Getting the Work You Want

Any Given Saturday, originally uploaded to Flickr from She Who Shall Not Be NamedReader S has a question about how to ask for the work she wants…

I am a second year associate at a big New York firm. I am in the corporate team and we rotate through two specialty groups within corporate before choosing a specialty. For my first rotation I was assigned to something that I was not at all interested in. I have been able to get a lot of good experience in this group, but it is important that I am placed in a group I am interested in for my next rotation. Can you give me some advice about networking with the partners on this team and letting them know I am interested in working in their group? I thought about asking them to meet to discuss the type of work their group does but the thing is I know what type of work they do, I have spoken to all the juniors in the group so I am familiar with the type of work that I would be doing…I am not sure what I could ask them that would not seem ingenuine. What do you think?

I think this is a really important question — often you need to be vocal in order to get the work you want. (Pictured: Any Given Saturday, originally uploaded to Flickr from She Who Shall Not Be Named.) Here is what has worked for me:

1. Ask outright. Look at this as a mini job interview and remember, as with every job you want, that this is really about what skills you bring to the table to help the partners, and not about what you would get out of the work. For example, “I’m fascinated by [your area of expertise] and would love to help you on your next case.” is OK, but if you can, go even further in pitching yourself — “I was always top of my class in [X], and I’ve heard that translates really well to work in [Y] — please let me know when I can be of help.”

2. Read. Sign up for every newsletter and news alert you can on the subject matter that interests you, and study that reading material. This is all the better if your company circulates hard copies of publications because the partner “experts” will see your name on the list of people getting the publication. For example, in my law firm days, when I wanted to work on media-related legal matters, I signed up for all sorts of things, from the Columbia Journalism Review to The Index on Censorship. There were 200+ lawyers at the firm, but the circulation lists were very short (and they were printed on a sheet of paper affixed to the magazine, so you could see everyone getting the publication). It was often just me, 3 or 4 other lawyers, and then the VIP partners. Guess who they frequently called when they needed a new junior associate on matters?

3. Inform. If, in your reading, you come across something that you think the partners would want to know about (but may not have seen otherwise), pass it along to the partner with a friendly note: “I thought you might like to see this.” If there are mingling opportunities with the partners you want to work with, this is the perfect way to let them know that not only are you interested but that you are up to date on your readings. Discuss the latest case that was handed down, or a major move made by one of your client’s main competitors. The partner may or may not want to talk about it, but he or she may want to continue talking to you. When I was in law school, I knew a very young professor who attributed all of his success to something like this — he was on a circulation list for a rarely-read publication and saw an article of interest. He passed it on to the Powers That Were at his firm, and they kept coming back to him and promoting him.

4. Ask again (and perhaps ask some of the people senior to you HOW to ask). For example, shooting an email to a partner is the most non-confrontational way to ask for work — but an email can easily get buried. Another story from my past: A number of people (older associates, former associates, even partners) had told me that the way to get work in the area I wanted was to “just knock on the door and ask!”  This seemed wildly pushy to me — interrupting a partner?  To ask for work?  By dropping by his or her office?  But I swallowed my fears and I did it — I’d just “happen” to be passing by the partner’s office, and if the door was open and he or she didn’t look too busy I’d poke my head in and ask, “Need any help with anything right now? I’m looking for work in __.”  And it worked!  (Similarly, it may help to know the process — understand how work is assigned in your company or firm; this will help you figure out who and how to ask for work.)

Readers, what are your tips for getting the kind of work you want? Any glory stories to share?

Comments

  1. Legal Marketer :

    One thing I would suggest is to talk with the business development or marketing leader in your firm. When I meet with newer attorneys, I always ask them what type of work they want to do and what niche practice they envision for themselves. I try to suggest people for them to talk to, and provide them with any insight about that person’s practice I can (how busy they are, if they’re looking at phasing down, if they’re buried in a big litigation, etc.)
    Obviously the associate is ultimately responsible for speaking up, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking with partner X and said “In a meeting with associate S about her practice, she indicated wanting to develop her skills in basket-weaving litigation. I know you do a lot of it so if you need an associate to help out on something, I know she would be eager to get involved. Keep her mind.”
    Sometimes hearing it from multiple sources keeps it on the top of their mind. On a related note, let everyone you work with know you’re interested. The partner you work with in the current speciality may be running buddies with a partner in the specialty in which you are interested. More sources, more likely they are to remember.

