The Other Woman . . .
I admit it, there is another woman. She is alluring, demanding, and very intrusive. And yet my wife puts up with my law practice.
I am writing this while on vacation in the Caribbean. We had a vacation like this a year ago and my new wife was so thrilled that she saw me relax. So, we decided to try to make this an annual venture. Unfortunately, this trip is not going quite as planned.
Upon my arrival with laptop in tow, I discovered that there were some fires back in the office. Of course, while putting out these fires, one cannot help but check the other e-mail, automatically pop on the Instant Message, and respond to friends and colleagues all of who ask Aren’t you on vacation? Why are you working?, and Isn’t your wife going to kill you? A solo’s law practice is an unforgiving mistress especially when you are the one in charge and the only one in the office. Thankfully my wife is a very understanding woman she has to be, she is the one who first suggested I start my own practice. But she also knows what I am doing, what I am trying to build, and who I am trying to help.
Many of my clients have a personal connection for me. Many are current and former service members who are having issues with the Federal Government usually with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Military (as they are being separated [due to a medical condition]), or some other government agency. Remember, they all have paid their dues (and taxes) to our county; especially those brave men and women who serve in armed combat overseas. The simple fact that they are suffering and are (in my opinion) being denied their government benefits, tugs at my emotions even many thousands of miles away from work.
Remember, there are things you can do to help alleviate your worries about your practice while on vacation. First, bring a laptop. You can conduct much of your business when you have your business with you. I use a program that keeps my law office files in sync (e.g., SugarSync) between my laptop and my desktop. The program also serves as a back up with an offsite server for data loss protection. Sure, there are means that allow you to virtualize into your office desktop, but if the power goes out and/or you lose your connection with your desktop, what will you do?
Use Adobe Standard (or a more advanced suite depending on your needs) and start scanning your documents (a scanner is purchased separately plenty of articles on what scanner is best for you on other sites). Its easier to carry your office in a laptop than a laptop and all of your office files. (Make sure you password protect your laptop too!) Most word processing programs allow you to turn a document into a pdf (with your digital signature). This in turn allows you to e-mail and/or fax files from your vacation spot (for more on faxing from your laptop, see below).
Make sure the place you are staying has internet access. Resorts will probably charge you a fee; but in my opinion, it’s worth the expense. On-line faxing: Granted, the hotel (or nearby Kinkos depending on location) may have a fax machine but it can be costly and a little time consuming. I use E-fax which allows me to either fax from my web-browser or my e-mail suite. (Maybe even consider bringing a portable scanner, but that may be excessive?) I also receive my faxes (with E-fax) via e-mail in PDF.
I would consider using a mobile phone (with international capabilities). It would allow you to keep track of voice-mail back at the office and easily return pressing calls. Of course, it didn’t help that I forgot mine Opps! But I was saved given that I had a phone provider that allows you to receive via e-mail .wav file attachments of my voice-mail messages (Love Vonage!). (It just sucked that I had to pay the hotel quite a fee for my long-distance call back to the United States.) Consider using a Virtual Office (or some part-time support): I can pay a la carte to have someone check my mail (and phone messages if I so desired or needed), e-mail me a daily list of my mail, and scan and e-mail me anything that I believe is pressing. Its almost like I never left the office! My wife is so thrilled . . .
But thankfully very understanding and supportive.
Michael Eisenberg is a solo practitioner entering his third year of his practice. (http://www.eisenberg-lawoffice.com/) He loves his practice and recognizes that it is the second best thing he did for himself, his career, and his family. (Mindy, his wife, of course is the first.) He would appreciate it, regardless of this posting, that family law attorneys refrain from contacting his wife.