In 2003 when Lee and I first started talking about having a shared private family law courtroom in Walnut Creek, we were careful to anticipate all potential complications which might be involved in sharing not only a home but a work space. After all, we are both used to being “The Boss” in our own practice for many years and have very firmly ingrained work habits, preferences, and ideas about how an office should operate. As a result, we spent weeks talking about how to make it work before we began to look for office space.
One thing that made a huge difference was the fact that I had already been doing “have robe, will travel” for five years, and had become very attached to my custom-built home office (and it’s mine….mine, mine, mine!)* I loved the fact that if I didn’t have court scheduled, I could put on my sweats and “go to work” upstairs with the dog on his pillow in the corner. As a result, I decided I didn’t want to have a separate office at the courtroom for myself. Unlike Lee, who also does mediation and therefore needs a place to meet clients, I only do private judging. The only time I go to the office is when I have court scheduled. That means that Lee runs the day to day operations of the office exactly as he likes, and if I would have done it differently, it doesn’t matter because I’m not there. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that I got to pick the color scheme and art.)
We also have very different ideas about how our work day develops. Lee routinely leaves for the office around 5:00 a.m.(!) That means that I can happily kiss him goodbye and go right back to sleep, because I wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near the office at that ungodly hour. He gets to preserve his early morning routine without interference from me, and I get to live like a civilized person.
We’ve now shared the courtroom for 8 years, and it has worked out extraordinarily smoothly. In all, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
*Lee wants me to point out here that he does have a corner of the home office to call his own, although my part is the size of San Francisco and his is more like Pacheco.
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