Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Monkey

My typical day starts at around 9:00AM, when I hear my alarm.  I like to keep my alarm clock (my blackberry) in the living room, and have it play real soft soothing music.  This accomplishes a few things: (1) it forces me to get out of bed to actually turn it off, (2) it keeps me from checking my blackberry in the middle of the night or early in the morning - the absolute best way to ruin your night and any good dreams, and (3) found that it inadvertently does what that sleep cycle app does - wakes me up at the end of my REM cycle - because it's soft enough that it will only wake me up when i'm already kind of stirring, so i get up sometime actually between 9 and 9:30. By the time i'm out the door it's usually about ten to ten or close to ten, and it takes me ten minutes door to door to get to work.

From this point onwards, my day splits generally into one of four types:

(1) Fucking busy.  Staffed on multiple active deals, or just one one that is taking up all of your time. On these days, i just hit the ground running and don't stop 'til i get home, which will not be early but not too late.  Basically, i'd have a set of things that i know need to do either leftover from another day or just things that need to get done, and then there will be random emails or calls that come in all day from other attorneys or clients interrupting your flow.  Order in lunch or quickly grab something, no personal email, internet surfing, news reading or stock trading.  Just pandora and go go go.  Because of this, i usually can get out by 10 (unless for some odd reason i absolutely have to stay in the office - like all-night negotiation or i just want to be in the sure...i'd go home and if i need to work just work at home). These are days i'd bill basically every hour and then some, you know, for the time i spend thinking about work while i dream, which i inevitably do a bit. these days tend to be more and more rare the better i get at monkeying shit off my back.

(2) Capital markets busy.  Typical day when you're own capital markets deals that are not super busy generally end up being filled with useless crap (and actually especially when you are really busy, even more useless crap), especially if you are running or one of the few running the deal.  This is because typical capital markets work consists almost exclusively of completely vapid paper-chasing monotony - if you are pre-launch, you fight over how to say the same thing 50 times (and for Reg S/144A deals that most do, to protect against the pretty much nil risk that some institutional investor would sue over disclosure); if you are pre-pricing, you lob comments on the purchase agreement, opinions, comfort letter, other docs back and forth, like monkeys throwing their worthless smelly shit at each other; and if you are pre-closing, you spend all your time chasing down different people to give you signed pieces of paper that no one will look at again, ever in their life unless they need for some reason need to wipe their ass and that's all they got.  And the whole time, you'll have brainless bankers calling you incessantly to ask you things like "can we have a pre-call call to discuss some things in advance of the pre-call we our going to have with the larger group for our weekly update call that will be postponed to next week, in case it doesn't get postponed or if we have another meeting to discuss the potential pre-call issues?" But usually, if you know what you are doing generally, will get out to the gym during lunch or after work, have some time for leisurely lunch or dinner.  Maybe out between 7 and 8+. i'd bill pretty much a full day here, less the leisurely lunch or gym as noted before.

(3) M&A busy.  When i'm on M&A deals, it can be hell or chill. There can be a lot of paper pushing but generally i think it's a lot of fielding client requests, client phone calls, and ancillary docs, depending on whose counsel you are. But if you are in the long period pre-signing, generally you'll be working on the docs with your client, DD, checklists, comparison charts and similar stuff, but until they start pressing to sign or unless there are other time pressures, you won't be too rushed until you start negotiating with the other side.  Anyway, generally have a lot more down time in the day, which i use to get snacks, go to the gym, walk around, blog, get a beer at the rooftop bar nearby, play tennis, etc., but sometimes you'll get requests that come in super late or calls at weird times.  Also depending on who you work with, you can get out of the office relatively early, and just work remotely if you need to - probably between 7 and 8+ too. same billing as for cat 2.

