This article by Randall Ryder takes on the topic of lawyers working while on vacation. Here’s the opening:

Taking a vacation as a litigator (especially a solo litigator) can be difficult. Frankly, a vacation may not feel like much of a vacation.

In today’s technological wonderland it’s easy to work from anywhere. The bad thing is clients are increasingly expecting lawyers to work from anywhere.

In my opinion, the best solution is to compromise. Don’t ignore your practice while you are gone, but don’t immerse yourself either.

My Take:

I disagree.

The reason that it doesn’t feel like a vacation is that if you’re working, it’s not a vacation. A vacation is when you get away from work.

If I take my family somewhere and I keep up with emails and make a bunch of work phone calls, then I’m working. The fact it’s in Destin doesn’t matter. My body may be on the beach, but my head is in the same place as if I’m sitting in my office.

My family may be on vacation, but I’m not. And honestly, they aren’t going to be having much of a vacation either if I’m stressed out on work issues.

So far this summer I’ve driven to North Carolina twice, Destin once and spent a couple of days in Rochester, Minnesota. I did not unplug and leave work behind on any of those trips. They weren’t vacations. They were low-productive days working remotely.

Don’t kid yourself. If you’re hunting, at the beach or going to a ballgame and you are reading emails and taking work related calls, then you aren’t on vacation. I’m not suggesting you don’t work on these outings. Most of the time we have to. But don’t kid yourself that it’s a vacation if you’re working.

This is a real issue for attorneys. We can look around and realize we haven’t had a real vacation of a week or more in years. I believe this wears on us and is one of the reasons for all the anxiety and mental health issues in the profession.

I strongly recommend taking at least a 1 week real unplugged vacation every year. Don’t be defensive about it. Tell clients and colleagues about it. You need to be in top form for them when you are not on vacation.

I do not always practice what I preach on this point. But I should.