Exercise, Slideshows

Law Firm Life as Treadmill? Not Just a Metaphor
Say Hello to the Treadmill Desk

treadmill desk 3.jpg
The treadmill desk of Aaron Craig, a litigator at Quinn Emanuel in Los Angeles.

Comparing Biglaw life to a treadmill is a cliché. But to some attorneys around the country, it’s truly the best description of how they pass their days (and nights, and weekends). From the New York Times:

Terri Krivosha, a partner at a Minneapolis law firm, logs three miles each workday on a treadmill without leaving her desk. She finds it easier to exercise while she types than to attend aerobics classes at the crack of dawn.

And she’s not alone. From our law school classmate, Aaron Craig, at litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel in L.A.:

I’m now spending the majority of my billable office hours walking on my treadmill. I set up a monitor directly in front, and hooked up an arm with a keyboard and mouse tray to the frame of the treadmill….

I find that 1.5 mph is best speed if I’m typing — slightly faster if I’m just reading. Billing by the mile, not by the hour….

Check out our interview with Aaron, plus a slideshow of treadmill-desk porn, after the jump.

Where did this treadmill trend get started? From the NYT:

[Terri Krivosha is] part of a small but growing group of desk jockeys who were inspired by Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic. In 2005, Dr. Levine led a study showing that lean people burn about 350 more calories a day than those who are overweight, by doing ordinary things like fidgeting, pacing or walking to the copier.

(We bet that this Cravath partner is rail-thin.)

To incorporate extra movement into the routines of sedentary workers (himself included), Dr. Levine constructed a treadmill desk by sliding a bedside hospital tray over a $400 treadmill.

Without breaking a sweat, the so-called work-walker can burn an estimated 100 to 130 calories an hour at speeds slower than two miles an hour, Mayo research shows.

Very cool! Maybe a few treadmills could be set up in a conference room, so that everyone at a deposition — witness, counsel, court reporter (okay, maybe not the court reporter) — could burn calories during the depo. Exercising during depositions might give witnesses and lawyers an outlet for their rage, reducing the number of profanity-laced outbursts and tirades. (Litigatrices, pack your sports bras.)

And now, our interview of Aaron Craig of Quinn Emanuel, concerning his treadmill desk. Pics at the end of the post.

When did you start using a treadmill desk?

I don’t know, whenever I emailed you about it. July, I think.

[Ed. note: Given the volume of email we receive, sometimes it takes us a while to get back to people. If we owe you an email, please feel free to email us again — or try calling! Thanks.]

What gave you the idea? Why did you decide to do it?

I’ve been gaining weight slowly but surely for the past few years. I’m 6’4″ and I’m about 15-20 pounds more than I want to be. Finding time to go to the gym was difficult — I wanted to be spending those non-work hours with my family. Then my son figured out how to turn on and use the treadmill, and that became one of his favorite games, and since he’s two, we had to get the treadmill out of the house.

From these two parallel developments, an idea was born. I looked around on the internet and saw that a few other people were doing the same thing, but the few sites out there weren’t any help. I found an IT guy/handyman/engineer on Craigslist, and he helped me pick out and order the components and assemble them. Hi Hector, you da man! By far the hardest part was moving my treadmill from my house to my office — that sumbitch is heavy.

How has it worked out so far?

I love it, but I’m not losing much weight. The Lexis people keep bringing Sprinkles cupcakes to our office.

How far do you go in a typical day?

On a good day I’ll walk 5 or 6 miles — but if I’m writing a brief I’ll usually sit at my desk and work. My office computer is still at my desk — the computer hooked up to the treadmill is my own.

Do people think you’re a freak show for doing this?

People generally seem to think it’s a cool idea. Of course, they might be saying otherwise when I’m not around. Other people have done some innovative stuff to their offices, so there’s some precedent. Anyways, I think it’s an entirely defensible decision — it’s not hurting anybody and helps me be a happier, more productive employee.

Any issues with respect to colleagues or clients?


Any funny anecdotes arising out of the treadmill desk?

I’d like to thank NBC for putting so much of its Olympic coverage live online. I have fond memories of those August nights watching handball and race walking from Beijing.

Thanks, Aaron — happy trails!

I Put In 5 Miles at the Office [Well / New York Times]

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