How to Make New Friends and Network

how to make new friendsHow do you meet new friends and other professionals to add to your social network? Reader K wonders about the old-fashioned, “IRL” methods…

Like many of your readers, I am graduating from law school in May and will be moving to a big city for a BigLaw job. I’ve never lived in a big city and I am excited about the networking opportunities. My law school girlfriends and I are wondering: how can we go about meeting other smart, interesting women in our new city? We know how to meet lawyers, from our firms and women-lawyer events in our city. What do you suggest for meeting other women in other fields? Do your readers have suggestions of groups they have joined that they have enjoyed? Any advice would be great!

This can be a great counterpart to yesterday’s discussion on where to meet potential dates (although that was focused more online than offline, and, obviously, meeting new dates is slightly different than just meeting fun friends). I know readers have talked about this a lot in the comments, but I don’t think we’ve ever done a post on the issue… so let’s discuss. (Pictured: Making new friends, originally uploaded to Flickr by sally_monster.) Here are some top ways that I can think of to meet new friends:

- Alumni events.  You’ve been to undergrad and law school, so you have double the opportunity to network!  Sign up for a listserv or website, and start attending events.  If you have one or two friends already who are not alumni friends, consider inviting each other to your alumni events so you get an even wider base of alumni networking events.  (IMHO, it’s not weird at all to bring a non-alumni friend to an alumni event… but it’s a bit weird to go to an alumni event by yourself when you’re not an alum.)

- Charities.  The Junior League is a big one that is often recommended, and I’ve had a lot of friends who love the Junior League. It can be pretty much anything, though — many large charities have branches in major cities that you can get involved with.  Similarly, a lot of institutions such as museums and even libraries have membership groups specially designed for the “under 40″ set, with relatively low membership costs ($300-$500 per year), a number of nice events, and even seminars and more.  I’ve belonged to the New York Public Library’s Young Lions program (they had amazing seminars, actually!), as well as the American Natural History Museum’s Junior Council program (which had killer cocktail hours and private showings of the exhibitions just for the JC — really cool stuff).

- Networking groups.  Each city seems to have at least one or two networks for people in the city to meet each other. For example, DC has Pros in the City; Netparty has options in a number of different cities.  If you have a specific interest, Meetup.com has a huge number of different networking events (I’ve attended several seminars on brands, content, and fashion issues, for example) (and, ha, was even pictured in a subway ad for them).

- Hobby groups and classes.  For example, I know a lot of readers love knitting.

- Running groups or other athletic outings such as aerobic classes or yoga classes.

Whatever event you choose, arrive early, be friendly, and try to build a rapport.  Once you’ve been talking with someone for a while (maybe it’ll be 20 minutes, maybe it’ll be 20 minutes each for five classes, maybe it’ll be 20 minutes spread over 5 classes — it really just depends on the person!), ask ‘em out for coffee or a glass of wine.  If that feels too “forward” to you, try suggesting something else in the city you’ve been wanting to try — a museum, a new restaurant, a new bar — and see if the other woman bites and either invites herself along or expresses such interest that you feel comfortable inviting her along.  I’ve made a number of post-college friends that way.  Some of them were awkward “dates” where we just didn’t hit it off and we didn’t try to hang out again… others turned into BFFs.

Readers, what are your favorite ways to meet new friends?  Any specific groups in specific cities you want to recommend?

Comments

  1. I highly recommend getting involved with the local bar/professional association and signing up for a committee. I have met a lot of great contacts that way both personally and professionally.

    The other way I have met people is through my political involvement (voter registration) and volunteer work. There is nothing like volunteer work to bring people together.

    Of course, if these things aren’t interesting to you, don’t bother with them. If you don’t like being a “joiner” than you probably won’t like the joiners you meet through these activities.

  2. As someone moving to Los Angeles soon, I would love any suggestions of great LA-area organizations to get involved in!

    • This is really interesting – I actually noticed a while ago that matrimonial attorneys (at least in NY) do tend to dress much more creatively than the traditional bar. Women often wear much higher heels, more jewelry, brighter colors and bolder accessories, more make up, more feminine suits; men often dress a bit flashier, too. I’ve always assumed it’s because it’s a more female-heavy bar and thus women feel more comfortable being feminine vs. say the commercial litigation attorneys.

