Vail Daily column: Defeating that dastardly deadline
Lazing in a hammock with a pina colada in hand, the tropical sunlight glitters off the azure sea. Over the soothing sounds of the onshore breeze, a faint whistling grows louder. The interloping sound rises in volume to such an extent that, reverie interrupted, one looks up to the source of the scourge and sees a cluster of bombs descending from the heavens. Immediately, the world switches from Technicolor to monochrome as the sandy idyll becomes a battleground. Such is the life of a litigator, peacefully attending to work in one moment and thrust into (thankfully not mortal) combat in the span of a single phone call.
Downside of Procrastination
Sometimes it is an emergency motion for temporary restraining order that needs to be filed to stop someone from doing an act that is contrary to the client’s interests. More often, a client has waited until the 11th hour to contact me when a deadline looms. It is remarkable how powerful self-deception can be; the feeling that not thinking about an obligation may make it disappear. That does not work. If you are faced with a legal issue, especially if it involves a set deadline, then it is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately. Not only will that spare the sanity of the lawyer, but will also have the critical effect of giving the attorney adequate time to perform at their best.
Regardless of the reason for the fire drill, the world shrinks into narrow focus: Eat, sleep, work. Matters with which one had previously been engaged take a temporary back seat to the exigency at hand. One of the many reasons that it is important to have a strong attorney-client relationship is for situations like this, where you must call your other clients and let them know that the schedule has slightly altered. If there is trust between the lawyer and client, the latter will understand and wish the best of luck. They understand that you would treat their matter as one of paramount importance if the scenario was reversed.
In these times of duress, one hustles to do months of work in a few short days. There are reams of documents to review, witnesses to interview, research to be undertaken and drafting to be done. When toiling under such a serious time constraint, it is critical to concentrate on completing all of the small tasks that make up the whole.
Consideration of the enormity of the project will only overwhelm and is counterproductive. Instead of freaking out, calm and careful scrutiny of the endgame will allow one to triage what needs to be done to reach the goal. Once a proper plan is established, the brain then switches into overdrive, plumbing its depths for every last bit of capacity. The first two days are, to me, the most important. If I can make significant progress in that time, then the anxiety decreases. It never disappears entirely.
Take Time to Recharge
For these endeavors, adrenaline is my fuel of choice as I am not one for caffeine. We are capable of amazing things when the pressure is on and the adrenal glands are working overtime. To make it through these fast-paced days, I still must recreate and spend time with my family. A short bike ride or ski and a leisurely and delicious home-cooked meal are necessary to keep my mind and body sharp. The support of my wife and daughter can never be overstated: they keep me moving forward and are kind enough not to point out that I am blowing through the house like a whirling dervish.
Be A Dynamic Duo
But it is not enough to manage your own productivity and well-being: your client needs help too. Acutely aware of the pickle in which he/she placed him/herself, the stress and guilt can threaten to inundate your most critical ally. Perhaps unaccustomed to operating at a high level while under tremendous tension, the client must be coached, encouraged and motivated. In these situations even more so than normal, the attorney and client must be squad mates together suffering the slings and arrows of their outrageous fortune.
You will fight again
Sooner than strictly preferable, the deadline arrives. Whether it means a court appearance or the filing of an answer or brief, the day passes in a blur. Hopefully successful, but even if not, retreat is made back to that proverbial hammock. The trick to maintaining serenity is not to worry about the prospect of another assault until it actually happens. And it will.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner/mediator at Voice Of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, email@example.com or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.