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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What Does Your Firm Look Like When You're Out??

So I had two experiences yesterday that got me thinking...

First, just another judge-not-on-the-bench court appearance that's often frustrating. This was at Daley so it's usually not as bad as the suburban courts since there are enough judges down there and you usually just get sent to another courtroom or one of the floater judges handles the absent judges call. With my particular case I actually wanted a continuance because one of our witnesses couldn't make it at the last minute so this gave credence to us doing that.

Second scenario deals with a townhome association's management company and its representative who works with a particular association that I have a client attempting to purchase that's set to close early next week. Association has to produce a 22.1 disclosure and in this case there are some proof of repairs that they have too. Well, lo-and-behold the association representative is out of town this week and the person "covering" for her (I use the term loosely) can't find the documents we need. Grrrr!!!!

So the above begs the question, what does/should your Firm look like when you're out of town? And what are some steps to improve its "appearance."

On the one hand vacations are important, yet on the other hand your Firm cannot just shutdown and be totally inattentive to clients just because you're scuba diving at the Great Coral Reef.

At a minimum you need to have some relationships with other attorneys who can cover stuff for you when you're gone (hopefully you can clear your schedule fairly effectively) or at a minimum be available for that emergency client call/court appearance. You should make sure your assistant has a couple names and also mention their contact info. on your voicemail. Related, it's useful for a non-lawyer assistant to have someone to "go to" if he/she needs some help.

Vacations are among the critical reasons to be developing your staff or getting one if you're totally solo. If it's just you, you either can never go on vacation (or you're working on the beach) or you're essentially closed for business when you are on vacation.

In my opinion, only two things should be impacted if you're out of the office: 1) lawyer-client meetings and at least on the court stuff you can control, 2) substantive court hearings.

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