The weather is getting warmer, so it’s time to think of a vacation. Unfortunately, many small business owners are reluctant to take vacation. In fact, a 2013 study found that small business owners were working more hours and taking less vacation time than five years earlier. For lawyers, it may be even worse. There is stress about a client having a problem while you are gone and the dread of returning and dealing with a backlog. There is also the fact that if you bill hourly, then taking a vacation means less billables, so your vacation is basically unpaid. Of course, if you don’t take adequate vacation, you risk burnout, depression, reduced productivity and damaged personal relationships. In other words, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. If you are a solo or small firm attorney, how can you take a vacation when you need it? Here are a few tips:
- Time it. You can’t necessarily predict all of your workload, but you can try to avoid the obvious crunch times.
- Notify key people well in advance. That include clients, courts and others who would need to know that you will be away.
- Put it on your calendar. This will help ensure nothing is scheduled during the time you want to be away.
- Have back-up. If you don’t have partners or associates, you will need to find someone. It could be another solo or small firm practitioner, or you could hire a freelance attorney to manage those cases while you are gone.
- Summarize pertinent information for others. Review client files and prepare a summary of each matter for your staff and back-up attorney.
- Stay in touch. Let staff and back-up lawyers know how to reach you in an emergency. While you are away, check in periodically but use email rather than the phone when possible.
- Set-up remote access to your systems. In case of emergency, you want to be able to get to documents you may need. Having your documents and systems “live” in the cloud makes it possible to work from anywhere.
- Only handle emergencies. It’s easy to get caught up in checking emails and trying to handle everything while you are supposed to be on vacation. However, the point of the vacation is to get away and recharge. If it isn’t a true necessity, wait until you get back to handle it.
- Get back earlier than you tell people. Give yourself a day or two to ease back in as you go through your messages, but without everyone knowing you are back. It gives you some quiet time to prioritize your work.
Taking time for a vacation may be a challenge, but the rewards are well worth it. If you need temporary help with legal work, LAWCLERK is here to help! LAWCLERK is where attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers. Solos and small law firms can find qualified freelance lawyers for any type of legal work. It’s a great tool to get extra work done before vacation or to help get caught up when you return!