One way to look at Black Friday – mischaracterized as the “official” start of the Christmas Spend, though what office authorized it remains a mystery – is as a day to go spend. Another way is to go observe the spectacle, which I did briefly at the nearest doorbuster – Best Buy. A co-worker from a former employer passed me in the parking lot; it was about 4:30 AM. Four State Police cars lined up against the door were protecting this store and its patrons from, well, doorbusters, and quite a few uniformed officers were inside. I could have bought an iPad for myself, but the alternative uses of the money were significantly more important.
I have a doorbuster of my own. If Circuit Court is indeed open today, I will be going downtown to research the title history of a property for which I am preparing a ground rent redemption deed. Neither my client (lessee) nor the ground rent lessor has the history on this property. If Circuit Court will be opening, I will be first in line to get this piece of business done.
Clients often ask me, “do you have ______________ off?” I ask them what “off” means. I tell them that my boss has demands and that there aren’t work days and non-workdays, merely work, deadlines and completion of work. They tell me I have no boss. I tell them that the moment I start thinking I have no boss, their case is in jeopardy.
What I don’t have is a bureaucrat making arbitrary decisions about clock management. Work gets done when it needs to get done or sooner according to court deadlines, available time, personal schedules, etc. Anytime can be a work time or a play time, in theory.
Later today, I will share Thanksgiving dinner with my family; we did not have the meal on Thursday because the needs of patients for nursing care, like law but even more so, doesn’t observe “official” holidays. At least with law, they will close the courthouse doors and lock them on Thanksgiving, so only some kinds of work can get done.
Probably the biggest difference between solo lawyering and being an employee of a law firm is the setting of higher standards. There’s no bureaucracy, only the clients, the courts and the Bar authorities. There’s no bean counter arbitrarily granting or denying “paid time off.” The “boss” is the unrelenting objective reality of what can, must and may get done; the “boss” is not a person but the distribution of consequences of choices, good and bad.
Now if you will excuse me, I have a courthouse door to bust down. Boss says it needs to get done.