The demands of a law practice can be never ending. Between court dates, non-stop phone calls, and ever-pressing deadlines, there’s always something to be done and it’s not always easy to keep up. This is especially so for solo and small firm lawyers. The fewer people you have to rely on, the more work falls onto your shoulders, and yours alone.
That’s why it can sometimes be so difficult for solo and small firm lawyers to take a vacation. You’re never able to truly take a break, since emergencies always crop up and you’re the only person who can handle them.
Even so, everyone needs time off. You work hard and you’ve earned the right to relax and unwind. The trick is knowing how to untether yourself from your law office as much as you can so that you can truly enjoy your vacation, while still ensuring that your firm doesn’t come to a grinding halt. Here are 3 tips to help you do just that.
One of the keys to ensuring that your law firm stays productive while you’re out of town is to maintain mobile access to your law firm’s cases. Before the advent of cloud computing, accessing law firm information remotely was a challenge. But these days, that’s all changed. Cloud-based legal software is becoming the norm, with more than half of all lawyers reporting that they now use cloud computing tools in their day-to-day practice.
The reason so many lawyers use web-based software to run their law practices? It provides them with the convenience and flexibility of 24/7 access to their law firm’s files using any internet-enabled device. That kind of instant access is key when you’re away from your office – especially when you’re on vacation. That’s because easy mobile access to your law firm’s files can make all the difference when you’re on vacation and an unexpected issue arises. Being able to quickly access client information on your mobile device and put out any fires will allow you to relax and enjoy the rest of your time off.
Use client portals
Another way to maintain productivity when you’re on vacation is to take advantage of the client portals built into law practice management software. When your clients communicate with you through online portals, they can ask questions whenever they’d like. And you can likewise respond to their inquiries at your convenience in a secure, encrypted environment. So even when you’re out of town, your clients will know that their lawyer is responsive and available, but you’ll have the luxury of responding to their inquiries when you’re able to – whether it’s to let them know you’re out of the office or to quickly answer a pressing question.
Client portals also provide your clients with the ability to self help. Instead of calling your office to obtain information such as their next court date or copies of documents provided to you, they can login and obtain the necessary information. The beauty is that when you’re on vacation, that information is still accessible through the client portal. This means that even when you’re relaxing on the beach, your clients easily get hold of important information and thus continue to receive the excellent client service they’ve grown used to.
Test drive an AI assistant
Last, but not least, consider taking an AI-powered assistant for a test drive when you’re on vacation. Two examples are x.ai or Clara, both of which provide a “personal assistant” to handle email management and calendar scheduling. Once you connect your calendar to the software, and then set your preferences, the AI assistant will get to work and schedule meetings with clients, other lawyers, and more.
Avoid the back and forth emails typically required to schedule a meeting by handing the task off to the AI. This may not be how you’d like to handle meeting requests permanently, but while on vacation, why not give it a try? It’ll reduce your out-of-office workload and give you the opportunity to try out an AI assistant and see if it’s a good fit for your firm. Should you decide to use one of these tools full-time, you’ll find that they’re fairly affordable — especially compared to hiring a human assistant: x.ai starts at $17/month, while Clara rings in a bit higher, starting at $99/month.
Sure, taking a vacation when you’re a solo or small firm lawyer isn’t always easy. The good news is that by taking advantage of 21st century technologies, your next well-deserved vacation will be less stressful. Your office will continue to be productive, and you’ll finally get a chance to relax and get away from it all – for a while at least!