Dan sabbatical

How Paid Sabbaticals Can Work for the Legal Industry

Imagine being able to take two months off from work to travel the world, take a staycation, or spend more time with family and friends. At KO Law Firm, this rare perk is a reality.

Our Denver- and Boulder-based firm provides significant benefits and perks for employees and shareholders, including a two-month paid sabbatical available to anyone who’s been with the firm for at least seven years (and every seven years thereafter). According to the Society for Human Resource Management, only 5% of companies offer paid sabbaticals. Numerous KO team members across a variety of roles – partners, attorneys, paralegals, and operations staff – have taken advantage of this benefit in recent years, and several have upcoming sabbaticals planned.

After a decade with KO (and a delayed sabbatical due to the pandemic and so his kids were a little older), partner Dan Fredrickson took a sabbatical in summer 2023. Below he shares travel highlights and some key takeaways from his experience.

The Fredrickson’s Great Adventure 

This past summer, KO partner Dan Fredrickson and his wife Malia, son Cole (8), and daughter Evan (6) spent two weeks in Turkey, nearly a month in Italy, and nearly a month in France for Dan’s sabbatical. The family planned their itinerary to balance history, sightseeing, and leisure time and to incorporate a few key travel requests from their kids.

In Turkey, the family split their time between Cappadocia, where they explored and hot air ballooned, and Istanbul, where they explored the history of the Byzantine Empire.

From there, they traveled to Italy, beginning in Pompeii at the request of Dan’s son Cole, then on to the Amalfi Coast, followed by Rome to see the Coliseum and the gladiators’ old stomping grounds. Then they enjoyed a relaxing stretch in the Tuscan countryside, exploring the countryside villages during the day and soaking up leisurely and delicious Italian dinners in the evenings. From there, the Fredricksons final stop in Italy was in Florence where daughter Evan wanted to see where her mom studied abroad.

After everyday gelato, pasta, and wine in Italy, the family traveled to France, first to Provence to catch lavender season and fuel up on espresso, croissants, wine, and charcuterie. Then they made their way to the French Riviera where they swam, paddle boarded, and boated on the Mediterranean. The family closed out their European travels in Paris where they surprised the kids with a visit to Disneyland Paris.

Keys to a Successful Sabbatical

After traveling back to Colorado and getting back to the office, Dan shared several key takeaways about how to plan a successful sabbatical and the value of sabbaticals for law firm employees and clients.

Sabbaticals provide a rare opportunity to truly disconnect. 

In today’s world – especially post-covid – it’s so easy to work remotely from anywhere, or to just “check-in” or “wrap a few things up” while you’re on vacation, making it tougher than ever to truly disconnect from work. With a paid sabbatical, you have enough time and advance planning to truly disconnect. After eight weeks away from work, Dan was able to come back refreshed ready to refocus on client service and practice management.

Great clients are critical to a successful sabbatical.

We’re fortunate to work with truly exceptional clients and our goal is to serve as their long-term partner and everyday legal business advisor. Building a strong foundation of trust with our clients over time means they are comfortable with other team members stepping in to cover while their primary contact is away on paid sabbatical. Without exception, our clients were supportive of Dan’s time away, and Dan is incredibly grateful for their trust and support. This empowers our attorneys to take well-deserved time off without sacrificing the results and outcomes that clients need for their businesses while their primary contact is unplugged.

Teamwork makes the dream work. 

In this case, the old saying rings true. KO Law Firm was founded in 2003 by former big law attorneys on the philosophy that a different approach to legal practice management delivers better value and results to clients and a superior work environment for team members. The firm has stayed true to its founding principles over the last two decades and has taken intentional measures to create a culture of collaboration and support.

For paid sabbaticals, this means team members are willing to step in to cover client relationships and day-to-day client work when another team member is enjoying their sabbatical. For Dan, he did a lot of advance planning to ensure client needs would be covered and he left for his trip with the confidence that the team would ensure that clients’ needs were met and he came back to happy clients.

Get the family involved in planning! 

Traveling with kids is no easy task but getting them involved in planning your itinerary or everyday activities helps keep them engaged and motivated!

Learn more about KO’s culture and approach and read more sabbatical stories.

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