This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy

David Pickup

Senior Partner, Head of Mental Health Law, Pickup & Scott

Quotation Marks
You prepared reams of ‘holiday notes’ – what is going on, on which files, which clients might be demanding – and who is covering hearings…

I know what you did last Summer

I know what you did last Summer


David Pickup considers the Summer holidays, solicitor style

Looking back at your holiday… was it worth it? The expense, the time, the sunburn? What about new work opportunities you missed because you were not there? And the clients who caused mayhem as soon as you left the office? Or perhaps you had everything carefully planned well in advance…? If not, read on…

The countdown

Beforehand, you spent a week or more working extra-long hours trying to get up to date. You went through files, wrote letters– and looked in dusty cabinets previously unopened in years. You contacted clients who had forgotten about you years ago. You prepared reams of ‘holiday notes’ – what is going on, which clients might be demanding – and who is covering hearings (and when).

No one will actually look at these notes, but preparing them provides you with a feeling of self-satisfaction. It is even possible you have averted a future crisis on files that were inactive. However, weeks later, you will find them, untouched and unread on colleagues’ desks. Perhaps I am cynical (perish the thought). If files are up to date then they should not be required – but then pigs might fly!

What I did on my holidays

Then the holiday! A few days – or perhaps a week – away from the office. A chance to unwind and relax, wear shorts, go shopping in swimwear – and not think about work! But, of course, we do precisely that – think about work, I mean.Swimwear while shopping is optional.


It is so easy to check what is going on, so we feel we must keep in touch with the office. Emails are there to be read daily – and answered (to ensure we do not lose new work – and to avoid a crisis). You can add jaunty asides in the communications about ‘wish you were here.’

Back to reality

All good things, as the saying goes, come to an end – and you say goodbye to the beach again. Is there something you have forgotten? You must buy something for the office. The rule does not apply to weekend breaks – but over a week demands a box of sweets or biscuits. Somehow a packet of liquorice allsorts or digestives with the ingredients written in another language is strangely exotic, even though they were made in Reading. It is cheating buying some biscuits at the duty free with your last notes of holiday currency (I am not sure they still have duty free, at the airport, but you know what I mean). It is tempting to leave it until the day you go back to work and just buy some painfully expensive biscuits at the supermarket in town.

Back to work

Then you are back in the safety of the office again, sorting out other people’s legal cases, and answering the pile of letters and emails generated by the frantic pre-holiday work you did. Some colleagues do not seem to have missed you – or noticed you were not there. Hopefully you did not miss a partners’ meeting where it was decided to specialise in free wills and pro bono work. Some clients ask if you had a wonderful time and then why has their case been held up. Or, even worse, tell you about their holiday.

The good old days

Life used to be simpler with no emails or the internet – and during the ‘Long Vac’ the courts were closed. In that marvellous phrase, ‘time did not run’ in the Long Vac, as everyone went away at the time (more or less) – so it did not matter if you took a few days off. How times have changed.

But the office did not burn down, the letters before action accusing negligence are still in the post, the bank, tax inspectors, SRA investigators were all on holiday as well and did not make an unannounced visit. Your clients did not all leave you – and the minor crises were handled brilliantly by your capable staff.

Thank you – next!

Well, was it worth it?  Yes, it probably was. Time with loved ones is special – and time on a beach is still better than elsewhere. You had an opportunity to demonstrate to family how important your job is and how vital your work is. Also, you had an opportunity to demonstrate how to make a proper sandcastle.

You sigh with relief and exhaustion – and look back on the positive thoughts you had on the beach… to do more training, organise things better and plan ahead to achieve the dream of retirement one day. Now you probably need another holiday!

David Pickup is senior partner of Pickup & Scott, and head of the mental health department: