And Be Safe Behind the Wheel

Now we were both distracted. I was distracted, keeping an eye on my rearview mirror to make sure I was not rear-ended, and she was obviously very distracted sending a text or whatever life-risking activity she was involved in.

I get it. We are all busy. We are running from here to there and trying to cram 26 hours of stuff into a regular day. It’s tough. And time spent in the car can just feel…wasted. And I should know.

Last year, I drove almost 10,000 miles as a trial attorney.

That’s right. I’m a partner in a law firm, and I do trials across Pennsylvania. It’s a big Commonwealth. As a result, I spend hours in a car. Coupled with my ADHD, I often feel like I should be doing something to be productive in the car. And over the years, I have managed to increase my productivity in the car while staying as safe as possible.

Create Tasks as They Come to You

When I am driving and listening to music or a podcast or audiobook, things just come to me. I remember I need to make a dentist appointment (which I literally remembered while writing this article), send a letter to opposing counsel in a case, or buy a gift for a friend.

These tasks used to come up and then float right out of my head to either be forgotten or to come up in the middle of the night when I have to wake up to go to the bathroom. Cue being up for the rest of the night.

Luckily, we live in the future. We have a just-OK virtual assistant with us at all times. So I use Siri to enter tasks into Things 3, my to-do list of choice. This is incredibly simple, especially if you have Apple CarPlay.

Adding a Task to Things 3 Using Siri

  1. Activate Siri
  2. Say “Add a task in Things – Send letter to opposing counsel in the Johnson case.”
  3. Enjoy!

Of course, you can get even more advanced than this, assign a list, a due date, etc. But I find that the more I try to cram in, the less likely the handoff from Siri to Things 3 will be.

I have also learned that using the word “task” rather than “reminder” or “to do” is pretty much flawless.

Learn Something

It can be how to laugh, a new skill, what’s happening in the world, or anything in between

I am a podcast and audiobook junkie. Don’t believe me? Here are the receipts

The car is a terrific time to bang out podcasts like Interrogatories with Josh Camson. You can learn about a person, a story, something in the news, whatever. It’s 2023. I’m not going to sell you on podcasts.

Audiobooks can be an even greater tool in the road warrior’s toolkit. I personally listen to almost exclusively fantasy novels because I am just that nerdy. 45 hours of Michael Kramer reading a Brandon Sanderson novel? Sign me right up. But I have also used my time in the car to listen to business books, books on productivity, or other things that involve no complicated magical systems and not a single sword.

Don’t Forget about YouTube, Skillshare, and Blinkist

Relax. I mean just the audio. If you are a YouTube Premium subscriber, you can download videos for offline use. I like to sometimes download videos from some of my subscriptions and play the audio in the car when I know I don’t need to see the video.

Recently I have also been using the Skillshare app. Similar to YouTube you can download sessions ahead of time. They are all video based but many are just talking head videos which make for great audio-only content.

Send Audio Notes

I swear I am not a boomer. I do not send dictation to my team. But I do sometimes send a little voice memo with a reminder for a task or to explain something. I will also occasionally just send a little note to a friend since I know they have a regular job that doesn’t allow them to be calling people in the middle of the day.

Be Unproductively Productive

We all work hard. We are driving to depositions and to court hearings, to and from the office, and it’s easy to get worn down. Not every minute of the workday has to be productive. Let me write that again. We do not always need to be productive. I love using a car ride, when I’m feeling a bit worn thin, to just mildly recharge. Jam out to some music. Completely slay a karaoke session of the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording or just ride along in silence.

It’s amazing what driving for 20-30 minutes in silence can do to make you feel recharged despite being in the car.

Not Making Phone Calls

Most lawyers would put phone calls at the top of their list of things to do while driving. It’s at the bottom of mine. I used to make phone calls all the time while driving. But after many years of error, indeed what many would call too many years of making the same mistake over and over, I learned my lesson.

The Problem with Work Calls in the Car

Let’s put aside the annoying issues of connectivity, dropped calls, and not being able to hear each other. It’s 2023 and things are as good as they are going to get, but inevitably a call will drop and it’s annoying for both parties. But even if the call is crisp as can be, there are a few problems with making calls to clients or opposing counsel in the car

  1. It is difficult to make the calls hands-free
  2. You will not take contemporaneous notes
  3. You will forget to bill your time

Let’s break those down a bit.

Making Hands-Free Calls on a VOIP Provider

Do you give your clients your cell phone number? Or even keep client phone numbers in your cell phone? Me neither. That means to make the calls, you have to use your phone in your hand, navigate to your VOIP provider, dial in the number, etc. In my case I would have to go to Outlook to find the number of the phone message I am returning, copy the number, paste the number into Zoom (our VOIP provider) then click dial. All an unsafe mess.

Taking Notes on Work Calls

Any experienced lawyer will tell you that whether you are the Attorney General meeting with the President of the United States, or a personal injury attorney talking to an adjuster, contemporaneous notes are critical. Your notes from the call will allow you to remember what you discussed (obviously), be a starting point for determining the next tasks, and just in general are a good way to ‘paper’ a file so that the rest of your team knows what is going on. Even if you’re a solo attorney, it is good to have notes on cases. If you get hit by a bus tomorrow, and someone has to clean up the files, why make their life even more difficult?

And of course, taking notes while driving is impossible. So you will likely hang up the phone call and either just not make any note in the file, or make some kind of abbreviated note that is crappier than what you would have done if you were in the office or even stopped at a rest stop.

Billing Time for Calls in the Car

Like entering the number into your VOIP provider, it is difficult to enter time using a voice assistant. I found that I would just forget to do this. Although if you must make calls in the car, at least create a task for yourself to bill the time later using voice commands as discussed above.

Making Phone Calls

“Now wait a bloody minute Josh,” you may be thinking. “Didn’t you just say not to make phone calls? What kind of lawyer double talk is this?”

Fair point. Here’s the thing: I don’t make, and try not to answer, work calls while driving for all the reasons I discussed. But the car is a great time to make non work calls. You probably don’t call your parents, your siblings, or your friends enough. If schedules allow, this is a great time to catch up.

Have no friends or family? If that’s the case, who asks for all your free legal advice?

In any event, if you have no friends or family to call, you can also call your coworkers and team. I often use longer morning trips to check in with my office manager, paralegal, and admin. A quick ten-minute call with each of them to know what’s going on for the day, if there are fires waiting for me at the office, etc. can save a lot of water cooler time later and avoid the problems associated with calling opposing counsel and clients discussed above.


Two times in February I had to drive ninety minutes to a courthouse, appear for a status conference where my portion lasted ninety seconds, then get back in the car. Rough. It’s easy to feel like this time is wasted or just slips away. But after tens of thousands of miles I have figured out what works for me when I’m in the car.

What works for you? What is your favorite track to jam out to? Let us know in the comments.


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