Fitbarrister, Not Fatbarrister

I am walking. I’m listening. I’m talking. I’m writing. I’m reading. I’m delegating. I’m doing all of this without being in the prison that some call an office.

You see, a few months ago I bought a Fitbit activity tracker, and for a few weeks, my new “stand up” desk became the great outdoors, my Fitbit, and my iPhone. As a result, at least temporarily, I was improving my health by leaps and bounds. And by using technology to keep up with work while pounding out the miles, my law practice benefited too—hopefully on a permanent basis.

Fitbits track how many steps you take over the course of a day, and one cool thing about them is the social aspect to them. You can compete with other people, including lawyers from across the country, in how far you walk. Two recent ABA Young Lawyers Division Presidents, Andrew Schpak and Lacy Durham, have embraced the concept of #fit2practice by encouraging the use of Fitbits. I jumped into it too—with both feet.

I felt great. I was exploring Annapolis, the beautiful city that I live in (and which is consistently considered one of the most beautiful in the country by numerous publications. #humblebrag).

But, you ask, how the heck was I maintaining my practice and bringing in the bacon while simultaneously burning it off?

Technology supplied my weapons of mass walking. I have an app for my case management system on my iPhone. I had my virtual receptionist screening my calls, I was sending my fee agreements via email, and processing payments by Lawpay through a link that I sent to the client.

I’m a criminal defense attorney, so much of the work I do is low in paper.  If I needed to scan discovery materials or something bigger, I just stood up and deployed my Cadillac of scanners, ScanSnap IX500, or on my scanner app on my iPhone. I was posting ads to Facebook via my phone. I sent an email campaign via my MailChimp app on my phone. I signed documents through HelloSign on my phone. I balanced my books through accounting software on my phone. I checked my bank accounts on my phone. I updated my two websites on my phone. I used Dropbox and Google drive on my phone. I made calls through my Google voice number on my phone. I managed my calendar via my phone. I did Google Scholar research via my phone and had access to Fastcase if I needed it. I walked and met other lawyers (I did sit down when I had coffee with them).

All was good. I was putting in over 100,000 steps in five days every week for a few weeks. I was beating ABA legal legends and fantastic Fitbitters, Beth Palmer and Andrew Schpak, by miles. I was addicted to walking. My neighbors would snicker at me when I was outside at night walking around the apartment complex, listening to my music, or, perhaps a podcast, or getting agitated over some stupid litigation thing that came up.


But my steady diet of “walking practice” came to a quick end after a string of hearings and trials one week. I got out of my groove.

It was a neat experiment and it definitely showed how a new shiny toy can spark an interest in fitness. Of course, like everything else taken to an extreme, my addiction to walking came to an end, and I now kiddingly call the Fitbit my “Fatbit.”

But it was a good experience. Temporary health benefits aside, it made me realize just how much legal work it was possible to do while literally on the move. And it made me more efficient in my solo practice through my use of technology. The pace was difficult for me to maintain once my hearing/court schedule got busier, though. Like everything else, it seems like moderation is the best bet in the long run, or, er, long walk.

About the Author

Scott MacMullan is the founder and owner of Scott MacMullan Law, LLC, in Annapolis, Maryland.  Follow Scott on Twitter @smacmullan.

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