Being a solo attorney is awesome in many ways, but also not-so-awesome at times.
One of the biggest benefits is that you can take a vacation whenever you want, but it feels like you can never actually take a vacation. Here are some tips to make it happen.
Stay flexible and book as late as possible
All that means is don’t book your flights and super-awesome condo in southern Italy a year in advance. It is very difficult to forecast your workload and cases that far out.
On the other hand, most attorneys generally know their calendar a month, two months, or even three months in advance. You might pay a little more for airline tickets, but it is better than stressing about for six months trying to avoid your planned vacation.
If possible, book your vacation as late as you can—which will help make it a reality.
Use another solo as backup
Chances are you know other solos that practice in the same areas as you. Chances are, you are on good terms with at least one other solo attorney. Once you plan your trip, ask them to serve as your backup while you are gone. Depending on your clients and cases, this might require formal notices of appearance, or it could mean they just need to any requests for help from you.
For example, you can bring your smartphone with you and monitor your e-mails and voicemails (side note: be sure to secure your smartphone when traveling). For the most part, your law office is probably fairly mobile law office. But if you need someone to make an emergency appearance, have someone in place in advance.
Give opposing counsel the heads up (maybe)
If you are on good terms with opposing counsel, you might want to give them the heads up well in advance. If you are on bad terms, you might want to avoid telling them until the last minute.
For the most part, I kill ’em with kindness, so when opposing counsel asks me to not schedule event X during a certain week, I avoid that week. I also expect them to return the courtesy. For the most part, most attorneys recognize that vacations are fairly uncommon events, and should be willing to reschedule based on your availability.
On the other hand, if you know opposing counsel will schedule depositions that week, you probably want to avoid telling them in advance.