    • agree — plus, no one turns out an eager beaver junior associate who wants to assist with client pitches, business development, and marketing for a practice group they are interested in. it may be your back door into the practice group’s billable work. i’ve done this several times and it works well. of course, you need to go above and beyond with that non-billable work to really get noticed but the exposure is invaluable. pro bono for a particular field may be an “in” too (e.g., doing IP pro bono work to get some specialty practice experience that you can sell to the group partners)

  2. I was in a similar rotational program in government, got assigned to something completely out of my field for my first posting. For my second I just sent e-mails to all the Directors (non-lawyer over here) for groups I was interested in and basically told them how I could be an asset to them. I got several offers.

    Legal Marketer’s comment is also a good one, if you have a mentor/someone who is likely to speak up for you TAKE ADVANTAGE. Or, I’ve asked people at a higher rank if I could drop their name (‘X suggested that I would be a good fit for your group as…’) (though generally being sure the person I am sending the note too likes/respects/has a connection with X) and have never been told no.

  3. Not sure if this qualifies as a full threadjack, but I have a somewhat related question. I am a mid-level associate in a very big firm. Over the past two years, I have come to work nearly exclusively for one of our top litigators. The role has evolved over time, and I find myself increasingly serving as more of an assistant than an independent colleague. The upside is that I get to attend meetings that would not otherwise be open to me (typically I am the most junior person in the room by many years), but I spent a significant amount of time handling things not normally done by a mid-level associate (arranging meetings, pulling documents, organizing travel, sometimes even making restaurant reservations). We travel almost constantly so there isn’t someone else to whom I could easily delegate these one-off tasks, and the partner did not handle it well when I once suggested we have a paralegal come with us on one of our trips. I’m concerned I’ve become this partner’s “Girl Friday” (a term used to describe me by one of the other partners). Would love others thoughts on this. There is an obvious advantage to becoming a key partner’s go-to person, but at what point is it a bad thing? If it is a bad thing (which I am beginning to suspect), how do I make a change without ruining this potentially very valuable relationship? To be clear — I like this partner very much so this isn’t a situation where I’d just like to exit and move on.

    • I don’t have advice but would love to hear comments. This sounds so extremely similar to a situation I am in. Except I am a junior associate (third year) and while the partner travels constantly, I do not and instead manage things for him while he is away (which sometimes means secretarial type work and other times means just handling negotiation on a document because he is out of pocket). The partner has a reputation for being one of best litigators in our very large firm, and he has a “history” of never working well with associates. For nearly 2 years now, he has involved me in every matter that he works on and brings me to meetings that I would never otherwise be exposed to — except substantive experience is sometimes lacking and I worry (and other partners have made clear that he will make a great lawyer out of me but I should balance my work with other partners for some of the missing experience). He often does his own writing because it’s faster (and he isn’t used to having help since he never works with associates). Often I feel like I’m veering into secretarial work because his secretary is lazy, he has too much on his mind, and I know everything that is going on.

    • I think it’s a great thing. It’s only bad if a) you stop learning and developing, b) it starts limiting your options severely, or c) you’re stuck with a really bad partner.

      If you like and trust the partner and you’re learning new things, meeting new people, being exposed to all kinds of new situations (which it sounds like), I would go with it and soak it up as great career experience. So you have to handle some annoying administrative tasks – I think it’s a small price to pay, and shows that you’re organized, reliable, a team player, hard-working, all that. So long as the core of your role is still to be an associate, and learn/do what associates should learn and do, you’re fine.

      The “Girl Friday” thing is either amusing or annoying depending on your take, but I wouldn’t let it bother me in and of itself.

    • found a peanut :

      Is there any way next time one of the more menial tasks comes up while you’re in the office you could say, Sure I’ll have my secretary handle that. For example next time you have to organize an in-office meeting, just say, “Sure, I’ll have my secretary look to see which conference room is available,” and next time you have to make a travel arrangements let him know it will be your secretary, and not you, booking the flight. It will subtly let him know that you are otherwise too important to handle these tasks but are happy to take care of the delegation.

      When you’re traveling, maybe there is a concierge you can pass some of the tasks to (i.e., the dinner reservations). Otherwise you just have to suck it up.

    • I’m not in law (clearly) so I don’t always understand the nuance. But is there a way to sit down with the partner (at a time that is not a total disaster) and say something along the lines of “hey, I love working with you and I’m very grateful for all the opportunities you are giving to me, I just want to make sure that I’m developing X skill or Y aspect of my practice as much as possible. Can I start doing Z or W in addition? I’m looking to make partner is A years, and I really want to be on the top of my game”

      I’m unclear whether you are doing secretarial stuff instead of or in addition to substantive work. If it’s in addition to, then I would lean to the suck it up path. People actually get far and develop very close relationships with people because they are known to get the job done. If it’s instead of, then maybe trying to find someone junior/support staff who is also high quality may minimize partners feelings of “but you are so good at it, I don’t want to worry about anyone screwing it up.” One time I managed to decrease that kind of work by doing the legwork to find someone good who could.

      • Not in a legal job, but I often do secretarial/admin tasks that are below my qualifications. It hasn’t hurt me as far as promotion schedule, and my boss knows I”m someone who can get stuff done from start to finish, i’m organized, good at scheduling etc. I also don’t mind that kind of work, to me it’s a nice mental break.

        That being said, I don’t have billable hour requirements, so I just think if they want to pay me what they do to type letters and coordinate schedules then so be it. If these tasks are inhibiting your ability to make your hours, I would bring that up.

      • The danger is that a lot of lawyers are exceptionally defensive. I’ve been in this position before – especially if the partner is male and you’re female, this can be dangerous, not only in the partner treating you like a secretary, but how others view you in the firm. I’m going to get flamed, but in my experience, often a junior associate can do secretarial and paralegal tasks much better and more efficiently than a secretary or paralegal, and has more knowledge of the case in order to make some decisions. The partner gets spoiled by having someone seem to read their mind and have everything ready. Especially for partners that don’t necessarily see a lot of women peers, they can start to default to treating a younger female attorney as an assistant, rather than someone they want to call a partner some day. Also, this partner doesn’t seem like a teacher and a mentor – often partners that do their own thing and don’t work well with associates are partners that don’t really have a team mentality, or a desire to create new partners (which is what the goal of working with associates should be). Instead, you’re leaving them with a staffing crisis, or having to handle their own staff and instruct them.

        That said, make sure that you’re really self-critical and aware of what other peers are doing in your firm – and there’s something to be said for having a role, though a menial one, on big ticket billion dollar litigation, versus being a constant second chair on 100-300K cases and first chair on cases 50k and less. And, of course, vice versa.

        • anonymous :

          That was a great comment (as have been most I read).

          To the woman who asked the question:

          I would be concerned about getting too comfortable, which can happen almost without your realizing it. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the necessary lawyer chops.

          If the partner genuinely cares about your development, he’ll get you substantive work, or let you get it. I hate to say this in this market, but you may have to leave if nothing changes. But if you get more senior and have no strong substantive skills, that might happen anyway.

    • What’s frustrating about this is that, in my experience, a male associate would almost never be in this position. Sure, as long as you’re still learning, that’s the most important thing, but it just isn’t fair that if you were a man the partner probably wouldn’t ask you to make restaurant reservations.

      I like the advice that said you should mention your secretary will be doing the things that are secretarial, it is subtle but could make a difference.

      • Anon (follow-up) :

        Not sure if this will be a duplicative post. I got a message that I was “posting too quickly.” I’m new to posting (although I’ve followed this blog for quite some time — love it!). But a quick clarification about my situation. I don’t mind doing administrative tasks but they’ve slowly replaced substantive work. There have been missed opportunities because the partner could not spare me for even a short period of time — largely to handle logisitics. It’s been like this for 12 months, during which I’ve taken the approach that nothing is beneath me and it will all turn out well in the end. I’m just wondering if it’s gone on for too long and what — if anything — to do about it.

