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.
Cheryl Camin Murray is a healthcare partner in Katten Muchin Rosenman’s Dallas office. Murray advises hospitals, physician groups, technology vendors, management companies, long-term care companies and private equity firms as well as financial institutions on contractual, compliance, regulatory, and transactional issues in the healthcare industry. She is also a member of the firm’s COVID-19 Advisory Group and the Dallas Bar Association’s Coronavirus Task Force.
Bloomberg Law spoke to Murray about the challenges of working from home with triplets, how she helps address her healthcare clients’ changing needs, and the importance of a daily schedule for both work and family projects.
Bloomberg Law: Describe your day to day routine.
Cheryl Murray: I typically wake up around 6:15 a.m. and try to get in a workout — a Peloton bike ride, some cardio or strength training — before my 4-year-old triplets wake up. As I’m getting ready to start my work day at 8 a.m., the little ones are usually awake and playing until our nanny arrives. I go over my daily schedule with the nanny, including when I have important calls to make sure the kids are extra quiet or don’t barge into my home office. After that, I grab breakfast to eat in my office and hit the ground running: first checking emails, getting on calls, and attending WebEx meetings to help my healthcare clients with day-to-day legal issues, including regulatory, contractual and transactional matters. Sometimes, I’ll have a Zoom happy hour with colleagues around 6 p.m., but I’m usually cranking out work in the office until about 7 p.m. After dinner, my husband and I play with the kids, and then read to them before bedtime. By 9:30 p.m., I might watch a little TV to unwind before I log back on to do more work, check emails, and finally hit the pillow.
BL: What is the hardest thing about working from home?
CM: It’s probably no surprise: the lack of regular socialization with family, friends, and colleagues. It’s great to have Zoom calls, happy hours, and FaceTime, but it’s not the same as in-person interaction, which we’ve limited as a family and followed social distancing guidelines for safety reasons. Not being able to meet in person makes it even more important to schedule calls and maintain a social life remotely.
BL: What is something your firm is doing that has been really helpful?
CM: Town hall meetings with our firm leaders as well as regular check-in meetings with our practice leaders have helped keep me updated on the impact COVID has had on our firm and how the firm is responding. With racial injustice and inequality issues at the forefront of our national conversation, I also think the internal listening circles hosted by our diversity and inclusion team have allowed my colleagues to share their experiences and perspectives in a safe space and helped build stronger connections at the firm. I have found the firm’s Parent Affinity Group to be beneficial given the parenting, childcare, and homeschooling challenges many of us have encountered over the past few months. During this time of uncertainty, Katten also has hosted a webinar series focused on mindfulness techniques that can help manage stress and develop resilience.
BL: How have your clients’ needs changed?
CM: As a member of the firm’s COVID-19 advisory group, I work together with my colleagues to help clients navigate a number of issues companies are facing. Over the past few months, the focus of some clients has changed from day-to-day transactions and legal compliance matters to restructuring their workforce, becoming educated on financial relief legislation, and strategically learning how to survive during these uncertain times. Because I represent healthcare providers, I have seen an increased focus specifically on enhancing telehealth, providing care remotely, achieving cost savings, and keeping employees safe when they return to work.
BL: What is your number one piece of advice about working from home?
CM: Calendaring! My calendar is my plan for the day. I often reserve time for projects I need to work on because otherwise your schedule can easily fill up with meetings. Building in time to work on certain tasks helps you progress toward accomplishing them without having to burn the midnight oil. I’ll also put family time on the schedule whether it’s pizza and game night or an after-work bike ride, because if it’s on the calendar, it holds me more accountable and I’ll do it.
BL: What’s your favorite working from home story that made you laugh, shake your head, or just throw up your hands?
CM: I had a Dallas Friday Group board of directors meeting on Zoom, and was having technical difficulties in getting the video to work. I gave up and called into the meeting instead. And it’s a good thing I was off camera because within seconds my daughter walked in, and was, let’s say, not quite fully dressed. It just goes to show that keeping a 4-year-old dressed with both tops and bottoms can be a battle some days.
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: Exercising is a very helpful de-stressor. And so is watching old family videos — boy, was my hair bigger back then. I love looking at baby pictures and videos of my kids from a few years ago because it boosts my mood, puts things in perspective, and reaffirms my priorities in life.