In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York family lawyer Joleena Louis explains why you need to be taking vacations as a solo!
In one of the lawyer Facebook groups I am a member of, I was shocked at a discussion about solo’s taking time off to travel or spend time with family. A surprising number of solo’s and small firm owners in the group never take time off without working. This blew my mind!
Since starting my practice, I’ve always made it a priority to take some time off. I need that break every now and then to reset my mind and I’m always refreshed and ready to go when I get back to work. I know I would burn out without a break.
This past December I took off three consecutive weeks – and still made money while I was away. This was the longest period of time I have been away without working at all, and I was a bit worried about my ability to pull it off.
But, because of the systems I had in place I came back to several scheduled consultations, no client issues or emergencies, and I was able to step right back into regular business without any issues.
Here are some of the things I did to ensure I could take three weeks off:
Pick The Right Time Of Year
Though I may take a long weekend or up to a week at a time off throughout the year, December was the perfect month to take off an extended period of time. Most of my clients were busy with family or away and I usually don’t have a lot of court appearances around the holidays. December is also typically my slow period for consults, so it worked out.
So make sure you do your research and know when the best time to travel is for your practice.
Prepare Your Clients
I let all my clients know I would be away and tried to touch base with each of them at the end of November so I could preemptively handle any problems. I prepared my clients (and myself) for all court appearances scheduled the week I returned. I scheduled reminder emails using Boomerang, so everyone was ready to go when I returned.
Have Someone Answer The Phone
The biggest help for me was having someone answer phones. I hired a virtual receptionist service recently and it has made my life so much easier, especially during my time away. They had my cell number to contact me with any emergency calls so I never felt the need to constantly check email or voicemail.
They were also able to schedule consultations for me. I was worried about missing out on consultations, but everyone who called while I was away had scheduled an appointment by my return.
Have a Back-Up
If an emergency court appearance was required, I had a backup plan in my pocket. I’m apart of a group of solo’s who are willing to cover for me, and I, in turn, do the same when they go on vacation.
Not taking a break from your practice is sure to lead to burnout. We all need a break and you are not doing yourself, your family, or your clients any favors by not taking time to rest. I have multiple trips planned for the upcoming year, and with these tips I feel confident about my ability to get a break from work without completely shutting down my practice.