Set boundaries, improve communication with clients during work hours, and don’t be afraid to turn off your phone.
Whether you’re a solo practitioner, run a small firm, or are part of a large legal organization, one thing is a constant; legal clients can be incredibly demanding. While it can be difficult to say no to clients who want to consult with you on nights, weekends, or holidays, setting boundaries in the beginning of the relationship is essential to make sure that both you and your client have reasonable expectations of each other.
If you work for a large firm and aren’t part of the management team, it may be difficult or impossible to prevent clients from invading your free time, but if you have an understanding boss, you still may be able to incorporate several strategies to help maintain a healthier work-life balance.
Set work hours and exceptions before an emergency happens.
Creating specific work hour boundaries is a great first step in setting the tone for a healthy and balanced attorney-client relationship. While optimal hours for each attorney depends on their personal habits, office hours, work preferences, and other factors, they usually run between 8-10am and 4-6pm– so if you’re available around 8 hours a day, 4-5 days a week, you’re giving your clients a wide variety of potential times to contact you.
Of course, since law is a high-stakes field, you will often have to accommodate for emergencies in some circumstances– at least in some types of law. However, some clients might see any case development as an emergency, so it’s also important to define in advance what counts as an emergency and how they should contact you in those specific situations.
Improve the quality of communications so you don’t need as much quantity.
When a client consistently wants to contact their attorney during nights, weekends, and holidays, it’s not usually to ensure their case is going well (even though they might say so). Legal cases can be tedious and are often slow moving– and cases rarely (though occasionally) have breakthroughs that need to be dealt with immediately.
Often a client’s reasons for contacting you at these times have to do with anxiety or insecurity about either the viability of their case or your ability to do your job as an attorney. Therefore, boosting a client’s confidence in your abilities– and keeping them well-informed about the status of their cases may be able to prevent the after-hours calls. Basically, if a client feels that they’re getting enough out of you during work hours, they’re not as likely to feel the need to contact you at random times.
Keep separate phone lines and find an effective voicemail service.
Keeping a separate phone number for work can be one of the best ways to prevent after-hours communications from clients. If you’ve already set your boundaries and given both a business and personal phone number to clients, they’re far less likely to call your personal line unless it truly is an emergency.
Additionally, voicemail is an excellent way for clients to feel like they’re in communication with you without disrupting your personal time. Often clients don’t necessarily need to hear specific information from you– they simply want to share an idea, concern, or a few thoughts with you, and leaving a voicemail is a great way to do that.
Specify email response times as well as phone times.
Clients may also attempt to contact you via email during off-hours– and if you’re inclined to answer immediately, this might also cut into your personal time during nights and weekends. Much like setting a time for phone calls, you can also set times for email responses. Depending on you and your clients’ preferences and needs, these hours can be the same or different than your phone hours. For example, if some of your legal cases are incredibly high-stakes and daily developments may seriously affect the viability and success of your client’s case, you may wish to set aside an hour on weekends to answer emails from a specific list of high-priority clients.
Setting boundaries can improve your happiness– as well as the quality of your work as lawyer.
While you might think that being available 24/7 is the best way you can help your clients, you could be sabotaging the quality of your work by doing so. Taking time off work, whether via taking a relaxing vacation, or by simply making the most of your nights and weekends, has been scientifically proven to correlate with higher productivity at work.
So, if you want better results for both yourself and your law clients, it pays to stop working when you’re off-the clock. Even if they aren’t enthusiastic about it at first, your clients will eventually realize that the increased attention, care, and focus you’ll be able to give them as a happier, more balanced individual is worth losing the ability to contact you at 11pm on a Saturday night.
To learn more about law practice management strategies and career advice for lawyers, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.
Outdated designs, disorganized layouts, messes, and more office faux pas
Having a dirty, disorganized, or less than fashionable office may not affect your firm’s ability to perform quality work– but it could interfere with your efforts to woo new clients and maintain current client relationships. While making your office more visually appealing might seem like it should be the last thing on your list of priorities, the way your office – and staff – looks – sends a strong message to clients about your ability to get the job done, especially in a client-facing profession like law.
1. If your office reeks of the 80s, your clients can smell it. It might be time for a facelift.
Aged brown office chairs, a tan carpet with coffee stains, and walls painted the color of a hospital in bad need of renovation: if this describes your office, you might need to make some serious changes. A good law office needn’t be fancy– but it should look clean, comfortable, and relatively modern. Otherwise, it looks like your firm isn’t doing well enough to afford new office chairs and a fresh paint job. Even if it isn’t, that’s not the impression you want to give to potential clients.
If you are on a budget, simply purchasing some relatively new office chairs from a discount office supply store, buying some new-ish tables, chairs, lamps, and decorations for a waiting room can often make a huge difference on how your office is perceived by others. Of course, if you have the cash, a full-blown redesign might be a good investment, but it isn’t the only way to improve the look, feel, and attractiveness of your office environment.
2. Grey cubicles may not send the right message to clients.
While grey cubicles are still standard fare for a great many law offices, they might not be sending the right message to clients. In today’s ultra-competitive market, firms want to show that they’re innovative, efficient, collaborative and won’t hesitate to communicate with clients on a regular basis. Tall, grey cubicles usually send the opposite message. Instead, you might want to opt for a more open work area in which clients and other visitors can see the firm’s attorneys at work. If the budget’s right and/or you’re managing a smaller firm the addition of glass, both for interior and exterior facing offices, can increase natural light and can lend your firm’s office a more open, modern, and collaborative appearance.
3. Messy workers and disorganized desk areas can make a bad impression, too.
Even if your office is somewhat modern and cubicle-free, if it’s messy, it still won’t send the right message to clients. Regardless of how effective you and your colleagues are at practicing law– if you can’t clean up your desks, clients may begin to question your professional abilities. Practicing law can get messy– and while your desk doesn’t have to look like it came out of the latest issue of Architectural Digest, it should look somewhat organized. This also goes for document rooms, break areas, office kitchens, and other places that can easily be seen by waiting clients.
4. No decorations (or the wrong decorations) could make clients feel uncomfortable.
If your law office is sterile like a medical lab, it might not make clients feel so great about trusting you with their cases. That said, if your office is filled with strange, offensive, or off-putting decorations, it won’t help you either. To give your office a little more character, fill walls (especially near entrances) with paintings, drawings, prints, or other artwork– but avoid anything with a strong political or religious message (unless you know for sure that it aligns with the views of your clientele).
Plants, as long as they’re watered, trimmed, and regularly maintained, can breathe some fresh life into a dull office, while pictures of family members and other tasteful desk decorations can also help give your office a bit of character.
Decorating a law office isn’t rocket science– but many lawyers simply don’t pay attention
While it might sound odd, the way your firm’s office looks is simply another weapon in your marketing arsenal– and another way to reinforce your firm’s image and its competitive advantage in the minds of your clients. Your office doesn’t have to look like the Taj Mahal to satisfy clients- it just must be comfortable, up-to-date, and professional. Changing-up an aesthetically displeasing law office usually takes less time, money, and effort than you might think.
