General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionMagazine

 

From the Editor / jennifer j. rose

Time Off for Good Behavior

jennifer j. rose, editor-in-chief of The Complete Lawyer, is a lawyer and writer living in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. She can be reached at jenniferrose@abanet.org.

Lawyers, and anyone else, who boast about never taking time off from work, scare me. Either they’re lying, don’t have the first clue what leisure is, or are quite possibly in the same category as those trusted credit union clerks toiling away for 27 years without a single day off before disappearing along with the till.

Americans have more leisure time than ever, or so say some reports. Those same reports have us working more hours than ever, so it’s evident that we’re sleeping and eating less or playing more while we work. Or like those statistics placing the average adult American’s annual consumption of Spam (at something like 20 cans), someone’s getting our share. The truth is that some of us work real hard at leisure, ambitiously honing a tennis serve, cultivating geraniums, coaching kids’ soccer, channeling Walt’s spirit at Disneyland, trekking the highlands of Borneo, or taking a Saturday afternoon drive to gawk at O.J.’s former mansion on Rockingham Drive (I’ll take credit for doing just that during the 1999 ABA Midyear Meeting!). And then there are those who download the latest patches to Ultimate Doom while pretending to work, plunk down on the couch for yet another episode of South Park, or indolently swat flies on the veranda. In a way, leisure’s a lot like obscenity, defying definition but clearly identifiable to the naked eye.

More than the assiduous pursuit of self-improvement, immersion in the matters cultural, a holiday jaunt to the kinfolk back in Indiana, or goofing off, travel and leisure spell big industry. Not even the conscientious lawyer whose idea of a jolly good sporting time is a stay at a Motel Six while taking an out-of-town deposition escapes the influence of America’s second-largest employer—tourism.

This issue’s editor, Anne Segrest McCulloch, a lawyer so dedicated to work in this nation’s capital that she once forgot to retrieve her very own progeny from day care, was uniquely qualified to pilot this issue by virtue of having gone to law school in that city whose name is synonymous with Mardi Gras. Her fine work on this issue of The Complete Lawyer shows that her distant memory of leisure remains intact.

At Ease

Many solo and small firm practitioners greet the specter of vacation time with as much anxiety as a visit from a dreaded client or the bar disciplinary folks. Phil J. Shuey prescribes the rules in “Finding a Life While Practicing Law.”

No longer an isolated or even glamorous practice niche, travel law affects every lawyer who has ever flown in an airplane, stayed in a hotel, or known someone who has. Alexander Anolik explains just how pervasive travel law is to every lawyer’s practice and life in “Travel Law.” Once suspect and tawdry, timesharing has grown respectable in the past two decades, spurring new twists, which Mel S. Weinberger charts in “Timesharing for the Next Century.”

Now that you’ve given yourself permission to leave the office and roam abroad, who’re you gonna call when trouble beckons? All the way from Mali, Foreign Service Officer Michael Macy writes in “Smart Traveling” about what the American Embassy can and can’t do.

Leisure’s siren call beckons even the most office-bound lawyer. Spring always begets the local karate club’s request for a form waiver of liability, and sample forms and more are set forth in Robert R. Thompson’s piece “Volunteer Sports Club Liability.” From aardvarks to vacation homes, Keith Butcher outlines how lifestyles of the rich and famous as well as the dull and ordinary are affected in “Tax Treatment of Leisure Accoutrements.”

Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Someone’s got to keep order back in the office while the rest of us are out goofing off, and the answers are here. The Internet has spawned greater opportunities for goofing off at work than running the office pool or dawdling in Solitaire. Setting the ground rules for e-mail and netsurfing is the focal point of “Internet Use Policies” by Michael J. Morse and Charles P. Magyera. Whether it’s a matter of all work and no play, or getting paid without working, vacation, holiday, overtime, and sick pay are addressed by H. Mark Adams, Mary Ellen Jordan, and Jennifer L. Anderson in “Time Off from Work: Legal Rights and Obligations.”

Kick back and enjoy this issue, because the July/August 1999 issue of The Complete Lawyer will take you to the world of getting hurt—disability law. It’s a natural after those idle moments.
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