      But it really makes me sad for our criminal justice system if jurors are really making decisions based on the attorneys’ shoes … or if attorneys representing clients in serious situations genuinely believe that.

      • … if jurors are really making decisions based on the attorneys’ shoes … or if attorneys representing clients in serious situations genuinely believe that.

        And if judges are that preoccupied/distracted/biased by what we’re wearing, as they apparently are. It makes me sick to think about.

    • Unless you’re a nun, I can’t see how carrying a red briefcase makes one “fashion forward”.

    • I have had jurors comment positively on my attire. I don’t think my clothing choices swayed the verdicts though. IMO, being confident in your style, projects confidence to the jury which may give them more confidence in your case. It’s just like having your exhibits and desk organized, projects to the jury that your case is well put-together and strong. I never wear crazy outfits in trial, and in fact generally tone it down, but always add a pop of color to my otherwise conservative suits.

  3. Somewhat relatedly — does anyone have any advice on how to interact with potential new male friends without getting into the awkward maybe-he-thinks-this-is-flirting territory? I’m a friendly person and don’t always know how to balance friendliness with avoiding flirtiness. I’m not engaged/married so there’s no ring tip-off, nor is there a boyfriend to casually mention in conversation.

    • I struggle with this, too! I think it’s just the nature of single men that they will interpret anything as a come-on, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

    • Maybe you could casually mention that you are looking forward to a date or that you have a crush on someone?

    • Always a NYer :

      Some of my closest friends are guys, from high school and college, so I’ve learned to strike the right balance between being friendly while not sending the wrong signal. With new guys that I just want to be friends with, I say, “Honey, if I wanted us to be more than friends you’d know.” It’s good for a laugh and usually gets them to back off.

      • wow, i had decided to give up on being friends with guys, because I was so frustrated. But this is great, Always a NYer!! Thanks!

    • This is tricky. The way I deal with it is to not do much one-on-one with guy friends, unless you want it go to somewhere. Hang out in groups. Invite a dude to a get-together with other friends or colleagues. And ask about his wife/girlfriend/other women, and talk to him about guys you’re interested in. That will keep it in friend territory.

      Or, if it’s someone you work with, keep it professional.

  4. For those in NYC, I would definetly suggest Bar Sssociations. The NYWBA, New York County Lawyers, and City Bar regularly host networking events. These Associations often have young lawyers committees as well, which host both social and professional events aimed at those new to the profession.

    I have made a ton of contacts and friends this way, so two thumbs up from me.

  5. Diana Barry :

    I have real trouble meeting friends. We have a few sets of “family” friends, where DH and I get along well with both of the parents and our kids are within 3 yrs of each other or so, and one set of couple friends (they don’t have kids yet so we get adults-only dinner together). But other than that, I don’t have any female friends who live near us who I see by themselves. All of my friends from growing up, college and law school live elsewhere.

    I do see people at my choir rehearsals (once a week) but given how hard it is for me to get out of the house for those, no idea how I’d see those women more often. I also can’t do networking events after work except once in a blue moon – bc of the kids it always involves getting a babysitter.

    Can the other people with DHs and kids comment on whether this is normal? :)

    • Totally normal. Having kids is a lot of fun, but it does not leave a lot of time for ANYTHING else. Be proactive. Set up playdates on weekends with other families in daycare. Since our kids started school, we have met a lot of friends there. Set up playdates with other kids in elementary school. Chances are you like some of their parents. Our eldest is 12. We on vacation with some of the families our daughter originally met when she was in kindergarden. Good luck.

    • It sounds like a common problem for working parents, but to be frank, if you want to meet more people, you have to get out of your house and you have to do it alone. With your kids or your husband around, you’ll be much less likely to branch out. If you’re not unhappy with your current situation, though, wait it out. Once your kids are older, you’ll have more time for yourself.

    • I think it’s normal. I’m lucky that a lot of my college friends still live in the same town I do. Without them, I’d have no social life because I don’t have the time to volunteer and join groups like I used to. And networking? Bah. If it doesn’t happen during work hours, it doesn’t happen at all.

    • Can’t your husband stay with the kids for the occasional after-work social event?

      • Diana Barry :

        I suppose he could. But I hate networking (am also introverted), so honestly I like to get out of those events. I would rather get together with a friend after the kids go to bed or something.