You deserve a law firm that thrives. Contact Boss Reporting today to learn more about effective law firm management tips and other career advice for lawyers.
Planning, communication, and setting boundaries are all key
You might be neat, but that doesn’t mean your co-workers are– and especially in a high-stakes, high-stress profession like law, an untidy business partner can give you anxiety– not to mention turning off clients and other important people who visit your office on a regular basis.
So, what do you do about the mess? You could go ballistic, but that won’t help you or your law partner and it’s unlikely to get you the reaction you want– a cleaner office. Instead, consider opening up the lines of communication between you and your law partner to determine the root of the issue and try to settle on a solution that can satisfy both of your needs.
Talk to your law partner– but remain calm and respectful
The first step in the de-cluttering process is simply to speak to your law partner about the issue. It’s best to do this in a calm, friendly, and non-confrontational manner. Mention what you’ve noticed, why it’s impeding the firm’s goals, and ask if there is anything you can do to help. Sometimes, a gentle reminder or a small nudge is all it takes for someone to get their desk and the surrounding office neat, organized, and efficient.
If a simple reminder doesn’t work, try to get to the root of the problem
If you’ve tried bringing up your partner’s mess multiple times– but you haven’t seen the progress you’d like, it may be time to investigate the source of his or her messiness. If you can find the root of the problem, you might be able to help. For example, if your partner is suffering from a deluge of legal paperwork, like case files, research, or other documents, you may want to try to transition the office to a more efficient, easy-to-organize software program, and having an office assistant or paralegal scan and file current documents to store digitally, in order to reduce the volume of the mess.
If your partner simply doesn’t have a good system for organizing files, offer to help create one, or teach/reinforce the system that the rest of the office currently uses. If you or your partner has an assistant, this is another opportunity for them to help out. See if you can have them (with your partner’s permission) do a daily, weekly, or monthly filing session to completely organize your partner’s desk area and put away old, unnecessary, or duplicate files. You might also want to gently suggest habits and systems that have helped you keep your desk from getting messy– if you really are neater than them. They might be able to learn a thing or two.
If all else fails, consider offering to organize your partner’s desk area yourself
While it’s far from an ideal solution, if you simply cannot find another way to get your law partner’s area clean, you may need to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. Once again, it’s good idea to get your partner’s permission before you do this, as some people are incredibly sensitive about their desk areas. You wouldn’t want to accidently throw out something extremely important that you mistakenly believed was trash.
If no progress has been made, attempt to conceal your partner’s mess with a little re-organization
If, even after doing this, your partner remains messy, consider moving or re-designing your office to conceal his or her mess. If your office is very small and/or has a completely open layout, this could be a big challenge– but you’ll likely be able to make the office look somewhat less of a mess when your clients come to visit. One great way to do this is to set up an office partition– basically a small, moveable wall that can separate your partner’s area from your own, even if you’re in the same room.
If you do have the luxury of working in a large office with multiple rooms, you probably won’t need a partition to make effective changes. Instead, try to move your partner or switch offices with them in order to keep them away from entrances, waiting rooms, main areas, and elevators– basically anywhere where your clients can see just how messy he or she is.
Dealing with a messy law partner can be challenging, but progress can be made with effort and a good strategy
With studies indicating that 33% of workers clean their desk only once a year, messy co-workers are an incredibly common problem in a variety of industries– and law is no different. When trying to communicate with your law partner about his or her messiness, remember to stay calm and avoid anger– and remember, their desk doesn’t need to be spotless; it just needs to be somewhat presentable.
Scientific research suggests that some people actually work more efficiently and effectively in a cluttered or messy environment, so you’ll want to strike a balance between keeping a clean office and letting your partner have an environment that’s optimized for his or her personal tastes and work needs. And, if all else fails– you can always hire a professional organizer– or find a new law partner.
If you want to learn more about law firm management techniques, career advice for lawyers, and updates on the state of the legal industry, Boss Reporting has you covered– simply contact us today for a free consultation.
Communications skills, trustworthiness, and timeliness are essential traits for a great receptionist
For busy lawyers, a receptionist can serve multiple functions; gatekeeper to clients and co-workers, schedule-organizer, assistant marketer, and much more. Finding a good receptionist can save countless hours by helping to avoid wasteful meetings, useless appointments, double-bookings and cancellations– thereby improving their efficiency and helping to take the edge off of a variety of stressful situations.
A great receptionist is an excellent communicator– and has good people skills
Communication skills may just be the most important trait for a quality receptionist. Understanding the wants and needs of both attorneys and their clients can be difficult and requires asking questions, listening carefully, and interpreting what to do in various circumstances. Beyond simply being a good listener, a stellar receptionist (or employee in general) should be considerate, a team player, and should be able to both give and receive criticism calmly and respectfully.
The ideal receptionist is extremely organized
A large part of a receptionist’s responsibilities involves effectively and efficiently scheduling meetings, court dates, hearings, and other important events for attorneys– so it pays to find a receptionist who is extremely organized. An ideal candidate should be able to juggle the schedules of multiple attorneys and a multitude of clients at once, as well as being able to easily shift schedules at a moment’s notice due to emergencies or changes in a client’s case.
Look for a receptionist with a professional appearance and a demeanor that fits in well with your firm
Different firms have different cultures– and that’s perfectly okay. Just make sure to find a receptionist who fits in with your firm’s culture and can make a good impression on clients. Not surprisingly, much of a client’s impression of your receptionist (and the firm he or she represents) will come from the way they are dressed. If you’re a solo practitioner in a relaxed town, you may be satisfied with a receptionist who wears casual attire work. However, if you’re a partner at a large, white-shoe firm in New York or Chicago, you may need a receptionist who will wear a suit or professional dress to work at all times. This concept translates to attitude and presentation as well. Since your receptionist will likely be spending a lot of time on the phone with your clients, you’ll want to make sure their general demeanor and style of speaking is consistent with the attitude of your firm and its clients.
A good receptionist should be able to multitask– and have basic technical skills
Due to the busy nature of law offices, a receptionist may have to juggle multiple responsibilities at once– such as taking and re-directing calls on multiple lines, dealing with in-person clients, helping lawyers with research or scheduling problems, and more– so they should be confident in their ability to multitask. Additionally, it’s a good idea to make sure any potential candidates have a good handle on basic technical skills before you hire them. While this usually isn’t a problem, some candidates may not be proficient in practice management programs, spreadsheet software like Excel, and social media platforms.
Trustworthiness and timeliness
These two traits are essential in any employee– but perhaps more so in a receptionist, who can seriously affect your relationships with and reputation among your clients. Trustworthiness may be hard to measure when looking at a candidate– so you may have to go with your gut feeling as well as checking references and conducting a thorough interview. Timeliness is also key,so be sure to emphasize that during any interviews, phone calls or other communications with candidates for the position.
