Many attorneys spend a good deal of time on the road, either headed to the district and circuit courts across the state, to depositions, to client meetings or simply commuting to and from work in the morning. That time can seem wasted, a void in our day that we cannot get back. But, used appropriately, that road time can be a great opportunity to get work done, to educate one’s self and to diminish the stress of the day.
Road time is great for road work. (Disclaimer: No one, attorneys included, should type or read on their phone or hold their phone while driving. Typing or reading from a phone while driving is dangerous and, as of a couple years ago, is illegal in Maryland.) A commute is the perfect time to catch up on returning phone calls — try making a list of people to call and inputting the numbers into the phone before the trip. Also, while I do not know any young attorney who dictates, there are a number of talk-to-text applications that can be used to take down ideas, make arguments, or write articles during a drive.
Commuting time can also be used to improve an attorney’s knowledge of the profession. One of the ways I got through the time in my document review days was by listening to Continuing Legal Education recordings. Audio CLEs provide an easy way to learn new areas of law or to improve on trial advocacy generally. They are offered by many bar associations as part of membership as well as online from several different sources. While it is difficult to find time in the workday to go about taking or listening to CLEs and most attorneys would not want to do so after work, the commute is a perfect time to hone up on some new materials.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, road time can also be a great time to decrease the stress of the day. Try to turn off radio programs that get your blood boiling. Listen for enjoyment. As I learned driving my car across the country for law school, there are a great deal of podcasts and audiobooks available. Almost every public library allows members to borrow audiobooks Find programs that you appreciate, that calm you, that improve your day. Or just enjoy the silence that comes with time in the car.
The commute should not be wasted time: it can be used to get work done; to get educated; and to diminish stress. At the very least, it’s bonus time, so use it wisely.