As chairwoman of Fenwick & West’s gaming and digital media practice, Jennifer Kelly, 46, manages a packed work schedule from her San Francisco office in addition to raising two sons. She also has the distinction of becoming the first woman to lead TechLaw Group Inc., a referral network and best practices hub for 25 international law firms.
We wanted to know how Kelly, who has joint custody of her boys Lachlan, 12, and Quinn, 7, handles the myriad responsibilities that come with heading a competitive Bay Area law practice and helping run a household in Greenbrae, California, with her current husband, attorney Ryan Tyz.
Here’s a peek at Kelly’s routine on a typical workday.
Eggs or Cereal. My alarm goes off at 6:20, and that’s painful. I hit the snooze button at least once, and then I go into panic mode. I stumble into the kitchen and make breakfast. We’ll usually have scrambled eggs and English muffins. Sometimes it’s cereal—that’s a snooze button morning. I’m not proud of it. I’m a workout fanatic, but I’m not one of those people who sets their alarm at 5 a.m. and gets a workout in. I’ll take a class once I drop the boys off. We make sure the boys have gotten their backpacks together, their sports gear, snacks.
Work Duds. I wear of ton of MM.LaFleur. I love it. I first heard about it when I saw an ad on Facebook. It has made my life so much easier. I don’t have to stand in front of the closet and say “I have nothing to wear.” I wear it at least 50 percent of the time.
On the Road. We’re out of the house by 7:15. It is brutal. My kids go to Stuart Hall, and they’ve got to get dropped off around 7:45. If I don’t have an early morning meeting, I’ll go take a group fitness class. I go to Barry’s Boot Camp or take a barre class like Pop Physique. I’ll shower there and head downtown. I’ve been known to drive straight to office and shower at the gym in my building.
Coffee Fueled. When I get to the office, I write out my to-do list for the day and deal with urgent emails, the triage things of the day. I spend about half my time on client work and calls and half on administrative stuff. There’s so much administrative stuff as a partner. I drink coffee all the way up to lunch. I almost never go to lunch. I’d rather spend that hour working out or I’ll run out and grab a salad.
Hello, Goodbye. The afternoon is more of the same. I tend to get more focused and keep my door closed. I’m not big on unscheduled drop-ins. I’ll stick a Post-it on my door that says “Do not enter,” but my colleagues will replace it with a Post-it that says “I love unscheduled visits. Please come in.” The Post-its are not effective at all. I wear a Fitbit. It prompts me to get up and take a lap around the office. By midafternoon, I start to approach panic mode. My list is growing instead of getting shorter.
Client Contact. On days I don’t have the boys, I typically leave between 6 and 6:30. On those days, about half the time I head home, and about half the time I head to some kind of work event or possibly to meet a business contact or client for a drink. If I have the boys, I’m leaving at 5:35, and that’s cutting it close. They’re enrolled in an on-campus after school program that is open until 6.
Dinner at Home and the Couch. From the moment I walk in the door to about 9, I don’t sit down. About half the time we’re successful in having a family dinner. My husband will do the cooking. He’s an early bird and gets into the office early. We use Instacart for groceries. We go with healthy options, paleo options. Mind you, the kids aren’t eating that. If we have tacos, everybody will eat tacos. Once the kids are tucked into bed, Ryan and I lie on the couch. We’re big fans of “Shark Tank.” We liked “House of Cards,” but I’m kind of grossed out now. I’m so exhausted I can’t even think about opening up my laptop. That almost never happens; it doesn’t happen until the next morning. We’re usually in bed by 10, and it’s lights out shortly thereafter.
Biggest Time-Saver. I try very hard to be focused and be super, super efficient. The problem is that I am very friendly with so many of my colleagues that I end up laughing more than I planned to everyday, but it ends up making the workplace feel very fun.