Late nights and early mornings

Litigating cases takes stamina.

Days may involve hours in depositions, settlement conferences, arbitration or trials. Nights may be filled with preparation, drafting or researching.

After a marathon mediation session last week, followed by a separate settlement conference that ended minutes before midnight, followed by a 75-minute commute home, I longed for some quality time with my pillow and bed. During my drive, I envisioned going directly to bed and sleeping for many hours, even going as far as leaving a message for my wife (which she would get in the morning while I slumbered) asking her to take the kids to school in the morning, which is usually my responsibility.

Unfortunately, the mind of a lawyer is impossible to simply switch off. I finally got home on the wrong side of 1:00 a.m. and proceeded to walk the dog, rifle through the mail and re-tuck my sleeping kids into bed. I went to lay down, but thoughts relating to my newly drafted agreement came to light and I ran out to my car to grab my bag so that I could confirm that all of the provisions negotiated were part of the agreement.

After satiating my neurosis, I finally climbed into bed and realized that I was fully awake. I reviewed all of the day’s email that I missed and realized that a meeting had been scheduled for 8:30 a.m., less than seven hours away. Knowing that I needed some rest before heading out to the office, I still spent time reading in the hopes that I would be able to shake off the ever present post-court/negotiation hyper-awareness.

I awoke four and a half hours later with the same level of anxiety. I was still revved up, so I got the kids ready, got them off on their way and arrived at the office before the 8:30 a.m. meeting. This has been my life since I celebrated the arrival of 2014 with Carson Daly on New Year’s Eve. Wake up, work, home, kids, work, sleep, repeat.

StaminaEven after the litigation cycle relents, the body/mind can stay in the pattern of late nights and early mornings. Last year, after the completion of a very long and contentious arbitration proceeding, it took me a couple of weeks to break the cycle. I had to force myself to relax. Through a combination of exercise, cognitive attempts to relax and social functions (i.e. happy hour), my stress and anxiety levels lowered to a fairly acceptable level. I look forward to a weekend away from work, centered around time with my family and Peyton Manning’s attempt for a second Super Bowl ring.

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