The best receptionist knows what you need before you do
The ideal receptionist can quickly get an understanding of the patterns, challenges, schedules, and interpersonal relationships at a law firm of any size. They can therefore anticipate the needs of other employees before he or she is asked and prevent potential problems before they happen.
To learn more about what to look for in a qualified legal receptionist, and for more tips about law practice management, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.
Whether you’re moving to a new space or simply redesigning an old one, the design of your law office can seriously affect worker productivity and satisfaction, improve client relationships, and even help prevent burnout.
Design for employee experience first
When designing an office space for a law firm, it’s essential for the design to prioritize the needs and comfort of employees first. While a huge waiting room and small offices might look impressive to clients, they might not really fulfill the needs of your workforce. Throughout the design process, you’ll want to make sure that the space you’re creating will help make your firm’s attorneys (and other employees) as comfortable and productive as possible while they’re there. However, that doesn’t mean you want to neglect client spaces either. For larger firms, waiting rooms should be comfortable and stylish as well.
Lighting is an essential element of good office design
One of the most important aspects of a comfortable and effective office is an abundance of light. Natural light is best– so if you’re choosing a new office, attempt to find a space with abundance of it– or as much of it as your budget will permit. However, if you’re faced with renovating an existing space, there are several design techniques you can apply to make the most of existing light.
Color is important to setting the right office ambiance
An increasing amount of scientific research is beginning to show a strong correlation between the colors of office walls and employee satisfaction and productivity. One recent study showed that colors like green and blue improved efficiency and focus while creating feelings of well-being among office staff. The same study also suggested that bland colors like gray, beige, white, and harsher colors like purple and orange, may significantly contribute to gloomy or depressive thoughts among office employees. It’s a good idea to avoid them at all costs when painting or repainting an office.
Choosing the right color may come down to seeing what your specific profession needs psychologically to succeed. For example, psychologists often recommend painting yellow for office areas that thrive on innovation and creativity– such as artists, writers, designers, or other creative professionals. Researchers also say that red can be used in office design to help inspire feelings of energy, excitement, and passion. It’s best used sparingly for areas and objects, like fire extinguishers, that merit additional attention from workers and others in the office space.
Don’t skimp on chairs and desks
Many lawyers sit for upwards of 10 hours a day. No matter your budget, it’s important to invest in comfortable, ergonomic seating, as well as making their entire desk space more comfortable, and efficient to improve satisfaction and productivity. When purchasing a chair, making sure it’s adjustable is key, with some studies suggesting lawyers can gain an up to a 17% increase in daily productivity simply by being able to adjust their chair to their particular height and comfort settings.
If you have the budget, you may want to experiment with installing standing desks. Standing desks may be able to reduce many of the health risks associated with spending too much time seated, as well as potentially improving worker productivity. For those that use traditional desks, laptop stands may be able to prevent additional strain on wrists, necks and eyes by raising employee laptops to eye level.
For larger firms, a survey may help
If you’re in charge of a large firm and are about to invest heavily in designing a new office environment, it makes sense to ask employees what they want most out of the new office’s design. This will help make sure that the new space is actually aligned with employee needs, as well as show employees that they’re an integral part of the firm’s decision-making process. It can also clear up any misconceptions about what employees and managers actually desire out of the space. For example, management may believe that employees would prefer larger offices, but they may, in fact, prefer a larger break area or more workplace amenities.
Bottom line is: you don’t really know what your employees need until you ask. So be open– don’t be afraid to discuss your thoughts, pros/cons of various decisions, as well as to listen to their concerns throughout the re-design process– especially if workers are going to be displaced for an extended period of time.
To learn more about law firm design, law firm management, and tips for lawyers and their practices at every career stage, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.
Tech tools form the backbone of a successful small legal practice
Whether you’ve just made the transition to solo practitioner or you’re looking to start a small law firm, you’ll need a variety of tech tools–both hardware and software– to succeed in a rapidly changing legal environment. Solo practitioners and small firms often don’t have the manpower and financial resources to operate the way large firms, big corporations, and government agencies can. They can easily compensate by becoming more efficient, more organized, and streamlining their work processes– all with the help of a few smart gadgets.
The most important tools for lawyers
When it comes to specific tools, some of the most essential include a laptop, a smartphone, a laser printer, and legal project management software. A laptop can be considered the information center of the firm. Tablets like iPads often aren’t versatile enough to comfortably handle all necessary business functions. There are limitations such as a lack of storage space and small screen size. Typing difficulties may still ensue. However, tablets can give lawyers extra on-the-go computing power and can be helpful for giving presentations and reading documents. Project management software will be essential to keeping a firm organized and constantly in touch with clients, witnesses, government officials, and others. A printer will be needed to handle physical paperwork. Finally, a subscription to research software will be needed in order for attorneys to efficiently conduct legal research.
Project management/legal practice management software– the information core of a small practice
Even if you have the fastest laptop and desktop computers and a fully stocked tech suite for your office, you’ll need to stay organized if you want to hit deadlines and exceed client expectations. Therefore, you’ll need an effective software program to tie everything together– from billing and client information, to sales and marketing, projects, documents, deadlines, and more. Software like this is all the more valuable if you don’t have an army of secretaries, assistants, and associates helping to manage your schedule and the firm’s overall workflow– as you might have in a larger firm.
A good practice management program can also help you visualize your schedule days and weeks into the future. This prevents you from missing appointments and deadlines, having meetings involving different clients overlap, or encountering other scheduling conflicts. Especially when first starting a firm, this allows attorneys to work as their own assistant, if need be, without adding hours to an already heavy workload. If your project management software doesn’t handle billing (or doesn’t handle billing effectively– as many don’t), you might also want to consider getting basic accounting software like QuickBooks, or alternatively, billing software specifically designed for lawyers.
In addition to practice management software, you’ll need basic word processing capabilities– which means either purchasing a subscription to Microsoft Office or Google Apps for business. Free google apps offer limited storage– and are considerably less customizable, professional, and secure– so if you want to stick with Google software, it makes sense to upgrade.
Laptop and computer accessories are a must for making your practice portable and efficient
We’ve already covered that you’ll definitely need a laptop. Most name brand laptops now have more than enough processing power to handle the needs of most lawyers– simply find a machine within your price range– and don’t forget to check customer reviews and product ratings before making a final choice. In order to securely store and back up data and case documents, an external hard drive is best. Be sure it’s encrypted before transferring any sensitive client information onto the drive. For file transfers and secure document transfers on-the-go, it also makes sense to have a small, portable flash drive as well.