        • North Shore :

          What do you mean by missed opportunities? And what substantive work are you doing — depositions, writing briefs? If he’s handling all that while you just handle logistics, that’s not good legal training for you. Something to consider is formal training. Sign up for a NITA deposition/trial advocacy/whatever class, tell him you absolutely won’t be around those days and explain that you are doing it because you want to improve your skills in that area, and aren’t getting the experience you need to promote your career while working on cases with him.

          • For the most part I travel and sit in meetings and witness prep sessions where others do most of the talking. There was a batch of depositions that junior associates were permitted to take, but I did not. This could have been for a variety of reasons, but I suspect it was because this partner did not want to have me out of pocket for the time it took to prepare for the depositions. I don’t mean to be overly gloomy about my situation. By virtue of attending these meetings, I’ve been able to meet the general counsel, the head of litigation, etc. for a very large client. But I am not developing litigation skills in the traditional sense.

            Thank you very much to everyone who has provided advice. I love reading this blog and am consistently amazed by the remarkable and supportive community that has developed here.

          • North Shore :

            Maybe just open up to him about it. Tell him you have career goals, and would like the training to better your litigation skills. If you can’t get experience with depositions, trials, and brief writing with him, you would like to take formal training or take on a small pro bono case, or whatever. I suppose he’ll be pissed that you are considering not being available to him 24/7, but that might be enough to get your point across that this is a mentor relationship, and he’s not doing the mentoring because you are not learning litigation skills. You will have to take the lead here, because obviously he’s comfortable with keeping you in a non-litigator box, and you need to explain what your goals are.

      • Yeah, I seem to have a minority view but I actually take a pretty hard line on this kind of stuff. In my experience, senior men will only give you more and more tasks that are below your qualifications as long as you don’t do anything about it. It’s a great deal for them–you’re so good at it! They’re so comfortable working with you! Meanwhile your substantive work takes a hit, as does your image in the organization. I’d take the “girl Friday” comment as a very bad sign–it reflects not only someone else’s perception of your role, but also is disrespectful of you as a *lawyer*.

        I have managed to get out of this role by doing the “I’ll have my secretary…” move, but also being willing to explain why I’m doing it when questioned (which I have been). I also find that it helps to reject euphemisms that allow the person to pretend you’re not being used as support staff. When he asks about Project X, you say “the filing assignment?” or “you mean alphabetizing those folders?” just to underscore what you’re actually doing. The implication is indeed that it’s a poor use of your time, and not your job.

        Hoping not to draw attacks, and I am not insulting others for their decisions. This is my experience.

        • MissJackson :

          I agree with Monday. Frankly, I learned the hard way, and I’m still paying for how long it took me to be my own advocate.

          How does the firm view your development? How do your reviews go? The firm probably knows that you aren’t “checking the boxes” of experience the way that you should be, and I would be surprised if they hadn’t said so.

          What would happen if your partner quit or dropped dead tomorrow — what are your transferrable skills?? (Hint: administrative tasks aren’t going to get you a lateral position.)

          You owe it to yourself to be as marketable as possible even if you never leave your current firm. You need to know that you could add value anywhere.

    • Three thoughts –

      1) If you are gaining significant experience that is moving you towards your long term career goals then you need to balance the value of this experience with any sacrifices you may need to make in order to gain it. You state that you like the partner very much so I presume that you are learning about client relationships, office politics, etc. in addition to important substantive things. This all sounds good to me. You have built trust with the partner and are benefiting from that trust (good and bad).

      You did not say if the partner is a man or a woman. I’m trying to decide which is better… if it matters at all.

      2) Can you possibly ask the other partner for more context around the “Girl Friday” characterization? Do others in the firm view you as partner material or … something less? Do others in the firm (beyond the partner’s secretary) know the extent of your administrative duties? Or do they just think of you as partner’s protégée?

      3) A few commenters have observed that men who are not executive assistants don’t typically find themselves in roles where they are asked to do secretary-like tasks. I agree with this and, as a woman, I often try to avoid being asked (directly or indirectly) to play this role. I also try to avoid putting myself in this role or other traditionally ‘feminine’ roles (don’t clear lunch from the table, don’t always be the one who takes notes at a meeting, don’t reserve conference rooms and send meeting invites, etc.) That said, you need to find your own place. I have surpassed many men in my career; I understand how certain behaviors are or can be perceived and move forward in a manner that will help me accomplish my goals while being myself. Just because a man would/wouldn’t do it doesn’t make it the right choice. Do what works for you.

