How Lawyers Can Make The Most Of Long-Haul Flights

Between client meetings, office visits to collect discovery, and international negotiations, lawyers can spend more time in the air than in the courtroom.

“More of us are getting to know that feeling. Over the past decade, ultra-long-haul plane flights—those lasting more than 12 hours—have become a component of business life like never before. It used to be that only a diplomat or top executive would jump on a plane and set off for halfway around the world,” writes Bruce Schoenfeld for Entrepreneur Magazine.

“Today—with markets such as China, India and the Middle East too large and lucrative to ignore—even small companies operate internationally.”

Unfortunately, these days, aircraft amenities are not what they used to be. A few hours on a plane can seem endless without the proper pre-flight checks.

So, plan ahead. Law firm professionals can make the most of a laugh-haul flight through the following tips:

1. Conduct Due Diligence on the Airliner

Not all 747s are created equal. In fact, 747s are even a plane of the past. Now, there are luxury 777s and, soon, 787 Dreamliners for the true jet-setter.

If you’re in first or business class, “Check with your carrier to make sure that the plane you’ll be on offers flat-bed service and all the entertainment amenities,” suggests Mr. Schoenfeld in Entrepreneur.

For those in economy, look up which seats have electronic plugs.  Not all aisles and seats are equipped.

And, research the airliners that boast superior legroom. Sitting cramped behind another passenger’s reclined seat for five hours—without a meal—is enough to drive anybody crazy.

You’re in luck. This month, the results of the SKYTRAX 2012 World Airline Awards were announced at the Farnborough International Airshow, ranking the world’s top carrier as well as bests in categories like “best by cabin,” “best low-cost airline,” “best lounges,” “best regional airlines,” and more.

Now that you’re in the habit of putting as much due diligence in your travel as your work, check to see if seat 6A is free. It was recently voted “best seat on a plane.”

2. Create A Plan For The Air

“Once you’re onboard, it’s important to have a strategy. Late last year, I flew from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, a 13-hour trip that put me on the ground before breakfast. My plan for that flight was to arrive ready for a workday. So I ate dinner, watched a movie, then slept six hours and awakened an hour before landing. I’d adapted to the time change from the moment I hit the ground,” boasts Mr. Schoenfeld in Entrepreneur.

Decide, in advance, how you’ll spend the flight. Maybe it’s much needed sleep. Perhaps it’s the opportunity to catch up on episodes of Homeland. Or, on the other hand, maybe you’ve just earned five to twelve extra hours of legal prep for whatever case bound you aboard in the first place.

Creating a pre-flight plan will help you pass the time more productively.

3. Consider Employees’ Family and Spouse

If you’re a law firm manager, don’t forget about the families and spouses of your frequent fliers. If trips last over the weekend, give employees the option to take off the following Monday workday.

Or, offer to fly up (free) the spouse or partner of your jet-setting associates.

Travel is a necessary component of many jobs, including law. But, as an employer, it’s important to realize that even first-class travel might not be an attorney’s first choice in evening plans.

So, while planes might not be a perk of the position, lawyers at your firm can still look forward to flight when it takes place alongside their husband or wife.

 -WB

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