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Dear Client: I'm on Vacation. Get Lost.

Vivia Chen

August 28, 2017

8620289024104ef78f2e879d205a3470--frankie-avalon-bathing-beautiesWho wants to read serious, long-winded pieces about the legal profession in late August? No one. Certainly, not moi. So here's the beach edition of the latest news:

Don't try this on your vacation. Arianna Huffington thinks that we're not taking vacations seriously enough, and that our addiction to staying-in-touch is the culprit. She writes in Harvard Business Review: "We need to recalibrate our relationship with technology."

Huffington's solution? An email app called Thrive Away that works this way:

While you’re away on vacation, people who email you get a message, letting them know when you’ll be back. And then — the most important part — the tool deletes the email. If the email is important, the sender can always send it again. If it’s not, then it’s not waiting for you when you get back, or, even worse, tempting you to read it while you’re away. So the key is not just that the tool is creating a wall between you and your email; it’s that it frees you from the mounting anxiety of having a mounting pile of emails waiting for you on your return — the stress of which mitigates the benefits of disconnecting in the first place.

Very noble. But let's get real. I mean, how many worker bees have the leverage to afford the attitude, "If the email is important, the sender can always send it again"?

Maybe that works for the pampered editorial staff and execs at Huff-Po World (they have sleeping pods there!). And I'm sure it's fine if you happen to be Queen Arianna. But plain folks like lawyers? Uh, I don't think so.

Word to the wise: Not a good idea to diss a client who wants to talk to you about an urgent matter (or even not-so-urgent matter so long as it's a paying client). Nor is it a good career move to tell a senior partner to try later.

Yes, cute people deserve job protection too! Just over a year ago, we were quite distressed that being attractive is not a protected class. At that time, a judge in Manhattan Supreme Court threw out a claim by a female yoga instructor who claimed she was fired for being too attractive (she had gotten good reviews, but the boss's wife thought she was too sexy).

Happily, that injustice has now been corrected. A panel of the Appellate Division, First Department overturned the earlier decision, ruling that the woman can proceed with her gender discrimination suit. 

The decision, according to the woman's lawyer D. Maimon Kirschenbaum, is unusual. He told Law.com's Andrew Denny that most courts are  "extremely protective of men" in similar situations in which women got fired at the insistence of the boss's spouse or significant other.

Of course, the ruling makes sense to me (I mean, duh, looks shouldn't matter to job performance). That said, I bet being too attractive is not a huge problem in the legal business. 

Aren't you glad you weren't really that smart? More proof that brainiacs don't rule the game of life. AnywayI find this report both reassuring and depressing.

Ever wondered what happened to all those preternaturally bright things who went to law school at a ridiculously young age? Law.com's Leigh Jones and Karen Sloan checked in on some of them. The bottom line on their brilliant careers? Not so brilliant. 

Most of them have perfectly fine, though somewhat prosaic, careers. One ended up as a state judge in California, another runs an e-Discovery company, two are journalists (including Mia Farrow's—and maybe Woody Allen or Frank Sinatra's—son Ronan Farrow), one is a neurobiology professor at Stanford. And then there's one that got disbarred.

Sorry to say this but the only one that's made a huge impact is Roy Cohn, (he graduated from Columbia Law School in 1946 at age 20) who went on to fame and infamy for his role during the McCarthy era. And, of course, let's not forget that he was Donald Trump's mentor—and that's a legacy that's definitely shaking the world. 


photo: Frankie Avalon.


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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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