Monday Practice Tip- Procrastination Amidst Collaboration

Hello all, and welcome back for your second post of the day and your Monday Practice Tip for Young Attorneys.  Earlier today according to my site stats, someone found my blog by Googling “Man Feel Guilty.”  And man, do I feel guilty when I don’t post on time, so here we go!

Last week in my practice tip post, I gave a little cliffhanger about an anecdote that I wanted to use for a blog entry.  Well today is your lucky day!  A few weeks ago, I was handling some pre-trial materials in a federal court case.  As many of you probably know by now, federal cases are handled quite differently from state court cases, the biggest discrepancy being that in federal court, the deadlines actually matter, as do the precise instructions in any court order.  This is not a knock on state court judges.  The fact of the matter is, state court judges typically are just too overwhelmed docket-wise to hold parties to the fire when it comes to deadlines.  In federal court, though, you better be ahead of the curve.

Anyway, in my case the parties were jointly responsible for filing a document by a given date.  As that date approached, I chipped away at my portion of the document day by day, figuring I would cruise to timely filing.  Boy, did I have it all wrong.  Not only did I not have my materials done until around 7 or 8 in the evening, but my opponents were running even later!  Long story short, I was in the office until about 12:15 am that night by the time we got the document filed.  Mercifully, the Court has not rung our bell for not getting the document filed before midnight.  (I hold no grudges with regard to my opposing counsel, by the way, because you never know what obstacles someone else is facing.  I was not in their office, so how could I judge how they handled it?

The point is not so simple as “Don’t procrastinate” because we have all heard that one,  we all generally do our best, and we all inevitably fail at it every so often.  The point is more acute — don’t procrastinate when you do not control all the variables.  In this instance, I should have been in touch with my opponents 2-3 weeks before the deadline and told them that we absolutely need to have it done 3-4 days in advance of the deadline because of all the complications that could arise.  Instead, thinking I had the project under control, I was in so late that the security dude turned the lights off on me!  Don’t let this happen to you 🙂  

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