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30 June 2006

Brought to you by the color red.

Remember on Sesame Street how each episode was "brought to you by" a letter? Or a number? Were they ever brought to you by a color? Beacause if my life was Sesame Street, today's episode would be brought to me by the color red. Red Part 1: I had a meeting with a partner to discuss a real estate deal he's working on. I'm in charge of investigating one teensy tinsey issue of a huge honkin' deal. To give you a sense of it- my issue is worth $660,000, which seems like a lot until you realize the whole deal is worth $450 million, at which point a measly $660,000 sounds almost insulting. So, partner is talking, and I'm nodding politely and taking the occasional note, and then we get to this odd choice of law provision in my teensy tinsey part of this deal and I say "well, maybe they chose the Eastern District of Virginia (the "Rocket Docket") because of its reputation for efficiency and because local counsel is located in D.C." "I don't know about that," he says. "I'm just a dirt lawyer. What's a docket?" "Um" I stammer. "No, I know what a docket is, I'm just kidding," he says. "You didn't think I don't know what a docket is, did you?" Shit. Obviously the guy knows what a docket is. He is a PARTNER at a LAW FIRM. I don't want him thinking that I thought that he doesn't know what a docket is, so I say, (truthfully) "oh, no, it's not that, I just thought you were quizzing me on my knowledge of dockets, which seems awfully harsh for a Friday afternoon." "Well in that case," he said, "let's make it a quiz. What's a docket?" "Um, no, it's okay, we both know what a docket is," I reply, flushing crimson. Of course I know what a docket is, but it's sort of weird to try to explain it on the fly. It's like if someone asked you to define "report card" without warning- we all know what it is, there's no need for explanation, but if you were forced to explain it to a stranger from another planet it might actually take a while- you'd have to start by explaining the concept of classes, then the idea of grades, before you could even get to report card, plus it's the kind of thing that you just know so inherently that it's awfully hard to explain it- it just is. So no, I don't want to tell the freaking partner what my definition of a freaking docket is. Jesus. "You're right," he said. "But you sure you don't want to tell me anyway?" "Nope!" I'm tomato-colored now. "We're good!" He laughs heartily and we continue the meeting for 20 minutes or so and then and I think we're all done when suddenly he says "Just one more question. Do you always turn so incredibly red when you get embarassed?" "Um, well," I say, flushing EVEN REDDER THAN BEFORE, "I guess so!" "Don't worry," he said. "Your secret's safe with me." Um, thanks? Who the hell calls someone out on their blushing? It's like saying "hey, do you always sweat a lot?" It's not like it's something I can control. It's a PHYSIOLOGICAL REACTION. Sheesh. Red Part 2: Middle aged men having happy hour at a BREW PUB drinking red wine instead of the house-brewed beer and saying things like "well, it's not a 2000 bordeaux malbec blah blah blah- it's not even as good as a 2003 blah blah blah- ha ha ha! but it's pretty good, pretty good!" and then passing the single glass of red wine back and forth between the 4 of them look like tools. Red Part 3: (WARNING: Boys are likely to find this part gross and should stop reading here.) SO! I could not have picked a better day in my whole entire life to be wearing a red patterned skirt, if you get my drift. Phew! Seriously. Not a better day in my whole life. Not even when I was 14 and things were still a little unpredictable in the skirt region, if you catch my meaning. Ahem. Because if I had not been wearing a red skirt, I would not have been able to stand up from my chair, or I would have had to go buy a new skirt on my lunch hour or something. Instead I got to buy a new blouse, which was much more fun.