(4) Chillin like a villain.  Okay, on days when i have nothing to do, i'll generally get up later, and get to work later, maybe before 11am.  Do stuff on my computer - my own projects or personal things, take a long lunch with friends or go home and nap and play video games, go to the gym, blah blah blah. Show my face in the afternoon and do some work (if i really have absolutely no work to do, i'll probably just not go to work - not not show up, tell my secretary to tell people some excuse, and go play golf or something), and make my move to go home - usually before 5:30. The trick is not to leave when the partners are leaving, which is around 6 i think, otherwise they'll know you're free and start thinking of giving shit for you to do. also, on these days, i try to make sure i don't bring a coat, bag or anything else, so that whenever i leave at 4:30 or 5, it looks like i'm just kind of stepping out rather than leaving for good (note that i don't think it's a big deal to leave if i have no work, but i just want to have no work for as long as possible). Then, once i leave work, i do whatevvaa the fuck i want. word. billing for this is a bit more tricky, i try not to input any time at all so i don't make it blatantly obvious i did zero work that day. so i'll just note and return to it at the latest possible time. then i'll stretch what i did in terms of non billables and be gracious with the billables i did do (i don't feel guilty about the latter part because all our deals are capped and it's hard enough to collect so it's not like what we bill actually gets paid, it's just a metric for how much more work i'm going to get).

Notwithstanding my mantra of maintaining efficiency and billing all hours you are in the office, it's not really my goal to be in and out as fast as possible on any given day. I could, for example, on medium busy days, plow through everything and be out by 4 or 5, but generally would rather take the hour or so off to hit the gym or swim or meet fiends for a drink in the middle o the day and leave by 7 - still billing the same. and another common thread is that even on days where i may fairly busy or medium busy, i'll always leave at a very reasonable hour, and if i need to do work later i'll do it later. honestly, no one is going to die if i don't do things as soon as they are asked of me, i'm only a "doctor" of jurisprudence, whatever the fuck that means.  so just because some dickhole banker or client impresses some sense of urgency on you, remember it's ur job to calm him the fuck down and talk some sense into him. if it makes u happy to relax a bit in the day, ull be much more productive and do better work faster.

Of course the one big caveat to all this is that on any given type of day, you could get that one call, or that one email, that just fucks your whole night, day, life.... Just as an example, i remember one night i was in a category 2 or 3 day, and i had decided to stay just a few extra minutes to wash my face...went back to my office to grab my bag, and just i as i was bending over i spied out of the corner of my eye, a partner lurking around...a partner that doesn't work on my floor...and i knew i was one of the last people on my floor there.  I actually thought for a split second of hiding under my desk...but i thought he might of seen me out of the corner of his eye first...and that would be...AWKward. Anyway, so he caught me, called me up to his office, and some client request came in to prepare a first draft of an SPA for them over night, and a senior came in, gave me some general guidelines at 11pm, and i basically worked until 9am, doing that shit, and then nothing happened. that was so super i went right back to the partner and said "thank you sir! may have another?" and proceeded to throw my shit at his face. metaphorically. in my head. twice.

Anyway, that's a day in my corporate monkey lawyer life.



    Hilarious post. You sound like a billing machine.

  2. Seriously -- this is some useful shit -- I think I've left the office (for good, I mean) once before 6pm. Do you find it easy to work from home? I haven't really tried it, but I guess it's worth a shot. When you are super fucking busy, do you ever dream about contracts? I went through a two week period last summer when I was getting very little sleep and working long hours, and I would have interminable dreams at night about drafting contracts. Sad.

  3. How do I have a googlename called "Franchikov St. Franchikov"???? Bizarre.

  4. Franchikov St. Franchikov-
    Working from home is not without quirks but makes things so much better generally for me. Some people love to be in the office and away from home, but if i gotta choose between working 4 hrs @ home on my couch vs. 3.5 hrs @ the office, i'd always pick the former. i'll have some more posts later about some technical things that will make it easier for u to get by from home - assuming you have some sort of citrix client for ur firm like gotomypc and a firm laptop, ur 'productivity' is probably slightly reduced from a mobile station, and u may not have a scanner, but there are ways around all of this that ill get to later. still beats sitting at your desk like a chump at 10pm on a friday or 3pm on a saturday.

    and yea, i used to dream about work a lot. it was like a never left the office. i remember in law school i used to dream about golf, and beating this one guy i used to play with...ah the life of a free monkey.

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Monkey away: