Writing this post on my way into work on Monday morning, I’m already overwhelmed. I know that on my in box are three messages from three separate partners with three different projects all of which need to be done “first thing” Monday morning. None of the messages ask if I’m available to do a project “first thing” Monday morning. None of the messages ask if I have court. All three just assume that I’ll drop whatever I’m doing and make magic happen. Nobody cares how I do it, they just care that I do their work.
I wonder why the partners go through the “first thing Monday morning” song and dance. Why don’t they just send me an email saying “Do this work this weekend.”? After all, that’s what they want. They feel I owe them a day since Snowpocalypse prevented people from working one day last week. And while I have no objection to working for my salary, the truth is we could have a week of snowpocalypses and I still would have more billable hours than the minimum firm requirement. The partners are already getting the benefit of their bargain. But the partners don’t look at it that way. All they see is that they paid me my salary for an entire week last week and the snow gave me a Wednesday off. Therefore, they need to send me at least eight hours of additional work.
I know I could have avoided this Monday morning stress by actually doing the work that was emailed to me over the weekend. But I felt entitled to my weekend. Friday was my Friday off. And, like almost every Friday I schedule off, there was an “emergency” that required me to drive to a client and work for half a day there. I did that, without complaint. I also worked on Snowpocalypse. Yes, the majority of the day I spent with the kids, playing play-doh and sledding outside. Husband has a job that requires him to work no matter the natural disaster - I had to watch the kids. But I still worked. After dinner I turned on a movie for the kids and redlined a brief. And I sent it to a partner. They know I was working. The firm didn’t get any “free day” from me.
So I felt entitled to take my weekend and focus on my family. With the loose definition of “emergency” employed by my firm, there will always be the opportunity to do additional work on the weekend. But there are only a few more weekends that I’ll be able to take my kids ice skating or participate in parent-tot gymnastics. I chose that.
But now I’m paying the price. I have no idea which project I’m going to do first, or how I’m even going to manage to do three “emergency” projects on top of the marketing meeting the firm scheduled for me this morning, the meeting with the chair of the non-profit I volunteer for and – oh yeah – my own caseload. I’m sure if you asked the partners they’d tell you that I’ll figure it out. And they are right. I will figure it out. But I’d do the work with a lot less resentment if even one of the partners had asked me to do their project rather than assume I would drop everything to make their assumption a reality.
The firm can continue dumping projects on me, trying to squeeze every last billable hour out of me. But they more they take away from my family during the week, the more I’m going to protect my weekend and day off. Push all you want, law firm, but you don’t own me just because you pay me a salary. You claim to be a firm that puts family first, and I’m going to be the one to hold you to that. Or I'll be fired trying.