29 June 2006

Remind me never to sign up for a spinning class

Here's the thing about lawyers: they're a competitive bunch. Not much of a revelation, this, but there you have it. I knew lawyers were competitive about work things: driving hard deals, trying to outmaneuver their opponent in court, competing to see who can send the most terse email with the fewest hints that the writer might be human and not robot- you know, the usual. What I hadn't counted on was how competitive they could be about charity work. Yesterday, 10 of us put togehter two teams for a charity event in Daly Plaza. This event involved groups of semi-in-shape professionals changing into shorts and tshirts in the middle of the day and riding stationary bikes at full sprint for eight minutes each and seeing whose team can ride farthest put together. (I know! Random! Stationary bikes? The seemingly-arbitrary 8-minute time frame? Daly Plaza?) Holy. Toledo. Riding a bike a full sprint for 8 minutes with a group of 4 other lawyers hovering over you and checking how fast you are going then going over the other team to see how fast they are going then coming back to tell you that "you're behind! pick it up!" is REALLY FREAKING HARD. You know that scene in Bridget Jones' Diary? When she decides she's going to start exercising and goes on the elliptical trainer for like two hours and then gets off and her legs promptly buckle and she falls over? Yep! That was me! (Except, thankfully, I was able to catch the handlebar of the bike and pretend that I'd tripped instead of having to admit that I was so exhausted my legs could hardly hold me. Then the partner whose turn it was next started yelling at me to get off the bike so he could get going.) I was really proud of my ride- according to our odometer, I did 4.1 miles in 8 minutes- until I saw the scores of all the other lawyers on our team. There were 5 partners who participated. Average age: 68. Average ride: 4.6 miles. One guy did 5.1. I seriously thought we were going to have a medical emergency on our hands- these guys flatly refused to let themselves be beat by summer associates or (god forbid) girls, and were ready to end it all right there and die on the bike if that's what it took to get 4.7 instead of 4.6. It was insane. I was beaten handily by a man with two fake hips. Two! As we were staggering back to the office, the most competitive of the partners, (the one who announced after, another summer associate got 4.4, "I will not be beaten by a girl!" right before he passed out on the bike,) came up to me and asked, "so, why have I not seen you at our weekly running club? You should come out and run with us!" To which I replied in my head "there is no way on God's green earth that I will ever, EVER, put myself in an athletic situation with you ever again because I might die," and out loud I said "you're on!" Maybe I've got a little of that competitive lawyer streak in me after all.

27 June 2006

I like to call this one "The Unbearable Suckiness of Sucking."

Does your graduate school have this? At my law school, papers are never really "due" during the term when you take the class. Instead, papers are "due" the first day of the quarter following the class. So if you took a class in the fall, and needed to write a paper for it, that paper would be due on the first day of spring quarter. So it is that I come to be frantically writing a paper on policing strategies for a class that I took in the winter. As in, completed in March. As in, it is now the middle of summer (okay, technically it's only 6 days into summer, but it sure feels like the middle of summer) and I am trying to remember that great idea I had for a new policing program back in February. Terrific. I guess the positive thing about writing a 30-page paper during your summer vacation is that you really really (Really!) don't so much care about the outcome. If I were still in the class I might be more invested in trying to impress the professors, or distinguish myself from my classmates or, you know, not suck in public. Now? Now I don't care so much. Especially because my professors have both been ousted from their jobs in the mayor's office since the class ended, so the whole "we might use your idea in a future policy!" thing has become more of a "I will read your paper while I sit, bitter and unemployed and alone, wondering how I got caught up in all this scandal!" thing. Not caring for me is a HUGE step, (you'll be shocked to learn I'm kind of a type-A school overachiever) so it was with some glee that I finished an entirely average 32-page mediocrity on Sunday, saved it, and emailed it to myself for one final read over on Monday morning before I emailed it to my prof. You can see where this is going. I opened the email on monday morning and found a 3 page, very early draft. I figured I must have just sent myself the wrong version, so I went about my day, came home, and looked for the real, full-length version. And it was gone. Gone. A look for it everywhere including a search of temp files and autorecovery kind of gone. A put my husband who is good with computers on the case and even he is unable to find anything and is left shaking his head in confusion kind of gone. Goney McGoner. Poof! Shit. The only thing worse then spending two days of your summer vacation writing a 32-page paper? Is spending a third day WRITING THE SAME PAPER AGAIN. Maybe today will be the day that I break down that last the summer associate taboo and start drinking at lunch. I think I've earned it.

