Everyone deserves to take a break from time to time—even lawyers. Planning a vacation and getting away is the easy part. Managing your law practice while you are away can prove more difficult. Here are 5 tips for getting away without getting in the weeds:
1. Plan ahead
Preparation is key for lawyers. We prepare for trial, client meetings, and corporate closings, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t prepare to go away. If the court system where you practice permits excusals, send a letter far in advance of your trip and request to be excused from court on the dates you’ll be away. Notify your clients well before your trip so they are not surprised when they discover that you are not in the office. Finally, try to get extra work done so you are not overwhelmed when you return.
2. Have adequate coverage
If you are fortunate enough to have a staff, they can help cover for you while you are away. Make sure they are up to speed with your cases and are prepared to handle emergent issues while you are gone. If you are a solo practitioner who does not have additional employees, it is a good idea to enroll a fellow solo practitioner to cover for you while you are gone. You can return the favor when your colleague takes vacation.
3. Use technology
Set an out-of-office email message so an automatic reply alerts the sender that you are away. Similarly, leave a voicemail greeting letting callers know about your absence. Check the wireless availability at your destination and make any necessary changes to your cellphone plan so that, if necessary, you can make calls and check emails without accruing significant fees. Pack all necessary electronic equipment you plan to use, and don’t forget to bring chargers.
4. Set boundaries
Before you leave, decide if you are going to do any work while you are away and determine how much. You may want to set aside an hour or two each day to check emails and keep up with office happenings. If you decide to totally shut down and shut off your connection to the office, let your clients know that you will not be reachable while away. This way, your clients will not expect to reach you, and you will not feel torn between having fun and meeting their needs.
5. Enjoy your vacation and prepare to work hard upon return
Attorneys returning from vacation frequently lament that they are overwhelmed. Sometimes, we might wonder if the getaway was even worth it. Without a doubt, it is. Nonetheless, getting away from your law practice takes serious discipline and a commitment to work even harder upon return to catch up on missed work and tackle the day-to-day tasks that never go away. As such, it is crucial to start your vacation with an appropriate mindset. Be prepared to enjoy every minute of your hard-earned time away, and be similarly prepared and ready to take on the work that is waiting for you when you get back.
Getting away from it all is necessary for good mental health and overall wellness. It is an opportunity to reconnect with family or even spend some time relaxing alone. By following the tips outlined above, even a busy lawyer can enjoy vacation while maintaining a vibrant, viable law practice.