Keeping Busy When You’re Not Busy.
We all know about long hours, late nights and occasionally skipping lunch to stay on top of our to-do lists and to keep our clients happy. This is the case more often than not: As soon as you finish one thing, there’s something else that needs your attention. But how do you keep busy when you suddenly find yourself not so busy? If your work flow has lulled, you can still feel like you’ve used your down time efficiently by doing these four things.
Knock out your CLE’s.
The North Carolina State Bar requires you to complete 12 hours of approved continuing legal education (CLE) annually. Of these 12 hours, two hours must be devoted to professional responsibility. Once every three years you also need to complete an additional hour of professional responsibility devoted to substance abuse or mental conditions.
Many other website also offer CLE videos available to download or stream from your computer at your convenience. Six of your annual CLE hours may come from online sources, and up to six hours beyond the first six earned online can be rolled over to the following year. If you’re itching to get out of the office, there may be a CLE offered nearby. Six of your annual hours must be “live” hours, which means you attend the course in-person or complete it via a live webcast or teleconference.
Not only are CLE hours something that you’re required to do each year, but they offer an opportunity for you to network with other attorneys, to stay current on developments in the law, and perhaps even to learn something new. If you’re lacking in legal work, take the time to catch up or even get ahead on your CLE hours.
If your office has fallen into a state of chaos while you’ve been busy, take some time to tidy up, put away files you’re not actively working on and refocus your workspace. That way, when your next client or project comes through the door, you will be ready to dive right in.
This is also the time when you can finally get around to those office projects that you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t yet. Finalize that new file catalogue system, update your client contact database, or compile your legal research into a searchable format. Whatever your project may be, getting it done while you have the time will save you time down the road when your business picks up.
Start Working on Your Rain Dance.
Perhaps you’re not busy because, somewhere along the way, you stopped actively seeking out new clients. If that’s the case, get back to the basics of your rainmaking strategy. Reach out to your repeat clients to check in on that business they just started. Brush off your business cards and do some networking. Get your name out in the community with a sponsorship or volunteer opportunity. If there’s not much new work on the horizon, turn your focus to bringing in business. If you know that your lull is temporary, it never hurts to think long term by, for example, tinkering with your marketing strategies while you’ve got the time to focus on something other than legal work.
Get Out of the Office.
If down time is a rarity, and therefore a luxury, don’t feel guilty about taking some personal time when the opportunity arises. Play a round of golf, take a drive to the beach, or curl up with a good (non-legal) book. A little time out of the office can help you relax and recharge. When you’re struck by the next wave of early mornings and late nights, you’ll at least have spent a little time to do something you enjoy, which can put you in the right frame of mind to power through your workload.
Slow times may not be a usual part of your workday, or even your workweek, but now you’re equipped to make the most of ebbs in your workload when and if they arise.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h