Day in the Life: Lesley MacDonagh, managing partner, international law firm

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0645 The first negotiation of the day involves my three sons (aged 11, eight and three) who all want - in this order - money for tuck and bowling, Sky sport at 30 decibels and a very small amount of maternal attention...

0730 Escape bosom of family and recover by driving from London's Marylebone to my office in Holborn Viaduct. Pick up coffee from Prêt. Try to buy fruit, but my hand disobeys and I pick up a large almond croissant instead (first regret of the day).

0800 At my desk I review what I'd like to achieve, read scores of emails and clear on average 30 voicemails that have accumulated since the last clearance.

Realise that the important agendas of others are likely to take over by mid-morning. Managing 300+ highly talented international partners and 3,000 people worldwide in 27 locations means there's a constant stream of unexpected, urgent issues that, quite justifiably, will implode my own tidy agenda! It helps to realise that this is part of the reason I am always chasing my tail.

0930 Achieve first of &quotmy" meetings. Video link with Paris office to review how everything is proceeding following our recent merger with Siméon et Associés. Very positive and forward looking analysis by my Paris partners. Few &quotto do" issues added to my list - but a good start to the week. (Je ne regrètte rien - contrast the croissant!)

1045 Walk a few hundred yards from our offices, don hard hat and fetching day-glo jacket to check out progress on the fitting-out of our 300,000sq ft new London headquarters.

I realise my attention to detail (I love building projects) makes me 'the client from hell' for our architects - but together we achieve a number of improvements to the proposed client facilities, during a good-humoured, but testing meeting. (They'll miss me when I'm gone!).

I have to check out the proposed computer room (which is part of the site women don't usually visit...) and try not to let my eyes be drawn to the builders' pin ups of scantily clad ladies. I note that I win more points on this part of the agenda, due to the distraction levels of others (males) in the team. Resolve to hold whole of next meeting in computer room.

1300 A business lunch where we have oral reports by practice leaders around the world about work levels, and noteworthy new cases and deals. It is usually attended by 100 or more partners in London and important aspects are communicated by e-mail to the rest of the firm immediately afterwards. It is a good forum for communication.

1400 Regular weekly meeting with directors of Finance, HR and Training, Business Development and our chief operating officer - vital to keep finger on the pulse of an ever increasing body! In the last two years we have completed major mergers in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

1530 First &quotAI" (agenda implosion) of the week. I was to have joined our International Financial Services Group to discuss the organisation of our pan-European advice on the e-commerce directive (likely to be bought into effect shortly).

The seamless co-ordination of advice in respect of each jurisdiction is vital. But instead there is an urgent issue requiring discussion at start of business in Chicago. We hook in New York and Washington and roll the problem flat straight away - no emails, no notes, no delay - perfect!

Read emails, check voicemail for the 5th time today.

1615 Try to settle down to draft a Board paper which is becoming urgent, when our Head of Corporate rings from a conference room to ask if I could pop down to meet a promising lateral hire candidate.

Of course I could, I'd much rather meet than draft, and I spend the next hour in some lively professional interchange (which, in the event, leads us to the recruitment of a new partner for our Beijing office).

1700 Return a few urgent voicemails. I am a huge fan of voicemail, which allows matters to be progressed over different time zones with the benefit of hearing the urgency/importance in someone's voice - (subtleties of tone can't be detected by email).

1715 Back to the Board paper - my fantastic secretary will stay until we've finished it - trying to deflect interruptions, so that we can both get home relatively on time this evening, as we both have evening engagements.

1930 Arrive home to find the boys worshipping at the shrine of Homer Simpson and despite trying not to, get sucked in myself. (My real ambition being to become as equable as Marge).

2030 Last negotiation of the day to get two boys in bed, whilst leaving the eldest to watch some sport (however daft) anywhere in the world. Quick turn round to meet my husband (also one of my partners) and clients for drinks and dinner in Orrery - one of my favourite restaurants and only (literally, and dangerously) three minutes from my back door.

2330 Leave Orrery after a hectic and varied day with only one real regret... the almond croissant.

2333 Arrive home. Crash out after one quick voicemail fix, to make sure the firm I love is still there!

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