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Working on the weekend

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Do you remember the first time you worked on a weekend? Do you remember what for?

I'm hoping to draw out some funny/interesting stories about working weekends.

I was handed some work to complete over the weekend for an important, but not particularly high stakes, problem a client is having. It occurred to me that this is probably the first of many (hopefully not too many) weekends I'll work over the long career ahead of me.

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I don’t have a good story but remember that it was the first weekend after starting articling. While at the bar, I got an email from a partner around 10:30 pm on a Saturday night asking if I could look into a evidentiary issue for a motion he had coming up in two weeks time.

Got it done in about an hour and a half Sunday morning while watching soccer. Always left me feeling bad for the partner though - and a tad concerned about his social life. Now that it’s a been a few years since I try to ask if he’s up for a few beers whenever we work on a file together. I gotta get that guy out and about. 

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I had an absurdly relaxed articling experience compared to most.  I think it was around 6 months into my articling term that I actually worked a weekend (from home).

Now I work pretty much every Sunday. 

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The first weekend I worked was when I was a summer student. One of the support staff quit unexpectedly, and with a ton of time sensitive work that had to be done by Monday. So naturally, this was an excellent learning experience for the summer student 

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Saw this thread earlier today and contemplated telling my boring story of my first full weekend of work while articling, which was two weeks ago.

Strangely enough, the partner on the file followed up with me a few hours ago giving me enough work to take away this weekend as well.

Beware all, this thread is cursed.

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Technically the first weekend I worked was a comped trip to a conference 2 weeks after I started at my current firm :D Schmoozing is hard, ok?

I didn't actually work on a weekend until a few months into my first year of practice (#smallfirmlyfe) but it was a real doozy.

The senior lawyers were all on vacation (some transoceanic, some in the backwoods), and it was the first time I was in charge of closing a big international deal alone. Friday at 7pm, we were still negotiating the main terms for this closing that absolutely had to be on Monday, which - of course - was a stat. US OC was being a nitpicky curmudgeon and pushed back on everything, down to the last comma. Then, both sides signed the wrong version of the agreement, then decided they wanted a different entity to be party to the agreement, which would have been a tax nightmare for our client (talked them out of that, thankfully!), etc., etc., etc. All while 80% of the firm was completely unreachable. 🙃

Since then, I've had a few weekends where I need to put in decent hours, but nothing quite so gauntlet-y.

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It was the first weekend of my summer, and it was for one of those “state of this area of law” memos that I was hopelessly out of my depth for considering the Monday deadline (from the Thursday afternoon assignment). 

I worked a handful of hours most Saturdays in my summer because, sadly, “you can just get so much done on the weekend” becomes very real, very quickly. 

So far in articling I’ve done 2-4 hours each Sunday just because. WFH has really changed shit; I’m at home doing nothing anyway, why not just get a bit ahead of the week?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jaggers said:

I don't remember what it was that I had to work on, but I do remember thinking "Why the fuck didn't they plan ahead and ask us this on Wednesday?". Stupid shit like that is why I went in house. And since I can't use my vacation for a real vacation this year, I just booked every Friday off for the rest of the year because five day weeks are too long during a pandemic.

Having articled in-house, I identify with this. I worked one Sunday during articling, putting together a presentation for a bunch of senior management folks. Doing power point creation in a loud office is just not a thing I enjoy. 

Hell, I can count on my hands the number of days I worked past 5:30 or 6:00 (usually strolled in around 8 or 8:30), almost always because of an urgent issue, wanting to get caught up on something, or because something was due imminently. 

Now I'm looking to join a firm, and I know that's gonna be a bit of an adjustment. 

Edited by whoknows

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I am very well paid, and don't mind working evenings and weekends if there is good reason for it. What drove me nuts was when it was a result of a fake emergency or because of poor planning or just a lack of respect for people's need for downtime.

I have one file right now where the partner working on it regularly sends emails in the middle of the night and on weekends. I assume that when that person is working on my file at those hours I am not getting the quality of work I'm paying for, and I won't likely send any more files their way. I'll send work to people who are actually on top of their workload, not regularly chasing it down late at night.

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First time was during articling - Nothing particularly time sensitive, just realized that there aren't enough hours in the week to get everything done and keep my head above water. I regularly work a few hours on Sunday to give myself some breathing room during the week. 

What's crazy is when you start to feel guilty that you aren't staying late during the week or coming in on weekends! This career can really mess with your head. 

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When I end up working at night or on the weekend I used to curse myself thinking back to the 10+ hours I wasted earlier in the week while at work by browsing the web, posting here, posting there, staring at the walls, crafting a workout schedule in Excel that I will never start, looking up the amount of carbs in a green pepper, etc. 

But lately I have stopped with the self-loathing. The mind wanders and I think it is supposed to wander. 

