Monday, July 14, 2014

Judge's orders: lawyers need vacations

Sitting in front of a federal judge at a recent hearing, I picked up a valuable grain of wisdom. Teams of lawyers on both sides were negotiating a schedule in a class action lawsuit. Someone mentioned that they might need another week to submit the final version of a document because someone in the office took a vacation. It was almost like an apology. Like the attorney dared to take a break from the hectic pace of the legal profession. But the judge didn't blink.

"I'm all in favor of lawyers taking vacations," he announced, and then quickly extended everyone's deadlines.

The judge was right. Lawyers do need breaks. Our work is stressful. If we do not achieve the desired result, a client may lose thousands or even millions of dollars. Or maybe they'll go to prison, or lose the right to see their kids on weekends. As I take on more responsibility as an associate attorney, tackling larger and more complex cases, I understand these high stakes. And I see the value of balancing long hours with a few breaks in between. It doesn't have to be a month-long junket to the other side of the planet.

Over the weekend, I had a fantastic getaway with a couple of guy friends on the Ohio River. We paddled kayaks for 30-plus miles, from Madison, Indiana, to the outskirts of Louisville, camped on a beautiful sand beach, and sipped bourbon as the waves lapped the shoreline. It was a page out of Huck Finn, with a dose of Walt Whitman and a few coal barges mixed in. The trip reminded me that the beauty of the outdoors is often just a few steps from my home here in Louisville. And now I'm back in the saddle early on a Monday morning, the first one in the office, ready to slay the dragon and fight for justice for my clients. But first, a few photos.

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