Working (Mark Rubin)

April 12, 2015

I’m Mark Rubin, and I blog here at Mark Rubin Writes. Months ago I wrote about two friends’ work day lives. I intended to do more interviews and posts but I’m too short on time right now. I can, however, write about my work life without spending time interviewing myself.

Most days, I’m at work by 7 a.m. There’s rarely a work-related reason for that; rather, I’m an early riser, I like to get out in front of situations, and I enjoy the solitude.

You rise early or you don’t, and you like a quiet setting or you don’t. (One of my oldest friends is a trial court judge, and he’d go batty on an appellate court, writing all day in his chambers. And our former partner, who sits on the Arizona Supreme Court, loves his quiet job.)

As for getting out ahead of situations, I learned lessons in college which have stuck with me. One, in particular, involves starting work on projects when I get them, spreading out the effort. Rarely do I bump up against a deadline, which allows my secretary and me to live in a “no drama” zone!

I start my day with a review of my posted time for the prior day. I’m looking for duplications and missed entries. If the time does not get posted, it never gets billed.

Once I’ve got my time reconciled, I post the sum to a personal spreadsheet, tracking where I am on my annual budget. Frankly, while I try to work hard every day, if I’m behind I push harder, and if I’m ahead I … shhh!

Every few days, and always on Saturday or Sunday, I move emails from Outlook into our document management system. Moving the emails is my least favorite task, but they need to be in the system, and the moving process helps me remember what I haven’t done, what I ought to do, and keeps me aware of my clients, whose active matters are at least a few dozen at any time.

Most of my work day, most of the time, focuses on emails and telephone calls. I get between 30 and 50 substantive emails a day, and take/place at least 25 phone calls every day.

I write for work every day. Much of the writing is short letters and long emails, but I am often working on a substantive motion, reply, response, or brief. These endeavors require research, organization, and lots and lots of editing. They’re also my favorite task!

I draft agreements and related business documents frequently. Some are easier than others. Because they often guide future conduct, they require lots of care. What seems like a clear statement about an issue may not be clear at all. And, as well, the law must be accounted for.

I have a legal assistant who helps with agreements, and another who does all of my estate planning document drafts. I review everything thoroughly, and often make changes, but if I started from scratch each time I’d never be caught up.

I go to court a couple of times a week. Most hearings are short and perfunctory, although the motions, replies, responses, and briefs will usually generate a hearing or oral argument, where there’s a premium on quick thinking and knowing your case well. Those hearings can last an hour or more.

Trials happen rarely. In my world of probate and business disputes, they rarely last more than two or three days, and almost never involve a jury. And the disputes almost always get resolved before a trial.

I do see clients in person from time to time. Unlike physicians and dentists, however, most of my work happens away from my clients, and my day does not work off of client visits.

I also attend meetings from time to time. In my prior life, chunks of many days got spent on nonprofit work. That happens rarely now.

Finally, there’s lunch and after work. If I need the break or an energy booster, I run during the noon hour and bring back a light lunch. Most days, though, I eat with some of my law partners, or with a client or some friends.

And after work? Well, along about 4 p.m. I’m usually feeling parched. Alcohol does not pass my lips in my building—art shows and parties excepted—but I’m often partaking by 5-ish, either at an adult beverages establishment or at home.

That’s my day, in 750 words. Not too exciting, but it’s fulfilling and it pays the bills.

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