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What Would You Do With $80,000?

What would you do if your law firm handed you $80,000 and said that you could do whatever you wanted for the year? Would you turn down the cash and stay put at your law firm job, earning triple that amount? Would you try to find meaningful legal work, such as working for a pro bono foundation or legal aid group? Or would you simply put your career on hold for a year and follow your heart around the world?

Tough questions, perhaps, but wouldn't we all want those choices? Thanks to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom playing the role of fairy-godmother and benefactor, all 1,300 of the mega-firm's associates now have a chance to answer that question, according to this New York Times piece.

So far, 125 associates have taken Skadden up on its offer. The level of interest exceeded the firm's expectations, according to the piece,  though what surprises me is that the numbers were so low. Even factoring in associates with family obligations or severe debt, as well as the minority who love their jobs too much to leave, one would think that a couple of hundred associates would seek out this opportunity -- particularly because they've been assured that their jobs will be secure upon their return.

Of course, the Times piece doesn't cover the lawyers who turned down the offer and instead focuses on an associate who's opted to claim her prize. Heather Eisenlord hasn't pinned down all the details of her year off, but she has some thoughts. From the article:

She would like to teach English to monks in Sri Lanka and possibly help bring solar power to remote parts of the Himalayas. She’ll probably hit 10 to 15 destinations around the world, most likely practicing not-for-profit law wherever she can be helpful.

At least one other lawyer/blogger is rooting for Eisenlord. That would be New York Personal Injury Law Blog's Eric Turkewitz, who took his own (self-funded) sabbatical 20 years ago to travel around the world. "Do it!!" he says, particularly if "there is no spouse, kids or mortgage that you need to worry about - no keys that you need to take with you."

So what would you do?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 13, 2009 at 05:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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