What Can a Lawyer Learn On The Road?

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By on February 8, 2012 8:54 pm 3 Comments


After all these years, I still feel I should apologize for going on vacation. I already had two “anxiety dreams”. In one, I could not read my litigation outline as I began my trial, and in another I was teaching a seminar with another lawyer and could not make sense of my PowerPoint Presentation.

At this stage of our lives, 90% of our travel is to family, our four children down south, or parent and step-parent, and siblings, to the North. I manage 3 or 4 seminars a year, but only a couple of nights away for that, and a Mountaineer game or two. And, we take our dogs with us most of the time. We love those trips, and the visitors to our happy home.

So, what can be gained by taking several days just to lounge by the ocean? Truth be told, I cannot even justify only sitting and reading a good book. This trip is to proof and edit my 200 page blog as it becomes my first, and perhaps only, Kindle book. This will never make the best seller list, but it will summarize lessons I have learned over 39 years as a trial lawyer and, we hope, serve as a useful, even helpful, marketing tool.

This trip has had another fascinating component. We have been testing, and experimenting with, our connectivity and social media. And, we invited my best friend, who is also my “marketing and social media” consultant, Dick Billick, of “Dick’s Marketing,LL” to house-sit. He is managing the pets, Buddy, Duffy, and Chloe, and working with my staff. I am out of their hair, so they can tell Dick what is on their minds, and work with him as he helps us figure out how to maintain contact with hundreds of former clients, get some “five star reviews” on the Internet, and give me feed-back on our efforts to create a presence on the Internet.

Nancy and I have new matching IPhone 4s. We also have our Dell Laptops, and I have my first generation iPad. Why the redundancy? Well, as I have learned from sad experience, something will always fail. This time it was the iPad what was incompatible with the wi-fi at our first hotel. Next it was my iPhone dying because I plugged it into a dead outlet. With my laptop, I was able to spend a dozen hours writing while maintaining contact with Dick, my staff, and our family. I even e-mailed my staff to forward all e-mails to Nancy’s phone. Time for a “car charger”. It is always something.

As we travelled south, we shared photos and status updates with our Facebook Friends, Linked In connections, and Twitter Followers. I know, letting people know we are out of town can be risky. Everything is a balanced risk these days. Since we have a “junk yard dog”, or three, guarding the house, and loyal staff “watching our back” at the office, we decided to take the risk.

We have received many good wishes from friends, answered several inquiries from clients and potential clients, and sent ourselves several memos for websites we learned of on National Public Radio. It is stunning what you can learn from Sirius/XM when you are tuned to the right station, authors, scientists, musicians, and in-depth politics, and even Martha Stewart, Bill O’Reilly, and and Rosie O’Donell.

And, now we have our newest challenge, GPS, global positioning satellite! Our old Garmin wants almost as much money to download new maps as it first cost, so we have been trying to learn how to use a new one. And, our iPhones have GPS. Perhaps there are more user friendly interfaces. I certainly hope so! But we have had much fun seeking out the nearest Starbucks, restaurants, and a “beer store”.

Garmin Gal seems not to know which Starbucks have gone out of business, and which Myrtle Beach restaurants are closed for the season, so we ended up sitting in “Flo’s Oyster Bar” parking lot looking for another restaurant. A wrong turn took us to “The Inlet Oyster House”. Neither Garmin Gal or iPhone Siri found it on our search, but look it up and you will see the owner “gets it” when it comes to marketing his little restaurant. And, his marketing is truthful. His place has that “local flavor”. He was nearly full at 7:00 p.m. on a Tuesday evening, and the clientele had the look of “real people”, not just tourists. We heard some talk of a “show” but not much. But, if we relied on our technology, and had not taken a “wrong turn, we would never have known of the “The Inlet Oyster House”.

As much as we gripe about the quirks of Garmin Gal and Siri, we already have become dependent on them. We made it to our deponent doctor’s office within one minute of the projected time. We found the nearest McDonalds for a rest room and snack. We found rest stops and Hotels. Garmin Gal took us unerringly to the Hampton Inn we searched for and found at Murrell’s Inlet, and we knew just how long it was going to take us to get there. We gave it, and the Inlet Oyster Bar, five star ratings. (Well, I will if I can ever remember my G Mail password-e-mail address combination!)

When I finish this post, I shall upload a photo from our trip, publish the article, “share” it with my Facebook Professional Page, and Tweet it to the world and my Linked In colleagues. I can do that with each post I write or revise. Then I can “check in” via Facebook, Four Square, or Yelp, and keep track of my friends, family, and colleagues who are doing the same. Is some of it frivilous? Of course, but seeing our grandchildren, keeping track of our children, maintaining contacts with so many are worthwhile activities. I just miss the good friends who are not so connected. Seems as if we do not interact as much as before.

If tonight a potential client writes me a note from my website portal, www.hunterlawfirm.net , I can answer his/her question and refer her/him to my staff for a follow up phone call. We never have to look for a pay phone, and staff does not have to worry about reaching me on the cell phone. They can just text or e-mail me to call them. Still, twice staff did call with minor crises, which I grudgingly dealt with. Better the occasional interruption than getting fired, OR SUED.

Would I rather just sit and read a good book? If I said yes, I would be lying, and  if Nancy said no, so would she. She finds the constant stimulation exhausting, and I find it endlessly fascinating. Yet, she is the best travelling companion a man could ask for. Fun, adventuresome and so comfortable to be with after 43 years together. If we had been dealt different cards (time AND money), I would gladly travel with her six months out of the year. As it is, we will take our moments when we can find them and use this amazing technology to live interesting and productive, and connected, lives.

That seems pretty good to me. I am happy with the cards I have been dealt.

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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