Laser printers are needed to handle physical paperwork for clients and courts
While we might be moving toward a paperless world, the inconvenient truth is that lawyers are still required to use physical paperwork in a variety of situations. Judges, juries, and other court officials may depend on paperwork for handouts, samples, and exhibits– depending on the type of court and specific jurisdiction. Likewise, some types of legal paperwork still need to be delivered and signed in person. Printing paperwork may also be needed if clients request printed versions of bills and legal documents. While most printers today have built-in scanning abilities, you’ll need to make sure yours does before purchasing it. The last thing you want is to have to purchase an extra scanner while working on a limited budget.
Research subscriptions provide the information lawyers need to construct a case
For law students and lawyers at larger firms, having a comprehensive research subscription is often taken for granted– but that doesn’t mean you can do without one if you’re going solo or starting a small firm. While Google Scholar is nice (and free), it just doesn’t cut it if you want you and your firm to stay competitive. You don’t have to break the bank on a multi-year subscription to a costly research service. Luckily, there are less expensive options out there, such as LexisNexis for Small Law Firms, which provides the power of LexisNexis and the ability to subscribe by the day, week, or month. Westlaw Next for Solo/Small Firms and Shepard’s Citations Online offer similar pay-as-you-go options for firms looking to up their research capabilities while operating on a tight budget.
Making smart tech choices doesn’t have to be expensive
While it might seem like there’s a lot of tech mentioned above, many lawyers can put together an effective (if slightly bare bones) setup for $1000 or less upfront (subscriptions may cost more over time). Expand the budget to $2,000, and a solo lawyer can practice in comfort and style. The best part is that many major tech purchases, such as laptops and printers, are constantly falling in price– meaning that as time goes on, startup lawyers will likely have more money to put into other things– like project management software, marketing initiatives– or better yet– their own pockets.
To learn more about law firm tech and how it might be able to increase your firm’s efficiency, contact
Improve your firm’s efficiency and profitability with these easy tips
Being organized isn’t just a luxury for law firms these days. It’s a necessity for firms that want to remain competitive in a constantly shifting marketplace. If your firm isn’t properly organized, documents may go missing or be misplaced, wasting valuable work time– and worse, potentially putting your client’s cases at risk. All it takes is a misfiled (or un-filed) document or a missed deadline to create a serious problem for both the firm and its client.
However, many of these calamities can easily be avoided by creating an organizational system for your firm– a series of goals and policies that can bring your firm closer to the most innovative and efficient workplace it can possibly be.
Cleaning out office mess is the first step toward getting organized
No matter how great your new organizational policies and procedures are, they likely won’t work effectively if your office is still messy. Even if you’ve just cleaned up recently, duplicate or unneeded paperwork, old or expired case files, and other unneeded paperwork and objects can seriously stack up in a short period of time. When attempting to getting rid of unneeded files, it’s a good idea to rely on a “one-touch” policy- meaning that you look at a file once, and decide whether to keep it, store it, or get rid of it on the spot. Avoid leaving a file at a desk or on a table and waiting until later to decide what to do with it. Generally, there’s no reason to have any files that aren’t pertinent to an open and active case inside your office. Older files can go into storage to be accessed when needed.
Create an organizational operating procedure for files and tasks
After destroying or disposing of unnecessary files, it’s time to organize the firm’s remaining files and paperwork. Current files may be organized alphabetically, by date, or in order of importance (or some combination of all three) depending on the specific needs of the firm and its clients. So that your firm has all significant organizational events on record, it’s a smart idea to create a set of procedures for each common task that your firm’s employees do on a day-to-day basis. This includes, opening, closing, destroying and archiving client files, ordering new office supplies, sending payments to employees, and contractors, accepting payments from clients, and many other routine tasks.
Consider using software to help employees become more organized
Many law firms now use software programs to do everything from tracking billable hours and billing clients to organizing documents and paying employees. Depending on the needs and resources of the individual firm, it may be better to purchase integrated law firm management software that is capable of handling all the above functions and more. However, some firms choose to rely on a patchwork of individual programs, each handling 1-2 functions. While each program may be the best for handling a certain task, firms may lose out on the synergy and efficiency generated by having all the law firm’s business handled under one digital “roof.”
Teach organizational skills and encourage good employee habits
While much of this article describes how firm policies can improve organization, the truth is that you cannot have a fully organized law firm without the regular actions of individual employees. Even the best employees may be slightly disorganized and may benefit from a training session or employee memo that suggests helpful habits and workplace policies. Additionally, it’s important that firm management encourage each employee to keep their space tidy, as well as to contribute to keeping the firm organized on a larger level.
Office layout and design may affect the organization of a firm
Finally, after considering a variety of other factors, you may want to make some slight adjustments to the layout of your firm’s office and furniture. Different layouts have different benefits and drawbacks, and making small changes could help your employees work as a more efficient team. If considering a move to a new office, firm management should closely examine the new office space to assess whether it’s likely to contribute positively or negatively to a firm’s level of organization.
Without being fully organized, a firm can’t fully exercise its competitive advantage in the legal marketplace. It’s important to keep in mind that being able to do something faster and more efficiently than other firms can provide a big leg up in a competitive industry– and being more organized can allow your law firm to do just that.
To learn more about how to improve your law firm’s organizational readiness, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.
Save money, get more organized, and help the environment by going digital
When someone thinks of a law firm, they might often imagine a large, bustling office filled with tables stacked to the brim with paperwork– and until recently, they’d probably be right. However, in the last few years, more and more law firms have crossed the digital divide– mostly or completely sharing and creating all work documents electronically.
Getting rid of paper at the office seems to have a multitude of benefits for law firms both large and small. If you make the leap, it’s important to take a few precautions to ensure the safety and privacy of your documents during your transition to a new digital workplace.
How going paperless can save time– and money
Going paperless, more than anything else, has the potential to increase your law firm’s efficiency by a staggering amount. In fact, some studies have reported that making the switch can increase a firm’s efficiency by up to 50%. Attorneys often have to write off valuable billable hours when time is wasted looking for missing, damaged, or misplaced documents– something which happens far less often in a paperless firm. Client communication is also streamlined, allowing the quick transfer of important legal documents at a moment’s notice. Additionally, transitioning to a digital workspace can help lawyers save money on paper, printer ink and other traditional paper-based office supplies. While this might not seem significant at first, eliminating these expenses can potentially save a firm thousands of dollars per year– money that can be well spent increasing salaries, bonuses, or purchasing other valuable resources to increase the firm’s efficiency.
The environmental benefits of going paperless
While helping the earth might not be first on a stressed-out lawyer’s to-do list, it’s another great benefit of going paperless. Without using paper and the associated supplies, a firm reduces its contribution to global deforestation and global warming while simultaneously decreasing the amount of waste it’s producing– all boons to the environment. While these environmental benefits may not lead to a direct increase in profits for a firm, it could be good news for the firm’s PR and marketing efforts– especially if some of the firm’s potential or existing clients have a personal or corporate focus on supporting the environment.
