Using a smartphone makes it easy to maintain a mobile law office and can enhance your productivity. Depending on what smartphone you use, you can access files, create and modify documents, and even take credit card payments.

At certain times, however, turning off your smartphone is the smartest thing you can do.

Turn off your smartphone at lunch

Unless their is some pending emergency (pregnant spouse comes to mind), turn off your phone at lunch. It is bad enough when someone’s phone goes off during lunch. Worse yet, pulling it out and answering is really bad manners.

If you know you need to take a call, reschedule your lunch meeting. At a bare minimum, warn your lunch company that you have to take a call and apologize in advance. You might want to pick up the tab too.

Calls in court are bad news

When your Jonas Brothers ringer goes off during court, that is highly embarrassing, unless the judge happens to be a fan. Rather than screw around with turning down or turning off your ringer, just turn off your phone or switch to airplane mode. Depending on where your phone is, a vibrating smartphone can make even more noise than a ringer.

Keep it simple and safe by turning off your phone entirely.

Dinner with the family is off limits

Technology makes it easy to work from anywhere and to feel like you constantly need to check in. Constantly being checked into work, however, means that you are constantly checked out from your family and the real world.

When you get home, even if it just for dinner or a few hours, turn off your work smartphone. Obviously there are exceptions when you might need to turn it on, but make that the exception, instead of the norm. Maintaining a good work-life balance is key to being a happy lawyer.


Randall Ryder
Randall sues debt collectors that harass consumers, assists consumers with student loan issues, and defends consumers in debt collection lawsuits. He is also an attorney instructor at the University of Minnesota Law School.


  1. Avatar Emil A. Georgiev says:

    That’s the reason why I refuse to accept a smartphone from the company I work for.

  2. Avatar Mike Bryant says:

    It’s like reading a book or newspaper when you pull the phone out. I watched someone pull out a phone during a pretrial, the judge wasn’t pleased.

  3. Avatar Cindi says:

    I have started turning my phone off at 9:00 p.m., so that I can unplug and unwind before bed (and so that I’m not tempted to peek at work email when I get up in the middle of the night). It has done wonders for the quality of my sleep each night.

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