In the run up to my being out of town this week, there were a couple of matters where I wanted a draft pleading circulated before I left. One was an expert designation, which in a Virginia case is no small matter.
Early Friday, my last day, I got a message from my colleague saying that the draft designation would not be ready. His year and a half old daughter had been ill, which had delayed his progress.
I knew that the draft would be well-done. There would still be time for me to review when I got back. Besides, our co-counsel and very experience paralegal would also be looking at it.
Not getting it to me as planned was not a problem, and I told him so.
On my travels, it occurred to me that this matter-of-fact interaction was a sign that times had changed – and had actually changed for the better.
When I was a younger lawyer and the parent of a small child, I would never have admitted that a childcare issue had interfered with my work.
No man would.
I am pretty sure not many women would have done so either. That’s a different topic, however.
It’s not like my colleague is some sort of “sensitive” character. That’s not a slight. No one would accuse me of being especially sensitive either. (There are plenty who would characterize me as quite insensitive, in fact.)
This lawyer drives a pick-up truck. He likes to hunt and fish. His Labrador Retriever loves to swim and retrieve ducks - unlike mine who prefers to spend time inside with her stuffed animals and doesn’t want to go outside when it’s raining.
The fact that my colleague can casually invoke his family responsibilities is a good thing, a very good thing. I don’t think he’s an isolated case either.
All of us have lives outside of the practice of law.
We have families.
We have personal obligations.
That’s a reality all of us need to embrace honestly and fairly.
We’re better lawyers - and better people - when we do so.