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 during the coronavirus crisis.
Paola Armeni is a litigator at Clark Hill and member-in-charge of the firm’s Las Vegas office. Her work has included the only impeachment hearing of a Nevada public official, and she has assisted in several high-profile criminal cases tried in both the U.S. District Court and the Eighth Judicial District Court. Armeni has also been successful in civil rights actions against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and received a jury award of approximately $2.1 million.
Bloomberg Law spoke to Armeni about the challenges of working in the office during the pandemic, staying connected to clients and staff, and balancing motherhood and work.
Bloomberg Law: Describe your day to day routine.
Paola Armeni: My day to day routine changes with each day. Some days I work from home, and on those days, it’s hard to balance being an attorney with being a mom and teacher. I try to get up early in the morning and spend the morning working, so that I can spend the afternoon helping my youngest with his school work. Other days, I work in the office, making calls, drafting and sending emails, drafting pleadings, and attending court appearances, mostly remotely via video platform. Before Covid-19, my days were always different and I would be in and out of the office, but unfortunately during the pandemic, I now spend the entire day in the office.
BL: What is the hardest thing about working from home when you’re there?
PA: Our firm’s offices in Las Vegas and Arizona remained open throughout the pandemic, because the physical structures of the offices made it workable, and because the number of coronavirus cases were manageable. We of course took all the precautions necessary to keep everyone safe, including additional cleaning measures, social distancing, and requiring everyone to wear a mask. I’ve been going into the office nearly every day. However, my husband is a firefighter who works 48-hour shifts, so I try to be home when he is at work. It’s hard trying to work from home with children. My 12 year old did okay on her own, and her school did a good job with online learning. But my son is Pre-K, so he needs a lot more help.
BL: What is something your firm is doing that has been really helpful?
PA: Initially, all of the managing partners had daily meetings, now we are meeting about once a week. We discuss finance and other matters such as how to take care of the staff. We have regular Zoom calls with associates so we can actually “see” each other face-to-face. And our office has bought lunch and treats for anyone who is in the office to keep morale up.
BL: How have your clients’ needs changed?
PA: Litigation never really slows down, and I made sure we were staying in touch with our clients over Zoom and over the phone. Courts are requiring people to wear masks, and some attorneys are appearing for court hearings online. The biggest change for me is that I’m not seeing my clients in person. But we’re still doing the work day to day, and handling what they need. I haven’t really seen a change in my practice.
BL: What kinds of technology are you using? Any challenges while working remotely?
PA: Like everyone else we’re on Zoom and on the phone. And our courts use Blue Jeans, another video platform. The biggest challenge is my five-year old son, who is constantly interrupting me. And I don’t really have a home office. When I’m working from home, I work on my laptop, and it is more of a challenge to get the work done; it gets done in the end, but not quite as quickly as usual. In the office, I have three monitors on my desk.
BL: What’s your favorite working from home story that made you laugh, shake your head, or just throw up your hands?
PA: I love being able to work in my pajamas and not having to wear makeup. And I get to partake in the kids’ day-to-day activities more than usual. One time, I was prepping an expert, and my son kept coming in and popping up on our Zoom call. I only needed one hour of quiet time, but I’ve found that they will only be quiet when you don’t need them to be.
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)?
PA: I like to play games and watch movies with my family. And if I can, I like to sneak away and binge watch one of my favorite shows.