Thursday, August 13, 2009

Playing the waiting game....

I don't wait well.

"Waiting" is a form of inaction entirely different from "doing nothing."

Bad as I am at waiting, I'm an accomplished grand master of the art of doing nothing.

Waiting is the state of being ready to do something but, for some reason, unable to do it: You are standing on the subway platform at the end of a long day. You are ready to go home... but you must wait for the train. When this happens to me, I get impatient. I fidget. I lean over the edge of the platform trying to catch a glimpse of the headlight of the approaching train. So far, no one's pushed me over.

Doing nothing, on the other hand, happens when, for example, the client calls and says, "We sent out the letter you suggested. We'll let you know if we hear anything back. In the meantime, do nothing."

There's nothing easier than this. Unfortunately, one can not bill a client for doing nothing... so my talent in this regard is not remunerative.

Much of my legal work is done with co-counsel -- we work together -- but separately. The happy time approaches when a bill may be submitted and I inform my co-counsel that she should get her time together as I will mine. I send co-counsel my time and solicit her additions -- I'm ready, now, you see, to send the bill -- but I must wait. That's sheer torture for me.

Recently, I had a project that has hit a rough patch. The question was whether responding to a particular motion would help... or whether it might make our situation worse. I was all for doing nothing -- I play to my strengths whenever I can, as anyone would -- but my co-counsel and the client were all for action. And I was to be the actor.

Once I was browbeaten into acquiescence, I set to work on the response, cranking it out in the course of an afternoon's time. I sent it to all concerned with a request for input and approval so that I might file it the next morning while I was in court.

Then I had to wait.

And wait.

I looked in on my e-mail 10 times or so before leaving the office, and a couple of times more at home that evening.

The next morning (OK, it was this morning), I was back on line again, looking for feedback. Alas.

I got into the office and checked my email 10 times more.


I had to be goaded into taking action, but having risen to the bait, and having prepared a response, I wanted to move the gosh-darn thing off my desk. After all, the matter was extremely time sensitive -- if we were to act, we must act soon. But I had to wait.

When I returned from court this morning... finally... there were responses -- even, if I may boast, generally favorable reviews. I could finally stop waiting... and act.

I much prefer doing nothing.

1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

wait! (see how that tied in?)

when i billed for a law firm it would have gone like this:

t/c from client adv. to do nothing .25 hr (the minimum we billed) $50.00 (or if a partner $125.00)

see how easy that is???

smiles, bee