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Leading Questions: Perkins Coie’s Medway, Pro Bono & Pro Barre

May 22, 2020, 9:41 AM

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.

Seattle-based Leah Medway has served as Perkins Coie’s pro bono counsel for 11 years. In that position, Medway supervises associates’ pro bono work, recruits volunteers, creates new projects, and engages in pro bono work on behalf of firm clients.

In her personal time, Medway is focused on helping survivors of domestic violence obtain protection orders, including through the Domestic Violence Impact Project, which she helped start. The project recently teamed up with Microsoft Corp. and others to launch a new virtual program to respond to the increased needs for protection for those affected by domestic violence during the global pandemic.

Bloomberg Law spoke to Medway about her pro bono work, how ballroom dancing and barre class help her unwind, and how she stays connected to clients and colleagues.

(Editor’s note: Remarks have been edited for clarity and length)

Bloomberg Law: Describe your day to day routine.

Leah Medway: I more or less roll out of bed, grab some caffeine and commute to my office across the hall. I review meetings scheduled for the day and emails that have come in overnight. There is no real routine as each day brings new surprises. A typical day will involve evaluating and approving new pro bono matters, responding to attorneys and staff across the firm on current pro bono cases, communicating with legal service providers regarding existing and potential new projects, overseeing partnerships with corporate clients, and responding to new, typically urgent, needs arising out of the current pandemic.

BL: What is the hardest thing about working from home?

LM: Disentangling from work. I have definitely been working longer hours since my move to full-time remote work.

BL: What is something your firm is doing that has been really helpful?

LM: Perkins Coie has been really supportive on the technology front. The firm has given me the tools to help from an ergonomic perspective, including a monitor, docking station and keyboard, and our IT staff always respond quickly when I have any tech issues or questions. The technology support really made the rapid transition to remote working seamless.

Leah Medway
Courtesy of Perkins Coie

BL: What kinds of technology are you using? Any challenges while working remotely?

LM: WebEx and Jabber. WebEx has been easy to use and the new ability to have easy video conferences has definitely helped me stay more connected to my colleagues. In fact, I see people more this way than I did when I was physically in the Seattle office. The firm is also great about providing training for new platforms and I have only had a few minor challenges. My work phone now rings in multiple places so sometimes the hardest part is figuring out how to answer a call.

BL: What is your number one piece of advice about working from home?

LM: Always be prepared for a video conference, at least from the waist up. I learned this the hard way after I discovered at the last minute what I thought was a conference call was actually a video conference.

BL: What’s your favorite working from home story that made you laugh, shake your head, or just throw up your hands?

LM: I have laughed most when my colleagues’ cute children or pets make surprising cameos on screen, which gives me joy as I have teenagers who generally make themselves scarce and a senior labradoodle who can’t climb the stairs to my home office. For me personally, I have had to shrug my shoulders and move past vanity when I realized I had to give presentations with no make-up or hair done. Fortunately, a lot of colleagues and clients are in the same situation and this has created some good bonding experiences.

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)?

LM: I work out every day, at least once. This includes live streaming barre and ballroom dance classes mostly, and also riding our Peloton, which humbles me every time. I also walk outside with the family when it is not pouring rain.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Ellen Egan at maryellenegan1@gmail.com
To contact the editor on this story: Rebekah Mintzer in New York at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com
Tom Taylor in Washington at ttaylor@bloomberglaw.com

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