Frank Underwood, the fictional Majority Whip turned Vice President in the Netflix series, House of Cards, uses ruthless determination and backhanded scheming to further his pursuit of power. As the title of the program suggests, Frank, his equally ruthless wife, Claire, and their inner circle live in a precariously balanced world, which requires deft movement for fear that their very world will topple upon them. Personally, while I enjoy the show, I have a difficult time rooting for Frank and Claire, the two protagonists, as they really are not good people.
Unfortunately, while on a very different level, I can relate to them.
As I draft this blog, I lay in bed next to my youngest son, on a Thursday afternoon. Two nights ago, it started with a cough. The cough turned into a fever. The fever turned into a call from his daycare, which turned into hurried conversations with my wife about schedules for the remaining week. After some bartering, promises to clients or co-workers were made in an effort to keep our personal house of cards from falling. I woke up well before sunrise today to get work done and help get my wife and oldest son out the door. With the sounds of Magic School Bus and other television programs in the background, I completed necessary tasks for work in the morning, brought my youngest to the doctor, and got back home where he finally would nap (but only with me laying next to him). My wife will return this evening and I will head out the door for a dinner meeting, which is close to the office, and a late night at the office to finish up work.
But this is no different than most other lawyers. Our schedules are busy with professional requirements such as billable hours, business development and continuing education, as well as personal responsibilities. As attorneys, we tend to believe basic rules applicable to laypersons do not apply to us. For example, there are 24 hours in a day and sleep is a necessary part of the day. In any given week, I have one or two after work commitments that keep me from having dinner with my family (whether it is work related, bar association related, or personal); a training schedule which requires me to pound out miles on the road or on a treadmill for my next marathon; a wife and two children that I want to spend quality time with, and a law practice that needs constant attention. My wife, who seamlessly morphs from full time attorney to full time mother (and back), shares an equally busy schedule. For us, the simple task of keeping our house of cards standing (and keeping our sanity) requires planning and preparation. Fortunately, over the past few years, we have been lucky to build a framework to keep it all together — especially when the next stomach bug strikes or the next snow day cancels school or the next temporary restraining order is filed against your client at 4:59pm (with a hearing at 9:30am the next day):
What keeps your house of cards from toppling over?