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Victoria Mole
21 July, 2008  
Mental health day

Articled clerk Vicki Mole has to take extraordinary measures to escape the glaring intensity of the Firm. It’s nice being a lawyer, but not for five days a week

imageI’m at home with the flu if anyone asks, not sitting with my laptop in the park writing this blog.

“Cough, cough, splutter, splutter … yes, yes, I’ll rest up and I’ll get that BuilderCorp advice to you first thing Wednesday … Of course I appreciate its urgency, it is not at all as though the client refused to give instructions for two months and then you sat on them for another three weeks … COUGH, COUGH … thank you, see you tomorrow.”

I’m not actually sick – I never get sick and even if I did, I wouldn’t waste a sick day in bed.

I just need a day away from the Firm to sleep, play my guitar, cook up a pot of something that doesn’t involve seven minutes on high, sit outside in natural light and just be, without having to account for each six minutes of my sentient existence.

A mental health day, as junior lawyers like to call them.

When I started working full-time, I was excited at the prospect of having true weekends, free from work, study or guilt about the study I should be doing.

This was misjudged on two counts. First, after having caught up on sleep, ironed, cleaned, shopped, drycleaned and squashed in as many as coffees possible to catch up with the friends and family I never see during the week, there’s not much Vicki-time left.

Secondly, all of the above is often relegated anyway, in order to go into the Firm or read through files.

My AC best buddy Jai and I often scheme about how we could get the Firm to let us go part-time. He reckons I could quite easyily fake a baby and he an MBA.

Jai wants Mondays off so he can come down from the weekend without his secretary poking him and telling him he looks under the weather.

I’d just like a Wednesday to potter, dream, create, wander, run the odd errand and have an oasis of respite from the glaring intensity of the Firm.

Wouldn’t that be fabulous? The pay cut wouldn’t bother me in the slightest – 80 percent of what I currently earn for perusing, paginating and perforating (that is, hole-punching and putting documents in chronological order) is still double what I lived on through uni.

It would certainly make me more efficient on the days I am in the office, Jai doubly so.

Lawyers Weekly recently wrote about lawyers going part-time for reasons other than babies.

Even if this type of part-time employment actually existed at the Firm (apart from in graduate literature) and was a privilege extended to junior lawyers, you would need to have a legitimate excuse for doing so, not just the fact that you like being a lawyer – but not so much that you want to do it five days a week.

Which is why we need mental health days.

Cough … cough …



Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: July 31, 2008, 9:10 pm

Another Melburnian AC shares your plight, Vicki. A possible solution: spread your annual leave across the entire year, taking one day leave per week. This results in around 32 long weekends, including public holidays. Then swap pay for leave for the annual pilgrimage to Europe...