First in, last out
I was sat at my desk well before 8am on a day when I had had the possibility of a holiday but it had not happened for one reason or another. This happens if you are a partner: you earmark time off but something urgent always comes up. A colleague then emailed the following information from an e-letter sent out by an professional indemnity company. I had circulated this letter as a good partner should, to encourage fee earners in their work by sharing stories of cases which had gone disastrously wrong.
Above all, they info taught me to be wary of the workaholic who is in early, stays late, rarely takes holidays and never delegates work.
I can see the point of concern; the secretive person who makes mistakes because of the stresses and strains of life and is secretive because he does not want to admit he is not coping. But you can still be secretive and make mistakes if you work short hours and take all your holidays. I would have thought one ought to be more wary of the reverse: a person who comes late with a different excuse each time, goes early for various essential appointments and is always taking leave, study leave on top, time off in lieu and sick leave.
Personally I do not consider myself a workaholic but would be quite pleased if people thought that I was. I do not want a long-hours culture in my firm. I have had enough of offices that only really come to life at 6pm, when staff exchange war stories of their successful day.
What we need is a culture of openness, so if there are problems they can be dealt with early before they become a disaster. This brings me on to a phrase I met with in a very good book of legal anecdotes, 'finders, minders and grinders'. A partner (the finder) was paid to go to golf club all afternoon where he, and it usually was a he, could do little harm, get lots of work presumably from other people who were paid to keep out of their offices. A younger solicitor (the grinder) who aspired some day to be a partner would do the work overseen by a more experienced person (the minder) who would make sure the youngster would do the work.
We have moved away from that because rates of pay are so low that we all have to work harder. Marketing is now more sophisticated than just going to a golf club for the afternoon. I must remember to prepare a marketing plan and work on my life/work balance. I will do that tomorrow morning before anyone gets in or if I do not get time in the evening.
David Pickup is a partner in Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott