The practice of law is famously a mentally grueling, draining profession. Taking a periodic sabbatical can be a beneficial way to reenergize, refresh and refocus.

Womble Bond Dickinson offers partners a three-month paid sabbatical every 10 years. Mark Henriques, a veteran business litigation partner in the firm’s Charlotte office, spent the summer on sabbatical in Asia. He returned with new ideas about how to better serve clients, and wrote about his experiences in the current issue of the North Carolina State Bar Journal.

“Lawyers think they are ‘too busy’ or ‘too essential’ to leave clients for an extended period. Ironically, it is often these ‘indispensable’ lawyers who benefit the most from breaking away from the grind of a busy practice,” Henriques writes.

He said planning and communication are the keys to a successful sabbatical. He recommends planning and working with clients months in advance, to ensure that all necessary matters are handled during the partner’s absence. A month before departing, Henriques created a detailed “Active Case Sheet” containing active or potentially active matters that needed attention, as well as the attorney assigned temporarily to the case. 

This was just one piece of his comprehensive plan to ensure a smooth transition, and the article includes a checklist of items attorneys should consider when getting ready for a sabbatical. These steps include financial, client, computer, and staff considerations.

Henriques also said that since the purpose of a sabbatical is to have a break, the attorney should limit contact with the office as much as possible.

Click here to read “How to Take a Sabbatical” in the North Carolina State Bar Journal.