Paperless law firms and security
Whether a law firm is filled with paper files or completely paperless, ensuring client privacy by securing sensitive documents is always a priority. Law firms that have not yet gone paperless run the risk of valuable or private documents being stolen or misplaced. Paperless law firms could also face risks like hacking if they don’t take the right steps to ensure that their digital information is secure. It is essential for firms to make sure that whatever online digital work system or project management software they use is highly protected. It’s also important to secure company email accounts, which are often linked to the firm’s online project management software.
Additionally, firms should create specific, concrete cyber-security policies for their employees to avoid risky behaviors that could compromise client data. These might include logging on to their work email or digital workspace on an unsecured or public wifi network, using unapproved drives to transfer files to or from a computer with sensitive legal data, doing work on personal computers that have not been properly secured with anti-viruses and other protective software, or accessing dangerous websites on a company computer.
Before going completely paperless, don’t forget to…
Your firm should have a game plan and a checklist before going paperless. Select and thoroughly test a document management, project management, or digital workspace software that fits well with your firm’s needs. Before removing or destroying any paper client files, your firm should offer them to the client. It’s also essential to make sure that your document management workspace is completely up and running so employees will have full access to important files. Finally, it’s a good practice to keep client files archived securely (digitally or hard copy) for 10 years after the date of last representation.
No matter how much paper is stacked on your law firm’s desks, it’s never too late to attempt a paperless office. Going paperless has the potential to improve communication both internally and with clients, save a firm money, allow lawyers and staff members to work faster, and to help the firm avoid losing sensitive client files — a potentially embarrassing and expensive setback.
To learn more about how going paperless may be able to benefit your law firm (and how to do it) contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.
Legal partnerships have many benefits, but choosing the right partner is essential
If you’re a solo practitioner, or you’re planning on becoming one soon, you might be wondering whether it would be better to enter a partnership with another attorney. As the old saying goes “two heads are better than one,” and law partners that work well together can share overhead costs, double their network ability, and often gain the ability to take on larger, more complicated, and potentially more profitable cases than solo practitioners.
However, choose the wrong law partner, and you could face a loss of profit, a damaged reputation, and even legal trouble down the line. So, is it better to stay solo or launch a legal firm with a partner? The answer: it depends.
When should you enter a law partnership?
Before making any serious decisions about entering a legal partnership, it’s important that you and your potential companion have similar expectations about your vision for the firm. For example, if one attorney wants to work 25 hours a week to take care of family, and the other is willing to work 80+ hour weeks to create a large and powerful law firm, it could lead to serious conflict down the road.
It’s also important to make sure that you’re on the same page about the kind of law you’re practicing— and while you don’t necessarily have to practice the exact same type of law for a partnership to work, your two practice areas should at least be complementary. For example, a corporate lawyer and a specialist in IP law may be able to form an effective partnership, but it may be more difficult (if not completely impossible) for a divorce lawyer and a patent lawyer to make a legal partnership work. While larger law firms can afford to be more diverse in their practice areas (due to the ability of hiring groups of new attorneys,) for smaller two or three person partnerships, it usually pays to be more specific so you can develop a base of clients with similar legal needs.
Finally, it’s important to make sure your work ethic, morals, and personal habits match together well. Even things like working hours can cause major conflict if they’re not properly addressed in the early stages of a partnership (or as part of the decision process.) Even if both lawyers work 50 hours each week, if one sleeps in late and works through the night, while another is an extreme early bird, it may be quite difficult for them to effectively collaborate at work.
The benefits of entering a law partnership
A good partnership, much like a marriage, allows both parties to save money by putting their funds together—allowing attorneys to save money on office space, marketing and advertising expenses, staff and employee costs, and other expenditures.
With two partners, each brings into the partnership their own network of contacts—and by combining the two networks, the practice may be able to attract a variety of new clients and bring in significantly more profits.
Finally, a partnership can be rewarding for psychological reasons—going at it alone can be challenging, and having a partner gives lawyers someone to commiserate with, ask for advice, and work with through challenges, problems, and tough situations.
The risks of partnerships
Much in the same way that a good partnership is like a marriage, a bad partnership can be like an acrimonious divorce. If one attorney has committed illegal acts, or committed serious ethical violations in the partnership, the other lawyer may be blamed for some of his actions—potentially tarnishing both attorneys’ reputations, and even leading to lawsuits or sanctions from the state bar association.
It’s not uncommon for lawyers dissolving a long-term partnership to engage in heated disputes over clients—and if clients have been contacted by both lawyers, it could have the unintended effect of the client finding an entirely new attorney. Logistically, a legal breakup can also be difficult and time consuming—as any remaining assets, such as offices, furniture, and employees, need to be split between the two attorneys.
Finding the right partner is essential to a successful legal partnership
With the right partnership, two lawyers can help each other skyrocket to professional success. With the wrong partner, careers can be ruined, clients can be lost, and lawyers can face serious professional consequences. So, if you’re an attorney thinking of partnering up—it pays to think long and hard before making a choice.
To learn more about law firm management and other tips for your legal practice, contact Boss Reporting today for a free quote.
Why are lawyers always so stressed?
It’s no secret that lawyers work in one of the world’s highest-stress professions. In fact, research shows that lawyers are nearly four times more likely to experience clinical depression than similar service professionals in other fields. But what specifically leads lawyers to get so stressed? Is it something inherent in the profession, or in the lawyers themselves? Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why lawyers get burned out so easily—and what can be done to fix it.
Extremely high expectations of workplace performance
Unlike many industries, the legal profession often deals with very high stakes—and in many cases, when lawyers make a decisions, their clients’ livelihoods, lives, and futures hang in the balance, meaning that lawyers have little error for mistakes, errors, or lapses in judgment, no matter how well-intentioned they are. These high expectations, often rigidly enforced by a strict hierarchical management structure, means that new employees are often harshly reprimanded for mistakes and not often thanked for their hard work. However, this is only part of the problem. The way in which lawyers and law firms get paid for their work is also a factor.
Since the mid-1970s, the majority of law firms have used billable hours as the primary method of charging their clients for work performed. Unfortunately, this has many potentially negative side effects for the lawyers that work for these firms. Considering that law firms are charged by the length of time it takes to complete an assignment, project, or case, workers are incentivized to work as long and hard as possible, not as efficiently as possible. Billable hours and the quotas they create are some of the primary reasons why many lawyers are expected to effectively work 80+ hour weeks—far beyond that of the average American worker and closer to the workload of resident physicians and junior investment bankers (other professions notorious for overworking their employees).
Recent changes to the legal profession
The 2008 recession was not kind to lawyers. Huge layoffs and closures among once successful law firms, as well as hiring freezes, demotions, and pay cuts affected tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of lawyers across the United States– many of which are still significantly affected by those changes today. However, it can easily be argued that the 2008 recession simply accelerated the process of shrinking and consolidation that began in the 1980s.
Online legal help websites offering standardized contracts, and automated processes gobbling up much of the routine work that used to be the daily grind of lower-level attorneys has made finding, and keeping a job far more difficult– and a glut of new law schools churning out graduates throughout the early 2000s has only increased job competition among both recent graduates and experience lawyers alike.
