Some Theories (from Lawyers) On Why Vacationing Will Help Your Practice.

I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times.  “You need to take a vacation to clear your head.”  Or “Your problems take on a whole new perspective when you approach them after having taken a break.”

It’s very likely, however, that these reasons only trigger the following response from you:  “Who has the time?”

Trial lawyers, especially, are known for insisting they can’t take a vacation since the courts don’t take vacations.

But isn’t there some sort of middle ground, here?  Surely even trial lawyers can take mini-vacations.

“Only if there’s proof they do any good,” you might be thinking. “I’m twice as perplexed when I get back after a vacation.”

Well, perhaps it’s the way you approach a vacation, and what you do during that time, that needs to be looked at.

On Karen Koehler’s “The Velvet Hammer” blog, this trial lawyer explains what it takes for her to go on vacation.

First of all, she has to look at the office calendar at least five or six months in advance.  “The better practice,” she notes, “is to block off the calendar at least one year in advance.”   Otherwise, she says, court dates and deadlines take up that space.

She also believes that working during a vacation is a good thing.  “Figure out how or if you will be able to be online. Do whatever it takes.”

What if you are someplace where you can’t go online?  She advises that you “…mentally have a conniption fit because there’s nothing else you can do.  Am not kidding about this,” she says.  “- [N]ot working on vacation is traumatic.”

A few years back, Lawyers USA compiled “Vacation 101 for Lawyers”.  The author did agree that you should spend some time thinking law when you’re on vacation, but that you should stick to those projects you’ve kept in a nebulous stage up until now.

One lawyer went to Costa Rica with friends and did just that.  “[The vacation was] a personal refresher…” she said.  “At the same time, running through the back of my head [were] long-term planning and what I want to focus on in the future.”

For example, she had time to bounce around ideas on marketing, such as ways to improve her website and attract higher-end cases. Had she not taken time off, she would “never have time to think about that stuff,” she said.


Young Lawyers Blog“, on the other hand, makes no bones about the fact that lawyers need time away from law and its attendant court dates.  The author points to a “Psychology Today” article which claims that you’ve got to give your brain a break in order for it to function properly.

Specifically, the author notes, the following factors are a play when you’re resting up:   “…a rested mind isn’t stuck in the wrong answers; a quiet mind notices subtle signals; a happy mind is an open mind; and clarity comes from distance.”

The author quotes from the “Psychology Today” piece, which states: “ ‘When we are too close to an idea, either by knowing too much, having an agenda or experiencing strong emotions, it is hard to see an idea completely.’ ”

Finally, the blogger explains that “[d]istance encourages creativity and non-linear problem solving.”

Whatever your own thinking along the lines of vacationing, you might want to consider the experience of Mark Chinn, who owns the largest family law firm in Mississippi. He hadn’t taken a vacation in 28 years when “legitimate business reasons” changed his mind.

It wasn’t, however, to take a well-deserved break. No.  HIs motive was to train the staff he was leaving behind to get along without him.  “I had to create a practice that runs without me,” he said, in the Lawyers USA piece.

“To his delight,” we read, “he found that his four associates, paralegals and support staff learned how to work together” during his absence.   Not only that, but, since, in his absence, they learned to pull together as a team, they were able to wear different hats at a time when it really mattered to the firm.

When it was discovered that the firm was short several thousand dollars a little while later, they all started working the phones—handling the Accounts Receivables, as it were—and were able to bring in what was needed.

This resulted in a newfound confidence for the firm.

“Surprisingly, the month after he returned,” the piece notes, “Chinn had a record month, opening three times the normal number of files and grossing two and a half times what he normally does.”

There you go.  It may be too late for a summer vacation, but it’s never to late to consider taking some time off, especially if you’ve been wondering just how your staff would gel if you were suddenly (temporarily) not in the picture. Vacation, anyone?

This will be my last column for this site.  Check out my blog at http://godsloveworks.wordpress.com/

I bid you all adieu and a fond God bless.  Thanks for reading!

-ERM

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