Travel to maximize office/work time

The late Wayne Huizenga, who founded several major corporations and owned several professional sports teams, was quoted in a news article many years ago as endorsing the view that he and his employees traveled on business during the time most people are home, spending time with their families. For Mr. Huizenga, it was more important to be working in the office, traveling after the close of business, than to be spending valuable time traveling during work hours. Although I knew and admired Mr. Huizenga, I am billions of dollars behind him in net worth. However, I have always operated my company, Magnus, with the same philosophy, to the extent it has been possible to do so. That is, work hours are for working. Magnus’s clients are attorneys, all of whom work during “regular business hours” and then, they work nights and weekends, too. They expect us to be in our office, working, at times when they need us. In addition, it is never an acceptable excuse to explain to one client that we are too busy working for another client to assist them with what they need us to do. For these, and other, reasons, I prefer my staff and I to travel at times that maximize our time for working in Magnus’ headquarters. On days when we have to travel to work in an out of town location, this is not always possible, due to the length of time it takes to reach our destination. But, whenever possible, particularly when we are conducting a local research project, I prefer my staff and I to leave our office at the last possible minute, leaving, of course, ample time for equipment and other set up on site after our arrival at the research location. I have always been the person at Magnus who travels more than anyone else. In that most juries are selected on Mondays, it is I, not my staff, who routinely have my weekends cut short by traveling on Sundays to out of town jury selections. Most of my clients not only want my assistance selecting their jury, they also want to review their trial strategies with me prior to jury selection. When this happens, I am required to meet with my clients on Sunday afternoon or evening. I frequently have to change my personal plans while visiting friends out of town or while hosting out of town guests in my home. I explain, “I have to leave Sunday for a jury selection out of town. Have fun without me.”, then I hope they forgive me for changing/ruining our plans. Traveling for work is something we, at Magnus, do. We help our clients wherever and wherever they need our help, while ensuring all of our clients’ needs and expectations are met.

There is certainly a balance in scheduling work and work travel to meet the clients’ needs. Without imposing on our employees’ personal time or incurring too much expense related to overtime work, the clients’ needs must come first. And, one thing, I suspect, is not taught at law school is that the life of a lawyer is one of long hours, and long days. I am amazed at the life of a lawyer. I know that young associates are often paid high salaries, but they are expected to earn their keep and work very long hours. The norm in the USA is 40 hours/week of work, that equates to 2,080 hours/year. A very successful attorney told me many years ago that he billed 3,000 hours/year. That is 50% more hours than the normal working year. And, that does not count unbillable time, like firm meetings, administrative responsibilities, etc. Clearly, this attorney was working hard for his clients – in ways that, perhaps, have life and health ramifications later, but nonetheless, he was productive. And, I’m sure that his billable hours reflected working on the road, leaving early, getting home on the last flight, etc. In few environments can employers expect, or demand, that kind of time commitment. But, it can be challenging to get employees to understand that their job depends on helping others do their job and that those jobs are far more demanding than their job. So, we try to balance the needs of the clients with reasonable decisions on travel. Unfortunately, we don’t own a 737, as Mr. Huizenga did, so we must take more modest forms of transportation. And, Melissa has always been particularly mindful of the care such planning requires to get the job done.

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