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Working through the dog days of August

Everyone seems to be on vacation. Between attorneys in my office, opposing counsel, clients and potential witnesses, litigation departments and courthouses should simply shut down the first three weeks of August.

Unfortunately for me, I do not have any planned vacation this month. (I take my vacation in September because it’s cheaper and there are less vacationing office mates, opposing counsel, clients and potential witnesses that I may run into.) Doubly unfortunate for me, my July workload has spilled over into August and new files appear on my desk constantly. So I have declared August my month to get ahead, both professionally and personally.

While most of you are busy working on tans or touring ancient ruins, I will use the next month to organize and develop cases, contact potential clients and clean out my inbox. It’s almost like New Year’s in the summer, with a new resolution. I also look forward to cleaning out the junk (or charitable deductions) taking up space in my home and preparing for the upcoming bar year.

In our fast-paced lives, taking time to clear out the clutter and think a few steps ahead will minimize potential problems and make whatever task you are performing more efficient.

The classic example is the slow crawl of litigation. As a commercial litigator, I am either filing or defending against a lawsuit or arbitration. Both involve time constraints, whether statute of limitation, deadlines to file an answer or responsive pleading or a fictitious deadline to keep the wheels of litigation moving. When the court issues a scheduling order, it is easy to simply calendar the dates and complete the next tasks. Taking the time to see how all of these tasks relate to one’s case and how each is a stepping stone to truly preparing for a case is the hard part.

So, instead of cutting out a little early on days when the rest of world seems to be at the beach, I am spending this month connecting the dots of litigation. That way, when it’s my turn to disconnect from the office (September seems so far away right now), I will not only know what deadlines are coming up but why they are important to the case.

And for those of you enjoying that long-awaited trip to the beach or tour through Tuscany, enjoy. The work (and I) will be here when you get back.