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When the beach chair beckons and the golf course calls, who can blame a hard-working lawyer for cutting short the workweek to sneak in a little leisure time? It is a Long Island phenomenon — the Friday furlough — that has some workers feeling downright isolated if they toil past lunchtime. Though using vacation days during the warmer months is typical for most lawyers and support staff across the country, Long Islanders are renowned for taking full advantage of summertime R&R. Trying to reach a client or a colleague on a sunny Friday afternoon in July? “You can forget it. That’s a golf day,” said Long Island Association Chief Economist Pearl Kamer. While Kamer notes that Long Island’s economy is currently robust year-round, the community’s relative affluence enables professionals to take ample time off. “Vacations are discretionary items,” she said, “and Long Islanders have a fair degree of discretionary spending.” GETTING BUSY Even with designated vacation days, motivating employees, who want to extend the weekend a few hours longer by ducking out early Friday or straggling in Monday morning, requires management moxie. “Just last week, after Memorial Day, we had to send a memo around reminding people now that summer’s coming they need to be here at 9,” said Jeffrey Forchelli, managing partner with Mineola, N.Y.-based Forchelli, Curto, Schwartz, Mineo, Carlino & Cohn. Although Forchelli asserted that productivity levels for support staff, associates and partners in the 35-attorney firm are good, he admits that keeping employees on-task during the warmer months takes extra effort. “You see a lot of golfing and fishing. I think Long Island is geographically conducive to that,” Forchelli said. “Still, you have to keep people motivated.” Attorney Michael S. Congdon says that beautiful Friday afternoons on Long Island are sure to deliver a lesson in Murphy’s Law. “If something bad is going to happen, you can bet it will happen then.” Congdon, who declared that “it’s not a country club” at Congdon Flaherty O’Callaghan Reid Donlon Travis & Fishlinger, maintained that business is pretty steady during the summer for the 25-lawyer Garden City, N.Y.-based firm. Court appearances, however, do slow down. Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Leonard Austin can attest to that. Although the judge said he has not seen any “appreciable difference” in courthouse activity so far this season, his experience as a litigator during a July trial in Suffolk County Supreme Court was, well, lonesome. “I felt like I was the only person alive in the building.” The amount of new cases filed typically dips in the warmer months on Long Island. In Nassau County Supreme Court last year, June and July filings dropped about 20 percent compared to May. Totals in June equaled 1,672 while July cases dropped to 1,412. An official for the court said, however, that the number of motions filed usually increases. Motion work, the official said, escalates as trial lawyers spend less time in court — where it is difficult to convene a jury during the summer — and more time in the office. Benefiting from New Yorkers’ eastward migration during the summer is Riverhead, N.Y.-based Twomey, Latham, Shea & Kelley, which experiences an uptick in business during warmer weather. “A lot of controversies brew when people come out here,” said Managing Partner Maureen Liccione. Much of the business for the 20-attorney practice comes from clients with second homes who become embroiled in zoning and land use disputes during the summer. Garden City-based Berkman Henoch Peterson & Peddy also enjoys brisk business during the summer for its real estate division, which comprises about 60 percent of the firm’s practice, but reaching fellow Long Islanders on Friday afternoons is challenging. “We feel the frustration,” says partner Kenneth Berkman, who adds that lawyers at Berkman Henoch golf on Fridays, but only with clients. WHAT TO DO Long Island pulls in about $4.8 billion annually in travel and tourism, according to Michael Hollander, president and CEO of the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and Sport Commission. About 60 percent of that revenue is generated locally. Even though some business in the service sector on Long Island may taper as employees pack their travel trunks for summer trips, tourism dollars fueled by vacationers makes the net effect “a wash,” according to Kamer, the economist. Hot spots right now for professionals, Hollander says, are day trips to Port Jefferson for shopping, Freeport to see the newly renovated brick walkway in the village, and the beaches of Fire Island. Farther east, Northshore attractions such as the Palmer, Pindar and Osprey wineries draw affluent tourists as does Claudio’s in Greenport for dinner. “Take a client and charge it as billable hours,” Hollander jokes. With Long Island’s 46 golf courses, 92 beaches, 33 tennis clubs, 37 nature preserves and 100 museums, it is easy to see why poring over legal documents quickly loses its appeal on a sunny afternoon. GROUP EFFORT Recognizing the lure of summer’s siren, some law firms make adjustments to keep employees happy and the money flowing. Forchelli Curto, for example, extends Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day by shuttering two hours early on the workday before the holiday and kicking off the break with a pizza party for lunch. “People who work on Long Island have opted not to work in the city and be a work-a-holic,” said Forchelli, who characterizes the firm’s holiday ritual as “a little something” to give back to the staff. Rivkin Radler & Kremer, Long Island’s biggest firm with 138 attorneys, will close at 3 p.m. on Friday before July 4 and give employees July 3 off as well. In addition, to kick off the summer season, the Uniondale, N.Y.-based firm gave each employee a beach chair, “complete with a head cushion,” said Laurie Bloom, director of marketing and communications. At Twomey Latham, the firm shuts down for one day during the summer for a company-wide picnic at one of the Island’s attractions. Last year, lawyers and staffers headed out to Orient Point for a day of downtime. The firm also has purchased a box at EAB Park to watch the minor league Ducks baseball team during its inaugural season in the new stadium. “It’s a nice way to thank the staff,” Liccione says.

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