I discovered Lisa’s blog earlier this year and it became an instant favourite. She shares my enthusiasm for London and spends lots of time out and about exploring the city whenever she gets a chance. I’m so pleased she could make time in her busy schedule to talk about the typical day in the life of a London lawyer! It’s clear that even when things have gone crazy at work she still takes time to appreciate what London has to offer.
A day in the life of a London lawyer
I would love to be the kind of person who springs out of bed in the morning at 6am, squeezes in at least a 5k run before sitting down to a healthy breakfast before heading to work. I am not that kind of person. My alarm goes off about 45 minutes before I need to get up because I need plenty of time to wake up. After hitting the snooze button several times I drag myself out of bed and get ready for work.
When I moved to London a few years ago I was keen to avoid hours spent on the tube, commuting to and from work pressed into someone else’s armpit. So I made sure that I picked somewhere to live that was within walking distance to work, it might cost me a small fortune in rent, but the cost to my sanity is immeasurable.
My walk to work is punctuated with some pretty big tourist sights, so much so that I often think that if I could get up a bit earlier in the morning, I could definitely combine my commute with running a walking tour. I pass by the London Wall, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and if I choose to walk to work by the river, rather than through the city, then I pass by the HMS Belfast and the Shard. It’s the little things I enjoy the most though, like the fact that hidden under an office building I pass are the ruins of Roman baths.
Once I get to work I generally get something from the canteen for breakfast and eat it at my desk while I’m checking through my email, reading updates and working out what I need to do that day. How I actually spend my day varies but can involve research, drafting notes of advice and attending client meetings.
My day is broken up into units of time of six minutes and whatever I do in the day is recorded (so that it’s possible to charge clients for the time spent of their matters). We are expected to record a minimum of 7 hours of time a day (our contractual hours – 9.30am-5.30pm minus an hour for lunch) and there are codes for different client matters and also for non-chargeable matters (such as team meetings, general admin, business development and pro-bono). Units of six minutes might seem weird (five minutes would seem more natural) but using six minute units mean that an hour can be broken up into ten units for ease of recording. So, for example an hour spent on a matter is recorded as 1.0 (or 10 units) and a 5 minute telephone call is 0.1 (1 unit). However busy my day is, I always try and get out of the office, even if it’s just to eat lunch quickly by the river.
There are horror stories about the hours that lawyers work but the reality varies from firm to firm and from department to department. It just depends on how much work you have on at any given time. I probably usually work from 9.30pm to 7pm but can be much longer and I’ve certainly had a few nights when I’ve finished in the early hours of the morning. If I need to work that late then there are generally a few of us in the office working on the same thing and a sense of camaraderie definitely kicks in when you all take a quick break to have a takeaway dinner together.
After work there’s normally someone available and willing to go for a drink, but whatever our intentions, we seem incapable of going for a ‘quick drink’ as one drink invariably turns into two and that early night I promised myself usually quickly turns into a whole evening of drinking and chatting.
I’m quite lucky as although my boyfriend is also a lawyer, he tends to get home before me and so if I call him when I’m about to leave, dinner is normally cooking or ready by the time I’ve walked home. I tend to avoid making plans for weekday evenings as far as possible as I can guarantee that when I make plans, that’s the night I have to work late to get something done. I hate being flakey and having to cancel or move plans, so as far as possible I try and only make plans I know I can keep. So although my evenings are usually spent in, I do try and make the most of my weekends though to compensate.
By Lisa from Not Quite Enough
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