Working from home tips

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lawlo

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Working from home tips

Post by lawlo » Sat Jul 18, 2020 8:58 pm

Starting at a firm in the fall and I have a feeling my onboarding will be remote. I feel like building rapport to drum up work will be much harder. I'm also not sure what I'll need in terms of tech.

Any tips on how to successfully jump into Biglaw while working from home?

TUwave

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by TUwave » Sat Jul 18, 2020 9:55 pm

lawlo wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 8:58 pm
Starting at a firm in the fall and I have a feeling my onboarding will be remote. I feel like building rapport to drum up work will be much harder. I'm also not sure what I'll need in terms of tech.

Any tips on how to successfully jump into Biglaw while working from home?
Double screens, keyboard, mouse and a thinkpad docking station.

dvlthndr

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by dvlthndr » Sat Jul 18, 2020 10:00 pm

Don't cheap out on peripherals and your work space. Get a nice desk, a nice chair, mechanical keyboard, big monitors, good internet, etc. You could wind up sitting there for 8+ hours a day for the foreseeable future. I think it's well worth it to spend an extra hundred here and there to make it nice. I prefer a desktop setup for home and ditch the laptop in the office, but do what works best for you.

gasfard

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by gasfard » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:10 pm

Noise cancelling headphones

soft blue

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by soft blue » Sun Jul 19, 2020 8:10 am

Practical stuff:
  • Multiple monitors.
  • A headset with a microphone. You might look like you work in a call center, but you'll never need to worry about random background noise again and you will come through A+.
  • I found freedom.to (a program that lets you block the internet) essential so I didn't spend my day wasting time. YMMV and it takes a bit to get it to play nicely with vpn / citrix / remote desktop / etc.
  • A decent home printer/scanner, especially if you're the kind of person who needs to edit a physical copy.
  • Either get a webcam to put on one of the monitors or, if you're using a laptop, get a laptop stand so you're not getting a nightmarish angle.
  • Spend an hour one day getting your videoconference set up right. Get a clean background (so you don't need to worry about what people will see), get the lighting so you aren't washed out, etc.
  • Backup chargers. Don't go nuts, but one or two will be essential. Low odds of things crapping out but you don't want to be screwed for 24-48 hours waiting for an order to come because that always happens at the worst time.
  • Try to iron out all your IT kinks ASAP. Don't let it fester or assume that remote desktop should break connection every 20 minutes or whatever, talk to IT and fix that stuff when you have the time to. If configured right, it should be a pretty spotless experience.
Re: building rapport, you should (imo) be pretty proactive in trying to reach out to people and trying to do coffee / drinks / whatever. It depends on your group, obviously, but I think everyone feels for you and similarly wants to build relationships.

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tyrant_flycatcher

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by tyrant_flycatcher » Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:46 am

You don't need to go crazy. But definitely, definitely don't rely on your firm-issued laptop to get by. It's so much harder to get things done on a teeny, tiny monitor. It may also screw up your neck looking down ten hours a day. I would prioritize a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Just to balance out what's been said so far:

--I have one big monitor rather than two and that's worked fine for me, and it takes up less space.
--I chose a keyboard and mouse that are ergonomic.
--I have gotten by without a printer or scanner. I haven't needed it for work but there may be stuff you need to manually sign and then scan in order to on-board at your firm. There are good PDF conversion apps btw.
--I don't think you need to spend money on a nice desk. I would focus on buying something with enough room to fit your tech and that still leaves you with space to take notes.
--Headphones are key, especially if you are sharing your space with a partner or roommate. I am using the standard Apple-issued headphones. I haven't felt like I needed something better but some people really need white noise.

Whatislaw

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by Whatislaw » Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:03 am

Agree with what has been said above and highly recommend a powerful desktop if your firm is offering a tech stipend. I'm using a dual monitor setup with my laptop (17.5" screen), but I'd still like a powerful desktop to have two big 24" monitors. Unfortunately, my firm isn't offering a tech stipend :(

stoopkid13

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by stoopkid13 » Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:44 pm

I like having 2 monitors to do one portrait and one landscape, but I'm weird like that.

