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The alarm is set for 7am but rarely do I have the luxury of being woken up by its tones as I have normally been disturbed by one of our three children. When up and about, I check the Blackberry for any overnight issues and then log on from home if necessary to deal with it or – more normally – I simply have breakfast with the family and then jump in the car and drive to Leeds. My journey time to work increases greatly the earlier I leave and so unless I have an early morning meeting/breakfast seminar I rarely leave home before 8.30am.
One of the joys of being a commercial litigator is that sometimes instructions come in without any warning whatsoever; an employee has suddenly jumped ship and taken confidential information (so an injunction is required), a fraud has been uncovered and needs investigating or a party to a contract has stopped playing ball and the board needs to know their rights and exposure. My day can – therefore – take unexpected turns at any point. What looks like being a day of more business development and admin than client work can suddenly turn into a day when urgent client work needs to take place. On a more normal day, I have a catch up with those who I am working with during the morning and agree the actions and updates for the day. Around mid morning, I catch up with my emails. Regular tea (much to my doctor’s disgust) is a must throughout the day.
I rarely leave the office at lunchtime. As I get in the car at the end of the day I often realise that I haven’t physically interacted with the outside world and the urge to get out is therefore great by a Friday so I try to go for a walk around town. On those days when I don’t get out, I enjoy the delights of our deli whilst catching up on the virtual world from my desk. Unless I leave the office, lunch is 15 minutes at most.
The afternoons are similar to the mornings – no set structure and dealing with matters as necessary. I try to do business development activities as soon as possible after lunch having used part of the browsing time to refine thoughts and actions for clients. I also use this time to undertake any management or firm tasks. I return to client work mid-afternoon and strangely find this is the most productive time of the day as I have cleared away what else I need to do and can focus. Before I know it, my PA is leaving for the day and people start to leave too (as a firm we like people to get home when their day is done – no one should be in work late unless they need to be). The floor goes even quieter at 7pm as the air con switches off and this is normally my only real recognition of what time it is.
As a result of not being an early starter, I very rarely leave the office before 7.00pm and it can be much later. I don’t like to leave things hanging over to the next day (there might be urgent instructions to deal with) and therefore I like to clear as much as I can each day. I also have to complete the bane of most lawyers lives – time recording! It is a treat for me to see the kids at night (and a chore for my wife because it generally means they have been playing up), though my eldest is normally still awake and therefore I run through my day (he seems genuinely interested) and he tells me about his.
I am probably out with clients/contacts or at events one night a week; although as we move towards Christmas this will inevitably increase as it also appears to do at the end of each summer. I really enjoy marketing with clients and so I try to get out and about as much as possible. On other nights the day ends around 11.00pm when the Blackberry is switched off and I dream about what might happen tomorrow….