“There is a motion to dismiss hearing in the Smith case in Florida in January,” my boss said to me. “Can you go?”
My response, without obtaining any details: “Absolutely.” It’s Florida in January; of course I want to go. I don’t even care what the hearing is about, I’m just picturing palm trees and the warm sun.
The thing about work travel is that it is a great idea until you are in the middle of the fourth flight of the trip, scrunched up against a complete stranger. That’s when you think to yourself: “Why did I agree to this?” Which you still think about when you are tired two days later. Let’s not even talk about all the non-billable time waiting in lines, getting an Uber, checking into a hotel…the list goes on.
But when you put aside the annoyance of air travel, a work trip is actually a great experience. Thanks to work travel I have been to places I would not have typically traveled to, like Rock Island, Illinois in the Quad Cities. (Did you know that there is a John Deere Museum there?! Bet you didn’t!)
The other great thing, aside from the per diem for food and drink, is the experience of practicing in other jurisdictions. This most recent trip for the motion to dismiss in Florida was interesting. The hearing was held in chambers and you bring your own court reporter. While the vibe is casual, the arguments are still formal. Interestingly, the judge in Brevard County Florida was no different than the judges in Maryland.
Practice tip: Find out the customs of that court in advance so you don’t show up without your own court reporter and then have no record of the hearing (I did not do this because, thankfully, local counsel warned me).
My trip to Rock Island, Illinois is one I will never forget. My colleague and I worked around the clock taking about seven depositions in less than 5 days. There was one hotel in town. We lived like college roommates for the whole week in our adjoining rooms. There were no cabs, just “a guy” the guy at the front desk knew who owned a gold minivan and drove us around. Though unconventional, he was nice and kindly took us around looking for an open pharmacy when my colleague had an allergic reaction.
There were hardly any restaurants in town. The best place to eat was the hipster coffee shop across from the hotel. I had to have had 10 meals there, enough that I filled up the punch card and got a new one. The depositions were equally as atypical. We did not get along with opposing counsel at all. We could not even agree on the color of the sky. It was sheer craziness, but it was, in retrospect, a great experience. Although, had you asked me at the time, I would have most certainly told you it was unpleasant.
Hence the love-hate relationship with work travel. It can be exhausting and disorienting, but it is also an experience. One that will teach you something new about yourself and your practice. And for that, I am grateful.
Travel Tips: Plan out your packing so that you do not forget either the case documents or your underwear.
Do not expect the hotel hairdryer will actually dry your hair.
Make sure you can maneuver your carry-on around the airport with ease and try to avoid the heavy briefcase.
Expect that at some point you will be running through the airport. (Doing this in heels is less than pleasant.)
Plan out where you will get food from so you are not just eating junk at the airport or a quick stop.
Know where to find coffee.
Figure out how long it will take you to get an Uber to court.
Expect that it will take you twice as long to get to court, get through security and find the courtroom.
Do you have any work-travel tips? Please share them in the comments below.