New York law firm pays associate $80,000 to do nothing

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom, a prominent New York law firm, is paying one of its associates $80,000 to take a year off. The announcement, which highlighted the incredibly high salaries enjoyed by New York lawyers, prompted an outpouring of protests on the newspaper's online site.

The associate, 36-year-old Heather Eisenlord, plans to spend her free year traveling the world. She hopes to teach English to Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka, bring solar power to the Himalayas, and possibly spend a little time lying out on a few forgotten beaches. What she probably won't be doing, however, is worrying about her job: she has a guarantee that it will be waiting for her when she gets back.