Summer is around the corner and you can practically taste the sweet watermelon in its peak season, mint juleps on a covered porch and hot dogs off the grill. School will soon be out and the morning mad rush and evening groans over homework and bedtime will give way to sleeping in late, swimming pools and an afternoon walk to the local 7-11 for the sole purpose of buying a Slurpee. The days are getting longer and warmer, and you start looking forward to backyard barbecues, hammock time and burying your toes in the sand. “Summertime and the livin' is easy,” sang Abbe Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, and 25,000+ others who have covered George Gershwin’s timeless classic song.
Or is it? Many attorneys are thinking about how to juggle summer vacation while keeping up with the obligations of a law practice. Unless you were on your game and coordinated summer camps back in January before the good ones filled up, your kids will undoubtedly complain about being bored more times than you care to count. Then there’s the challenge of taking an actual vacation. Finding time to be away from the office for longer-than-a-long-weekend can be stressful for many lawyers. Despite best efforts, there always seems to be something or someone lurking to ruin such plans, not to mention the pressure to show up at the office so that no one thinks you’re a slacker.
Thankfully, remote work has changed these dynamics, even for lawyers. Some law firms like Scale LLP have embraced virtual practices and the lawyers at these firms are reaping the benefits. Heather Cantua, Scale’s Deputy General Counsel, maintains a successful practice and takes time off to travel, knowing that she can rely on the collaborative team at Scale (who are incentivized to help, not compete with each other) to cover for her. Last summer, she took two full weeks off last summer to go motorcycling in Belize. At Scale “ when I want to go hard at work I can, and when I need to take a break, I can,” says Cantua. (See full video here).
The ability to practice from anywhere has profound implications: Ditching the traditional office model means that you can take your work on the road and be with the family in Barcelona or Bali, even for an extended period of time.
If you’re considering practicing law virtually from somewhere other than your home, there are a few practicalities to consider. First, when planning a summer vacation, consider taking steps to ensure smooth coverage while you’re away. Next, make sure you have the basic tools you’ll need, like a reliable laptop, a solid and secure internet connection and access to the key ways in which you’ll communicate while you’re away, like videoconferencing capability. Also, be sure to think about when and how you’ll complete your work. The rhythm of being somewhere other than your home office may interfere with work commitments at first, until you figure out the times and places you’ll get your work done in your new environs.
As always, be aware of the ethics rules that may apply, especially if you’re considering practicing law anywhere other than the state in which you are licensed. These rules vary by state but in short, make sure you are not holding yourself out as licensed somewhere you’re not. If you’re in a different country than the U.S., be sure to check the rules around whether you’re permitted to work at all. For example, the digital nomad visa to Spain, one of the most sought-after visas for digital nomads, has finally been approved. In 2023, the “Ley de Startups” will offer visas to remote workers to live and work in Spain. Last, if you’re considering a long-term play like a longer term move or even a year abroad, consider this list of best states and countries for remote work (TL;DR: the cost of living in small towns and certain countries is far less than the big American cities from which you may be drawing a salary).
Whether you’re planning to take a vacation because it’s all you ever wanted and you ‘have to get away’ like the Gogos, or you plan to enjoy your ‘summer days driftin’ away to oh, oh the summer nights’' like John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, or if your jam is to have some ‘hot fun in the summertime’ like Sly & the Family Stone, we wish everyone a happy and fulfilling summer!