The last three years of my life have been filled with change. I got married three years ago, I became a father two years ago, and this year I started a law firm with one of my close friends. With so much change, I had to alter the way I went about nearly everything in my life. Most importantly, I needed to find new ways to fit all of my new life into a single day.
With the birth of my son I discovered that I had clearly grown comfortable with my daily routine hardened over the first 10 years of my law practice. Before the little one arrived I would wake early every morning, head into the office by 7 and get a jump on the day. My lunch hour would be filled with time at the gym and I would be home by a little after 6 to take care of the dogs. I would then be free to hang out with friends, relax, or continue working on the case of the moment. Even my Sundays would be spent working at the office to get prepared for the coming week. Although my days were dominated by work, I liked my life.
While getting married didn’t alter my work life all that much – I married a woman far more driven than myself – I had someone to share the morning and end of the day with. And while I still loved my law practice, I could feel myself being pulled away from the desire to spend most of my waking moments at the office. I was not, though, prepared for my life as a lawyer-parent.
My wife and I waited until our late-30s to start our family. While this is increasingly common among our generation, I still was not fully prepared for the ways that my law practice and my life would change with a little one in tow. I learned early on that daycare doesn’t seem to care that you might have a client meeting that lasts past 6 in the evening – the late charges and angry expressions start piling up at a minute past 6. And your son just doesn’t understand that you might need a little sleep in order to be ready for court the next day. No, your life and your law practice have to adapt to a very needy (and adorable) little one.
I turned to technology in my effort to cope with the additional stress on my time. I had always been one to adopt technology to tackle life’s challenges and we have so many alternatives available to us that can help a busy lawyer tackle the work while leaving time for the family. One of my favorite tools has to be the iPad®. While I tote around my laptop and iPhone®, I am not sure I could make do without the iPad in my busy life.
I find the iPad to be an extremely useful device for my practice. Beyond the obvious email and Web surfing functionality, I have used the iPad in reviewing and annotating discovery with iAnnotate, editing documents in Pages, keeping track of and billing my time to clients, and sneaking in research assignments on WestlawNext®. In fact, the WestlawNext iPad app has saved me on more than one occasion as I sat with my son in his nursery trying to put him back to sleep. My son didn’t seem to know or care much about ineffective assistance of counsel claims I was researching, but he did like the bright shiny colors on the screen. And soon he was asleep and my research was complete.
While technology has kept me more up to date with my practice and allowed me to accomplish more than I could have imagined when I started my law career, few things have enhanced my law practice like having a family. I now prioritize my tasks and focus more during the day, becoming more efficient in my work, which allows me to get home to my family. But most importantly, having a family has provided me with the patience and understanding for my clients that I never had before I became a father. In the end, my clients have a better lawyer and I have a more well-rounded life.