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The World is Temporarily Closed: Communication, Onsite Work and Pandemic Productivity

Pandemic1The following is one attorney's view of how the pandemic has affected his work. Not everyone is having the same experience. There are some very scary stories out there, lots of successes, too many halls of shame and finally, acceptance. Here is Ted Wells, litigation attorney in Los Angeles.

 

Communication with Colleagues and Support Staff

 
I miss popping into my colleagues’ offices to chat or to hear their thoughts about how to handle this or that problem or motion. I miss impromptu coffee runs. But what I’ve lost in that sort of thing I’ve gained in group chats and Zoom happy hours. Now, instead of popping into a colleague’s office to get their take on an idea, I do so over the group chat. I miss the face to face, but this works. Much the same is true for communicating with support staff. E-mails continue to serve the same purpose as they did when everyone was in the office, and for those conversations where in pre-pandemic days I would walk over to my secretary and talk, I simply call. On that point, the pandemic made me do something I never thought I would, which is get a landline. My cell service is too bad at home to do business, so I got a landline at home that I use primarily for that purpose. It has really worked out and I recommend it.
 
Onsite Work
 
I don’t know of any firms that ask attorneys or support staff to work onsite, and given the ease of communication apparent from the last 10 months (has it really been that long?), I don’t see a good reason to do this. Opposing counsel in every one of my cases seems to have call forwarding from their office lines and some kind of work from home arrangement. Between cloud computing services, Microsoft Remote Desktop, and call forwarding, I see no reason to ask people to come into the office until we’re all vaccinated. There is real value in coming into the office, and it’s not just the impromptu coffees and chats with colleagues I mentioned earlier. However, these days, the risks of the virus pretty clearly outweigh the benefits of coming into the office.
 
Pandemic Productivity
 
I no longer have a commute. That saves me about an hour and a half a day. This has allowed me to dedicate more time to running, which is the primary way I blow off steam and deal with the stress that seems to be coming from every angle these days. As a litigator, I welcome the increased personal time, which is precious. If anything, my productivity has increased since I began working from home. I think this is the result of the increased personal time and consequent decrease in stress, but also simply not commuting has benefits of its own. It turns out that it is less stressful to not sit on the 101 twice a day, than to do so. I don’t look forward to traffic ramping back up once this is all over, but I do look forward to seeing colleagues once again. Here’s hoping that’s sometime soon.
 
Do you have a pandemic story you would like to share? Send it to chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com
 
TWells Teded Wells is an experienced Los Angeles litigator with Romero Law, an employment law civil litigation and trial firm located in Pasadena that specializes in representing whistleblowers and employees in harassment, retaliation, and discrimination matters. Ted had five published opinions by the 5th year of practice. His firm has been the subject of recent international press coverage with respect to ongoing high-profile litigation.
 
 
Estrin.2020Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top national and international staffing organization and MediSums, medical records summarizing. She is the Co-Founding Member and Vice-President of the Organization of Legal Professionals. Chere has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. Chere is a recipient of the Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award and a Los Angeles Paralegal Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient She is a former administrator at an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. She can be reached on Sundays from 3am-5am. Reach out at: chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com.