    • I was in this situation last year with a top female partner. Traveling everywhere, went to cool things, but also managed the shipping and her hotels and such. There were a lot of executive assistant tasks, and I did them all with a smile. Did I get more awesome work from her? Not really. She was just too busy and needed things done faster than I could. However, her obvious reliance on me meant a lot to the (male) mid-level partners under her, who started giving me better opportunities. I also pointed out to her that based on our firm’s criteria for advancement, I need to have written a motion, taken a depo, appeared or court, or whatever, before I could become a midlevel, and as much as I loved working for her and appreciated all the great experience, the *firm* wouldn’t promote me. She had no idea there were specific promotional criteria (too busy, why would she care?), so after I told her, she made a few calls. She also went to bat for me during the bonus discussions.

      Long winded way of saying, blame the firm if you can. Tell your partner over one of the many business dinners together while you’re on the road that you need substantive experience doing X, Y, and Z in order to advance in your career at the firm, and that you want to keep working for him and at the firm, so what advice can he offer? It may just take him making a few calls to give you the opportunities you need.

    • I’m really concerned about your situation. It sounds like you’re not developing your substantive skills, like negotiating with opposing counsel, or brief-writing, or deposition-taking, etc. You can really only do that by DOING those things. What’s going to happen in two years when you’re in senior associate reviews and they start to look at whether you have partnership prospects? Will they really keep someone on who hasn’t taken a deposition, has only written a few briefs, etc.? In my office we have to complete a checklist every year of the substantive skills that we have (e.g. “I have written a summary judgment brief.” “I have defended an expert deposition.”). An associate who gets to their 5th year without a majority of the skills checked off is definitely an issue of concern.

      I personally think learning by observing is overrated. I spent my first year at the firm attending lots of meetings, watching partners discuss interesting things with clients, the government, etc. When I compare that to what I learned by prepping for a deposition myself, or writing a brief myself . . . well it doesn’t even compare. I believe in the medical residency model (or at least as told on Grey’s Anatomy): see one, do one, teach one.

      I would start negotiating with him when he asks you to do the menial work. “Sure, I’ll pull the documents, but then I’d like to be able to take the lead on this portion of the [meeting / interview / etc.]” And agree, start pushing this work on to others. Remember, it’s not efficient for anyone, including the client, to have you making travel arrangements.

      • Anonymous :

        It sounds like the partner needs an ace assistant and hasn’t been able to keep one. So hire one for both of you, you’ll be the liaison, etc. You keep attending the meetings, take notes or record – then have the assistant transcribe, you edit, and you’re working at a level consistent with your professional status. Technology also makes some of this very, very easy for non-assistants – is this partner a luddite?

        It used to be that law training was an apprenticeship – make sure your partner is giving you the work that you’ve signed on for, and instead of a “no I don’t do that”, an “ok, I’ll email X to get that done by Y” may be give you more traction.

        • Agreed with the comments that your career is not being served if you are not doing the substantive tasks you need to learn. I have at times been sort of a “girl friday” to my senior partner, and I have learned a lot from this, but as others said, there is nothing like doing it yourself to learn something.

          I’ve semi-trained my 70-ish partner (still a top litigator) by making comments like, “i’ll have my assistant do that,” with good results. Now he may mention admin tasks to me, but he will do so in the context of “can you see that admin A. does x and y.”

          Handled tactfully, the approach to him that you need to learn and actually do these tasks, and that you would like to learn through him, may work well. It sounds like he is not accustomed to the mentor role and needs some training in that role himself.

  4. Quick threadjack for a resume question:

    My work history since undergrad is: 4 years at an insurance company, then went to law school; during law school I summered for 3 firms (one big, one medium, one small) and continued working for the small one through my 3rd year and bar prep. Judicial externship for my last semester; judicial clerkship for one year, then about 8 months working with a very, very small firm; wasn’t getting enough work there, so I moved to another small but better established firm 6 months ago.

