Changes in Strategy

I realized this morning that the nine week mark had passed two days ago without me noticing. A sure sign that life after surgery is inching closer to normal. Moreover, as my regular readers will have noticed, it’s been a full five days since my last post. It’s not that I have run out of things to say (as if!), I’ve just been terribly, terribly busy producing work product for the upcoming trial and have been working very long days and both days of the weekend. It hasn’t exactly been fun but I have already caught up and pulled ahead on hours for the year. Once the trial is over I will have a lot of downtime. I’m already making mental lists of trips I want to do and trying to figure out how much time I can persuade Husband to take off in the coming months. Until the end of April however work life will continue to be intense.

One of the inevitabilities of this kind of legal work is that things are always changing. Most of the time you can’t stay on top of everything you have to do, let alone get ahead. This lack of control can be unsettling. Oftentimes you end up spinning your wheels. The last few weeks I, along with two colleagues, have been furiously preparing for a particular strategy in this trial. It’s all we have spent our time on.

Then Monday, the word came from on high. “Yeah, “we” (the royal we) are not going to do that now. ” So there it was, several weeks work mostly for naught. It’s a little distressing to now have nothing usable to show for a considerable amount of arduous labor but I’m choosing to characterize it as a net win. This change in strategy (“streamlining our approach”) will make life a fair bit easier (though still far from easy) once the trial actually starts. The hours I spent grinding away still made the same dent in my billable requirement. When I’m frolicking in the mountains or paddleboarding with dolphins this summer I won’t feel sad that I got there by creating a ton of work product that never saw the light of day.

It also reminded me of a time when I was a junior associate and slaved away on a motion to disqualify the judge in a case for bias. For the non lawyers, in these types of motions the judge you are asking to rule on your motion is the very judge you are trying to disqualify from presiding over your case. It’s a bit awkward. The danger of course is that, notwithstanding the law and facts being on your side, the judge gets enraged, refuses to recuse herself, the appellate court agrees with the judge, and you’ve just made things much tougher for yourself and your client. If you come at the king, you best not miss…. With that kind of pressure in mind, I feverishly slaved away all weekend writing and refining the motion. Come Monday morning, the senior partner on the case informed me with some regret that ultimately he felt our chances of success were not sure enough and the potential fallout too great so we wouldn’t be filing the motion. By this point, I had come to wholeheartedly believe in the righteousness of our position and was positively crestfallen. At lunch, I was expressing my disappointment to a more senior attorney. She laughed and remarked, “Never regret an opportunity to practice doing your best work and then not have it come under scrutiny.” Sage advice which has remained high up on my top ten list of pieces of professional advice. (That’s a great idea for another post actually).

Since Monday, I have toiled away in a new direction and managed to be relatively productive. The 20 minute timer is still working well for me. Husband suggested I could increase productivity 25 percent by extending the timer to 25 minutes. (He also thought he deserved a consultant’s fee for that idea.) I decided to try it for a day or two. It was a disaster. 25 minutes feels much longer than 20 minutes. On a 25 minute timer, I would get distracted and start checking my phone to see if I had actually started the timer. Then I would check Facebook. You can figure out the rest.

On the physical front, things are going well. I’m able to walk more and better each day but I still limp a little and have a little stiffness and soreness in my heel. If I’m going to be walking around a lot, then it’s best to take one crutch and use it as a sort of walking stick. It makes a big difference in how much I can tolerate. I’ve been making huge progress at physical therapy but feel like we are pushing up against my limits some days. On Tuesday, we did a lot of exercises including some that felt like they were loading my Achilles a lot. I was sore when I got home and fretted about having overdone things. I was sure my heel would be really sore for days. Then when I woke up the next morning it felt fine, even a little better. Thursday’s session was similar. Once again, this morning my heel felt even better. Next week will be my last sessions for several weeks as on Thursday I have to head down to South Florida to the trial site. My PT is going to give me a “home” program (the irony) to do, so hopefully I will continue to progress while I’m away.

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