    • AppealingLawyer :

      OMG you’re like a social butterfly compared to me!! Please…post more details about your dinners with other adults sans kids and choir practice!

      I have 2 kids under the age of 3. Getting out of the house by myself to go to Target is a really big deal for me. Seriously, you sound like you’re doing great.

      I’ve been making more of an effort to keep up with friends. I have a dear friend from college who lives close by. The last time we planned a shopping date, we did it on a Saturday when our husbands could watch the kids. I’m thinking of asking her to a live show that’s coming to Chicago soon too. Same thing, though, hubbies will have to watch the kids.

      I think part of my problem is that I already spend so much time away from my kids at work, that I always feel guilty trying to do something without them on my free time. Add to that the need to schedule some sane time with my husband one-on-one and there just is very little time for girlfriends. That said, I know that developing and maintaining girlfriend relationships is essential…I just haven’t quite figured out how to do it!!

      • Diana Barry :

        LOL! My kids are 4 and 2, I am just about to have #3. I get more done by working from home one day a week and working 80%, so I have one weekday without work.

        I try to schedule at least one kid-free dinner per month. Plus my husband and I have lunch together once a week when we both work from home. We heavily use babysitters (prob once a week) in addition to the nanny so we can get out of the house.

        My choir is one night a week. I try to get the kids almost in bed before I leave so hubby can do the final tucking-in. (I am usually late to choir as a result, but oh well.) :)

        • AppealingLawyer :

          Congrats on #3 coming!! When are you due?

          We’re in nighttime h*ll right now…so there is no “final tucking in.” Our baby has had lots of feeding issues so he’s still not sleeping thru the night despite being almost 5months and our 2 year old has had alternating bouts of garden-variety-sickness/jealousy that lands her in my bed (or me in hers) quite frequently.

          I think we have to just get better about planning ahead rather than thinking the “schedule fairies” are going to magically create super plans for us on the weekend and get us a babysitter!

          • Diana Barry :

            About 6 weeks. Yes, for the first 6 months of both babies I gave up on going anywhere. Mine didn’t sleep through the night until 12 months (although at 6 months they settled down to getting up once per night, which was great).

      • Appealing, I’m laughing at your Target comment. I’m a single mom, remember standing in line at Target one morning while my son was in preschool, feeling wild and free that I had driven the whole 25 min to the store just because I felt like it…and then I remembered that a few years earlier, I had found myself virtuous and hard-working because I had always left the club by the last tram home at 2:20 so I could get up and be at the archive when it opened at 10. Funny how going to Target can become a big deal.

    • Two Cents :

      Aren’t you in Boston? You should really come out to the monthly Corporette gatherings, they are fun and everyone is super nice. I know you said that evenings were hard but surely hubby can watch the kids for a few hours while you enjoy a non-alcoholic beverage! We’re having a meet up tomorrow, in fact. :)

  6. I dropped out of Junior League :

    Ah, networking. It’s this introvert’s idea of h-e-l-l.

    • Networking sucks, IMO, as a way of making friends. Everyone is glancing over your shoulder to see if there’s someone more important to talk to. As a fellow introvert, I prefer and recommend meeting people through shared interests in which you actually have a deep interest (music, cycling, volunteering), as opposed to at professional events.

      • I agree. I am not really a true introvert, but I do much better in smaller groups where another friend might introduce me to a new person or two at a time. I am not at all interested in talking about work when I am not there either, and I would prefer to talk about my interests during my free time.

      • S, see my comments above about meetup.com.

    • Networking is certainly h-e-l-l for me and I’m definitely and introvert.

    • this

    • Hell, but a necessary one. I like to find ways to do it more on my own terms – smaller groups and one-on-ones with people I am interested in connecting with.

      For the poster, I would recommend things like volunteering. Get involved with your local bar association, particularly on committees in charge of social functions, or start attending seminars or other events on a regular basis. Even volunteering with places like Dress for Success can be a great way to get to know some people.

      My other suggestion is look for “beer leagues” in whatever sport you have any interest in that has singles teams. Unlike a yoga class, teams require that you actually interact with other people and even have an excuse for drinks afterwards.