    Now, I’m still not getting enough work (or, more so, enough $$$), so I’m at least considering throwing out some more resumes. (I am so not this job jumper that it sounds like here, and I hate this, but I’ve got to make some money.) Should I include that entire lineup on my resume?

    I hate to drop the insurance job, because it’s solid long-term work history, it was good experience that was what really propelled me to go to LS and gave me experience in the field that I would really like to focus on, and I was a star performer in that job, plus I would assume that people would w0nder what I did between college and LS. (Though, admittedly, none of these supposed benefits have really worked out, given how miserable the job search has been for me.) I hate to drop the summers, because they are good legal experience with firms that people have heard of, and wouldn’t the potential employer want to know what I did while in LS? Obviously I want to keep the clerkship (and the externship?), and the job right after it seems too recent to drop (even though it wound up being pretty inconsequential).

    Should I maybe consolidate the summers (Summer clerkships at Firm X, Firm Y, and Firm C, in Anytown, USA, 2007-2009)? Drop the insurance job and bring it up in the cover letter? I don’t know, and I really, really hate this recession!

    • I think you should leave everything on, otherwise employers will probably wonder why you weren’t employed for 4 years. I got that more than once in interviews because one government application I used only had slots for 6 positions. My resume just has one-line descriptions for many positions that had no transferable skills.

      • Even if it means I have a whole page of my resume (which has already gone to 2) for job history?

        My academic history is excellent- should I put that first, and the job history second, or job history first (which is what I’ve always done before)?

        • Well, crap, someone needs to pay more attention to her commenting name before she hits post.

        • You want the most important information at the top of the resume, which will be your academic credentials followed by your most recent jobs. If it goes onto two pages, that is fine, but I’ve just noticed that if I tried to remove jobs to save space, I got asked at interviews why I left those positions off.

    • Don’t drop the insurance job. If necessary, shorten the amount of space dedicated to it. I still get asked about my pre-LS work experience.

    • I think consolidating the summer experience is a good idea, but still list all the firms. I would leave the clerkship and externship because someone may have a connection with a place you send your resume to. A lot of people I’ve interviewed with didn’t read my cover letter, or even the description of what I’ve done on the resume.

      If you’re not trying to get into biglaw I think most people would be more understanding of the job hopping in this economy. Would you want to take off the first job at the very very small firm? Is that firm known locally, or did you get any great experience there?

      • I would love to take that first job off, if it weren’t for the blank spot it would leave. It’s just a single person start-up, not well known. But I’d hate for it to look like I spent almost a year out of work after my clerkship.

        I’d always planned to go into big law (or at least biggish – in my part of the country, big law doesn’t usually have quite the same negative connotations as it does elsewhere). But I think that ship has sailed at this point, so I’m just looking for anything that might be better now.

    • North Shore :

      Maybe you can alter line length, line height, and font to make your resume fit better on the page. I think you should leave in all the jobs, but lump your summers together. So, a line saying Summer Legal Experience: Firm X (2008), Firm Y (2009), etc. Keep the insurance work under your Other Work Experience heading. Your resume doesn’t sound that long, so I’m wondering why it’s 2 pages. If you have long descriptions, maybe cut those shorter. Most legal employers know what a judicial law clerkship is, so you don’t need to describe what you did there, for example.

    • How did you summer at three firms? There are only two summers in law school?

      • Not the OP, but I went to law school part time and had 3 summers, so that could be it.

      • Maddie Ross :

        Split firms. I went to law school full-time and summered three places. One full after 1L, two halves after 2L.

      • North Shore :

        You get an extra summer before a judicial clerkship.

      • Almost every firm in my region does split summers of 6 weeks. I only knew a very few people who did a full summer anywhere. I did one after the first year (yeah, I over-estimated my odds and only applied to the 3 in the specific city that I wanted to work in that hired 1Ls) and two after the second.

        I’d give my right arm to go back to any one of the three now. Two no-offered me (and, as far as I could tell, just about everyone else; I only ever heard good feedback on my work), and the third made an offer early during my clerkship, but I turned it down thinking I would like to practice in a different field and could get more money elsewhere. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

  5. Earnest sidetrack: Not meant as snark, Reader S, but “ingenuine” is not standard English. I believe you meant “disingenuous.”

