Litigators should set Wednesday deadlines for documents to be exchanged and save everyone the stress of the so-called ‘Friday night drop’.

That was one suggestion that came from discussions about new guidance issued on better ways to litigate drawn up by the Mindful Business Charter.

The commitment, signed by dozens of City firms, aims to reduce unnecessary workplace stress and improve wellbeing across the legal profession.

James Boon, a partner and wellbeing champion from national firm Bristows, said anxiety around late-night deadlines on a Friday can ‘ruin weekends’ if something goes wrong and the cut-off point cannot be made. But the adjustment of moving a deadline to a Wednesday, he said, would eliminate much of this stress and make for a better work environment.

‘It is a simple but potentially game-changing difference to the way we conduct ourselves,’ said Boon, who was speaking in a webinar hosted by the MBC last week. ‘We shouldn’t be creatures of habit.’

Luke Maunder, associate director at national firm Osborne Clarke, added: ‘It is all too common – and I have done it – to think [a deadline] should be on a Friday because that is what it has always been. How many people love a Friday deadline? Maybe it is worth working with the other side to ask who doesn’t.’

Katie Byrne, a commercial litigation partner at national firm Irwin Mitchell, said a mindful approach to litigation was not designed to reduce the nature of the work but more to reduce unnecessary stress – which will ultimately make everyone a better lawyer. ‘Litigation and disputes are necessarily adversarial, which puts us in a difficult position as a lawyer,’ said Byrne. ‘We need to recognise we are all human, treat each other with humanity and respect, and understand we all have personal lives.’

Byrne said it was possible to differentiate duties to the client from how interactions are handled between lawyers – including not reacting when the other side has acted provocatively.

‘Aggressive strategy doesn’t necessarily mean aggressive conduct,’ she added. ‘We have all received the letter that has angered us and wanted to respond straight away and often that response is not the right one.’


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