Law firm offers a year off for $80k, no strings attached

As an investment banker years ago in New York, I knew a good number of associates at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (known simply as "Skadden" in the industry). The law firm's banking practice is huge and notorious for working its attorneys to the bone, for extremely good wages, of course. I knew them, but it's not like we ever had time to hang out, what with the grueling work schedules we both kept. A "hello" on conference calls was about the extent of it.

It's too bad I don't live in New York now, because I'd have plentiful time to hang out with any of my lawyer mama buddies. All 1,300 Skadden associates worldwide have been offered the chance to take a year off at one-third of their salary, between $60,000 and $80,000 for most of them. There are, truly, no strings attached; the company guarantees the year off won't affect their future, no matter what kind of work (or play) is done in the interim. Even better, associates taking a sabbatical will be protected from any layoffs that might occur in the interim.

As risks go, it seems a good one. And something I wish desperately could be applied to me. While I haven't been pulling Skadden hours these past few years, I've put in my nose-to-the-grindstone time in my life! Darn it all. If I could take a year off with (excellent) pay, I wouldn't know which of a thousand things to do. Spend a month bumming around Europe with my little boys? Write a book? Start a nonprofit teaching bread baking and canning? What would you do if you were paid $80K to clear out your desk for a year?
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