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6 Things To Do Before You Take a Vacation

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

Lawyers, generally, have a hard time stepping away from their desks for  a vacation -- there's always something urgent awaiting completion.

This is doubly true for small firm and solo practices. When a BigLaw attorney steps away, there's someone else to cover cases. Ditto for prosecutors and public defenders, assuming they've planned far enough in advance. If you're a solo, or in a small firm that is stretched thin already, it might not seem worth the trouble of planning for a vacation.

Not to worry folks -- we've got a few ideas that'll help.

6. Shorten Your Trip

Instead of taking a long, two-week vacation, consider taking a few shorter three or four-day trips over the course of the year. This won't work too well if you're wed to the idea of a trip abroad, but if you're simply seeking to get away for a few days, there are plenty of magnificent destinations in North America that you can escape to for a few days. (Court holidays are an especially opportune time for mini-vacays.)

5. Plan Early

This is obvious advice, but it's worth repeating: plan months in advance. You'll need to set aside time early to avoid accidental scheduling conflicts. Make sure you've calendared the time, and let everyone in the office know the exact dates, just in case.

4. Send a Notice of Unavailability

This is the biggest step. Though we've debunked the myth of the Tenderloin notice (a California-specific urban legend that has apparently spread to Florida), whether a "Notice of Availability" is recognized by your local courts or not, it's still a necessity to send written notice to all parties, clients, and counsel. For one, if opposing counsel doesn't suck, he'll take pains to respect your vacation plans. And if he doesn't, bad faith harassment may rise to the level of sanctionable conduct.

3. Give More Notice

Written notices are a good start, but you'll also want to set up an email auto-responder and change your voicemail, in case clients or opposing counsel forget, or prospective clients call your firm while you're away. Social Media updates are also a great idea.

2. Sort out Staff

If you have employees, they may not be willing to take a week or two off unpaid. (Hence, why the mini-vacations are a great idea.) If you're leaving staff in place while you are gone, they can serve as a great substitute while you are gone, at least for administrative tasks that don't require a law degree.

A good tip would be to set aside a list of tasks for them to complete while you are gone, such as updating the firm's website, blog, and marketing materials. You'll also want to leave an emergency contact number, just in case.

1. Get Pinch Hitters

Though your staff can handle most tasks while you are gone, such as billing and marketing efforts, if there is a legal emergency, such as a last-minute hearing, you'll want to have appearance counsel lined up in advance. Ask colleagues, or if you're really desperate, put up a craigslist ad, to obtain names for a list of legal pinch hitters.

We're sure we missed something here. What do you do prior to jet-setting for anywhere but the office? Tweet us your tips @FindLawLP.

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