Daily Life for an Ombudsman

11 January 2012
By Office of the Ombudsman

One of the things which people must wonder about an ombudsman is what we do on a more routine daily basis. I thought it would be useful to share with the community a typical day in my office.I work primarily from home, with visits is needed to ICANN meetings throughout the year.

A typical day for me starts around 6:30 a.m. like many in the ICANN world, time zones become irrelevant, and so I keep my phone close at all times so I can check on incoming e-mail and messages. This now includes messages via Facebook, because of my new Facebook page. So my routine is to then come downstairs to where my laptop is plugged in. I work from an antique Korean writing desk so I can just unfold the lid and get to work. As I am a typical New Zealander, this also involves making a cup of tea. I then settle in and clear e-mails, check my tasks for the day and my diary. By this time my family are in the kitchen preparing breakfast, and for those at school, the school lunches. This can involve a certain amount of dispute resolution based on the difference between what a parent thinks is suitable food, and what teenagers want.

With the children safely on their buses, I often then go for a run. Where I live has many challenging hills, and the ombudsman can be seen wondering whether it is fair to have such a steep climb for the first kilometer! But there is a balance, because I come back in a loop and it is nicer returning home downhill.

Then it is back to the screen. There is a lot of reading to keep up to date, and I look at the ICANN blogs, other relevant industry blogs and on line news. As well as my local newspaper, I also look at the New York Times and the Guardian, as well as Der Speigel. I also get New Zealand Law Society Lawtalk each week as well as the Lexis-Nexis New Zealand Lawyer, brilliantly edited by my friend Darise Bennington. I often put asidde the detail to read in the evenings.

By this time I will often catch up with a colleague and share a coffee. I try to keep in touch with my legal and dispute resolution colleagues, and it is just a ten minute drive to the centre of Wellington-Wellington is pretty small compared with many capitals and traffic problems are more than 4 cars in a queue..

Then it is back to base. I have been averaging about a new complaint every 1-2 days, although sadly many are matters where I cannot help due to the complaint being out of my jurisdiction. So I need to carefully consider the merits and the jurisdiction, and reply. Mostly the complainants have genuine problems, and so I try to suggest where they should go for resolution, even if I cannot help. There are also some ongoing matters where I need to investigate, and this involves contacting those who can help with information and documents, and considering what needs to be organised. I also spend time on matters like writing articles and research.

Some time on most days is spent on mundane tasks like ensuring my computer gear is working, updating and organising paperwork, or the electronic equivilent. Accounts and tax get a look in as well.

Although I am independent from ICANN I am still part of the company and like to participate in training so that I can keep in touch. Some days this can mean a really early start-but fortunately not as early as my Sydney colleagues!

By the later afternoon, my family are returning home and encouraged in homework (and sometimes they do it), then our family dinner.

In the evenings I will often spend time reading, sometimes the material I put aside, and sometimes lighter books. I love my kindle and take this with me.

The day is punctuated by regular emails and contact, and so I always check in regularly, again helped by my phone alerts.

So that is a day in the life of the Ombudsman, except for the others where i am travelling or at ICANN meetings! I will post on this after Costa Rica.


Office of the Ombudsman