When I opened my own law firm, I had no idea how much traveling I’d have to do. Attorneys are licensed on a state-by-state basis, so I figured there wouldn’t be much need to leave the friendly confines of my practice area. After a law school education spent driving from Kentucky to Michigan and back every weekend, I was looking forward to not being on the go so much. But, boy, was I wrong about that. When I began researching ways to become a better firm owner, I realized travel would be extremely helpful. As nice as most of the attorneys in Louisville are, they are not going to open up their strategic playbook to me. Fair enough, I say, but there are attorneys from other areas of the country who will do just that. Joining groups of like-minded attorneys who want to help each other better serve their clients has been one of the most beneficial endeavors I’ve undertaken. The only downside is that I often have to log hundreds of miles to meet up with these folks. This summer has been an example of what a whirlwind business travel can be. In June, I went to New Orleans for a summit of personal injury attorneys. In July, I had business events in Jackson Hole and Orlando. Sandwiched between those was a trip to watch my son, John, graduate from basic training, with a stop in Atlanta along the way to meet his girlfriend at the airport. Oh, and during the few days my husband, Dave, and I were home together for Independence Day, two massive trees came down in our front yard. Needless to say, making time for a full-fledged family vacation among all these other events is simply impossible. And given how busy my kids’ lives have become, getting them all together for more than one or two days at a time takes a herculean amount of effort. Luckily, I’ve hit upon a unique strategy to combine business travel with quality family time. I call it the “plus-one” system. CONFERENCES COMBINING BUSINESS TRAVEL AND QUALITY FAMILY TIME BRING YOUR KIDS TO BUSINESS
Melissa and Dave at Yellowstone
together free of any other obligations. Is it a dream getaway without a care in the world? Nope, but it does offer the chance to have a unique experience we wouldn’t get during any other type of vacation. Jessica, my younger daughter, is curious about pursuing law, so I figured it would be fun to bring her along for my trip to New Orleans. One day, I had a lunch meeting and Jessica had
Jessica and Melissa at Café Du Monde
to fend for herself. When I returned to the hotel, she was having lunch with two incredible female attorneys who were giving her career and life advice. “How cool is this?” I thought to myself as I watched her chat it up. “Where else could Jessica have an experience like this?” Similarly, for my trip to Orlando, I signed up Zachary, our youngest, for an entrepreneurship workshop that coincides with my legal event. For as long as any of us can remember, he’s always wanted to be a businessman. With a trip like this one, we both get the opportunity to better ourselves, learn some new concepts, and share some quality time in the bargain. Maybe one day my family will have a chance to get together, clear the decks, and enjoy a week or two without a care in the world. I’m not holding my breath for that, though, and I’ve begun to appreciate our piecemeal approach to vacationing. Who says you can’t combine business with pleasure?
On many business trips, I bring along a plus-one, either Dave or one of my children. We often add a day to the trip to give us time to explore a place
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