New law firm lessons from the Airstream

Law firm management lessons learned from this trip:
1.    Being a member of a team has challenges, but also many rewards.
2.    Clients want to know that you have a team working for their benefit. The team can be no more than a secretary or paralegal or even "outsourced" components such as expert witnesses, et al., but a team nevertheless.
3.    Building a team, as with any finely tuned mechanism, takes time. But, your perseverance will pay off handsomely in both economic terms as well as personal satisfaction.
4.    The right team, both as to members and as to size, will always do better than a sole practitioner or "BigLaw." Evidence of this can be observed in almost any sport, from the "team" sports of basketball and football to the "solo" sports of golf, cycling and figure skating.

We are participating in an Airstream Rally this week .. It is our "maiden"voyage, maiden in the sense that this is the first trip, and the longest, where there have been no problems with our vintage trailer. Until now, each short trip has turned up some new problem that, after our trip,  required returning the trailer back to the repair shop for more work … and the expenditure of more money. For those of you who’ve owned boats, you will understand my last comment. This has become our "boat." But, alas, we are now ready.

There have been no problems with th equipment … and we have a commanding 180 degrees view of the Pacific Ocean, along with a full moon in the evening! We have full electrical and water hook-ups… almost like home. 

This rally brings together a group of Airstream owners. Very similar to a car club.  It is quite a remarkable sight. After the trailers are all parked, it looks like a used car lot, but Airstreams. The amount of equipment that is here is quite costly and would create one heck of an auction or estate sale.  Our vintage trailer has brought ooohs and aahs … more for the memories that many of these folks have than for the appearance or quality of what we have. I feel like the "poor cousin" in this group. But, we are part of the group, part of a new team, despite being solos. And my wife’s tales of our travels on the road to purchase our Airstream captures the imaginations of the others.

Our next expenditure will be to polish the trailer, a very expensive adventure in itself. I’m not quite ready to do that … and I don’t have enough elbow grease to get the job done in less than a year!  (<g>)

In this particular facility, the size of the trailer spaces and, more importantly, the size of the turn-around space available to park the trailers are very tight! It really does take a skilled driver to get the rigs into the allotted area. We came early and thus had more time (without the observant eyes of more experienced drivers) to park; also, we could make errors without scraping a neighboring trailer … (<g>) … We were not the first ones, here, though; fortunately, another couple arrived a few minutes before us … and he has turned out to be the parking guru of the entire group. His suggestions proved valuable. Experience will enhance my parking skills. And if this is the tightest spot in which I ever have to park in the future, we’ll be fine.

The people here are a fascinating mix of folks. From fully retired to still young and active; from employees to entrepreneurs in growing businesses; from active to sedentary. They all share a certain focus on adventure … As in all events, one can seldom expect to connect immediately to everyone. But, I’ve been surprised and pleased at how quickly we’ve bonded with many very nice folks. This has been a good introduction to a new activity … rallies. I never did rallies with my Porsche. It’s taken my wife to get me to do rallies with our Airstream.

While my wife has focused on getting and refurbishing our vintage trailer, I have been impressed with the amenities of the new ones. And, after seeing some of the units that are here, we may be closer to trading up. But, there is a special cult with the vintage trailers and my wife is not yet ready to walk away from that.

It’s amazing what conveniences can be packed into just a few feet of space.  When we traveled to Europe, I was the American who needed more elbow room and wondered how they could live in such cramped quarters. But, in our trailer, we have less space than that and we do just fine … Of course, I’m not sure I’d want to do this everyday for the rest of my life. I’m still that American that likes elbow room.

This second half of the week, we’ve traveled north to try our hand at boondocking … being self-contained with no hook-up to external resources. This is our first time with no outside water and electrical resources. Of course, one advantage of having a trailer system is that we can unhook the trailer, get into the truck and drive somewhere for food or other amenities whenever we want. But, our objective on this part of the trip will be to experiment to see how we do without such external resources … cooking, showering, etc. … and for how long.

We learned new lessons. We’ll get a generator to make sure we have 110 electricity needed to charge computers and cell phones. All we have in the trailer is 12 v. and a battery that would run down without outside help. (Another $1,000!) Other than this, we’ve done pretty well.  We saved our internal resources for a time of real need … and used the State park resources of outside showers and toilets … So, we’re not totally self-contained, yet.  But, we now know we can be, at least for awhile.

Of course, one of the great challenges for any couple in close quarters is how to negotiate the differences between you, from what to do when to how to do it once you agree on the what! Sounds to me like a law firm. Except that in a law firm, you can usually ignore your colleagues for awhile without disaster striking. In a trailer, you skills required come into very sharp focus very quickly.

Still not able to sit around and do nothing, we drove north to a small town called Los Olivos, walked around and did some shopping for grandchildren … and had a 5 star meal! The owner is a cyclist who knows how to prepare great, healthy food.  And today we drove south to Santa Barbara … and did more shopping for grandchildren, and a little for ourselves as well.

All in all, it’s been a great week and more "vacation" than I’ve allowed myself in a long time. With modern communication tools available in order to continue my coaching, writing and other work from the road, this trailer travel just might get addicting.

As the cowboy used to say on television in my youth (was it Roy Rogers or Gene Autrey?), "Happy Trails" to y’all. Until we meet again on our next trip.


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