The expansion of technology
Today, most major law firms expect employees to be on call nearly 24/7, and smartphone access is seemingly required at all times. It’s very important for workers, especially those in high-stress professions, to have a clear distinction between work and leisure—and the emergence of tech like smartphones, Skype calls, email, and other new forms of communications constantly blurs this distinction.
The adversarial nature of the legal profession
Beginning in law school, law students are trained to identify potential problems and find ways to defeat their legal adversaries. While it’s a lawyer’s legal duty to protect their clients interests’, it becomes problematic when these adversarial (and sometimes aggressive) personality traits follow an attorney outside the courtroom. This style of thinking can lead to lawyers seeing everyday individuals as enemies (such as a rude driver who cut them off in traffic) and to assume the worst in friends, relatives, and spouses.
What can be done to fix the problem of lawyer burnout?
There are many things an individual lawyer can do reduce their own stress and take more control over their attitude, mindset, and thought processes. These include meditation and mindfulness training, exercise, healthy eating, speaking with a counselor, advisor, coach, or therapist, and making sure to spend time with friends and family. If these do not solve the problem, then it may be time for the lawyer take a look at his or her working conditions and see how they may be changed or improved to reduce stress.
For a low level employee at a major law firm it may be difficult or impossible to change or improve your working conditions without simply leaving the firm. However, a partner at a larger firm, a senior employee at a smaller firm, or a solo practitioner may find they have many more options. Some ideas for senior employees, partners, or solo practitioners include creating policies to reduce the amount of professional communications that occur outside work hours, to increase vacation time, among many others. Additionally, many firms are shifting the emphasis away from billable hours (or even getting rid of them altogether) in an attempt to fix many of the issues inherent in charging clients and tracking attorneys by billable hours.
It’s important at times to understand that in terms of working policies and conditions that make employees happy, being a lawyer is just like any other job—and law firms are just like any workplace. Employees given reasonable working hours, clear work expectations, positive reinforcement, and a respectful understanding of the difference between work and leisure time are much more likely to thrive– both personally and professionally, than those who are not provided with these working conditions. While many– if not most law firms struggle with employee burnout, small steps, like those detailed above, can go a long way towards making lawyers happier and more engaged at work.
To learn more about law firm management and other legal industry tips, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.
Show your staff you care with these thoughtful thank-you ideas
Law-firm life can be stressful—and when your employees work hard, it’s always a good idea to reward them for their efforts. Most people think that means a bonus or a raise, but with economic factors to consider, offering more money to thank your staff isn’t always easy (or possible, if we’re being honest).
Luckily, it’s likely your employees care about more than just money when they come to work; and that means there are lots of unique ways to reward and recognize their perseverance and dedication to your firm. Here are a few great ways to thank the people that make it all possible.
Thank you notes
While this might seem old fashioned or plain—a simple handwritten note can really brighten an employee’s day and show them that you’ve seen their hard work, and more importantly, that you care. While a sticky note with “thank you” on it is nice, it’s often better to write a more detailed note— thanking the employee for a specific project, accomplishment, or trait they bring to the office, like a great sense of humor or a relentlessly positive attitude.
A strict 9-5+ work week in the office is standard fare for law firm employees, but rigid office hours can be tough, especially for those with a lot of personal commitments such as family members or children to take care of. With flexible hours, you can allow trusted employees the option of coming in early, leaving late, and re-arranging their hours somewhat in order to make their lives a bit easier.
While flexible hours are a great way to help take the load off of employees with busy home lives or other commitments, it can still be tough to come into an office 40-50 hours a week. And depending on the situation, maybe some of your employees shouldn’t have to.
It’s a good idea to keep in mind why you hired employees in the first place—to get work done (not just to be in an office). Allowing experienced and tested employees to work remotely, whether full time, once a week, or just once in a while, shows them that you trust them, appreciate their ability to do great work, and are willing to go out on a limb sometimes to make their lives easier.
Many employees see parking as one of the biggest hassles they have to deal with on a daily basis; especially if your office is located in a crowded office park or densely populated urban area. A better parking spot doesn’t just show employees that you appreciate their hard work– it shows that you understand them; and by showing them that you feel their pain, you’ll likely come across as a more understanding, compassionate, and effective leader.
Paid time off
In many cases, paid time off results in more employee satisfaction than a simple bonus, and it’s often much easier to handle financially for you and your firm. Your employee(s) can enjoy their day with friends, family, or simply a really long nap, secure in the fact that they’re getting paid to relax.
Nothing says “Thank you!” to your entire staff like throwing a big office pizza party, especially if it ends with an early day at the office. Simply order everyone’s favorite pies from a great local place, along with some garlic rolls, breadsticks, and desserts (think brownies and ice cream) and you have a full-fledged office celebration. Throw in some wings and you might just become everyone’s favorite boss!
When it comes to giving your staff rewards, it ‘pays’ to think in terms of non-monetary gifts. But don’t just take our word for it—get out there and ask your staff what they want as a reward for a job well done. Simply asking them can go a long way in letting them know you care.
To learn more about effective management tips and strategic advice for law firms, contact Boss Reporting today to request a quote!
These five tips and tools can help you carry out your New Year goals
They say that most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by February. And while it may not be the end of the world if you can’t lose that stubborn 10 pounds or don’t finally learn how to play the banjo, some resolutions are important to maintain for one reason or another.
As a busy lawyer, you will want to–and probably need to–be as productive as possible. But if at the end of many long days this past year you found yourself wondering why you just couldn’t get more done, it’s time to take a step back and re-strategize. Here are some tips that can help you accomplish just that:
Make a to-do list for the next day
To-do lists are great tools for keeping you on task, and it’s a wise idea to write them out at the end of the day. This way, you can get started crossing things off as soon as you get to the office instead of spending time figuring out what you need to do.
Make it a point to create a to-do list each day (even if items on the list are not urgent). At the end of the day, or at the beginning of the next, make it a point to empty that to-do list into a calendar. Set aside the appropriate time needed to show attention to or to complete each task, and dedicate the calendared time to getting that task done.
Get rid of the ugly stuff first
Chances are, most days you’ll have some items on that list that are just unpleasant. But instead of doing the natural thing and putting them off for as long as you can, tackle them first. Once you get those out of the way, it will free you up to focus more on the stuff you enjoy (or at least don’t dislike as much!) and also give you a real sense of accomplishment.
These days the majority of distractions are tech-related. And while your smartphone or tablet can be awfully handy when it comes to things like reading briefs, it can also quickly derail your productivity. If you just can’t seem to stop glancing at it, turn it off and put it in a drawer while you get other work done.
The same goes for other types of technology—if it’s just getting in the way, then just turn it off.
