Community Perspectives: Can you actually take 1-2 weeks vacation time as in-house counsel?

In-house legal professionals discuss their vacation policies.

Community Perspectives: Can you actually take 1-2 weeks vacation time as in-house counsel?


(Author) Associate

Can you actually take 1-2 week vacation when in-house?

I am at an AmLaw 100 firm and everyone takes four day vacations (two days in the week + weekend). Senior associate on my team literally flew to Portugal for four days. Growing up we didn’t have the money to travel and always wanted to see the world. Now, I have money but can’t take the time. Hopefully a move in-house can fix that.

General Counsel Responses:

  • I've taken a month off and only checked my email a few times a week (and only because I like to).

  • Yep.

  • Generally yes, but this depends on the company and the role. Having been at several companies and larger departments with more redundancy definitely made coverage/longer vacations feasible. But a really lean team can make it tough.

  • Yep. I will take a one-week and a two-week vacation this year, in addition to other random days.

  • On my team, yes, it is wonderful. We all cover for each other when out. I’m fairly new to in-house so this is new for me (minus a stint in government a long time ago) and I do not take it for granted!

Counsel Responses:

  • Yes. Next question.

  • Yes, I’m taking 1.5 weeks off in May and will not make myself available to anyone while I’m gone.

  • Yep. And no working on vacation. It's glorious.

  • Yep. Every one of my legal colleagues has taken at least a one-week vacation at least once, if not more than once, in the past year. It’s very typical and acceptable.

  • No. I haven’t taken more than one day in three years. I’ll maybe take six days total a year and do work on most of them to one degree or another. Sometimes I used to get the odd slow day unexpectedly, but now that I have four fractional in-house clients, that is a thing of the past. Honestly, I would switch jobs if this was what I had to do. I support five different businesses at my company and hundreds/thousands employees. We cover for each other in my legal dept when one of us is on vacation. My clients are usually respectful of vacations as well, and will hold questions until I get back unless it’s a serious emergency.

  • Absolutely. My meaningful vacations aren’t less than one week now.

Attorney and Associate Responses:

  • It depends. At my place, you can, but you are expected to keep up with current projects while out. Hence, I am planning to leave after only six months here. It’s pretty toxic, so I’m actually thinking of leaving without anything lined up. My tip for everyone interviewing in-house is to ask the last time that person (your interviewer) took an uninterrupted break. - That should be telling!

  • There are a ton of firms where you can take weeks off at a time.

  • You should be able to. I’ve taken one week multiple times & am planning for 1.5 weeks over the summer. That said, finding someone to cover for you while you’re out can be a pain, especially if you have a smaller department.

  • Yes, but I also took 1-2-week vacations at my former firm.

  • I thought that was the whole point of in-house?

  • The attorneys I work for take one week or two during year end, but work in the mornings. They’re fine with it. Is that vacation? I’m expected to be available. I have no cover, so is that a vacation? Super small department. Super busy department. Super understaffed. I think it’s not normal.

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