Be Well, 0222 WYBJ, Vol. 45 No. 1. 46

AuthorMaryt L Fredrickson
PositionVol. 45 1 Pg. 46

Be Well

Vol. 45 No. 1 Pg. 46

Wyoming Bar Journal

February, 2022

Sabbaticals: The Benefits of Bigger Breaks

Maryt L Fredrickson

Attorney Jackson, Wyoming

By the time this column publishes, I will have begun the third sabbatical of my career. To be clear, my sabbaticals are self-created and unpaid. Formal sabbatical programs at law firms are paid or partially paid. A few law firms and some private companies in Wyoming offer sabbatical programs, and the number may now be growing. The last quarter of 2021 saw a large rollout of sabbatical programs at national mid-size law firms in an effort to improve attorney well-being and correspondingly to improve recruitment and retention. National mid-sized law firms are something far different than mid-sized firms in Wyoming, but the benefits of sabbaticals as part of attorney well-being is worth a look, no matter the size of the firm.

Living within the practice of law is not easy: it is a high-stress, fast-paced and demanding profession. The practice of law takes a mental, emotional and sometimes physical toll. Family and social lives may be difficult to manage during full-time practice. Hobbies and non-work intellectual stimulation may fall by the wayside. Work-life balance may feel elusive. Professional burnout is not uncommon. But studies show that when comparing similarly-situated people who take sabbaticals and those who do not, those who take sabbaticals return with more resilience to stressors, less psychological strain, and improved overall well-being.

What is a Sabbatical?

Sabbaticals are familiar in the world of academia where they are typically one year in length and allow a professor to travel, conduct research, and publish. Outside of academia, sabbaticals vary in length, usually from three to six months, and are usually offered at set intervals, after a certain number of years with the firm or company. The central theme of a sabbatical is that it is a break from work that is significantly longer than a vacation.

Different people use sabbaticals in different ways. Some use them to volunteer or pursue some outside project or interest. Some use them to travel abroad. Some use them to pursue some advanced educational opportunity. Some use them as long staycations in order to spend more time with family or their young children.

Comparative Approaches to Breaks

Taking extended time off is not uncommon in other developed countries. For those readers who travel in Europe...

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