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Leading Questions: A New Normal for Gibson Dunn’s Anne Champion

April 17, 2020, 9:40 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.

Anne Champion is a litigation partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, specializing in transnational litigation and First Amendment work. She is currently representing U.S. investors in an arbitration against the Republic of Colombia and Chevron in climate change litigation across the country. She has also represented CNN and reporter Jim Acosta as well as Playboy reporter Brian Karem, in battles over the suspension of their White House press passes.

Bloomberg Law spoke with Champion to discuss the challenges of working remotely, and how she stays connected to her colleagues and clients on a daily basis.

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

Bloomberg Law: Describe your day to day routine.

Anne Champion: My routine has been waking up around 7 am, getting my two sons and the dog fed, getting the kids going on their home schooling before turning to work. I have not had much of a slowdown in work, so it’s a full day of work. If time permits, I try to take a break and get outside during the day for a run, a bike ride with the kids, or to walk the dog. If I have more to get done, I’ll work for an hour or two after dinner also. I’ve been cooking a lot, so I read a lot of cookbooks. I may play a game with the kids or watch an hour of tv in the evenings. We’ve also been doing Zoom happy hours with friends and family.

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

AC: I’m honestly grateful for this time with my children and husband, but it is challenging to have them with me 24/7 while also trying to get work done. My kids are both in grade school, and it definitely requires work to keep them focused on school, and also make sure they get enough social interaction in an environment where they can’t go over to their friends’ houses. It makes you appreciate teachers more than ever. It has also been challenging to have literally everything we do—from client meetings to court appearances—converted to telephone / videoconferencing. We lawyers spend a lot of time on the phone in the best of times, but now I feel like it’s all I do. I’ve been rotating between two sets of airpods, they’re in my ears all day long.

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

AC: The firm has done a great job maintaining a sense of community even though we are all working from home. I see many of my partners more than I did before the shutdown! We have been having weekly partner meetings on Zoom, litigation group meetings on Zoom, partner lunches on Zoom, so videocalling has become the norm. And we are pretty much receiving daily communications from our managing partner and office leaders. This reaffirms what I’ve always known, Gibson Dunn is a great firm and I’m lucky to work here.

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

AC: The main change has been the use of Zoom, which has been great for both professional and personal purposes. While I obviously had experience working remotely before the shutdown, it is another thing to be working a full day from home, day after day. It took me a while to get a proper home office set up, with a printer and extra screen, and everything else I need to work efficiently.

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

AC: Set up a proper workspace in an area where you have at least the option of privacy. It makes a big difference. My office is small, but it has doors I can close if I really don’t want to be interrupted by the kids —which is about 30% effective, but that’s better than nothing!

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

AC: For me, it has to be that my kids are never more interested in me than when I’m on a video call. They love to interrupt, pop into the video, and wave to everyone. At least they are cute and easy to forgive!

BL: What do you do to de-stress or take your mind off of work when you’re trapped inside (or limited in where you can go)?

AC: I try to get outside every day. I’m lucky to live in a beautiful area along the Hudson River with lots of options for getting out without having to worry about the density of the city. On the few days I have not gotten out, my stress definitely goes up. I have also been cooking a lot, and trying to learn some truly new skills, like making kimchi.

For more on how lawyer’s are working from home, check out our video.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Ellen Egan in New York at maryellenegan1@gmail.com

To contact the editor on this story: Rebekah Mintzer in New York at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com
Jessie Kamens in Washington at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com

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