the time you wish to take. While asking about Christmas in June might be a stretch at some firms, the worst that can happen is you’ll be instructed to ask again at a later date. Once your requested time off from work is greenlit, make sure everyone who will be affected is aware of the days you’ll be away.

But If You Wait Too Long …

If you wait too long to plan for the holidays, you run the risk of not being able to take the days off that you want. You knew when you decided to become a lawyer that time off would be hard to come by. If you’re in a situation where you really can’t be in the office on certain days, ask if you can work remotely. While it’s not ideal, working from a location other than your office will allow you time to travel if you need to go elsewhere for the holidays and at least be in the same state as the rest of your family instead of staying behind as they enjoy spending time together. And, of course, use the opportunity learn your lesson so you don’t get stuck in the same position next year!

What's Next

Ok, you know what you need to do if you haven’t already: Request your days off and make plans to get your assignments together to make your time off as restful as possible and the disruption to your colleagues minimal.