Thursday, 4 February 2010

How to Have a Holiday without the Horror of coming Home

I’m late posting the blog because I had a day off on Monday. The upshot of this was that on Tuesday I returned to a groaning email inbox with five volunteer updates, two volunteer references, a volunteer enquiry, a questionnaire from a journalist, and several other queries to deal with. I’ve only just caught up, and suspect I’ll be busier than usual until Friday.

At LawCare we advise lawyers to take their full holiday entitlement, but many are reluctant to do so because they fear the pile of work to which they might return. A week’s worth of unanswered phone messages; emails from increasingly irate clients whose deadlines are now that little bit closer. Any benefits gained from a week in the sun evaporate at the sight of the mountain of files, folders and paperwork spilling out of the in-tray and across the desk.

A good firm will, of course, arrange for someone else to cover the your work in your absence, or at the very least field emails and phone calls, but it may be necessary for you to organise this yourself. There are several things you can do to ensure that you have a relaxing holiday and don’t need to worry about what you will return to:

  • Let clients know as early as possible that you are taking some time off, and exactly when you will be away.
  • Tell them who will be dealing with your work in your absence, and give them any necessary phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Two or three days before you go away, contact clients to remind them that you are going on holiday and update them on the progress of their matter.
  • Accept that reasonable clients do not expect their lawyer to be available all the time, and unreasonable clients are welcome to go elsewhere.
  • Out-of-office reply is not recommended because it can be used by spammers to harvest your email address, but set your email to forward to your secretary or a colleague.
  • Even if you are simply going boating on the Norfolk Broads, tell anyone you think may be tempted to pester you that you are going backpacking round Africa and there is no mobile signal.
  • Remind yourself that you are not a heart surgeon, and none of the matters on your desk are so ‘life or death’ that they cannot wait a few days.

I managed to finish painting my kitchen on Monday, and now I’m eagerly looking forward to three weeks in America in April. I may miss that blog date entirely…

LawCare’s free and confidential helpline is available 9-7.30 Monday-Friday, 10-4 weekends, on:
0800 279 6888 (Solicitors, Law Students and Legal Executives in England and Wales)
0800 279 6869 (Solicitors, Advocates and Law Students in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man)
0800 018 4299 (Barristers, Clerks and Judges in England and Wales)
1800 991801 (Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland)

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