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Attorneys Risk Their Careers When Taking a Break from the Law
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Summary: Taking a break from practicing law may be necessary for some lawyers but it comes with risks of never being able to practice law again.

Sometimes lawyers find themselves needing a break for more than just a week. Taking an extended break from practicing law comes with risks but for some lawyers, that risk is necessary for their mental and physical health. In “Taking a Hiatus from Practicing Law,” Harrison Barnes explains why attorneys simply quit practicing law instead of opting to take a longer break.

  
What
Where


Reasons not to take time off:

  • Law firms look down on attorneys who take time off. They assume the attorney is a problem and got fired or couldn’t take the stress of the job. Attorneys have to work to pay back their student loans and pay their everyday bills. An attorney that opts not to work must be crazy in the eyes of a law firm because they are then giving up this.
  • Taking time tells law firms that practicing law is not your number one priority. Law firms want attorneys that will commit all of their energy and time to the firm. They lose money when their attorneys are not billing as many as hours as possible and clients will move on to other firms that can get their work done faster.
  • Being away from the practice of law can result in your skills becoming rusty. When you are not using specific knowledge on a regular basis, it no longer becomes a part of your thought process.

What law firms consider:

  • Law firms will examine the reason you give for taking time off and deem the reason as acceptable or not. A break over four months long will be seen by most law firms as too long. Taking a break to have a baby or deal with the death of an immediate family member is considered an acceptable reason for quitting your practice but only for a certain amount of time. Once that four months is up, law firms expect attorneys to have moved on and get back on track.
  • If the law firm accepts your reason for taking a break from the law, they will assess your stability in keeping with the job long-term. Law firms will likely look at your history before taking a hiatus to see if you changed jobs frequently. They will want to see a stable legal career, preferably lengthy too, before taking a break.
  • It really comes down to the type of experience you have before quitting. An attorney with the right experience that a law firm is looking for will have a much better chance of getting back into a law firm.

Do you think an attorney can realistically take time off and come back to a law firm?

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To learn more about what attorneys should not do, read these articles:

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