As a founder and leading attorney at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock, Michael Cowen has a lot on his plate: he not only drives cases, but he also manages the team, leads meetings, signs checks, and makes sure the financials are in order. It can be hard to imagine what even one day of vacation time would look like for the office in his absence.
Yet for years, Michael has been able to take extended vacations — sometimes as long as four weeks — with his work phone left at home and his email inbox virtually unchecked.
“For my own mental health, for my own ability to bond with my family, I found that not having my cell phone with me … it’s the only way that I can really be present,” Michael says. It also allows him to come back to the office at the end of his vacation fully recharged.
That valuable time away from work is something we should all be able to enjoy. But how can you make sure your office won’t fall into disarray when you’re gone?
That’s the subject of Episode 111 with guest and fellow Cowen Rodriguez Peacock attorney Malorie Peacock, who filled Michael’s substantial shoes while he was away on his most recent two-week vacation. Tune in to this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation to find out how Michael establishes a system that keeps his office operating like a well-oiled machine, and how passing colleagues greater responsibilities helps make the whole team stronger.
Name: Malorie J. Peacock
About: Malorie J. Peacock is a Partner at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock. She was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. During her time with Cowen Rodriguez Peacock, Malorie has worked on numerous commercial vehicle, trucking, and wrongful death cases. Malorie brings close attention to detail, commitment to finding safety issues and areas of neglect, continued utilization of technology and cutting-edge visuals in cases, along with a sincere passion to help those who have been hurt, to each and every case.
Company: Cowen Rodriguez Peacock
Top takeaways from this episode
- Prepare others before you go. Don’t surprise your clients: send them a note a few days in advance explaining when you’ll be gone and who they can speak with until you come back. Prepare scripts ahead of time so your staff knows how to respond to certain calls or questions, and get ahead of any looming deadlines.
- Establish a system that everybody knows. A sound system requires smart and capable people to carry it out. This means giving adequate training on how to deal with emergencies and taking over full responsibility for cases. While he’s away, “they have to assume that I’m not going to read any case-related emails,” Michael says.
- Let your team take charge. Putting trust in your team to take over big responsibilities like management and financials will not only take a weight off your shoulders, but it will uplift your fellow attorneys and help them grow into future leaders.
[01:10] Leaving work at home: When he goes on vacation, Michael Cowen leaves his work phone at home and checks emails as little as possible. But what’s it like for other partners to take over when the head of a firm is out and unreachable?
[04:53] Knowing the right time: How do you know your firm is ready for an extended absence from a leading partner?
[06:26] Be prepared: Michael gives some tips on best practices for preparing your team and your clients for an extended absence so you can enjoy a relaxing vacation away from your inbox.
[13:52] Establish a system: Michael explains what it takes to ensure the office is a well-oiled machine while he’s away.
[18:15] More money, more problems: The responsibility of signing checks and making payments usually falls in the lap of the head of a firm. How do you find someone trustworthy enough to take over that role? Michael borrows some wisdom from Liz Wiseman’s Multipliers.
[22:38] A constant challenge: Malorie discusses why management is the most difficult part of taking over the firm, and Michael explains why it never gets easier.
[27:21] Taking charge: Malorie explains why taking over Michael’s meetings while he’s away may save time and improve the system in the future.
[31:07] The two-factor dilemma: Leaving your work phone behind is a great idea in retrospect, but Michael discusses how it got in the way of his vacation and what he’d do differently next time.
[33:19] Help your team grow: Michael talks through the lessons he’s learned about uplifting his other attorneys and giving them bigger roles by taking time away from the office.
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In this popular and award-winning podcast for trial lawyers, noteworthy author, sought-after speaker, and renowned trial lawyer, Michael Cowen explores critical topics distinctive to the legal profession with some of the biggest names in the industry – specifically focused on developing extremely efficient law practices, securing a competitive edge in the industry, and wildly excelling in the courtroom.