IT may be a disastrous year for the global economy, but for a string of lawyers at US firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, who have been handed an average US$80,000 ($110,000) to have a year off, it’s shaping up to be a good one.
Looking to cut costs while avoiding slashing staff numbers, Skadden has chosen to offer all associates, about 1,300 worldwide, the option of a taking a third of their base pay to not show up for work for a year.
The partners and juniors have no equivalent arrangement, but The New York Times reports about 125 associates had so far expressed interest.
“I think it’s fair to say that the number are in excess of our expectations,” said Matthew Mallow, a partner at the firm.
The lawyers are assured that their time away from work at the firm won’t affect their careers, and if there are layoffs while they are away, the lawyers are immune from them. That fact alone is expected to attract many associates to the scheme.
Skadden says a majority of the 125 associates are looking for worthwhile legal work, in order to keep them as competitive as possible. Others are taking time off to spend with children or travelling. The firm is helping associates find pro bono work, and is encouraging them to do so.