My morning routine starts with me checking my emails to get a sense for my day. Working in the Corporate team in Perth means that our days can be very hard to predict, especially for those who are more junior in the team. Since we work closely with our offices over East, and in North America and the UK, it’s not uncommon to receive emails overnight or early in the morning due to the time difference!
I eat breakfast in front of the TV while I watch NBA (again, due to the time difference, mornings are prime time for NBA games). I can’t lie and say I do any exercise at this time – definitely not a morning person.
It doesn’t take long for me to get to the office (usually an 8 minute bus ride, or 15 minute walk if I’m feeling healthy), but this doesn’t mean I’m the first one in the office. Our team gets in anywhere between 8.30 AM and 9.30 AM, and unless there’s a specific meeting or deadline which needs to be met in the morning, no one is really bothered by when you get in.
As probably 99% of the articles in here say, my first task is usually to round up a crew for our morning coffee. The size of the group varies each day. Sometimes it can exceed 10 people from different practice groups, which can result in frustrated looks from customers behind us in the line!
Once back at my desk, my mornings in the office usually start with preparing a to-do list and ranking tasks in terms of priority. Everyone has different method of managing their work and there’s no wrong way to do it as long as you’re getting your tasks done!
We announced a public takeover bid yesterday, which the target company was not expecting, so we have a call with the client and their other advisers (investment bank and share registry) to discuss how the offer has been received and next steps. In preparation for the call we have been scouring media articles and other commentary on the offer to get a sense for what people are saying in trading blogs/forums.
This is a fun exercise not only because you usually read some amusing comments in forums, but also it’s exciting to see the documents you’ve worked hard on being analysed and discussed by analysts and reporters.
After the call, I can now go back to my task list and attend to other tasks I’m working on. It’s very rare that we would only be working on one matter at a time, which is why it’s important to manage time efficiently as there are very often competing priorities! This is also why it is important to communicate with your buddy or mentor about your work levels and any capacity.
Personally, I like to ride the morning caffeine wave and work on the most substantial tasks first. The substantial tasks I’m normally attending to in the morning can be anything from drafting share purchase agreements and takeover documents to dealing with ASX or the Foreign Investments Review Board with regards to a deal we are working on.
Each new matter we get usually involves something new and different from a previous task, which keeps things interesting and means that you’re constantly learning new things and find yourself looking at the Corporations Act and ASX Listing Rules every day!
Usually, by 12.15 PM, chats start regarding lunch plans and a countdown to 12.30 PM lunch begins. There’s no specific “lunch time” and you’re always free to go whenever you want, however, it takes a lot for me to last without food beyond 12.30 PM…
The lunch crew is usually similar to the coffee crew but can be bigger depending on the work commitments and hunger levels on the day.
I do try to bring my own lunch when I can, but even when I do, it doesn’t take much peer pressure to convince me to go buy lunch somewhere. Working in the city means you’re surrounded by good food, which is very tempting and economically dangerous.
Everyone has their own personal policy regarding when they take their lunch breaks and for how long. I’m a big believer of making the most out of lunch and taking the full hour to ensure I’m giving my brain a break and that I’m getting some fresh air!
After lunch, I get back to my desk and prepare for a call with another law firm to negotiate and (hopefully) finalise an agreement between our client and their client to acquire their client’s mining operations in West Africa.
As an associate on a deal, partners will often rely on you to be the person across the documents and the business itself. This means that usually you’re the person they look at during calls when there’s a technical question about how the agreement operates or about the business itself. It’s always rewarding when you can contribute to the conversation and recognise the value you’re bringing to the deal and the client!
This also means that for each new deal you have to become an expert in a new area. This can be anything from a lithium mine in West Africa to a pub, a pharmacy or an internet company – so you’re always learning something new!
By 3.00 PM, the morning caffeine wave is far gone, and the post-lunch blues start to creep in. I try to limit how much coffee I drink during the week, so I try to get my caffeine hit from tea in the afternoon.
Like the morning coffee run, this is another opportunity to disconnect for a little bit and socialise to get some energy as you approach the last few hours of the work day.
Once I’ve had my afternoon tea, I look at what’s left to do in my to-do list and how much of it can (or needs) to be done before 6.00 PM. I’m a big believer in balancing work with physical activities, so this means that soccer training sessions (and cup games during weeknights) are sacred and I try my best to ensure I don’t miss training and games unless it’s absolutely necessary.
This gives me additional motivation to get my work done on time. Luckily, today’s remaining tasks are unlikely to take longer than a few hours.
My main task for the afternoon is to amend the sale agreement following the call we had with the other side earlier today. We tried to resolve most of the substantial issues on the call, but there were a number of complicated issues which we needed to incorporate in an updated draft which the other side would then review.
It is typically the junior’s responsibility to have the first go at making the changes to the document to reflect what was discussed in the call. This can be challenging as you need to be very methodical and precise with the language you use and normally you’re dealing with complicated concepts. Luckily, one of the perks of working at a global firm is that you have access to a lot of documents other lawyers in the firm have prepared and you’re always likely to find something you can use for inspiration!
Having made the changes and proof-read what I’ve done, I send it over to the partner for approval. This for me is a valuable part of the process, as they have years of experience and are likely to have done something like this countless times!
Once I’ve incorporated the partner’s comments, I prepare an email to the lawyers on the other side with our proposed amendments to the document and tick off the final task in my to-do list!
No matter how busy my day was, I never regret a gym session or making it to soccer. Everyone who knows me will tell you I’m a competitive person (many will say that’s an understatement), but there’s not many more rewarding ways I can think of to finish off my day!