Escape from the Office

If you’re a regular reader, you are accustomed to my annual “reminder” to build vacation plans into your schedule.9371665116_dca14d2541_k

Work without rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation leads to burnout.  So banish the excuses!  This will take a bit of effort and planning, but your body and mind will thank you.

I Can’t Afford It

“If I’m not at the office, I can’t bill.  If I can’t bill, I won’t get paid.”  True enough, but there is a solution:  budget for your vacation.  A bit of research and number crunching is in order here.  First, calculate your vacation expenses. This should be relatively easy.  Next, quantify the lost revenue you need to replace during your time out of the office.  Now that you know how much you need, begin setting aside funds every week to meet your financial goal.  If necessary, find little ways to cut back that can really add up: like bringing your lunch to work, deferring your daily Starbucks fix, using public transportation, or telecommuting.  Saving weekly will keep you on track and help manage expectations. If you’re just getting started, then your plans this year may be more modest.  Next year, you can begin saving for your summer vacation in January.

I’m Too Busy

Work will never go away, but I guarantee that if you look ahead in your calendar you will find a block of time with no commitments.  Even if you haven’t made plans yet, block the time out now before your calendar fills up.  If you have a habit of backsliding, enlist your family as enforcers.  This time should be sacred.  If you need an extra incentive, consider non-refundable travel reservations.

Preparation is Key

If you’re a member of a firm, going on vacation is a matter of meeting with other lawyers who will be covering cases during your absence.  If you are a sole practitioner, use the buddy system.  Find a colleague who is experienced in your practice area and willing to cover for you.  This arrangement is usually reciprocal and is helpful if you have an unexpected absence from the office due to injury or a medical condition.

Get a game plan in place:

  • Notify clients, opposing counsel, judges, or other appropriate parties that you will be out of the office;
  • Prep your files.  They should be well-organized and current, with status memos so your buddy can easily step in if needed;
  • Create a “Countdown Schedule.”  Identify what needs to be done when and whether certain tasks can wait until your return;
  • Allow for wind down.  As your vacation approaches, leave time in your schedule to finish up last minute work.  Reduce or refer out new matters;
  • Train staff.  Do they have a clear understanding of office procedures?  How will they screen client calls during your absence?  Give them parameters for contacting you or your buddy in the event of an emergency.
  • Resist constantly checking voice mail, e-mail, or text messages.  Technology is a God-send, but part of rejuvenation is taking a break from our instant Internet society. Checking in is okay, but stick to a schedule to avoid obsessing over what is going on back at the office.  Remember – you have an emergency plan in place.  If something happens, staff or your buddy will get a hold of you.
  • Avoid post-vacation overload.  Just as you blocked out dates to go on vacation, allow yourself time to get back up-to-speed.  Otherwise, you’re right back where you started.

Give yourself and your family a well-deserved break.  With a bit of organization, you can budget for (and enjoy) your time off.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

Treating Clients Well

In today’s legal economy, developing business and marketing to prospective clients is the centerpiece of nearly every lawyer’s existence. Whether you are a sole practitioner, an associate or a seasoned partner, you will most likely need or be expected to cultivate and grow your own clientele.

Some firms lean heavily on web design and search engine optimization to attract prospects. Others rely on referrals. Both approaches are effective, but incomplete. The next step is to deliver top-notch client service, starting with understanding and meeting client needs. Continue reading

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 46,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Plan a Stress-Less Holiday – from the OAAP

Stressed about the holidays?  Consider these quick tips from the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program:

First – A Reality Check

  • The holidays are not really a competition
  • It’s okay to say no.
  • All holidays are celebrations of the good things of life
  • It’s good to ask, What can I do to help others?

The Plan

  • Participate in the holidays in any way you choose – arrive when and if you want.  Leave when you need to. 
  • If you are in recovery and there is any doubt in your mind about the safety of an event or party, say no.  Find out what your sponsor and other recovering friends are doing.
  • Enjoy the holidays for what they mean to you.  Celebrate whatever makes YOU feel the best.
  • Volunteer to make the holidays special for others

Read the complete article here.