Find more energy
If by 2 o’clock you feel like you’ve been working for about 12 hours, something isn’t right; and this doesn’t mean you should just pour a third cup of coffee. It could be time to start eating better or figuring out how to get more sleep. You are never going to be your most productive self without the right amount of energy. Balance your diet, start eating more greens, whole grains, and fresh fruits, and start limiting processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy alternatives.
Rely on some extra help
It can be tempting to try to do everything on your own, especially if you are a solo practitioner. But, as you may have discovered, this is a great way to burn yourself out. You’ll be amazed at how much more can get done when you bring in a paralegal or another lawyer even on a part-time basis.
Looking for more ways to stay productive? Save time and effort by ensuring that you have a reliable and efficient court reporter. This is where Boss Reporting can help. Our reporters are experts at quickly and accurately recording anything you’ll need them for, including trials, mediations, and depositions. To learn more about Boss Reporting or to schedule a reporter, call us at 954-467-6867 or just fill out our online contact form.
Before you send out cards to clients, consider these tips
‘Tis the season for fruitcakes, mistletoe, bad Secret Santa gifts, and of course, holiday cards! If you’re like most people, you probably have a stack of them somewhere that feature the smiling faces of friends and family members, and surely tons of children.
While holiday cards can be a nice way to spread some cheer, they can also be beneficial to your law firm. But don’t just think about just scrawling “Merry Christmas” on the back of your business cards and putting a stamp on it. To show your clients that you care, it’s worth the time and effort to put some thought into your cards. Be sure to follow these tips:
Do: Know who you’re sending to
When looking for cards, you may just grab ones that look cute or are colorful, but it’s important to take a closer look. For example, if you just represented someone in a difficult divorce, you definitely do not want the card to show a family happily opening presents. You may want to get a variety of different cards or just go with one that has a simple design or message.
Don’t: Get too specific
Unless you know that all of your clients celebrate the holiday featuring the big guy with the white beard, you should take the safe route and refrain from purchasing cards that mention Christmas. Ones that say Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, or feature a picture of a snowy cottage are the much better choice.
Do: Send a personal message
If you’re doing your job well, you know some little details about your clients. Even if you just include the name of their dog, this shows that you pay attention and have a sense of humor.
Don’t: Talk business
It may be tempting to want to push your business (or perhaps bring up an outstanding bill), but a holiday card is not the place to do it. Keep your message in line with the good ‘ole traditional outline: address the recipient, wish them the merriest or merry, and wrap up the card with well wishes heading into the New Year.
Do: Have everyone sign them
If you work for a very big firm, this probably won’t work, but otherwise, everybody should sign your holiday cards. Not just the lawyers either; be sure that the paralegals and receptionists in your office sign them too. And, unless you want to come off as cold as Scrooge, don’t use pre-printed name stamps.
Don’t: Send e-cards
While most of the communication you have with clients probably involves electronic messages, this is something you will want to avoid for holiday cards. Just like a stamp, an email blast is very impersonal and may come off as lazy. If you have the time and capability, a paper, personalized sentiment is much more effective.
When paper cards are out of the question and an email will have to suffice, don’t stress! However, if you are able to, personalize the subject line, greeting, or content of the email to the recipient that it is being sent to.
We hope these tips will help both you and your clients have a very happy holiday season! And to make 2017 the best year yet for your firm, Boss Reporting can lend a hand. We employ over 40 exceptional court reporters who precisely record trials, mediations, and other court proceedings. When you want to schedule a reporter, give us a call at 954-467-6867 or fill out our online form.
Give the perfect gift that will make any of your co-workers delighted—not disappointed
A Secret Santa game at the office can lead to unexpected gift surprises, both good and bad. If your gift goes over well, you’ll have a chance to make a good impression on a co-worker, your boss, or even the CEO (depending on who you’re assigned). However, if it doesn’t, it could lead to an awkward holiday office party and a damaged reputation for weeks (or months) to come.
Instead of stressing, follow these tips to give the perfect Secret Santa gift, and hear our recommendations for a few of the easiest gifts to give this holiday season.
Abide by the office price limit
Office Secret Santa games usually have a price limit, often between $20 and $50, so it’s a good idea to stick within these guidelines. Go too far under the limit, and you may look cheap, but go over, and you may look like you’re trying too hard to impress—especially if you’ve been assigned to a boss, partner, or other office superior. Getting an overly expensive gift could also make others feel better if their gifts are well within the price limit. That being said, if you’ve found the perfect gift that just happens to be a dollar or two over or under the limit, you should probably still get it; just make sure to take the price tag off, no matter how much the gift cost.
Try to get something personal (but not too personal)
Depending on how well you know your Secret Santa assignment, you may be able to choose a gift that’s uniquely tailored to their hobbies or interests. However, it’s smart to avoid any gifts with any overtly religious or political messages, as well as any gifts that suggest shortcomings in the recipient (i.e. acne cream or weight loss products).
Try to get a gift that the recipient will use often
While unique, one-off, or gag gifts might be fun in the moment, the best way to be remembered as a great gift-giver is to give a gift that the recipient can use every day. Try to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes—and if you can think of any great, relatively inexpensive products that save you time and money or brighten your day on regular basis, they could be great candidates for your Secret Santa gift.
Check out these gift suggestions to make your life easier this holiday season
Here are a few gifts inspired by Business Insider’s 25 Secret Santa Gifts for Under $25:
Three-way earphone splitter: At only $10, this device allows three people to listen to the same smartphone, tablet, or laptop at once. It’s a great choice for music, TV, or movie lovers who travel often or commute using public transportation; or anyone who likes to share music with others on-the-go.
Silicone tea infuser: While it may sound like an odd material for a tea bag replacement, this gift is a sure hit among any tea-lovers in your office. Plus, at $10, it’s another great Secret Santa steal.
Stainless steel ice cubes: While they’re intended for Whiskey, these stainless steel ice cubes are perfect for cooling down any kind of drink without diluting it with melted ice water. Just under $17, they’re priced quite reasonably—but, if you need to spend less, these soapstone ice cubes are available for under $9.
No matter what you get for your Secret Santa gift (or gifts), be smart, be tasteful, and put some thought in it to make sure your co-workers are excited by your presents; not creeped out. All you’ll need for the perfect gift and the perfect holiday party is a little luck and a lot of holiday cheer!
Holding a holiday party for a busy law firm this season? To learn how our court reporting services can help attorneys and law offices save time AND money, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation!
Make your staff happy with these useful and fun suggestions
The holidays can be a stressful time for any law firm team. While end-of-year deadlines loom large, employees often need time off to spend with their families– which often makes it difficult to complete big projects on-schedule. However, with a little hard work, some smart planning and a dash of creativity, you can make sure your law firm team gets their work done and has a great time this holiday season.
Plan company fun– inside and outside the office
The holidays are a festive time for everyone– and no matter how many upcoming deadlines your law firm has, your office should reflect this. To set the mood for the season, decorate your law office festively and bring in sweets like gingerbread cookies and milk, candy canes, and apple pie for your entire staff to enjoy.
