Solo and small firm lawyers are notorious for never taking vacations. Some can’t afford the cost, others believe that they can’t afford the time away from the office and some are, quite simply, workaholics. That said, here are a couple of ways for solos and smalls to enjoy the coming summer a little more without straying too far or too long from the office.
Three Day Weekends Back when I was a kid, my dad’s company had a summer program where he could leave his lab (he was a chemist) by noon on Friday by working an extra hour on the other four weekdays. Often, we’d drive to the beach when he returned home, in time for a quick swim and a dinner-time picnic; other times, he’d spend time tooling around his backyard vegetable and rose gardens. There’s no reason why your firm couldn’t implement a similar program this summer – work a bit longer during the week to enjoy a two-and-a-half or three day weekend.
Hire A Summer Associate As I posted over at Above the Law , hiring a summer associate can take the load off you in the summer in a couple of ways. First, if you ordinarily spend some time during the year on administrivia like catching up on scanning documents or sorting online filings or learning how to configure a software program, delegate those matters to a summer associate to give yourself a break. Or, come up with a list of marketing tasks that you’ve fallen behind on – blog posts, e-newsletters or social media dispatches – to keep your summer associate busy. The added marketing efforts will more than cover the cost of a summer associate – and may even help subsidize a modest getaway.
Work Outside the Office Even if you’re busy, it doesn’t mean that you need to be tethered to your desk 8-10 hours a day during the summer. If a nice day happens along, pick up your laptop and spend some time at an outdoor cafe or in a park or plaza near your office building or the porch or yard if you work from home. Just a little bit of fresh air can help you relax.
Mix Family With Business A number of state solo and small firm bar associations and the ABA hold conferences in the summer. If you hadn’t planned to attend because of schedule or cost constraints, could you combine the business travel with a vacation with your spouse, significant other or family? Many conferences include family friendly activities, but even if they don’t, you could take on an extra day or two to spend time with whoever you brought along for the ride. Or, perhaps you’re already planning a family vacation but fretting about the costs. Could you take a day from your trip and visit a client in that area, or look up some networking contacts? You just might bring a new piece of business home as a souvenir.
Be Flexible As lawyers, our schedules are always up in the air. Sometimes, it’s an unexpected hearing that crops up on the calendar, but just as often, a trial or court date may be cancelled. If that happens, instead of filling up your newly freed up time with work, get out of the office instead – even if it’s just for a daylong hike or trip to the beach.
Have Fun With Other Solos Summer always brings plenty of fun, outdoor events – concerts, baseball, and pickup volleyball or Ultimate Frisbee. Why not arrange outings to these events with colleagues who you haven’t seen in a while? Or, host a summer picnic for staff and colleagues and their families at a local park. These events aren’t costly but give you a chance to spend time with colleagues outside of the office or courthouse.
If any of these ideas appeal to you, stay tuned for a special contest next week to help you win a prize or two that will help you get the most our of your summer.