26 June 2006

Behind the veil of anonymity

It is interesting, I guess, that I choose to write this blog under a pseudonym. First of all, I'd venture that at least 6 out of the 8 of you who read this know exactly who I am. Second of all, the pseudonym and the rest of my cover are pretty easy to figure out if you were committed to cracking the code. Still, I persist in pretending to maintain my anonymity because I AM TERRIFIED OF MY LAW SCHOOL. If someone who was not one of my dozen or so friends found this and figured it out, I'd suddenly feel compelled to be a lot less candid in my rantings about why my classmates lack souls. So imagine, if you will, the delicate position in which I found myself when the lovely Samantha Jo, who is all brave and shit and doesn't use a pseudonym at ALL on her blog, and who has been a faithful reader and commenter, asked what my real name was. What to do? Well, I battled this out internally for about .3 seconds and up and told her. And then we went for drinks. It was like a date! Except for bloggers! And it was totally totally fun! We went here, which is one of my favorite places to have a glass of wine after work, mostly because it is filled with couches where you can lie back and slouch down in there and sort of pretend that you're at a cooler version of your house instead of in a bar. Also, I have this memory of these thin-crust pizzas that they make, with rustic ingredients and cracker-thin crust and all big and irregularly shaped and served on a wooden pizza we order one to split, and it comes, and don't I look like a doofus now because here I am trying to impress my blog friend with this huge, rustic-chic pizza and instead it's maybe 6.5 inches across, perfectly round, and looks suspiciously like it just came out of a frozen Lean Cuisine box. Samantha seemed willing to overlook the pizza problems, though, and we had a lovely chat, and I was forced to totally reconsider all my opinions about Wheaton, and it was frankly just very cool to realize that someone can be cool and fun in writing and be that way in person, too. Next time I just have to convince her to do our blog date here- I've been trying to convince John to go to "make his own man bag" with me, and you'll be shocked to learn he's not all that hip to the idea.

23 June 2006

Not So Tough

At a wine tasting event at the city's oldest liquor store last night, the owner, a third generation manager of the family business, said "we've seen this neighborhood go from great to horrible and we're so thrilled to see it's getting back to great again." This got my ire up. As far as I can tell, the neighborhood was never that bad. I know that 10 years ago, a period she described as "horrible," it certainly wasn't. It was never blighted the way the south side has been blighted, the way the west side is blighted now. It was always a mile from the Loop. It was always close to the Gold Coast. And I truly hate when people get all alarmist about a neighborhood because there are some homeless people living there, or young black kids loitering on the street. Drives me nuts. I don't believe the negative hype about the neighborhood where I go to school. I tell people with some perverse twinge of pride about how I used to teach in the ghetto, in the middle of a gang war zone. I scoff at people who tell me "sweetie, you shouldn't take the el at night." I'm a modern urban woman. I won't be scared of my city. This is ridiculous. But then I found out today that Mason got mugged at gunpoint last night. That makes her the second of my two very close girlfriends at law school to be robbed at gunpoint in the past 6 months. Our friend Mooks was carjacked in February, forced back into her car, and taken by the robbers to her bank, where she was forced to withdraw several hundred dollars from the ATM, also at gunpoint, before the robbers abandoned her by the side of the road and drove off with her car. The good side of this story is that both Mason and Mooks are okay. At the end of the day, it's just stuff, and neither of them was hurt or suffered lasting trauma. But Mason in particular is just like me in that "won't get alarmed by other people's alarmism" kind of way. She and I have had several conversations about how silly people act when they talk in hushed panicked tones about how dangerous the neighborhood is surrounding our school. And it makes me feel a little ill to think about someone taking advantage of Mason, who has so much faith in people, who is so unwilling to judge, to generalize, or to dismiss entire groups of people because they're perceived by others to be "scary." Though you don't want it to happen to anyone, if it had to happen to someone I wish it had happened to one of the alarmists, one of the mace on the keychain always take a taxi after dark never look a homeless person in the eye people. Because then it only would have confirmed their already deeply-held beliefs and fears, rather than forcing Mason (or, more accurately, forcing me) to wonder if we've been stupid all this time, and whether it's time to take my mother's advice that I get some pepper spray. Of course it's not black and white. You don't have to be either alarmist or enlightened. There are some things that you just shouldn't do, and I accept that. But pepper spray on your keychain isn't going to do you a hell of a lot of good when someone sneaks up behind you and already has his gun drawn when you turn around and see him for the first time. At some level it's all sort of a crapshoot- your car can get broken into in Lincoln Park and your wallet can get stolen at a swanky restaurant (though probably not at gunpoint). But then again you can flag down a car in that same bad neighborhood where you just got robbed and find three people all ready to jump in and help you out and wait with you until the police arrive. This isn't just a good neighborhood/bad neighborhood thing. Mason, bless her heart for still being the same old Mason we love, felt upset for the first person who was brought in for questioning, because he wasn't the guy, and he shouldn't have had to go through that. There is no part of me that is worried that she's going to turn into a nervous alarmist because of this, and for that I'm grateful. But it has given me pause. And I took a cab home from my most recent firm event.

