Work life balance for lawyers is hard any time of year. Court hearings, conducting discovery, mediation, drafting documents, meeting with clients, and managing the business side of the law office creates a lot of expectations and stress. Often, these feelings are compounded during the holidays.
Stepping Away Is Hard, but Necessary
Most lawyers don’t take a vacation as often as they should. Stepping away is hard, but it is necessary. When lawyers are overworked, they are more likely to commit an ethical violation.
So, just how can lawyers find work life balance? Here are 5 steps you can take to improve your work life balance this holiday season.
Step One: Find Sufficient Backup While You’re Taking Time Off
Because of the nature of the legal industry, finding (and using) a backup is crucial. Although many courts have shorter hours and more days where they’re closed during the holidays, there could still be a call or question from an officer of the court that must be answered.
How you choose to utilize a backup attorney to improve work life balance during the holidays is ultimately up to you. It could be that they only respond for a legitimate emergency by a client. It could be someone in your office who can answer any question about your cases while you’re gone. Whatever you choose, just make sure that your backup is up to speed on open matters and have access to anything they may need while you’re out.
Step Two: Take Advantage of Technology
No, you do not have to reassess your entire practice and implement pricy technological goodies. You can start by ensuring that you’re taking advantage of your out-of-office response for your email. Also, change your voicemail greeting to inform callers when you’ll be out and when you will return.
If you have extremely pressing matters, take advantage of the cloud. There are many cloud providers designed to meet the specific needs of lawyers. This would give you the ability to spend time on those issues when you’re away from the office. Remember, though, we’re talking about how you can improve your work life balance during the holidays. So, don’t spend time on matters that really can wait.
Step Three: Let People Know in Advance That You’ll Be Out
Let all attorneys, clients, or other individuals with whom you interact on a regular basis know that you’ll be out of the office. If you have active cases that are filed in your local court, don’t forget to check with the court and follow the proper procedure to inform the court and opposing counsel that you’re unavailable. This isn’t just about common courtesy. It also helps the court avoid scheduling hearings during that time.
Step Four: Embrace Proactive Work Before You Leave
Coming back from vacation with an overwhelming amount of work causes a lot of stress. Embrace a proactive work style before you leave. Finish drafting documents. Send out documents to clients for their review. Prepare discovery responses. Take care of the absolute necessities before you leave.
Step Five: Follow Through When You Return
Whatever promises you made to respond to people when you return, make sure that you follow through. Complete all return phone calls, respond to emails, and do anything else you said you’d do when you get back. The reason why this is listed as a step in how to improve work life balance during the holidays is because it shows you that you are capable of taking time off and returning to your office refreshed and productive.
Remember to unplug during the holidays and enjoy the holiday season!