bored formal man watching laptop at desk

Many legal practices slow down for the summer. As a litigator, July and August tended to be some of my slowest months. Opposing counsel and courts seemed hesitant to set deadlines as everyone took one last summer vacation or break before the new school year started and end-of-year targets loomed near.

If you find yourself enjoying a slow summer, here are a few ways to spend your time.

Take a vacation. Many junior lawyers worry about when they can take a vacation, some waiting 1+ years to take any time away from the office for fear of not looking dedicated enough. My advice: take the time off. As long as you avoid taking a vacation during major deadlines (and of course, clear time off with your boss according to your office policies), nobody should bat an eye at a junior lawyer taking some time away from the office.

Enjoy a summer Friday or two. Unless you work somewhere with strong face-time requirements, don’t feel bad about ducking out of work or closing down your laptop on the earlier side during slow summer days. Keep your phone close so you can address any emails, but there’s no point in sitting at your desk until 7pm when you don’t have active deadlines in play. Legal work tends to ebb and flow; avoiding burnout as a lawyer often comes down to learning to take advantage of and enjoy slow periods.

Get organized. If you are stuck in the office without much work to do, take some time to organize your hard copy and electronic files. Send old documents to the shredder or your records department. Work with paralegals or admins on your matters to ensure the key documents are all saved and named properly. Go through your email inbox and clear out all those unread emails.

Network. This is a great time to meet up with members of your network for a coffee or happy hour, without feeling stressed about getting back to your desk to a pile of new work.

Take on a pro bono project. My pro bono cases have been some of the most rewarding legal experiences of my career. Plus, they can be a great way to get you new experiences you want, and for law firm lawyers, help you hit your yearly billable targets, depending on your firm’s policies.

Brainstorm long-term about your career. If you aren’t sitting down regularly to plan your next career move, block out some time this week and follow these steps.

Catch up on your CLE requirements. Don’t wait until the week before your CLE certifications are due to binge a bunch of online CLEs. Slow summer days are a great time to handle these.

Write an article or prepare a CLE. Both are great ways to develop expertise in your chosen niche or industry and can help you make connections and bolster your resume for a future job hunt.

Polish your resume. Even if you don’t plan to job hunt in the very near future, take some time to write down your key achievements and proudest accomplishments in your current role and update your resume to reflect this information and modern formatting trends. You never know when a client, business connection, or potential boss will ask for a copy of your resume, even if you’re not currently looking for a new role.

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