21 June 2006

Another Inning, Another Beer

Perhaps the best summer associate coping strategy I have figured out thus far is one that's actually borrowed from my days as a college freshman. It is this: "never be the drunkest person at the party." Last week, the firm took us to watch a Cubs game in the bleachers at Wrigley. I've been to a lot of Cubs games in my life, but never in the bleachers, and let me tell you, after always being kind of confused by those "bleacher bum" sketches on SNL, I finally get it. In the bleachers, you don't really even watch the game because watching what's going on around you is so much more interesting. And in my case, what was going on around me was a contest between a 250-pound male associate and a 120 pound female summer associate that they called "one beer per inning." When the Cubs are playing good defense but shitty offense (a common occurance, including on the day in question,) an inning can go by pretty quick. You have to be working hard to drink a beer an inning, especially in the sweltering heat. These two were unfazed, and managed to keep up the pace until they realized that they stop serving beer in the seventh inning at ballparks. Oh, the agony. They spent the next two innings cajoling the rest of us to leave the game and go to a bar to keep the party going. We waited until the end of the game and went to the bar, where the 250-pound associate ordered three rounds of tequilla shots for the table and my 120 pound friend ordered 2 rounds of whiskey for herself on top of that. Then on to a Mexican restaurant, with margaritas and more tequilla shots. During all of this, I felt about a million years old. Despite my best efforts to "hang," I couldn't help but pace myself. I had a couple beers at the game but switched to water when the thermometer crept above 90 and I thought I might die of dehydration. I had one shot at the bar and then threw the other two over my shoulder because seriously? I haven't done three tequilla shots in that short a time frame since I was a freshman. I had a margarita with dinner, and left the evening feeling happily buzzed, but like a total party pooper. Should I have taken those two extra shots? Should I have stepped up to the one beer per inning challenge? In a word: no. The 120-pound summer associate, after I left, fell asleep AT THE DINNER TABLE. Think she's heard about anything else since? Nope! (At least not from her fellow summers- its come up at least once a day since.) She will now forever be "Jenny who passed out drunk in front of the partners." What a great way to ingratiate yourself to your future employers! There are some niggling issues about these legendary stories of summer associate drunkenness that gnaw at me a little. There are a few men at the firm who are famous for having gotten wasted at firm parties, but it's all recounted with kind of a gentle teasing tone mixed with a little bit of awe that they can still hang like they did in college. You don't hear those stories about women. Women seem to catch it much harder if they make the mistake of getting wasted at a firm event. Hell, I live in Chicago and people still tell me that story about the poor girl in New York who got so drunk she jumped off the piers. And it's not gently teasing and mixed with awe, either- this girl gets mocked. So I don't know if there are larger gender issues at work here- it seems like maybe. What I do know, though, is that no one seems to remember a single thing about that day except for Jenny Pass Out, and there were a lot of people who were, (to borrow a phrase from my ever-diplomatic father,) "overserved." So maybe instead of "never be the drunkest person at the party," I should refine my motto for firm events to be "try to be the second drunkest person at the party" because hey- free booze, with no lingering bad reputation!