The Year in Review – Useful Tips You May Have Missed

Thank you readers!  I hope this has been a fruitful year for you.  Just in case you missed a tip or two, here is a list of 2012 blog posts for your perusal:

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

All Rights Reserved 2012 Beverly Michaelis

Law Practice TODAY – July issue

The July issue of Law Practice TODAY is out.  This month’s theme is “Phones, Tablets & Mobile Computing: Oh My!”

Articles in this issue include:

  • 6 Android Apps for Attorneys
  • Connecting to the Web 101
  • The Mobility Choice
  • Securely Deleting Data from Mobile Devices
  • Motivate Employees: Set Goals, Communicate, and Say “Thanks”
  • Technology Brings Billing and Receivables into the New World of Law

Law Practice TODAY is a free monthly Webzine published by the ABA Law Practice Management Section.

25 Law Practice Tips from Twitter

If you follow this blog, then you know I’m a fan of Twitter – in part because it is a great source for law practice and technology tips.  Consider these 25 recent tweets in the areas of organization, financial management, marketing, security, and iPhone/iPad tips:

Organization

  • Are you an e-hoarder? Here’s how to tell. http://t.co/4FmX6ZH8 (So true!) (RT @NetworkWorld)
  • Protect yourself from e-mail overload: http://t.co/codvw2Ad #smallbiz #organization #business (RT @bettybudget)
  • Organizing your workspace based on function zones http://t.co/RYBW3duG #organization (Good tips from The Unclutterer) (RT @rocketmatter)
  • 17 Best Tools and Apps for Building New Habits and Goals. http://t.co/pjViXVgA #SPU Do you use any? (RT @SoloPracticeU)

Financial Management

  • What lawyers need to know about 1099s and other tax compliance issues: Wash St Bar News, p. 32: http://t.co/i08xDml (from @OreLawPracMgmt)
  • “The sky still hasn’t fallen on the hourly rate model” | Daily Report http://t.co/m0yRUSuE (RT @AdvertisingLaw)
  • Can I Double My Fee if the Client Doesn’t Pay? http://t.co/WFr124BK(from @OreLawPracMgmt)
  • Don’t Leave Receivables in Limbo http://t.co/7Ek7A8zQ (unless you want to go out of business) (RT @Law_Practice)
  • In some sense, all lawyers are sole practitioners. Why *you* should build a portable book of business, http://t.co/gf7h36Kp (from @OreLawPracMgmt)
  • Check Scams Continue to Plague Oregon Lawyers, http://t.co/PPvlZDJV(from @OreLawPracMgmt)

Marketing

  • Cross-Selling, Up-Selling, and Communication Increase Revenue http://t.co/kcSsrIUJ (RT @lawyerist)
  • How to promote your law blog – RLHB http://t.co/k3XrbGLi (RT @jaredcorreia RT @rodneydowell RT @kevinokeefe)
  • Myrland Marketing Moment: Not happy others aren’t commenting on your Social Media? How often do you comment? (RT @NancyMyrland)
  • Online Marketing Strategies for Small Budgets – @attnyatwork http://t.co/8Zct2GL6 (RT @rocketmatter)

Security

  • Are Passwords the Weak Link in Your Firm’s Security Chain? http://t.co/yJt690rl (RT @ltrc RT @jaredcorreia RT @erikmazzone)
  • The State of Mobile App Security [TCTV] | @scoopit http://t.co/DUcrZtZf… (RT @deboraplehn)
  • Please Rob Me! Posting Location Data on Facebook http://t.co/Qsmc9U25 (from @OreLawPracMgmt)
  • Are You Safe & Secure On The Web? http://t.co/NjZTYJ1Y (RT @rocketmatter RT @nikiblack: via @advocatesstudio)
  • What Lawyers Should Know About Cloud Computing Security http://t.co/oqzSar5z (RT @PhilNugent RT @sfinnovation)

iPad and iPhone Tips

Social media offers a virtual means to share, exchange, engage, and learn.  Consider getting involved today!