A Day in the Life: Corporate Law Partner

This Day in the Life is a snapshot of the life of a relatively young New York corporate partner who is also the mother of a young child.

6:15 a.m.: Wake up.

6:30 a.m.: 40 minutes on StairMaster with The Wall Street Journal and Walkman; read front page, op-ed pages and "Money & Investing."

7:10 a.m.: Play with daughter (15 months old) -- read books, play with toys, watch dogs, buses and taxi cabs from window.

7:30 a.m.: Make coffee and daughter's breakfast; drink coffee.

8:00 a.m.: Play with daughter.

8:30 a.m.: Nanny arrives. Discuss day and play with nanny and daughter.

8:45 a.m.: Check voice mail and e-mail; four new voice mail messages including voice mail from colleague regarding transaction for Client A -- Client A wants to accelerate closing for end of month (two weeks away!) -- proposed call at 4:00 p.m. on revised documents; get ready for work.

8:55 a.m.: Drink more coffee; get ready for work.

9:30 a.m.: Cab to office with newspaper; call assistant -- no new messages; call associate re: transaction for Client A and get update on status; associate believes new proposed closing date is very aggressive particularly in light of annoying opposing counsel.

10:00 a.m.: Arrive at office; check voice mail and e-mail; receive call from Client B regarding an agreement that needs to be drafted relating to a deal that was recently closed; Client B needs letter agreement by following day.

10:15 a.m.: Call from Client C regarding new deal -- wants to invest $25 million in company with publicly traded debt -- Client C has worked with lead investor on transaction and wants to review, provide comments and sign off on documents by end of day; discuss transaction with Client C.

10:45 a.m.: Conduct conflicts search with respect to new target company for Client C.

10:50 a.m.: Receive call from associate regarding questions related to preparation of organizational documents for a start-up company (Client D); refer associate to examples of charter and bylaws we have prepared for similar clients and we discuss some of the key points in the documents and making sure that the start-up company will have the flexibility it needs.

11:00 a.m.: Review draft of investment agreement for Client C.

1:15 p.m.: Contact senior and mid-level associates to staff transaction for Client C; brief associates on background, timing and key points of deal.

1:30 p.m.: Order lunch and eat at desk while continuing to review investment agreement.

1:45 p.m.: Receive call from Client C; discuss significant deal points on new transaction with Client C.

2:30 p.m.: Conduct internet research on potential new client in preparation for a lunch meeting with a potential new client the following day. Contact business development department to request relevant materials and press articles on our firm's practice and recent transactions.

2:45 p.m.: Meeting with associates regarding investment document related to new transaction for Client C.

3:00 p.m.: Begin to review revised equity documents (shareholders agreement, stock purchase agreement, registration rights agreement, charter and bylaws) regarding transaction for Client A in preparation for 4:00 call.

4:00 p.m.: Receive call from opposing counsel on matter for Client A -- 4:00 p.m. call has been pushed to 5:00 (thankfully).

4:10 p.m.: Client D (start-up company) calls with two of its founders. They have several questions on corporate governance issues and matters that need to be addressed in organizational documents. I propose call for following day at 10:30 a.m.

4:15 p.m.: E-mail associate working with me on organizational documents for Client D to confirm her availability for 10:30 a.m. call.

4:16 p.m.: Continue to review documents on matter for Client A in preparation for 5:00 call.

4:45 p.m.: Call from Client B regarding changes in required letter agreement. Client needs revised letter by 7:00 p.m.

4:50 p.m.: Call associate on matter for Client B to confirm that associate is drafting agreement and discuss points raised by client. Continue reviewing documents for Client A.

5:10 p.m.: Meet with associate working on matter for Client A and discuss revised documents.

5:15 p.m.: Conference call begins with opposing counsel on matter for Client A; discuss remaining open points in stockholders agreement, stock purchase agreement, registration rights agreement, charter and bylaws. Develop list of open points to be discussed with our respective clients.

6:25 p.m.: Call ends. Associate and I call Client A to discuss open points in equity documents.

6:30 p.m.: Client C calls (and interrupts call with Client A) and would like me to join him in a meeting with the lead investor and lead investor's counsel on new matter. Meeting to begin at 7:00 p.m. Client would like us to first address the significant business issues with the lead investor and opposing counsel, then both clients will leave and he hopes that I can continue to work through the legal and contract drafting points with opposing counsel. The goal is to have a document ready to sign by later in the evening or the following day.

6:33 p.m.: Rejoin call with Client A; summarize significant open points based on 5:00 p.m. call and propose 9:30 a.m. call the following morning to review all open issues.

6:40 p.m.: Call senior associate on matter for Client C regarding impending meeting.

6:45 p.m.: Review draft letter agreement for Client B.

7:00 p.m.: Prepare for meeting and leave office with colleague to go to opposing counsel's office on matter for Client C.

7:05 p.m.: Meeting with client, lead investor and lead investor's counsel. Discuss and resolve several of the significant business issues.

8:30 p.m.: Client C leaves and my colleague and I continue to negotiate with lead investor's counsel regarding the remaining business and legal issues in the document. Together we develop a list of open business issues for our respective clients.

9:50 p.m.: Client C calls the conference room. He is transferred to another conference room where my colleague and I discuss the remaining open issues with Client C. I advise him of their proposals and suggest counter proposals. We discuss risks and benefits of deal and typical provisions for comparable transactions.

10:10 p.m.: We rejoin the main conference room with counsel for lead investor. The lead investor returns and Client C calls in. We discuss open points and resolve significant open points. Certain points will continue to be discussed following revised draft. Lead investor's counsel will revise document and circulate document overnight. We agree to review document and call opposing counsel midday after discussing revised document with Client C.

10:30 p.m.: Car home. Check voice mail. Five messages including two calls from junior associates on matter for Client C. I call associate and update him based on meeting. We discuss various issues in the meeting that will need to be confirmed in our due diligence.

10:45 p.m.: Arrive home. Check e-mail. Send responses to e-mail messages.

11:15 p.m.: Go to bed.

Outside New York, partners at top firms work a similar number of hours, but they tend to work them earlier in the day. Rich Gale, a partner at the Washington, D.C., office of Arent Fox, for example, gets in the office around 7:45 a.m. and stays until 7:30 p.m., usually five days a week, with an occasional weekend. These partners report that their schedules do not generally decrease as they advance at a large firm, because the pressure to bill and record time to measure production doesn't go away.

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