20 June 2006


You might think that the messiest thing that could happen to you on a plane flight would be spilling a drink in your lap, or maybe getting airsick. You would be wrong. The messiest thing that can happen on a plane flight is when the 8 year old child sitting in front of you decides, as an experiment, to vigorously shake a can of Sprite for a minute, then open it. The result? A truly extraordinary spray radius, including (a) the ceiling of the plane, (b) the windows of the plane ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE, (c) my flip-flop clad feet, my jeans, my book, my hair. As the ever-cheerful Southwest flight attendant tried to mop it up while the kid kicked the seat in front of him, unapologetic and oblivious, I swear I heard her mutter through clenched teeth "Jesus Christ, this kid should be tranquilized." Oh well, at least his sister's blankie had the featured a charming musical element that allowed it to play an electronic version of "Jingle Bells" roughly 496 times during the flight. Anyway, we're back from California, and there are funny stories to tell, but I'm currently late for work so they'll have to wait.

16 June 2006

Too much information

SO! It has been a big week for law firm related events, and as a result I have not had time to wash a single dish, read any of my book club book, or pack for the weekend trip we're leaving on today. Or blog. I'm lucky I've squeezed in time to shower, because "smells funny" isn't really a positive mark on your reviews. On Wednesday, all the summer associates and a few chosen members of the firm got to go to the United Center to see Madonna. I can say only one thing: holy leotards. This woman looks so impossibly not her age that it's kind of fascinating. I kept finding myself staring at her in a mix of awe and horror, wondering how many hours of yoga she must do a day and how much botulism toxin she's had injected into her weirdly smooth forehead. Fortunately, her costumes (there were about a dozen of them) consisted entirely of leotards and tights, lavender and sparkly and paired with purple leggings and all other kinds of combinations that would have made me fiercely jealous as a 5-year old in community center ballet class. Now, 22 years later, I wasn't jealous of the outfits so much as astonished at how little they left to the imagination. I believe I may, in a fit of bad judgment, have leaned over to our director of HR, who was sitting next to me, and said "shouldn't she be worried about camel toe?" It was like Madonna was taunting the audience, saying "yeah, I'm almost 50, bitches, but DAMN I am well-preserved."

13 June 2006

Oh, the agony

A few months ago, I accidentally joined a fantasy college basketball league and then proceeded to not choose a bracket. Needless to say, I came in last. But it wasn't that embarassing, because it wasn't my choices that came in last, it was my technological ineptitutde, which is something I made peace with long ago. Still, I knew I could do better, so even though I know nothing (truly nothing) about soccer or fantasy sports, I decided like an idiot to accept Blonde's open invitation to join a fantasy world cup league. Blondie promised that she didn't know anything about soccer either, so I thought it wouldn't be a bg deal. I managed to choose a team and (I think) arrange my players in some sort of appropriate formation. After three days of game play, I have 21 points and an in 202,021st place in North America. Blondie has 77 points. I am exquisitely well-positioned to actually earn my last place finish this time, despite my best efforts to, you know, actually choose a team and stuff. I believe Blonde may have misrepresented her knowledge of soccer. Harrumph.

12 June 2006

It's rude to stare

In addition to gaining 45 pounds via lunch, summer work at a law firm is largely about meeting the other people in the firm and seeing if you'd be a good "fit" for them- that is, ensuring that they don't hate you too much to give you an offer. To that end, the firm sets up lots of opportunities for young associates to hang out with the summer associates and "see what it's really like." I am not knocking these opportunities. (One of these events is this week's Madonna concert, so I'd be the world's least grateful person if I complained.) But it is clear that young associates are human, and as such they want to try to put the best face on things that they can, particularly if they're happy with their decision to work at the firm. This is natural. When you invite admitted students to campus for the weekend, you spruce up the place and you don't tell them about the one truly bitchy administrator, and when you invite summer associates to the firm for the season you give them nice gentle assignments, feed them every 20 minutes, and tell them how much better This Firm is than That Other Firm. At one of these associate-summer associate lunches the other day I had my first "holy crap, this is what it's really like" moment, and I think it was totally by accident. I was talking to a young female associate of color, (or should I say "the" young female associate of color? It's not like the firm is teeming with them,) about her experiences in pro bono in the firm. She told me an amazing story about how she represented an African woman in an asylum case, who was appealing from a judge's initial decision that even though she would, in fact, face persecution and physical danger if she returned to her home country, she nonetheless should not receive asylum. This young lawyer told me about working nights and weekends in the weeks leading up to the trial, all of which counted toward her minimum annual billable requirement, all with the firm's support. She told me about walking into the court, terrified, and arguing before the judge on behalf of her client. She told me about winning, and having her grateful client collapse in tears into her arms. She told me how the partners at the firm took her out to lunch to celebrate her achievement, and announced it at a firm-wide event. "Wow." I said. "That is so amazing, to have all the resources of the firm behind you like that, to be able to do that for your client. You must be so excited to take another case." "Another case?" she replied. "No way. I mean, it was the best day of my life when she won, but it was too scary. I mean, most of the pro bono cases are criminal or asylum cases, and when you take one of those cases, it's someone's life you're affecting. If you lose, that changes that person's life. That's way too much pressure. I'd rather stay here, where even if I screw up, it's just money. That way I don't have to worry, or feel too guilty if I lose or make a mistake. That's one of the best things about working for The Firm, is that you get to be a lawyer and make great money and you don't have to worry that you're affecting anyone's life too much. Even if you lose, it's just money." I sat there, gaping at her, until I remembered that it's rude to stare and I shoved a 2-pound fudge brownie from the dessert tray in my face. Who knows whether her reaction to pro bono is typical. I certainly don't want to overgeneralize. But whoa, are we ever different. I have a harder time getting up and going to work with each passing day because the work that I'm doing? The research? The memos? It's all about money. It's just money. Who cares? It seems so silly- almost pointless. It feels embarassing to get paid so much to do it. It had never occured to me that that might actually be a selling point.

