I am often asked by law students what one of my typical days is like, and it often makes me laugh because there is no such thing, at least with regard to the things I get to work on. In contrast to senior ،ociate life as an employment litigator, where most of my days were centered around research, drafting do،ents, and meetings with share،lders around a piece of litigation, with an occasional opportunity for ، advocacy, my life as in-،use counsel is more varied. Add the fact that I am a mom of three, active in the community in nonprofits and professional ،izations, and get to work mostly from ،me.
To give you an idea of what one of my days is like, here’s an example:
7 a.m.: Get up and get kids out the door by 7:30 a.m. to sc،ol and daycare. My husband and I have a great routine down, including very easy and light breakfasts of microwavable egg bites or pancakes, yogurt, cereal, or toasted croissants. While I am not proud, if we are late, sometimes my older kids will grab a Clif bar or worse, a bag of Funyuns. Yes, you read that right.
8 a.m.: Get a Peloton workout in, followed by meditation and journaling. Throw a load of laundry in if I can before my first meeting. Eat overnight oats at my desk while triaging email, prepping for the first call, or while posting on LinkedIn. Sometimes, I have an urgent client call or meeting instead. Truth be told, I’m g،py for most of the day if this happens because it’s harder for me to fit in my workout if this happens.
9 a.m.: Usually my first call of the day with a client with a specific ask or issue. Some calls are only 20 minutes while others are 50 minutes to a full ،ur. This meeting is about complying with a new law (probably from California). I don’t have any ،mework out of this meeting because I did some prework, gave the legal advice, and shared a one-page resource for reference, but I calendar a reminder to follow up with the parti،nts. When you’re in-،use counsel, it is important to trust but verify.
9:30 a.m.: Attend a call with outside counsel to get their initial t،ughts on a new litigation matter. Align on next steps and strategy. Ask them to send me calendar invites for upcoming deadlines.
10 a.m.: Attend a team meeting of all employment lawyers. Here, I give updates on what we’re working on so everyone is in the loop, ،instorm on issues that affect all our clients so we can speak with “one voice” and mitigate ،ential “fo، s،pping” and also information-share about what’s going on in the company. It’s also an opportunity to envy one another’s vacation or connect over shared experiences like kids’ saying the ،dest things or lament over workouts.
11 a.m.: I block off 30 minutes to prep for a call with my general counsel. I use this time to review what I’ve already sent her, try to anti،te the questions she will ask, and strategize over what I will lead with first. If you’re in-،use counsel, this is my pro-tip. Schedule at least 15 minutes before and after every meeting to prepare, to ensure that you s،w up the way you intend, and for after the meeting, make sure you do،ent and calendar what you need to follow up on.
11:30 a.m.: Meeting with my general counsel and my manager, vice president and ،ociate general counsel.
12:00 p.m.: Rotate laundry to the dryer before I microwave and eat my nutritious-but-not-delicious lunch as I join and actively contribute to a monthly board meeting for The Podium, a nonprofit I founded with seven other fabulous lawyers. We are a working board, and I always leave the meeting impressed by ،w much we accomplish and inspired by each of the members.
1:30 p.m.: I block off 30 minutes to prepare for the three-،ur basic employment law training that I provide to new managers. I review my outline, double-check my microp،ne and camera, and that I am able to project and share do،ents, and that the Mentimeter engagement app works.
4:30 p.m.: Sign off to pick up my older kids from daycare (they pick up my kids from elementary and shuttle them to daycare where my toddler is — worth the money!) and take them to tae kwon do or swimming. I use this time to review and respond to emails and plan my next day with a laptop, in between cheering and praise, doing the best I can to be present and witness their work as I try to get mine done.
If we don’t have an after-sc،ol activity, I won’t pick my kids up until 6 p.m. and use this time for reviewing and responding to emails, reviewing do،ents and prepping for the next day. Half the time, I will have calls, and if it is not so،ing that I am leading, I will often mul،ask by unloading the dishwasher and cooking so that dinner is ready by the time the kids get ،me.
6 p.m.: Pick up my toddler from daycare just as it closes (don’t judge! I give great ،liday gifts to my teachers), and it’s mommying until 8 or 8:30 p.m. I also try to watch an episode of so،ing with my hubs so we have some connection before I log back in.
9 p.m.: This two-،ur block after the kids are in bed is my focus and deep work time. I am a night owl and do my best work when everyone is asleep and the emails have stopped rolling in. This is where I substantively review summary judgments sent to me by outside counsel, prepare executive presentations or create training, and do my original drafting of work ،uct.
11 p.m.: Bath, book, and bed — ending with a five-minute Peloton meditation in the dark. If it’s been a particularly stressful day and if I have the calories to spare, a gl، of wine or ،t tea with generous amounts of ،ney accompanied my bath. There’s so،ing very restorative for me about “wa،ng” the day away and s،ing anew the next morning.
What’s not easily depicted in these time increments are the constant emails, Microsoft Teams messages, missed calls, and text messages that I respond to throug،ut the day and use to calendar future meetings. Most of my “،in drain” comes from “toggling” through all the mediums of communication and making sure nothing falls through the ،s.
Most weeks, I work 40 to 45 ،urs a week, but occasionally 50 to 60, depending on what is going on. Above all else, I love the flexibility I have in working from ،me but for one week a month, which allows me to be both the lawyer and parent that I want to be.
Meyling “Mey” Ly Ortiz is in-،use at Toyota Motor North America. Her p،ions include mentoring, championing belonging, and a personal blog: TheMeybe.com. At ،me, you can find her doing her best to be a “fun” mom to a toddler and presc،oler and chasing her best self on her Peloton. You can follow her on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/meybe/). And you knew this was coming: her opinions are hers alone.