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.
Peter Mucchetti arrived at Clifford Chance in the calm before the storm. The Washington-based partner, who focuses on antitrust litigation matters, joined the firm on March 2, after a 19-year stint at the Justice Department where he last served as the chief of the Healthcare and Consumer Products section. Mucchetti spent just two weeks in the office before the growing Covid-19 outbreak forced the firm to go remote. So, it’s been an unusual kind of career transition.
Bloomberg Law spoke to Mucchetti about his new daily routine, working remotely with two teenagers at home, and how he stays connected to colleagues and clients.
(Editor’s note: Remarks have been edited for clarity and length)
Bloomberg Law: Describe your day to day routine.
Peter Mucchetti: I always start with coffee and putting on business clothes for those unplanned video calls. I’m still shaving every day, but I’m going to have to figure out how to get a haircut. I love that I don’t have a commute. I just walk upstairs to my home office, which is a finished attic space. My day often starts with emails that are coming in from Europe. I have a lot more scheduled phone calls and video calls, both externally and internally. There’s been greater emphasis on getting together over the phone than there has been in the past. My wife and I have lunch together every day, and we have dinner together as a family every evening. Μy children, who are 15 and 17, insist on having no coronavirus-related discussions during dinner.
BL: What is the hardest thing about working from home?
PM: I miss the impromptu hallway talks, and socializing with colleagues. I met many people at the firm before we started working remotely, so I feel lucky. I have friends who started new jobs who have never been in their new offices. Overall, I have been pleasantly surprised at how smooth the transition has been for me.
BL: What is something your firm is doing that has been really helpful?
PM: One of the best things that the firm has been doing is maintaining connections with people.
Also, the firm has emphasized that its first concern is the health and safety of everyone. My secretary moved from New York to DC since the firm moved to working remotely. To help her and others in the office to get to know each other, I had food delivered to her place and we had a virtual lunch together. Our antitrust group has three Zoom calls a week, and we have a weekly “background challenge” on Zoom. There have been a lot of nature scenes, beautiful sunsets, and landscapes. There was also a Brady Bunch background that I got a kick out of. Since we’re all getting used to seeing each other in boxes, I’m waiting for a Hollywood Squares background to appear.
BL: What kinds of technology are you using? Any challenges while working remotely?
PM: Internally, we most often use LoopUp for video conferencing. Externally, a significant technology shift is that the antitrust agencies are now accepting electronic files of Hart Scott filings, which is how companies notify the agencies about significant mergers. Previously, parties were not allowed to make electronic HSR filings. This technology shift is permanent as the agencies have announced that they will keep that innovation even after the coronavirus challenge passes. Acceptance of new technology is something I think we will see—we’re all learning how to work remotely, and that acceptance will continue as we move forward.
BL: What is your number one piece of advice about working from home?
PM: Keep connecting with people. In a time of crisis, we need to reach out to others. Business calls now start with, “Hey, how are you doing?”, and people really want to know the answer to that.
BL: What’s your favorite working from home story that made you laugh, shake your head, or just throw up your hands?
PM: We have seen a few babies make guest appearances on video calls, and they always steal the show and bring a smile to everyone’s face. Cats, dogs, and even a pet bird have also brightened up more than a few calls.
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)?
PM: I run three or four times a week, and I also take long walks with my wife. I’m trying to counterbalance my family’s other hobby—baking. Our fridge is full of leftovers because we all enjoy cooking.