Lawyers can (and should) take vacations.  Everyone should.  But when your life becomes a vacation at the expense of your clients then maybe what you really are is retired and not the right attorney for them.

Take a recent caller to my office who has been told by his lawyer’s secretary that he’s on vacation every time he calls and that it’s been going on that way for two months.

I get that winter in Chicago isn’t the greatest even if this winter has been somewhat milder than those in years past.  But if you are going out of town and not taking phone calls, calling adjusters, filing trial motions, etc. then you are not being an attorney to your clients.

There are a ton of lawyers that I know of who spend their winters in warmer climates.  Most of those are really just figure heads at their firms and have partners and associates who do all of the work for them.  Others are a bit shady IMO because they go away and hire, young, inexperienced attorneys to handle their case load.  These young lawyers need training and supervision.  Instead their bosses are taking off the training wheels and saying “good luck,” all at the expense of some unsuspecting clients.

But the lawyer that my caller is talking about seems to be worse as he is kind of winding down his practice and doesn’t appear to have anyone working on his files while he is gone.  It’s disgraceful, plain and simple.

There are a bunch of questions that I recommend you ask an attorney before you hire them.  If they are older, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask if they work year round.  If they don’t have any partners, it’s reasonable to ask who covers their cases when they are not available.

Remember, you are hiring them.  They work for you.  They aren’t your employee, but you have a right to expect a certain level of customer service and performance.  If you aren’t getting that then you should call them out on it and/or find a different firm.  It doesn’t cost anything to switch firms and is possible if you don’t wait too long.