I Am Not Bringing My Laptop on Vacation Next Year

Defending a Federal Criminal Case on the Beach

My wife and I recently took our first vacation since I started my practice — a full week away, leaving the office in the capable hands of my partner, Jordan.

I read over Todd’s advice on vacationing and took it to heart. I changed my voicemail greeting, organized my calendar, briefed Jordan on the few hearings he agreed to cover for me, and shut off the lights to the office. I was ready. Almost.

You see, since we’re only a two-man shop, and I am a control freak, I couldn’t just walk away from the practice entirely.

As I started packed for the beach, I included the standard beach items: sunscreen, sandals, pulpy beach novels, sunglasses, beach hat, towels, chairs— etc. I also packed some decidedly non-vacationy items: my briefcase, laptop, iPad, two volumes of West’s Pennsylvania Practice, and Volume II of Defending a Criminal Case. My wife was not pleased.

In fact, I’ve written before about the value of going off the grid to give yourself some time to relax and recharge your batteries. Unfortunately, I was not able to follow my own advice.

You see, I was nervous about what was going to happen while I was out of the office. Jordan and I spent the last 18 months working non-stop to build our practice. And while it’s not rational, I was concerned that somehow it’d all explode over five business days—which is why I brought my entire mobile office with me. It didn’t help that much of our practice is cloud-based, so I was giving myself access to every client file we had, so I could be immediately responsive to my client’s needs. I somehow thought this was a good idea.

I realize this was a mistake.

What did I do on my first few days of vacation?

  • Reviewed discovery in a case where I was just retained;
  • Entered my appearance in another new case;
  • Spoke with an AUSA (who was, coincidentally, also on vacation);
  • Researched a sentencing issue;
  • Called a few different probation officers and a court clerk to resolve a probation issue;
  • Conferenced with Jordan regarding some minor office matters;
  • Sent lots of emails; and
  • Sat on the beach while reading law-related tomes (see the header picture).

Basically, I was working all day. And I was a neurotic mess.

But after I called Jordan for the fifteenth time, he offered some words of wisdom: “Leo, I am not going to answer your calls anymore. Enjoy your vacation.”

He hung up.

I took a minute to think about what he said. And I’ll rarely admit this— but Jordan was right.

You see, my brain had never left the office. I had been so concerned with what was happening back there, that I wasn’t able to enjoy what was going on here. At the beach.My wife and I had worked hard for this all year, saving up enough money to take a step back from the daily hustle, and I was ruining it by doing. Too. Much. Work.

So next year, I am not bringing my laptop. Or my iPad. Or the legal treatises.

Next year, I am actually going on vacation.

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  • Great post. I take a laptop mainly because if I don’t take it I really stress out. Most times though, I never even pull it out of the briefcase. It’s the difference between can’t and won’t.

    • static

      Wow. This is amazing. As I read Leo’s post, I thought to myself, I wonder what Connie does when he goes on vacation. This is so cool.

      • Thanks Scott.

        • shg

          Chris Hill? Damn glad to meet you. ;-)

  • black_metal_lawyer

    By the way, this post ended up being a lie. I had a Federal Sentencing for this case scheduled the Monday after I got back from vacation.

    • I don’t know why but I’m laughing so hard at this.

      • black_metal_lawyer

        You should. I sent in my sentencing memorandum after getting up at 5am to proof it and get it to the judge the Wednesday before. I was sitting at the table of my shore house drinking coffee while doing it.

        Life as a small firm lawyer, eh?

        Although as an attorney admitted in NJ, I do get to take some overnight trips for cases in Atlantic County that turn into beach mini-vacations. Worth it.