RaceJudicata

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by RaceJudicata » Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:23 pm

stoopkid13 wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:44 pm
I like having 2 monitors to do one portrait and one landscape, but I'm weird like that.
This is very common in my office. I tried it and hated it, but definitely a thing and worth trying out.

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lawlo

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by lawlo » Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:59 pm

Whatislaw wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:03 am
Agree with what has been said above and highly recommend a powerful desktop if your firm is offering a tech stipend. I'm using a dual monitor setup with my laptop (17.5" screen), but I'd still like a powerful desktop to have two big 24" monitors. Unfortunately, my firm isn't offering a tech stipend :(
Any color on if you can write off your WFH setup on your taxes? Would love to build a pc.

Whatislaw

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by Whatislaw » Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:31 am

lawlo wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:59 pm
Whatislaw wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:03 am
Agree with what has been said above and highly recommend a powerful desktop if your firm is offering a tech stipend. I'm using a dual monitor setup with my laptop (17.5" screen), but I'd still like a powerful desktop to have two big 24" monitors. Unfortunately, my firm isn't offering a tech stipend :(
Any color on if you can write off your WFH setup on your taxes? Would love to build a pc.
Same here! I don't think we can anymore at least until Trump's tax reform expires in like 2024? I think they got rid of unreimbursed business expenses.

mwells_56

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by mwells_56 » Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:18 am

PC Master race setups, rise up.

Two or three 24"-27" monitors with a monitor arm or an ultrawide monitor (34"-49") if you can swing it. The monitor arm is essential, getting them off the desk frees up a lot of space. Get something in 1080p. Since you're using it for work and not gaming, don't worry about refresh rate or response time; anything from a reputable brand (Dell, LG, HP, etc.) in 1080p will look nice. I use a 24.5" in 1080p monitor and a 27" 1440p monitor, set up such that the 27" inch is straight forward and the smaller one is flanked to one side. I have the laptop opened up as a third screen that I don't really need but hey, it's there.

Mechanical keyboard. Cherry MX switches are generally considered the best, but there are a bunch of companies that make similar style switches (Outemu, Razer, even Logitech has some). You don't realize how much better a mechanical keyboard is until you use one, you'll never want to go back. I like wireless because it's easier to move around if you want to read a piece of paper or something. I got a refurbished Corsair wireless keyboard with Cherry MX reds from Amazon for like $45 when they're normally around $80-$90, great deal right there.

A nice mouse. Something with extra buttons that you can map functions on to. I use a Corsair gaming mouse that I have programmed for media keys and switching between multiple desktops, but a lot of people map their buttons to copy, paste, etc. Super helpful for workflow. Again, wireless optional, but preferred.

Wrist wrests. I have two; one for my mouse, one for my keyboard. Mine are Sanwa, which is a Japanese brand that I knew of from their best-in-class fight stick parts. Didn't realize how much I needed it until I got them.

These are hard to come by these days, but try to get a 1080p webcam. Logitech C920 the best one out there at a reasonable price for video conferencing.

Peep reddit.com/r/battlestations for ideas. They are mostly gaming oriented, but if you view it from a workflow standpoint, it can give you some ideas for that as well.

mwells_56

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by mwells_56 » Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:20 am

RaceJudicata wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:23 pm
stoopkid13 wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:44 pm
I like having 2 monitors to do one portrait and one landscape, but I'm weird like that.
This is very common in my office. I tried it and hated it, but definitely a thing and worth trying out.
This is common for programmers who need to view more lines of code, I think. I could see it being useful for lawyers who want an entire page of a document in front of them without having to scroll, but I personally like scrolling; makes me feel more engaged.

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inter-associate

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by inter-associate » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:00 am

Establish a morning routine and stick with it unless projects dictate otherwise. For me the hardest adjustment of working from home was not having to prepare to go into work, no commute, no grabbing a drink on the way in, etc. Just a number of little things that ultimately put me in my comfort zone to start the work day.

