Summer is vacation time – make sure you take advantage of it.
The word “vacation” derives from a 14th century Latin term meaning freedom.
We all need a little freedom now and then. We need to recharge our batteries, reclaim our purpose and relax with our family, friends and selves.
Many lawyers, though, have trouble dealing with freedom.
If you Google the words “lawyer” and “vacation” you won’t get many hits – and the websites you do find are not very helpful.
For instance, the blog Civilian’s Guide to Lawyers http://blog.civiliansguidetolawyers.com/ is devoted to bashing lawyers for being greedy and sneaky and taking luxury vacations on their clients’ dime.
Good idea, right? Alas, only two vacation spots are listed – both in Arkansas, both posted by a single lawyer.
The truth is that lawyers have trouble stepping away. It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to understand why. The very same qualities that make us good at what we do also make it hard to take time off. We are ambitious, driven, goal-oriented, dedicated and concerned about our clients.
“Vacation time for lawyers is a chronic problem,” says Edward Honnold in an article for Findlaw.com. “Many lawyers have a highly developed sense of duty, and business pressures in private practice often make it difficult to tell an anxious client to wait. Many personal and family relationships of lawyers suffer harm as a result, and many lawyers themselves feel profound distress that their lives have fallen seriously out of balance.”
We are creatures of habit. Once we get into the habit of work, work, work, it is hard to hop off the wheel.
But left unchecked, our work habits can lead to addiction, depression and general craziness; and a crazy lawyer is no good to anyone.
Here, then, are nine sure signs that you need a vacation:
You forget your children’s names.
You replace the family photo on your desk with a framed dollar bill.
At home you converse not in words but in allegations and denials.
When the judge asks if you are ready to proceed, you honestly do not know.
You think fun is something everyone else is having.
You need a GPS to find your way home.
You take your iPad to Durham Bulls games and send text messages in church.
You dream of torts and trademarks, taxable transfers and totten trusts.
You can’t remember what the ocean looks like, or a mist-shrouded mountaintop, or the gentle ripples the breeze makes on a crystal-clear lake.
So if you haven’t already done it, give yourself the gift of freedom. Clear your calendar and take a vacation. The people who love you – not to mention your clients and workmates – will thank you for it.
Mostly, though, you’ll thank yourself.
Ernest (Jay) Reeves Jr. is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. He has practiced in both states and was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He writes the Risk Man column of practice pointers and risk management tips. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 919-619-2441.www.riskmanlawsolutions.com.
Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina and is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers and firms improve their well-being and create saner, more successful law lives. He is available for talks, presentations and confidential consultations.