by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
I don’t know about you, but for my entire life, Monday mornings have spooked me. Having been obliged for the same period of time to go – uninterrupted I may add – to school, university or work, I can never get it out of my head that I should be preparing myself to do something constructive. Relaxing on a weekend simply doesn’t qualify in my books. So, as much as I enjoy an easy Saturday morning at the golf club for breakfast and like to imagine that I can suppress the need for the entire weekend, by Sunday evening the obsession to get back to it is pretty much galloping along at full speed. By the wee hours of Monday morning (when I invariably wake with a bit of a jolt from my honest slumber) the panic has firmly taken root. I needn’t tell you how messy those early morning thoughts can be, half-baked, disconnected and surreal as they usually are. While it’s all very well to pooh-pooh such witless preoccupation, the fact remains that the contemplation of one’s agenda for the coming week is not without its gravity.
Even for one such as I, a humble rural conveyancer in a small town, the practice of law is not all peaches and cream. In fact, being a sole practitioner virtually assures that a good deal of my life will be miserable. It is the contemplation of that prospect which heightens my frenzy about Monday mornings, for I know in my heart that I must tackle those goliaths called banks about getting overdue discharge statements (expedited by automation: for English press #1, etc.), or deal with heartless financial institutions (‘we’re sorry, all our lines are busy") who likewise seem to have a sign over their door proclaiming "You can’t get there from here!", or suffer the indignity of having to solve what are really family feuds (estate administrations often bring our the very worst in siblings) and have nothing whatever to do with the practice of law. Not to mention the certain knowledge that every bit of housekeeping which has been flippantly and injudiciously neglected since Friday last or which will undoubtedly surface in the morning mail (as it invariably does) must also be addressed.
These things just never go away, and I can assure you that the consensus is universal among sole practitioners whom I know well enough to be candid about the daunting subject. As a sole practitioner, it is furthermore one’s sorry lot to empty the ashtrays and take out the garbage, and I don’t just mean metaphorically. If anyone imagines that running your own business is a breeze, think again!
Knowing this necessitates the return to the office as soon as possible to reconnoître, recapitulate, reorganize, rally and prepare for battle! Preparation is the currency of success in these matters. Small wonder Sunday evening is fraught with disheartenment and apprehension of what awaits on Monday morning. We’re at war, after all! I can never recall a day when I considered that I could just swagger into the office on a Monday morning at ten-ish, sip a cup of tea and quietly contemplate what was before me. That is the stuff of William Makepeace Thackeray in Vanity Fair, a complete and archaic fantasy, which as much as I enjoy it with a good martini is sadly not so workable in reality. Indeed the prescription for accomplishment is nothing short of performance. The term "due diligence", as the name implies, has everything to do with being diligent, perseverance in detail and assiduity. These jewels come at a price, however, and I scoff at anyone who suggests "Don’t worry, it’ll get done!".
In the perfect world (you must know already that I’m about to cut something down), one could charmingly and sophisticatedly assess the object of one’s duties, then proceed unperturbed and unhurriedly to execute them, observing all the niceties and social graces to which we no doubt collectively aspire. Give me a break! There’s just that small factor – called a Client – who happens also to be in the mix and who is breaking down the doors to find out when the matter will be completed. I’m not saying one compromises the quality of one’s efforts, but – excuse me – the gentility of doing it takes a back seat. If any seriously minded professional thinks he or she has staff to do that, wrong! It is impossible to distance oneself from the front-line engagement at critical moments in a transaction.
Thinking about all this is what gets me going. Not surprisingly, once I’ve taken the plunge – that Monday morning baptism – the prospects improve immeasurably. Like a refreshing dip in a cold pond, I am instantly invigorated and braced, ready for the next round, and with far less trepidation. Although this drama will be re-enacted weekly, one cannot ignore it nor propose that it will somehow evaporate or mutate with time. It’s just a casualty of the job. Monday mornings, ugh!