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I was drafting an e-mail to the winner of the $290 million Mega Millions jackpot for potential business development when I received what appeared to be an important e-mail from a partner in another office. It seemed important because it was sent to every attorney in every office on the face of the earth. It was not, however, a news flash about a great victory the firm had achieved in the Supreme Court on behalf of the firm’s largest client or an announcement of the opening of a new office in some far-off land. It was this person’s vacation schedule. Now, I am all for letting people know when you will be out of the office. But nobody cares about your entire vacation itinerary, especially when 90 percent of the people you are notifying don’t know who you are or need your emergency telephone number at your mother-in-law’s in Louisville. Not only did I learn more than I ever wanted to know about tourism in Kentucky, I now know that this partner is going to his favorite restaurant in Greenville and meeting friends at Graceland (a three-hour drive away). Of course, once this e-mail was sent, I received a flurry of subsequent messages from technology-deficient lawyers around the firm who used the “reply to all” function. One associate from Kansas told everyone how he hunted pheasant near Louisville, four others shared their incredibly boring insights about the city, and no fewer than 15 people made clich�d jokes about Elvis having left the building. Just for fun, I decided to “reply to all” with the following message: “Have a really REALLY great vacation J. I’ll be at a nudist colony in Kentucky with my in-laws around the same time. Maybe we’ll run into each other.” I received at least 12 e-mails asking not to be copied on such messages in the future, but no response from the vacationing partner. Bored, and in the interest of continuing the fun, I replied to each person with more specific details on my trip, including links to the nudist colony’s Web site and photos that I found on the Internet. There was some additional back and forth, but finally the deluge ended, and I was back to work. I spent at least 45 minutes on this topic, so like any good associate, I billed for the time — right to the account of the e-mailing partner’s largest client — as “research for Louisville matter.” Annoying as he was, this partner inspired me to plan my own vacation (thankfully, not to the nudist colony). Over the years, I have learned a number of unorthodox methods used in scoring extra time off: � Tell everyone how busy you are. This will cause a chain reaction around the office. Partners will hear from others how much work you have and avoid giving you new assignments. When you complete some of your current projects, you will have plenty of time to take off without offending anyone. If you are called on the bluff, just say that you miscalculated how long something would take in the interest of providing excellent service and responsiveness. Bon voyage. � Get a new job offer. If you are even moderately well-liked at a firm, alerting your supervisors that you are considering leaving will shroud you in goodwill for a short window of time. That’s your chance to take a vacation (a long one, if you really want). � And then there are the events that guarantee time off — getting married, giving birth, having a nervous breakdown, moving, quitting, getting fired by sending firmwide e-mails about your trip to a nudist colony, injuring yourself at one of the summer associate events, etc. Ultimately, the key to a long and enjoyable vacation is funding, which is why I keep writing to my friend with the $290 million check burning a hole in her pocket. Perhaps I will start copying the entire firm on those e-mails. After all, I’m feeling like I need another break. Have a great summer. The Disassociate is an anonymous, irreverent look at the humorous side of life as a law firm associate.

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