Essential Equipment for the Traveling Attorney

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Personal Productivity for Lawyers

This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.

Yesterday I made my first-ever trip to a client’s house for a meeting. I was well-prepared, in terms of office equipment and necessary technology, but it made me think about all the things I could have forgotten.

If you need to visit a client at home, here is what you should bring along.

Contact information and directions

Obvious necessities, but also the easiest to forget. Even if you bring your BlackBerry, you might not have your client’s address and phone number saved in an e-mail. Make sure you either have contact information saved in an e-mail, or bring a paper copy of that info. If you are a solo attorney, you cannot simply call the office secretary and ask her to give you that information.

Driving forty-five minutes and then realizing you do not have your client’s address is bad news. If you get lost, having your client’s phone number ensures that you can let them know you will be late.

If you use a smartphone, be sure to check out these apps for the road warrior attorney.

Charged laptop and power cord

You never know when you might need to generate a document. Make sure you bring a laptop with a full battery. Chances are, your client has running electricity, but the only available outlet might be in an awkward place. If your laptop is ready to rock, you should not have to worry about unplugging ten kitchen appliances in order to get to work.

Just to be safe, keep an extension cord in your trunk. It might sound silly, but using an extension cord is much easier than reaching behind the fridge to plug in your laptop.

Printer in a box

Fortunately, I did not need to print anything yesterday, but I almost did. If you make lots of house calls, it is worth investing in a printer that you can bring with you. Keep the original box—it has lots of styrofoam to make your printer safe and secure while in the trunk.

Admittedly, it can be a hassle to lug a printer with you. At the same time, it is much easier than driving back to the office or the nearest Kinkos in order to print something. You do not need to buy another pricey laserjet, just pickup something affordable, along with extra ink, in order to be prepared.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaysha/4736796413)

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  • Jennifer Munter Stark

    Liked your article but cannot resist posting a comment.

    I often have to visit urban and more rural sites so my “essential home tool kit” runs to the more practical. Pads and Paper, lots of copies of my retainer, health information waiver, and a full charged cell phone in my pocket (just in case). Full tank of gas is also good. As a female, slacks and sensible shoes are a must-as you never know if the client’s yard is paved or how many dogs will be jumping on you. Hand sanitizer, wipes or the like may be essential if you have another appointment after traveling to a client’s and you encounter such envirommental obstacles. Also if you are a sole female practitioner -let someone else know where you are going ahead of time-a text to a friend with time in and time back on the highway!

    Jen –

    • Please don’t resist. We love comments, especially when they contain great tips!

  • Pat Stoneking

    Also, don’t forget to bring a pen.

  • Rhonda Pagel

    Many documents require the signature to be notarized and your stamp is an easy thing to forget to bring with. Even though you may be able to stamp it back in the office, it saves that moment of panic if you make a habit of bringing it with.

  • I make those visits a lot and can be a “road warrior”. To add to above:

    1. Inverter for car, in case the laptop runs out of juice or I need to run the printer. I have, in fact, printed court documents in the car. These are cheap at Newegg.com.

    2. Ink jet based multifunction. They use less power should you need to go the inverter route. Also, its nice to have some sort of copier some times.

    3. Pertinent law library. I keep my commonly used law books in the car. I don’t care how tech savvy you are, court is still predominantly analog.

    4. In some instances, it makes sense to keep your files categorized by county. So, if you make a trip to that county, you might want to just grab that group of files and go. Especially if there’s a government attorney, like DCS or a DA, or even a judge, who has a tendency to set files on a docket without telling you.