Now that I can just roll out of bed and into my office, I've had to establish a new routine that gets me going for the day even if I don't have anything pressing to handle. For me it is run, eat breakfast, input my hours for the previous day and tick through/update my to do list. By that point I'm ready to just get things done even if not urgent. If, on the other hand, I kind of laze into the day I end up either putting things off or getting unjustifiably annoyed when work comes across my desk. The former almost always comes back to bite me, and the latter makes putting up with the rigors of big law harder than it has to be.

snehpets

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by snehpets » Fri Jul 24, 2020 11:19 am

Highly recommend a printer. I hate having one because it’s ugly and paper feels wasteful, but I can say from personal experience that you don’t want to unexpectedly need one RIGHT.NOW. and then it’s a pandemic and you’re having to explain to a boomer who reads everything in hard copy why you don’t have one.

Depending on how intense your firm’s security is (I wouldn’t have been able to do this with the way my old firm’s security worked, for example, so YMMV), I also like reading and marking up documents on my iPad (with an Apple Pencil). It’s nice because it allows me to sit in the park or whatever instead of staring at my walls for yet another hour.

Seconding the person who recommended coming up with a morning work routine even though you’ll be at home. I still put on normal (though not formal) clothes and do my hair/makeup every day like usual because it helps me feel like it’s a “real” work day (plus people sometimes want to do video calls unexpectedly). I also find it helpful (though expensive) to get an iced coffee or whatever every afternoon because it gives me something to look forward to during the brutal 2-4 PM window when I would normally have gone to visit a friend in the office.

Double monitors are good but I was already used to working on a laptop and haven’t bothered with a monitor. I suspect it’s more annoying to rely on a laptop for transactional work. You’ll probably know quickly how you feel about this.

Finally, even if your firm doesn’t require it, I highly recommend doing your time every day. I’m normally captain of Team Do Your Entries Frantically at the Last Possible Moment, but firms are kind of antsy right now about making sure people are actually working, so you’ll make a good impression by frequently reminding them that you are. Similarly, I try to give more status updates on projects than usual - you obviously have to read the room so you don’t look insane, and don’t start emailing the senior partner on your team about your doc review progress, but if it’s been a few days and I’m still working on something, I try to email and give them an update on where I’m at (usually framed as “just wanted to make sure my anticipated timing works for you”), or I’ll ask a few questions that I’ve accumulated so they can see that I’ve been making progress.

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2020 3:05 pm

lawlo wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 8:58 pm
I feel like building rapport to drum up work will be much harder.
A lot of people have made tech suggestions (I use an external monitor and keyboard, no printer) but haven't commented on this. I have two suggestions, both based on my experience and firm so YMMV: (1) find a mid-level or senior associate in your area you like and keep in touch with them (associates are way more likely to be on your internal chat system too). They can be a good source for dumb questions and may be able to funnel work your way (preferably crediting you to the partner) and (2) phone calls. I find that the partners I work don't really use our internal chat system but they came up when phone calls were constant, and talking to someone is a good way to flesh out a relationship that may lead to more work. I wouldn't advise randomly calling to chat, but talk through a tough question or send an email with a first draft and ask if they have time for a call to discuss your open questions.

Good luck. This is a tough time to start somewhere new, but the more embedded you can get (which means do good work so they keep coming back to you) the better off you'll be when you get back to the office and throughout your career.

Daboose

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by Daboose » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:22 am

I got an iPad and it’s been great. My firm has really good support for iOS. I would guess most firms would because almost everyone uses an iPhone for work.

My firm laptop also dies in like 40 minutes on battery because of all the security junk running in the background so IPad is also great on the go around the house.

I still print off documents if I know I will need to reference them a bunch but for quick flips of docs and pushing emails, iPad has been great.

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WordsInLatin

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by WordsInLatin » Sun Aug 09, 2020 6:17 pm

Anyone have particular recs or suggestions about an at-home printer? I'm an incoming litigation associate at a big firm in NYC. I don't know exactly what to expect work-wise, but I prefer to read/edit by hand when possible.

A long-time solo practitioner I know seems to think I should get a fancy laserjet printer, but I'm skeptical I need a really nice printer.

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:33 am

I'm not starting until January, but we have been told there is a 99% chance we will be starting remotely at this point. (Offices are still closed, and even if they open, I assume leadership thinks it's too much of a liability to force us all into the office). How large of a desk would people recommend? I have used a small writers desk throughout law school but during my SAs, I usually had papers strewn all over the place and needed the space that a larger desk provides. Worth upgrading to a large desk?

