We learned all the hobbies, we baked all the breads, we watched all the Netflix – but even with all that, 16 months is a long time to be cooped up. As the world begins to reopen, we’re all eager shake off this cabin fever.
For lawyers, however, being away from the office can be a little more complicated than other professions. Whether you’re planning an actual getaway or just taking some time off to unplug and relax, you’ll want to be sure you’ve prepared.
Plan Ahead (Way Ahead)
We’re all ready to get out – now! – but for some attorneys, getting away could mean looking ahead several months. Although some practice areas have more flexible calendars than others, most attorneys are still somewhat beholden to clients, courts or other lawyers’ schedules and needs. You know your own calendar better than anyone, so consider it carefully when deciding the best time to be gone and how far out you should plan.
The length of your trip may also be a factor. If the only weekday you’ll be out is a Friday, you likely won’t need to plan as far out as you will if you’ll be out for 10 days.
Don’t you shortchange yourself on planning ahead or you could risk having to work while you’re on vacation – and that doesn’t do anyone any good. You won’t get to properly relax, and your work will likely suffer from the distractions.
You don’t have to brag (well, you can if you want), but you do need to tell everyone you work with, work for or just work close to when you’ll be gone. As soon as you settle on dates, start giving notice as soon as possible to courts, coworkers or other counsel as well as clients to avoid potential scheduling conflicts. Even if your trip is months away, you’d rather err on the side of more notice than not enough (though you may want to remind them of your absence as the date gets closer).
It’s up to you how much you want to stay connected – if at all – but you’ll probably want to include something about your availability when you notify them.
A week or so ahead of your vacation (or staycation), start preparing your actual office. Tidy up your emails, desk and files so you have less to wade through when you return. Leave any emergency contact information and instructions with your staff or law partners. Also, if you have one, mark any shared calendars with your days off. Even if you’ll be checking both somewhat regularly, it’s also a good idea to set out-of-office emails and voicemails.
A Little Preparation
It’s a sad fact that stress can take a psychological and physical toll. Taking time off is important to anyone’s mental health, especially in demanding professions like the practice of law. A little prep work will go a long way to ensuring you get the relaxing time off you deserve.