  6. Great post.

    Now for a threadjack: I am at a loss as to what to get the assistant for the judge I’m clerking for. She makes good money (has retirement from a previous job and a good salary now), so I don’t think she would want a gift card or cash, which is what I usually get assistants. She is also not that into fashion, and I don’t know that she really reads much. I had thought about a gift certificate for a massage, but I think she already gets massages regularly. I’d like to spend about $100. Any ideas?

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t see why “making good money” can’t be synonymous with a gift card. I generally don’t “need the money” or have to use gift cards for things I really NEED like groceries, though I don’t make all that much. Even so, it’s nice to get them and prompts me to buy something I wouldn’t typically.

      You could get her a gift card to something she might like but probably wouldn’t normally treat herself (jewelry? Spa Finder gift card that she could use for any spa service? PF Changs?)

    • found a peanut :

      Is she into food? You could get her a fruit-of-the-month club membership or something.

      Or is she into TV/movies? I got a year subscription to Netflix once and it was a great gift.

  7. Ugh, crappy day today. Hubby just accepted a termination agreement in lieu of nearly certain firing due to a false accusation of sexual harassment. I am 6 months pregnant with a full-time job and a graduate degree to finish. I was already feeling overwhelmed before, but now…! Oh well, on the plus side – I have a well-paying job, great health insurance and a tiny mortgage payment. It could be worse.

    • Internet hugs coming your way.

    • So, so sorry. Hang in there!

    • On the bright side, if he’s still not working in three months, your husband can go on diaper and bottle duty. He can also cook dinner (teach him NOW), clean your house and write thank you notes for baby shower gifts. He will get a great chance to bond with the baby, and you will enjoy not having to cover EVERYTHING.

    • So, so sorry. It’s so demoralizing that something so crappy (a false accusation) can so profoundly affect peoples’ lives. Hopefully things turn around for y’all; and, I would suggest enjoying the extra little time that you’ll have together while Hubby searches for jobs (if he chooses to do so) and before the baby comes. Internet hugs for you!

    • Thanks, ladies – I really appreciate your words of encouragement. Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise – hopefully he can take some things off my plate so I can focus on the big things, as Anon said!

  8. I have a relevent Question: I want to get to do better cases from the manageing partner, and even get more of my own cleints, so my FATHER said to me over Thanksgiving to get an MBA degree. I am really NOT to good with numbers, so I said I did NOT think I should get an MBA degree.

    Does anyone who has both an MBA degree and a law degree know if it is better to have one then to just have a LAW degree?

    I do NOT want to go back to busines school if It will not benefit me financialy.

  9. See, see, working women DO like shirts with sleeves! Loft had 3 great short-sleeve shirts on their website — bubble hem tops — “starry night”, red & “twinkle lights” — the starry night one is almost sold out and the red one is sold out online.

    But…all three of these have these “vertical flutter panels”. I tried on the starry night one yesterday at Loft — I’m not feeling it. If you stand perfectly still, the blouse is awesome, adorable, beautiful, one of the prettiest blouses I’ve ever seen. But…if you move AT ALL you look like you have vertical blinds or something on your chest. Those panels are all fluttering away — it’s a little distracting. I just couldn’t talk myself into it. :-( It would have been so much better, IMO, with vertical pleats — with the fabric sewn down.

    Anyway, I’m hoping Loft sees how popular shirts with sleeves are and makes MORE OF THEM! But not with the vertical blind look.

    • I like a lot of LOFT tops, but I can’t stand bubble hems and they seem to do them all the time. I don’t think they’re flattering on anyone, really.

      Yay for short sleeves, boo to bubble hems, LOFT!

    • I don’t think bubble hems are flattering on anyone, either. I’m with you. Glad the bubble skirt hems are melting away into fashion history.

  10. Formerly Preggo Angie :

    I’m so sorry – my husband was accused of harassment, also when I was pregnant. In his case, the woman recanted, and he kept his job but was it was mutually agreed upon that he not work with her anymore. I felt awful, on so many levels. *Hugs.*

  11. I’m going to NYC for business for a few days. Will probably spend most, if not all, of the trip in conference rooms, but since it’s Christmas season and I’ve never been to NYC before, on the off chance I get an hour or two to do something (likely in the evening), any suggestions? We’re staying in Lower Manhattan.

