Lawyers are great at asking questions, but how are they at answering them? Bloomberg Law is talking with lawyers and other legal industry players to find out what their lives look like in the age of work from home.
Cindy Minniti is the managing partner of Reed Smith’s New York office. In her practice, she represents management exclusively in labor and employment matters, including work with clients involving employment discrimination, harassment, labor relations, and wage-hour compliance.
Bloomberg Law spoke to Minniti about her daily routine, the challenges of working from home with two school-aged children, and how she stays connected to clients and colleagues.
(Editor’s Note: Remarks have been edited for clarity and length)
Bloomberg Law: Describe your day to day routine.
Cindy Minniti: I am working from home, as is my husband, and our two children (13 and 9) are remote learning. I get up and do a quick workout, go to my home office to check emails, make my ‘things-to-do’ list, and start work. I take a break to get the kids breakfast, and to get my son set up with his math assignment. I then go back to my office to work, and take another quick break around noon to get the kids set up with their Zoom lessons, then return to the office. Somewhere between 4 pm and 5 pm we try to go for a family walk or bike ride around the block, and then I go back to my office to work some more. I make dinner around 7 pm, and afterwards I finish up my phone calls.
BL: What is the hardest thing about working from home?
CM: I really miss the in-person collaboration with colleagues and clients. We are lucky that we are in an industry that is able to work from home, and with all of the technology at our disposal we can talk, video conference, and connect virtually, but I miss the face-to-face interaction. To me, the challenge in working from home is not getting the work done, but rather it is finding ways to have more personal connections virtually.
BL: What is something your firm is doing that has been really helpful?
CM: First, we acted early and were able to get our lawyers and staff geared up to work remotely. Additionally we have really tried to ensure that our people remain connected on a personal level, despite our distance from one another. We have arranged for employees to share words, photos, and videos of encouragement to one another. We are encouraging lawyers and staff to lead cooking tutorials and Zoom exercise classes, and have organized yoga and meditation sessions.
BL: What kinds of technology are you using? Any challenges while working remotely?
CM: I feel like I am using it all. Today, I had four calls in a row on four different platforms. I am figuring it out along with my colleagues and clients, and am really amazed at how much we can accomplish remotely.
BL: What is your number one piece of advice about working from home?
CM: Find a space that is your work space and treat it like your office. It helps keep things separated between “home” and “work,” and mentally helps me to switch gears.
BL: What’s your favorite working from home story that made you laugh, shake your head, or just throw up your hands?
CM: I was getting ready to start a work call when I heard my son yelling downstairs. I ran down to see what was going on, and found out he had won something good on his video game. I ran back to my office to get on the call with just seconds to spare, and then my daughter starts calling and texting my cell phone to tell me she’s locked out of our house. Back down I went, and let her in. I got back on the call in the nick of time, just as someone fired up some really loud lawn equipment outside my window.
BL: What do you do to de-stress or take your mind off work when you’re trapped inside (or limited in where you can go)?
CM: I read something early on that has helped a lot...the message was, in a nutshell, focus on what you can control. With this in mind, my family and I are taking things day by day, and we’re trying to stay positive. We’ve been trying to stay active while we are limited in what we can do. Besides the walks and bike rides, we do workout videos. And nothing says de-stress like a good family dance party.