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Covering Short-term Absences
Post on June 9th, 2021

As COVID restrictions are lifted, vacation and travel plans are back on the calendar.  Attorneys should always have plans for what happens when they are not available.  See Business Succession Planning:  Designating a Successor Attorney.  However, if you don’t already have those plans in place, here are some quick steps you can take as you prepare for that getaway.

  1. Calendar your time off and inform staff, clients and courts, as needed. Reschedule or continue matters as required.
  1. Decide if you will continue to monitor your phone calls, emails, regular mail and daily docket or designate someone to do it. Be realistic! It’s better not to promise to stay in touch if you won’t have good internet access or the time to do it!

If you are in a firm, your support person can monitor and refer to other firm attorneys as needed.  Be sure other firm attorneys will be available to provide support and coverage.

If you are a solo, with a support person, that person can monitor and refer to another attorney you designate.  You will need to establish an arrangement with another attorney similar to a successor attorney agreement.

If you are a solo, without a support person, you will need establish an arrangement with another attorney similar to a successor attorney, who will be directly available to monitor everything.

Set your phone message and email message to reflect how you are handling the afore-mentioned topics.  Arrange for someone to receive and review regular mail delivery.

  1. Have the following data updated and discuss with monitoring person(s) how it can be accessed:

List of open and active cases with status

Calendar and daily docket

Statute of limitations/Filing Deadlines Calendar

If this information is kept electronically, you will need to inform monitoring person(s) where this information can be found and provide passwords to access the data.  This must all be carefully protected!

If this information is kept in paper format, inform where the lists and files are located.  You will need to provide access to your office location, which may include keys and information for building security or alarm system codes.

  1. Inform traveling companions, family (spouse, life partner, adult children) the identity of and contact information (including cell numbers) for the person(s) monitoring your practice, including who to contact for your practice in the event of an emergency.

It’s a good idea for the support person and attorney(s) who may handle things in your absence to have the cell numbers for your emergency contacts as well.

  1. Pack your bags & enjoy your time away!

While these tips are directed to attorneys preparing for a fun time away, they can also apply if an attorney does not have a successor attorney appointed and is facing a medical procedure or other short-term absence.

If you have questions or wish to further discuss this or any loss prevention issue, please do not hesitate to contact me.  At OBLIC we’re here to help you!

Gretchen Mote, Esq.
Director of Loss Prevention