While it might seem obvious, don’t forget to give employees gifts to celebrate the holiday season and to thank them for their hard work. Good holiday gift ideas include restaurant gift certificates, Amazon gift cards, and hardcover books (if you know the person well.) Extra paid time off is also an excellent gift that employees will certainly appreciate. Also, in addition to giving gifts to each of your staff, make sure to have at least one office holiday party or event to help your team bond outside of work and celebrate the holiday season. A team that makes memories together is equipped to work harder and better in pursuit of a greater goal.
Keep engagement high with challenging goals (and give back to the community as well)
The holidays may make it more difficult to concentrate for many members of your team– and a challenging goal can help focus everyone’s efforts toward the greater good of the firm. However, the team goal doesn’t necessarily have to be work-focused to help increase employee engagement in the workplace. Instead, you may want the team to work together on an office-organized fundraising event and set a specific donation goal for an agreed-upon charity. Any kind of event-planning or volunteering by team members can go a long way toward helping to improve team spirit– and there’s nothing quite as good for your team members as knowing that they’re making a positive difference in their community.Be flexible with time off
Be flexible with time off
While the holiday season means different things to different people, to most, it’s a time for family. Most of your employees will either be planning to host relatives, or alternatively, to visit them– whether they live across the state, across the country, or even across the world. Additionally, those of your team members with children will likely need time to attend holiday related school events such as holiday plays or music recitals.
Therefore, if you want to make your team happy, there’s nothing better than being flexible when it comes to their holiday off time. Keep in mind, the holidays are full of surprises– so if an employee needs to shift their off-days at the last minute, or even take a few days off in advance, the best thing you can do is to be accommodating. The holidays only happen once a year– and this is a special opportunity to inspire confidence in your team by showing them that you’re an understanding and caring leader.
When it comes to a happy team, attitude is everything
All the tips above will go far in making your team happier this holiday season– but the most important aspect of law firm happiness doesn’t come in the form of a box or extra days off; it results from the positive attitude of the team– and that starts at the top. Being a supportive, kind, and encouraging boss may be the best gift you can give your team this holiday season.
To learn more about law firm productivity and court reporting solutions that work for your law firm, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.
Yes, it’s possible to actually enjoy a vacation this year
Lawyers are some of the busiest people on the planet. Whether part of a firm or a solo practitioner, attorneys always have something to do, somewhere to be, or somebody to talk to. This is why for most, the idea of taking time off instills laughter. How could I possibly leave for a vacation when there’s so much on my plate?
Well, with a good strategy (something you are probably adept at), you can take some time off. These tips will help you do it:
Put in on the calendar
If you are like most attorneys, you live by a strict schedule and plan out days and weeks well in advance. Instead of floating the idea of a vacation or thinking along the lines of “when I have time,” simply make time for it then and there. Write it down in ink on your calendar. Once it’s set in stone, you can then plan around it. Any court dates, appointments, or other obligations can be scheduled around your trip.
Notify your clients
It’s important to inform your clients ahead of time about your plan. Tell them when you’ll be gone, and if they need to meet or speak with you, that it will have to be before or after that time. Inform them (politely) that while you’re away, you do not want to be contacted.
Have a backup plan
If there is some sort of an emergency and a client needs help, have an alternate contact in place. If you work for a firm, this probably won’t be too difficult. If you’re on your own, this is a little harder. Surely you know other lawyers who could be used in a pinch, or perhaps you have a friend that would work. Whoever the person is, make sure your clients are aware.
Take just a few days off
If you are so swamped that a full-fledged week off is out of the question, think about taking a Friday or Monday off and going away for an extended weekend. As long as you do things to relax (and shut off your work-related devices), a short trip can really clear your mind and help you recharge and refocus.
Try a workcation
Okay, so if a real vacation just isn’t in the cards, you can try a workcation. What’s a workcation? Basically, you take a trip to some far off or tropical locale…and then you work from there. It may not be the same as lounging by a pool all day, but at least you’re away from the office, which may give you a little bit of a breather.
If you can squeeze in any vacation time, you’ll see what a difference it makes for your wellbeing and mindset. And to make things easier when you get back, get in touch with Boss Reporting. We’ll provide you with a skilled, real-time court reporter who will record court proceeding, depositions, or anything else you need. To schedule your reporter, call us at 954-467-6867 or just fill out our online form.
Show your appreciation with these tasteful and fun holiday gift surprises
When it comes to holiday gifts for employees, some bosses know how to give the perfect present… but most are completely clueless when it comes to getting gifts that the recipient will actually enjoy using. Carelessly choosing employee gifts might take less time than putting thought into the process, but it could give your employees the idea that you don’t really know them, or worse—that you don’t care.
However, choosing the right gifts won’t just make your employees happy at the moment. Showing that you appreciate their hard work could put you on their nice list for years to come.
Grocery or department store gift cards
Grocery or department store gift cards might not be the most unique present—but they’re incredibly useful. Everyone needs food and new clothes; and even if your employees don’t end up getting something special for themselves with the card, one less routine grocery or department store bill is surely a gift worth cheering for.
Plus, if you know a bit about employee’s shopping tastes, you can easily get a gift card for a specialty gourmet market or upscale boutique; making this ever-useful present just a little more personal.
Olive oil or balsamic vinegar
If your employee likes to cook (or if they have a significant other that does), olive oil or balsamic vinegar can be an incredibly useful gift. Used in everything from salad dressings to soups, sauces, fish, meat, and even some soufflés, these ingredients are available in a versatile array of prices, ages, brands, and flavors.
Extra paid time off
There’s nothing more valuable than having extra time to spend with family and friends during the holiday season, which makes paid time off a great way to reward your employees for a job well done. The beauty of paid time off is that it allows your employees to enjoy themselves without feeling guilty that they aren’t doing enough to support their families. And while it might seem like a cop-out, it’s an inexpensive way to give employees a gift they’ll almost certainly enjoy.
Restaurant gift cards
Experiences are often more valuable than things—and giving a restaurant gift card makes sure that your employee can enjoy a fun experience instead of just using a more generic gift. If you are giving a restaurant gift card, make sure it’s substantial enough to at least cover a decent meal for two; otherwise, employees who don’t often eat out to save money might not use the card at all.
A hardcover book is a great way to give an inexpensive gift that caters to an employee’s personal tastes and interests. Luckily, you don’t even have to know an employee too well to give a tasteful book gift; just one or two simple conversations about their personal interests should suffice to make a good choice!
Keep in mind that a great gift isn’t just about pleasing your employees; it’s about showing them that you appreciate their hard work. And whether you choose a personal gift, or something that’s universally appealing, you’re employees are sure to appreciate the fact that you thought of them this holiday season.
At Boss Reporting, we provide nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and conferences and serve as resource of valuable industry information to attorneys, law firms, and legal organizations. To learn how we can help you collect, catalogue, and organize your legal information, contact us today to get a quote.