‘Tis the Season: Managing Your Practice During the Holidays

‘Tis the Season: Managing Your Practice During the Holidays

The holiday season is in full swing, and many attorneys are taking some well-deserved time off to relax and recharge or travel to see family. A break from work during the holidays is a great way to prevent burnout and reconnect with friends and loved ones. It can be difficult, however, for lawyers to truly disconnect due to billable hours and client demands. A recent Bloomberg Law survey found that 59% of attorney respondents reported "inability to disconnect from work" as their greatest personal challenge in the first half of 2023ⁱ.  Solo and small firm practitioners with few or no staff to delegate to may find this especially true. Whether you take a couple of days–or weeks–off for the holidays, consider the following tips to make the most of your respite, while also safeguarding your practice.

1. Communicate with clients and staff about your upcoming vacation.

To avoid your vacation being interrupted by an urgent client question or demand from opposing counsel, be proactive and notify colleagues and other relevant parties about your scheduled time off. Review your calendar and active matters to assess your approaching deadlines. Do your best to complete impending tasks or obtain extensions before leaving. Select a point of contact for your active matters and inform that person when and how to reach you in a work-related emergency. Instruct and remind staff what they can and cannot legally share when communicating with clients to guard against inadvertent unauthorized practice of law in your absence.

Next, let your clients know you will be taking time off for the holidays and who they should contact if they need assistance during that time. The end of the year is a great opportunity to check in with clients, thank them for their business, and provide a general update on their matter. Lastly, remember to turn on automatic email replies and update your voicemail to reflect the dates you are away from the office.

2. Remain vigilant about cybersecurity.

Despite your best intentions, you may need to log in on vacation, so remember to use technology safely. Cybercriminals are particularly active during the holidays, and you want to avoid a security breach that would compromise client information. Over 90% of cyberattacks start with a phishing email. Most of these breaches involve business email compromise when a cybercriminal pretends to be someone you know. They often employ clever or urgent subject lines, which are frequently effective in eliciting a response during the busy rush of the season. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and call the sender to confirm the email’s veracity. Opening an attachment or clicking a link in a suspicious, unverified email could provide a hacker with full access to your contacts, client files, vendor lists, and much more—not the kind of gift anyone wants to give!

If you work in a firm, use law firm-issued devices on your home network rather than a personal laptop. Run updates to the operating systems and applications of each device to protect against vulnerabilities while you are away. Connect to your firm’s computer network using the procedures authorized by your firm.

If you are a solo practitioner, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to an unsecured or public WiFi network at hotels, restaurants, airports, or any public places. The VPN essentially creates a secure virtual tunnel all your internet information will pass through, ensuring that your client and personal information are protected when you are online.

3. Consider hiring a virtual receptionist.

Depending on your firm size and needs, a virtual assistant or receptionist could be an ideal solution for a more relaxing season. A virtual receptionist is a remote professional tasked with handling various administrative duties for your firm. These services feature a range of options, including answering calls and taking messages, screening prospective clients, and scheduling appointments. Many services also have bilingual assistants. Numerous companies offer virtual assistants, but it is best to engage a provider who is familiar with legal services. A few to consider are LEX Reception, Ruby, or Back Office Betties which integrates with Clio Grow.

4. Set aside time at the end of your vacation to prepare for your return to work.

It can be daunting to go back to work after an extended absence. Even with the best planning, emails and projects will likely pile up, potentially putting a damper on the end of your time off. To maximize your productivity and lessen the post-vacation overwhelm, carve out a day or two before you return to catch up on messages and prioritize deadlines. If possible, check in with your colleagues for case updates. It is also a good idea to tidy your physical workspace. Before delving back into your to-do list, declutter and organize your office and refresh your organization system. These tips should help ease your transition back to work.

While it may not initially seem practical or realistic to go on vacation during the holiday season, taking time off to recharge and disconnect can be extremely beneficial for your well-being and your ability to serve your clients. With the right preparations, you can set yourself, your staff, and your clients up for success, allowing you to fully enjoy your well-deserved break.



i BLAW_Workload_Hours_2023-First-Half.pdf (bbhub.io)

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