I take vacations and every lawyer and person should take vacations. It’s good to recharge your batteries. It’s good to have fun, relax, experience new things.
What I don’t do is ever shut down. I’ve been in line for a ride at Disney with a crying kid and grudgingly promised him another ice cream so I can get him to calm down and allow me to call back a client that appeared to have a desperate question. I’ve drawn some funny looks when I stepped out of a movie to call a potential client. Once I was hiking and had no phone service until suddenly multiple bars appeared when I got to the top of a mountain. It was a breathtaking scene, but that didn’t stop me from calling back a lawyer who wanted to discuss a case. You never know when you can get a great settlement or progress on a case so waiting too long to call back is not an option to me.
Maybe I’m a freak, but the point is that you really are never fully checked out if you are doing a good job and really care about your clients. If you are in a place where you absolutely can’t be reached, you have someone competent covering for you and a real plan in place.
This to me is obvious customer service stuff. Which is why I was confused when a defense attorney I know was complaining about a lawyer who had been vacationing all summer and wouldn’t return calls to discuss settling the case.
To be clear, the defense attorney wanted to throw money at the lawyer and injured worker to make the case go away. It sounded like the case was more than ready to be settled. I don’t know who the injured worker is, but I’m going to guess that they don’t realize that the reason their case isn’t over yet is because their lawyer is too busy having fun at Lake Geneva or wherever he is.
It’s pretty lame and unacceptable. I’d even be fine if the attorney took a one week vacation and had a voicemail that said when he’d be back in action. You can kind of understand that although I could never operate that way. But to basically check out all summer is a joke, especially when you leave your office in the hands of very young attorneys who have not been properly trained.
These aren’t things you think about before you hire a lawyer, but you should. It’s not at all inappropriate to ask how often they will be gone and if so, who will handle your case in their absence. It’s your life and your injury. You have to look out for you and the time to do that is before you even hire an attorney.