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How much work should a boutique firm owner do while on holiday?

Several small firm owners discuss the plausibility of having a real do-nothing holiday while being primarily responsible for a practice. 

user iconJess Feyder 23 February 2023 Big Law
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Lawyers Weekly spoke with several small firm owners, asking how much work they do, or should do, while on holidays. 

“The sad reality is that many small to medium business owners get no real or substantial break,” explained Keith Redenbach, principal solicitor of Redenbach Legal. 

“That is due to the relentless commitments which come with taking on all roles in a business and also the drive many regard as necessary,” he said. 


Nick Mann, founder and principal of Polaris Lawyers, reflected this sentiment.

“On 31 December 2022, I wrote my resolution for the year in big, bold letters: be more present. Put down your phone.  

“Ten days later, I was at the beach with my kids in Mallacoota. They were splashing about in the water, and I was on the sand … replying to work emails,” he said to Lawyers Weekly.

“Being able to switch off as a senior lawyer or a small-firm owner is not a luxury that each of us can afford on each holiday.

“Urgent work comes up at times that can be inconvenient. The profession is demanding, and we demand a lot of ourselves and each other,” Mr Mann commented.

“When it’s your business, you tend to it and worry over it at a level that you never did as a lawyer employed by a large firm,” he added; plus, “it feels better to come back to work without the knowledge that you’ve got 150 unread emails.”

“For anyone who runs a small business — whether they are a law firm or other — I don’t think it’s possible to fully switch off while on holidays,” echoed Alana Kushnir, founder and director of Guest Work Agency and Guest Club. 

“With limited resources, anything you postpone until you’re back ‘in the office’ will primarily be dealt with by you, so in the long term, you’re not going to be doing yourself any favours,” she told Lawyers Weekly.

Emily Purvis, principal at PURE Equine Law, commented: “The reality of owning and running a practice means that you’re required to make decisions, support clients, and stay across all aspects of the business around the clock.”

Danny King, principal at DK Legal, stated: “Being a business owner and lawyer brings a different set of responsibilities.”

“While balancing the time you spend between work and life is very important, you must accept the reality of whatever your business needs from you and your professional obligations to clients,” she told Lawyers Weekly.

“Ultimately, if a client crisis needs your urgent attention and you happen to be pulled from a beach somewhere, that doesn’t constitute a work/life boundary fail,” she stated. “Put simply, if the work must be done, then you do it.” 

“Choosing to back yourself and chasing the ambition of a thriving practice may have those trade-offs. However, it also brings significant rewards.

“Watching a growing team develop around you, the impact you can have on clients’ lives, and financial growth, mean you can enjoy the rarer times when you can take a break.”