08 June 2006

The Perils of Lunch

One of the most delicate dances performed by every summer associate is the "try to never pay for one single morsel of food that crosses your lips between your starting date and the last day of work" dance. Apparently, part of convincing young law students that working at a law firm is fun is achieved by plying them with fancy food from expensive restaurants in the city that they would never be able to afford on their own. In fact, associates at my firm make jokes about the "Law Firm Fifteen," a la freshman fifteen, which is really not a funny joke to tell a 27-year-old whose metabolism just isn't what it used to be anymore. The other summer associates should get gold medals in lunch. Every single day they let it slip that they have lunch with this associate or that partner set up at Swanky Hip Restaurant. Every day I panic a little, because (a) I don't actually want a three-course lunch most days and maybe is there some associate out there who just wants to get a light salad and maybe sit in the park for half an hour enjoying the sunshine? and (b) holy crap I am bad at approaching near-strangers and asking them if they'd like to take me to lunch. And pay for it. Which is why I was so excited yesterday to be invited, along with all the summers, to a charity lunch at which my firm had bought a table. This was going to be great! I didn't have to do the awkward "hey, I'm new, please take me to lunch" spiel AND it was for a charity! One that actually does really kickass work! Huzzah! This lunch was attended by one partner, one associate, and six summer associates. (Apparently real working lawyers are too busy to be bothered with charity luncheons, because every single table in the spot had a similar breakdown- one or two full-time employees chaperoning a herd of summer associates. I saw so many people I know from school that it was like a freaking class reunion.) The food at this lunch was actually pretty good (though I definitely heard one summer from another firm mumbling about how "this stuff sucks compared to sushi wabi,") and the speeches were interesting and entirely partisan (nothing is more fun than putting a room full of largely conservative corporate lawyers together with a few dedicated public interest people set on calling the current administration to the carpet. Good times!) In fact, I was having a great time- lunch was easy, not stressful, the topic was interesting, they even had a vegetarian option- until dessert came. We had to pass around little plates of miniature lemon meringue tarts, and man I must have had one diet coke too many or something because I became Pseudostoops the Incredible Butterfingered Woman and managed to (a) grab a tart in such a way that it exploded onto my plate, and a little onto my lap, (b) knock my water glass over as I tried to pass the plate to the partner sitting next to me and (c) (my favorite part) pass the plate in such a way that the meringue-encrusted tongs became a sort of projectile that I watched, in slow motion, fly directly into the partner's lap, splattering his suit jacket and pants with meringue. Needless to say, today I plan on going to Subway for a sandwich. By myself.

06 June 2006

Call me! Or, you know, stop by!