Further, anyone know if an Apple iMac is compatible with a second, non-Apple monitor and a PC work laptop? I have always wanted an iMac desktop but I'm guessing it won't work with a work laptop that is a PC.

MarkmanPapers

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by MarkmanPapers » Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:49 am

WordsInLatin wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 6:17 pm
Anyone have particular recs or suggestions about an at-home printer? I'm an incoming litigation associate at a big firm in NYC. I don't know exactly what to expect work-wise, but I prefer to read/edit by hand when possible.

A long-time solo practitioner I know seems to think I should get a fancy laserjet printer, but I'm skeptical I need a really nice printer.
I like the idea of a laser printer myself, but it does not need to be "fancy" unless you want an all-in-one. Got one for law school (some variant of the Brother printer recommended by the Wirecutter https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/revi ... r-printer/) and it's been quite reliable. You can get something like that on sale for a hair under $100 if you time things right.

Prints fast, double sided, and the toner not only lasts but can easily be refilled with "store brand" toner with minimal print quality loss.

mwells_56

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by mwells_56 » Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:33 am
I'm not starting until January, but we have been told there is a 99% chance we will be starting remotely at this point. (Offices are still closed, and even if they open, I assume leadership thinks it's too much of a liability to force us all into the office). How large of a desk would people recommend? I have used a small writers desk throughout law school but during my SAs, I usually had papers strewn all over the place and needed the space that a larger desk provides. Worth upgrading to a large desk?

Further, anyone know if an Apple iMac is compatible with a second, non-Apple monitor and a PC work laptop? I have always wanted an iMac desktop but I'm guessing it won't work with a work laptop that is a PC.
The ikea alex drawer/linnmon (sp?) tabletop desk is extremely popular, cheap, and decently built. Plenty of drawers for papers, pens, etc., plenty of desk space to get a nice setup.

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Crickets

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by Crickets » Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:33 am
I'm not starting until January, but we have been told there is a 99% chance we will be starting remotely at this point. (Offices are still closed, and even if they open, I assume leadership thinks it's too much of a liability to force us all into the office). How large of a desk would people recommend? I have used a small writers desk throughout law school but during my SAs, I usually had papers strewn all over the place and needed the space that a larger desk provides. Worth upgrading to a large desk?

Further, anyone know if an Apple iMac is compatible with a second, non-Apple monitor and a PC work laptop? I have always wanted an iMac desktop but I'm guessing it won't work with a work laptop that is a PC.
I don't know about this exact situation, but I use an old apple thunderbolt monitor with a thunderbolt to usb-c adapter and it works with my firm pc laptop. Presuming the iMac has similar external monitor capabilities, it should work all the same. With its size, I don't even need a second monitor, and if I do I just use the laptop screen.

I also know some people just use the iMac and remote login from there. The one thing I'd caution about this, though, is that the iMac keyboard and the pc keyboard would be different, so you'd have to get used to that. I have, at times, logged in from my macbook and struggled finding the ctrl or alt key because I'm used to hitting command, etc.

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blair.waldorf

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by blair.waldorf » Mon Aug 10, 2020 12:04 pm

Would love if people could share links to keyboards, mouses, etc. that they like! I'm willing to spend some $ for a home office setup, but I'm so clueless with regards to tech.

stoopkid13

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by stoopkid13 » Mon Aug 10, 2020 1:01 pm

I'd recommend getting a mechanical keyboard tester to see what kind of switches you like, and then shelling out for a mechanical keyboard.

https://www.amazon.com/AKWOX-Mechanical ... B01GZHU1EG

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axel.foley

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Re: Working from home tips

Post by axel.foley » Mon Aug 10, 2020 3:26 pm

blair.waldorf wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 12:04 pm
Would love if people could share links to keyboards, mouses, etc. that they like! I'm willing to spend some $ for a home office setup, but I'm so clueless with regards to tech.
I got a Logitech MX Master 3 mouse and it's been a game changer! It has multiple buttons on the side that you can "macro" to various functions. Very useful on Mac, and I'm sure it would be on PC too. It's wireless.
Most importantly, it's ergonomically designed so my hand doesn't cramp up after long use.

Also, get wristpads for both your keyboard and mouse. You'll never go back.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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