    • Walk the High Line (a very cool elevated park on the west side). It won’t take much time, it’s awesome and you’ll get some good NYC people watching.

    • Get a cab to take you past Rockefeller Center. The tree there really is spectacular. Go on your way to dinner at mid-town restaurant, as they do turn the tree off late at night.

      • Thanks! I wasn’t sure if I would be able to see it from a cab. Client and I are on same flight and sharing a car, but we get in at 6pm the night before the meetings start, so maybe I’ll ask him if we can have the car take us past it.

        • alternatively, you might want to leave your stuff at the hotel, cab it to the vicinity of rock center, and walk around there before heading to dinner in the area, if you’re eating in midtown. not to get too nitpicky here, but the midtown crowds in december are ridiculous. (I work here.) I asked a cabbie to take my niece and I past the tree once so I could show it to her, and he did, but it took 40 minutes to go 3 blocks.

          This time of year, there are lots of fun, festive things to see up and down 5th/6th avenues from 45th to 59th (store windows, lights, displays, Radio City, St Patrick’s, etc etc in addition to the Rock Center tree and skating rink) and if the weather is tolerable, it makes for a great walk.

        • anonymous :

          Except for trips to airport, the subway is preferable. It’s much faster. I’m assuming you don’t have large lit bags or document cases, etc. Numerous lines will take you to, or near Rockefeller Center.

    • You could always check out Macy’s Herald Square. It’s a bit closer to lower Manhattan than Rockefeller Center (although probably not quite as cool). But the window decorations are neat, and the sheer size of the store’s interior is worth a visit.

  12. AnonInfinity :

    Related (very slight) vent — I know (hope?) that planting the seeds of what I want to be involved in and doing great work will get me into my dream practice area eventually, but I want my plate to fill up now.

    /end whine

    • I was feeling the same way a few weeks ago, so I decided to DO something about it! I’ve just gotten my first pro bono project (through the Pro Bono Partnership) that is in an area of interest and have also started to get more involved with the ACC (I work in house). If your dream practice is transactional, I’d suggest looking at PBP, as they solely do transactional work and it allows you to develop your skills while helping out a worthwhile organization. Instead of the trapped feeling that I had before, I am feeling energized and hopeful!

      • Former MidLevel :

        Seconded! Pro bono work is a great way to get subject matter expertise in a certain area. Also consider getting involved in professional groups in your desired area–you would be amazed what doors can open up when you get plugged in to the legal world outside of just your firm.

  13. Diana Barry :

    Argh. I have to do my “significant matters” for my annual review. I hate this stuff. Hate! Arrrrr.

    • Do you keep track of your “significant matters” throughout the year, or put them all together at the end of the year? It helps to keep a little list of accomplishments as they happen, so you can just bring up your list when December rolls around.

  14. Former MidLevel :

    To the OP – I think it’s great that you are planning to proactively seek out the type of work you want. But one thing I learned (the hard way) is that, at a big firm, the day-to-day quality of your life depends a lot more on *who* you are working for than what work you are doing. I found I was much happier doing my second-choice type of work for great people than I ever was doing my first-choice work for terrible people. So just a thought, for whatever it’s worth…

  15. to original post- express yourself, but don’t be too aggressive- people pay you to do what they need done at the end of the day. keep an open mind about the other areas; i got a lot of useful experience in areas i thought i hated (and did sometimes) that parlayed into other dream areas now, and wouldn’t have my skill base/respect had i not earned stripes in other areas.

  16. anonymous :

    I would start by using commonly accepted English words. For “ingenuine,” I think you meant “disingenuous,” “inauthentic” or “phony.” Law firm partners tend to be conservative about language and there may be a time when you have to send out unsupervised correspondence. They have to be able to trust you to use proper English.

    I knew a lawyer who thought that anyone who used “irrespective” was a complete idiot. He claimed that he would not hire anyone who used it in an interview or a cover letter.

    Unless you have a unique source for information, I would be careful about sending case and news updates. Big firms usually have several people who stay abreast of developments. Your emails could be seen as queue-clogging and even presumptuous.

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