I survived corporate fin-ants. It seems I even did an okay job, as evidenced by the fact that I wasn't immediately called into the assigning partner's office for an "editing discussion" as soon as I turned it in. I have also been given a litigation project- sort of. The group for whom I am doing the litigation project? Corporate fin-ants. Someone up there is laughing. Summer associates at law firms get their own offices, (and their own secretaries- I could write a novella about how weird it is to have a secretary, or have someone say to me "ask your secretary to do that") with a window and everything. From my office I can even see the shiny bean. And I believe I've already mentioned the embarassment of riches in office supplies. It's pretty cool. But I hadn't counted on it being so damn lonely. Last year, when I was working in public interest, all the interns worked in what we came to affectionately call the "intern corral"- a hallway about three feet wide lined on both sides with computers. There were 8 of us working in a space smaller than my current desk. It was near-constant hillarity in there, and I made good friends with all the other interns (except for the evangelical vegan), and we'd go out drinking after work, and go to music festivals....Sigh. When you have your own office, and when that office is a 5 minute walk from the next-closest summer associate office, and when one of the other summer associates looks like Winnie Cooper (EXACTLY LIKE HER) and wears a ring set with a diamond the size of a gobstopper (well, okay, that's not really part of the problem but I thought you should know about it because she looks EXACTLY LIKE WINNIE COOPER AND IT'S KIND OF FREAKING ME OUT) it's hard to get to know people, or to have any human contact. You spend a lot of time quietly reading and quietly drafting memos and quietly going insane. It gets better as you get more experienced, I think. Partners, for example, go to a lot of meetings, talk to clients on the phone, and get vacation days. Who knows- maybe this is part of the reason young lawyers are drawn to corporate practice, because transactional lawyers seem to spend most of their day on the phone, when they aren't reading urinal contracts. But for young litigation associates, a lot of the work seems to be wading through mountains of paper, reading case law, and writing, preparing for trials that will probably never happen because when the parties realize how insanely expensive high-stakes corporate litigation is their incentive to settle may increase dramatically. So maybe it would get better if I stuck with corporate law for a decade, but for now? For now I would kill to have a day back in the intern corral.

02 June 2006


I was tempted to do a Twelve-Days of Christmas-type rundown of my first 12 days at a law firm ("on your second day at a law firm, you'll go to a "required" dinner where the associates will buy you two rounds of "required" Patron shots in addition to the 3 rounds of margaritas you've already ordered...." sing along now!) but I thought that might get tiresome. So instead, I will regale you with my tales of woe (woe is becoming kind of a theme around here, isn't it?) in corporate finance. Here's how I know I am not cut out for corporate finance work: I can't even say it right. I say it "fine-ance" with a long i , which makes a lot of sense when you're thinking about things like "financial aid" (long i) and "refinancing your loans" (long i). People who practice in corporate finance say it "fin-ants." Short i. Said very quickly, with an emphasis on the "ants." Which pretty much only makes sense if you're thinking of the word "financier" (short i and silly french flourish at the end.) I, obviously, am in the wrong frame of mind for this practice, since even typing the word "financier" makes me laugh at how far outside my league I am here. So yesterday I get my first assignment, and it's in corporate fin-ants, and it's a 50-odd page asset purchase agreement, and I'm supposed to look at it and "identify which elements are particularly pro-seller and which elements deviate from the norm for this kind of transaction, with your take on why we might see those deviations in this agreement." Shit. I tentatively interjected: "um, I haven't taken secured transactions, so it's going to be kind of hard for me to identify things that deviate from the norm when, you know, I don't know what the norm is. Sir." "Oh. Have you taken bankruptcy?" "no." "Securities?" "no" "Real Estate Transactions?" "no" "Contracts?" "Yes! It was a first year course! I took that!" (and got one of my weaker law school grades, but I didn't volunteer that part.) "Well, okay, good! Um, this is not really like anything you'd see in contracts class except, you know, its a kind of contract. Have a memo on my desk by the end of tomorrow." Let me spare you the suspense: reading a 50-odd page contract where one urinal maker wants to buy another urinal maker (you can't make this stuff up!) is so. awesomely. boring. Holy crap its boring. Sunset provisions on reps and warranties? Boring. Indemnification clauses? Boring. Due dilligence? Oh dear god. So, here's hoping I get a litigation assignment next!