Productivity and Life
Welcome to this edition of the Mestaz Law newsletter! We hope your summer was enjoyable and productive!
Speaking of productivity, sometimes we have trouble balancing our work/career and life outside of it. As a litigator, I find doing so takes intentional steps, and thus, put in the effort to maintain balance between the two. You’ll find this topic addressed in articles in this month’s newsletter. I hope you’ll find some inspiration and perhaps some tips to balance the work-life scales.
We also have, as always, an update on the very interesting world of copyright cases in Arizona. As it has come up in so many other arenas lately, AI is at the heart of many cases we look at in this newsletter. We encourage you to read the copyright cases updates carefully, as AI may be or become a factor that affects your business dealings.
What would you like us to delve into in our future newsletters? Let us know!
A Litigator’s Work-Life Balance Efforts
By Dan Mestaz
Health and wellness are all the rage these days. Whether in the context of remote working, self- care, healthy eating, body acceptance, mindfulness, or fitness, etc.—it seems undeniable that what might be called “American hustle culture” has steadily given way to work-life balance values. That is probably a good thing. But aside from extreme examples of 100-hour work weeks and no vacations that we might all agree is not something to strive for, what does that phrase really mean?
As a busy commercial litigator who works far more than 9-5, and often on Saturday afternoons too, I can only comment from experience. And my first observation is that I do not like the word “balance.” I agree with Padmasree Warrior in this regard:
“I don’t like the word ‘balance’. To me, that somehow conjures up conflict between work and family… as long as we think of these things as conflicting, we will never have happiness. True happiness comes from integration… of work, family, self, community.”
Integration… that seems more accurate. How does one “integrate” the things that are most important to them?
I think you start with priorities. I have three: (1) health, (2) family, (3) legal career, and in that order. If I’m unhealthy, I won’t live long or well, which defeats (2) and (3). So, for example, I do an hour of yoga almost every day, no matter how busy I am. I do it even if it means getting home late, or missing dinner, or whatever, because without maintaining my physical and mental health, I know that I will feel bad, physically and mentally, which is terrible for family and clients alike.
So what about family and career? Does it mean that I must attend, say, my child’s choir recital even though I need to prepare for a deposition? No, it doesn’t, and here’s why: We live in the real world and my children should learn that. In the real world, life is expensive! Kids especially, are costly, particularly if you expect to send them to college. That fact means I have to save, which I means I have to work—a lot. That requires tough choices. I rarely make weekday dinners. I often work on Saturdays. I even missed a Disneyland vacation! But those choices were necessary because the quality of my work product is paramount and uncompromising… that is why clients hire me. So, I made those choices because otherwise I cannot afford college for two kids and have any hope of retiring.
Of course, that is not to say that I regularly abandon the family for work. I do as much as reasonably possible. I join them for dinner when I can. I have learned to schedule (and attend!) micro-vacations that are more doable than long ones. I even signed up for 200 hours of yoga teacher training with my 14-year-old daughter. Will I ditch class occasionally in order to do great work for a client, which will leave her on her own sometimes? Yes! Guaranteed!! Will she be okay? Also, yes! She’s smart and social and will be just fine. And, like me, she’s a half-glass full person and will appreciate that I am there most of the time.
And also, let’s take a step back. My grandfather went off to war for two years. Other parents
work two jobs just to feed their families. Some dads have to drive trucks for weeks or work on oil rigs or fishing boats for months. People do what they have to do depending on their real world obligations and priorities.
Here are some things that help me integrate my health, family, and career:
- Presence. When I am working, I work. I am not on social media. I work on my cases and try to build up the firm. Okay, perhaps I doom-scroll a little too much, but nobody’s perfect and there is room for improvement. When I am home I AM PRESENT. I talk to my kids, do things with them, and take a real interest in their lives, dreams, and activities. I feel like I know them and they know me.
- Small, incremental changes. Years ago, I found myself progressively more tired and unproductive. Over a ten-year period, step by step, I took up yoga… I drank a little less… I ate better. And now, I am less irritable, have more energy, and sleep better. Maybe my next change is to spend less time reading internet news.
- Boundaries. To quote the novelist Anne Lamott, “No is a complete sentence.” Although I will skip family activities to ensure that my work product is stellar, I also turn down plenty of work because it is not my area. I do what I do (commercial litigation) and do not do what I don’t do (construction litigation, criminal defense, etc.). I do not dabble. If another lawyer is a better fit for a matter, I refer it out. It is better for everyone. Likewise, I am not afraid to tell my family, “No, I have work to do.”
- Self-care. You are also entitled to care and happiness. As they say, “you cannot pour from any empty cup”. The writer Penny Reid has another one I like: “Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm.” It’s also why the flight attendant tells parents to put on their oxygen mask first.
- Self-forgiveness. It is okay to not be okay. Nobody is perfect. We cannot be happy all the time or always be at the family activity. We all experience doubt, anxiety, regret, sadness, and anger—including when, say, you disappoint loved ones. So I have learned to sit with negative emotions and just let them be what they are. A conscious choice that brings sadness does not mean it’s the wrong choice. And the less I lament or self-blame, the sooner the feelings pass and the sooner I am present and open to joy.
Arizona Copyright Update – September 2023
By Matthew Hersh
TOP ISSUE—ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND COPYRIGHT
The use of artificial intelligence to create art and literature continues to be the hot topic of 2023. The inevitable litigation has taken place, very roughly speaking, on two levels—each of which has seen action over the summer.
Work-Life Balance? What Does That Mean?
Work can sometimes take precedence over other things in life. Bringing about a work-life balance that is in harmony with other parts of our being is critically important to increase our satisfaction with our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Work-life balance is the equilibrium between the career and personal life of an individual. When this equilibrium is off, more responsibilities at work and home are blamed.
Chris Chancey, Amplio Recruiting’s career expert and CEO, states that a good work-life balance has many positive effects, which include less stress and burnout, and more sense of well-being. Not only do employees benefit from this, but employers do as well.
“Employers who are committed to providing environments that support work-life balance for their employees can save on costs, experience fewer cases of absenteeism, and enjoy a more loyal and productive workforce,” said Chancey. Telecommuting and work schedules that are flexible contribute greatly to a better work-life balance.
When looking at your employees’ schedules and commitments, it’s advantageous to consider their personal lives as well. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are realizing the benefits of realizing they are not only employees, but people as well.
The Chron Is a True Competitive Advantage
Mestaz Law uses proprietary technology called The Chron to prepare for trials, document all pertinent information, it allows us to masterfully control our presentations in court, and ultimately win cases for our clients.
Every piece of evidence is put in chronological order and annotated, allowing The Chron to access it with a single keystroke or scanning of a bar code. If there is a single sentence in a contract that makes your case, The Chron will find and display it for the court in an instant.
Over the course of a case development, we update The Chron with new information, including documents, interviews, depositions, hearings, and witness testimony. It is an evolving, organic digital database that has caught witnesses in inconsistencies and flat-out lies in real time.
The goal in litigation and trial is to be clear, organized, and well-paced – The Chron is the very best tool to accomplish that. The Chron is a unique and powerful tool that significantly contributes to our success.
With The Chron we:
- Prepare for trial from the time we take the case
- Organize and master all documents, evidence and other information for quick access and visual display to the court
- Build a strong and compelling visual story based on facts to make a lasting and memorable impression in.