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How a solo practitioner goes on vacation

Being a solo practitioner for two years, I finally decided to take my first real vacation for an entire week. Through it all, I learned that there are three things necessary to effectuate a vacation for a solo practitioner: preparation, technology, and balance.

Preparation

Plan your vacation in advance and pick a time when you have no court or meeting obligations. Even though you might have picked a good time, things come up such as court dates being scheduled without your input - so you must arrange for a substitute for your cases. Look to networking attorneys and groups for attorneys that are in your practice area and ask them to substitute for you if necessary. Call them in advance and have them on stand-by while you're on vacation just in case. And always offer to return the favor when they need you.

Technology

I run a pseudo paperless office in that all my files are scanned into the computer yet I still maintain paper copies of all cases I'm working on currently for convenience in flipping through the file. Having all your files with you on a thumb drive not only gives you the ability to work anywhere, but also alleviates stress in the event something urgent might come up. With a blackberry, thumb drive and an Internet connection, you can work from anywhere.

Balance

If you could work from anywhere, then it's not really a vacation. The key is to not completely drop all your work habits because for solos, that's nearly impossible - either because we have too much responsibility to the practice and/or because you're simply too worried. Check your e-mails and voicemails. It's OK - just don't do it constantly. Check your e-mail once or twice a day. Check voicemails and answer phone calls only when it's convenient for you - not clients. Make appointments for when you come back because believe me, it can wait.

This tip is courtesy of Gabriel Cheong, attorney at law, owner of Infinity Law Group.

Published September 24, 2009

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