(this post has nothing to do with the poor souls who are handed weekend work by a boss. my sympathies to them)

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

When I end up working at night or on the weekend I used to curse myself thinking back to the 10+ hours I wasted earlier in the week while at work by browsing the web, posting here, posting there, staring at the walls, crafting a workout schedule in Excel that I will never start, looking up the amount of carbs in a green pepper, etc. 

But lately I have stopped with the self-loathing. The mind wanders and I think it is supposed to wander. 

(this post has nothing to do with the poor souls who are handed weekend work by a boss. my sympathies to them)

You know, I actually love legal work compared to other jobs I've had (and I've gotten to try my hand at a fair bit of diverse work). But this is one thing that drives me nuts and I will need to get over. With less "intellectual" work I could always buckle down, power through, and do productive work for hours on end. I'm simply not capable of doing that with legal work. So I sure hope you are right about the ubiquity and necessity of the wandering.

Edited by CleanHands
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2 hours ago, Jaggers said:

I am very well paid, and don't mind working evenings and weekends if there is good reason for it. What drove me nuts was when it was a result of a fake emergency or because of poor planning or just a lack of respect for people's need for downtime.

I have one file right now where the partner working on it regularly sends emails in the middle of the night and on weekends. I assume that when that person is working on my file at those hours I am not getting the quality of work I'm paying for, and I won't likely send any more files their way. I'll send work to people who are actually on top of their workload, not regularly chasing it down late at night.

Perhaps they work better at night and on weekends? Everyone has their own preferences for how to work. During the day they may spend more time with their kids, etc.

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2 hours ago, Jaggers said:

I am very well paid, and don't mind working evenings and weekends if there is good reason for it. What drove me nuts was when it was a result of a fake emergency or because of poor planning or just a lack of respect for people's need for downtime.

I have one file right now where the partner working on it regularly sends emails in the middle of the night and on weekends. I assume that when that person is working on my file at those hours I am not getting the quality of work I'm paying for, and I won't likely send any more files their way. I'll send work to people who are actually on top of their workload, not regularly chasing it down late at night.

Shouldn't the quality of the work determine the quality of the work? You're basically saying if he/she had the foresight to use delay delivery you wouldn't have an issue.

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Also, I assume this thread is about working on the weekend in law.

If there's a poster who had never worked on the weekend prior to summering/articling, well, we've had very different life experiences.

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I loved working in a restaurant on the weekends. It was stressful and physically taxing, sure. But it was a lot more fun than office work on a weekend.

But I 100 percent prefer office work during the week.

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1 hour ago, CleanHands said:

You know, I actually love legal work compared to other jobs I've had (and I've gotten to try my hand at a fair bit of diverse work). But this is one thing that drives me nuts and I will need to get over. With less "intellectual" work I could always buckle down, power through, and do productive work for hours on end. I'm simply not capable of doing that with legal work. So I sure hope you are right about the ubiquity and necessity of the wandering.

The "less intellectual" work makes my ADD go on high drive. My mind flies and I have a lot more trouble concentrating on the repetitive and menial.

Whereas if I'm there thinking, writing, or reading, I'm way more easily focused.

Example: right now and docketing.

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1 hour ago, CleanHands said:

You know, I actually love legal work compared to other jobs I've had (and I've gotten to try my hand at a fair bit of diverse work). But this is one thing that drives me nuts and I will need to get over. With less "intellectual" work I could always buckle down, power through, and do productive work for hours on end. I'm simply not capable of doing that with legal work. So I sure hope you are right about the ubiquity and necessity of the wandering.

I think some people can fall into a self-perfection hamster wheel that goes nowhere other than feeling bad about themselves:

1) be imperfect, 2) tell yourself to be more perfect going forward (be more efficient, plan better, etc.), 3) fail at being more perfect, 4) feel bad. 

Most of us are not working even 80% of the hours we are "at work" so none of us should not feel bad about it. 

Intellectual work is like power lifting with your brain muscle. The thing needs frequent, sometimes lengthy breaks.

For me to enter into any sort of "flow state" on a big piece of work I need to first mess around and waste a bunch of time while just casually thinking of the work in the background. I have been this way my whole life and I am kind of over thinking that I can just "buckle down" at will and in turn feeling lazy or imperfect at my lack of willpower. I either need a bunch of creative/exploratory time at the outset or the outside influence of a pressing deadline (often I have both.) 

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1 hour ago, bernard said:

Shouldn't the quality of the work determine the quality of the work? You're basically saying if he/she had the foresight to use delay delivery you wouldn't have an issue.

I don't have time to babysit the quality of work on all my files. I review some stuff, but have to rely on proxies for quality. Being at a big firm is one of them, being spoken highly of by colleagues is one, etc. Doing work in the middle of the night is an indicator of likely low quality. It's not a guarantee obviously, but it's a signal. Do that again and again, and I start to lose faith that the quality is there. And since I don't have time to babysit, I'll put my work with someone who I do have that faith in.

Delay delivery would cover up this particular indicator, yes.

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