Some who know me—and who know how much I love my practice as a freelance lawyer—might be surprised to see me write an article about how lawyers can find time to enjoy their lives outside of work. Beyond my satisfying career as an attorney, I am also a mother, wife, entrepreneur, blogger, and amateur mycology enthusiast. Like any busy professional today, I couldn’t wear all these hats without the support of some key people, and the use of some key tools, both at work and at home.
Like many solo and small-firm lawyers, in addition to actually practicing law, I’m also (as the saying goes) chief cook and bottle washer. I’ve learned that, to have time for my family and myself, it’s important to delegate some nonlegal tasks to a highly qualified assistant. For me, that’s my multitalented virtual assistant, Tina Marie Hilton. Among other things, Tina has coded the template for my firm’s e-newsletter and designed visually striking PowerPoint® decks for CLE presentations. If you want to spend more of your time doing the legal work you love (and are good at) and less of your time doing administrative work, ask your colleagues for a referral to a good virtual assistant. You can also find virtual assistants through VirtualAssistantForums.com and VAnetworking.com. Both sites allow you to submit RFPs and search their member directories.
Product for Productivity
In my practice as a freelance lawyer, I concentrate exclusively on legal research and writing, so it’s no surprise that my online legal research subscription is one of the most important tools in my professional toolbox. While I was already an efficient researcher (thanks in large part to my long-time Westlaw® Classic use), my transition earlier this year to WestlawNext® boosted my productivity even more. For example, WestlawNext has cut an entire step out of my workflow because I can now highlight and annotate authorities during my initial research, right in my browser (or in the WestlawNext iPad® app): I don’t have to wait until after I’ve downloaded my research results.
Whether you’re a new or experienced small law attorney yet to make the switch to WestlawNext, it’s worth a two-week free trial to experience the benefits for yourself.
Food to Fuel
On the home front, although cooking is one of my hobbies, I don’t always feel like making dinner from scratch. When my husband or daughter aren’t able to pinch-hit, we reach into the fridge or freezer—most often for something from Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s is a quirky supermarket chain with more than 400 stores across the country. It primarily carries products under the company’s own label, including a wide variety of tasty prepared foods. Some of our favorites include spinach pie in a crackling-crisp filo crust, meat lasagna, and pulled pork in barbecue sauce.
Value Wins Out
The common characteristic of the key people and tools that make my life easier—at work and at home—is value. None of the support services or tools discussed above is the cheapest in its class, but that’s okay, because each provides a benefit commensurate with its cost. If having time to devote to your passions outside the law is important to you, investing in key personnel and products can help you achieve that goal.
Lisa Solomon, Esq. is a freelance lawyer who helps attorneys around the country with all of their legal research and writing needs. You can contact her at Lisa@QuestionOfLaw.net or 914-595-6575. www.QuestionOfLaw.net.
Subscribe to Lisa’s monthly e-newsletter, The Source, to receive tips about legal writing, domestic legal outsourcing and related topics, along with updates from the world of amateur mycology.