      • AppealingLawyer :

        i don’t think attending an event with an eye cast over your shoulder to look for someone “better to talk to” is really networking. That’s schmoozing in a terrible manner.

        I consider networking making meaningful connections with people who interest you with no expectation that there’s going to be a quid pro quo. If you can help each other out eventually out of a genuine concern to be of assistance, that’s great.

      • Serving on committees or boards is also networking. So is drinks with friends. It doesn’t have to be the awful kind. Networking just means building relationships with other people.

      • So glad you mentioned this! I joined a soccer team last spring and it was so much fun. We often went to a nearby bar afterwards and it was the most natural way to get to know other people my age because we had the shared experience of the game to get us talking. Highly recommend. Plus, it’s such a thrill to do something active and genuinely fun when most of my waking hours take place in an office.

        On another note, I’ve done meetup groups (a knitting group and a women’s adventure group) that have been great experiences but can also have drawbacks. I’ve attended five plus events in each group, but often there are a whole new group of people there each time, so getting to know repeat faces is a slow process, at least in my experience. Because it’s so informal, it can be a little harder to feel a sense of real community through meetupgroups. Maybe other people have had better experiences! I’d be interested to hear from others on this.

        • Another Zumba Fan :

          I had to shift my thinking on meetup groups from “this is a way to make friends” to “this is a way to get out of the house, try new things, and explore the area.” I enjoy myself much more now at meetup events.

    • NC Lawyer :

      Power to the introverts! I agree that for us the best way of ‘networking’ is connecting over passions. I hate giant group meets with a passion, but put me with some die-hard literary nerds or policy wonks and I’m happy to talk (awkwardly) all night. Also, I recommend reading Quiet, by Susan Cain. She delves into many of the strengths that introversion has, and how to cope with an extroverted world. It made me appreciate my baseline personality much more and get strategic about engaging with the world.

  7. karenpadi :

    Come to the Corporette meet-up for San Francisco/Silicon Valley on March 24th in Palo Alto! email me at karenpadi at hotmail for info.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Woot! Looking forward to it!

      • {{tear}} turns out I won’t be able to make this one after all, since I’ll be out of town for a work trip. :o( I am so bummed, cause I really wanted to see everyone, and the Rodins! Well, someone have a drink for me, hopefully I can make the next one. And thanks again for setting it up, karenpadi.

  8. Not advice, in particular, but a related tangent. A friend of mine was interviewed for MPR about the Minnesota Nice phenomenon, and how its hard on transplants.

    http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/03/12/outsiders1-is-minnesota-nice-to-newcomers/

    • That’s interesting. It’s kind of the opposite of what I have found in the DC area – on the surface, people are not very friendly (especially customer service – why does DC have such crap customer service? Slow AND surly.), but I have actually found it much easier to really make friends here than when I lived in Illinois and Michigan. People just seem to be really open to expanding their social circles. I know when I meet someone new, once I get to know them well enough (and this does not take years!), I usually invite them to join my bookclub or come along on some group outing. It’s probably because the place is so transient, as has been mentioned before – you never know when half your social group may leave town.

    • karenpadi :

      This is so true. I grew up in Wisconsin, moved to California, and now work for a firm based in the Twin Cities.

      I’ve found the Midwesterners are “nice” but very nose-y and prone to asking prying questions of strangers and assuming that everyone is either Lutheran or Catholic.

      Minnesotans don’t really extend themselves–even through work. When I go to the “mothership”, I feel like I’m greeted but not welcomed. The major reason I visit is to have face-time with other attorneys and staff. I find that it’s very different than CA. When we have visitors in CA, I and my co-workers go out of our way to invite guests to dinner or lunch. In MN, I need to go door-to-door to ask people to go to dinner or lunch with me. Then it’s “Is so-and-so going? I’ll only go if she goes [or doesn't go].” That’s not a good feeling.

      • Oh god, that lunch thing is awful. I’ll admit that when emails go around asking if anyone wants to go to lunch, I hang back a bit and see who else is going, mostly because, although I generally like the people in my office, there are a few who I wouldn’t want to eat with if it were just the two of us. But this is partially due to my own more introverted nature. And I would never say to someone’s face that I couldn’t go eat with them unless I knew who else was coming, that’s just rude!

    • lucy stone :

      Minnesota is really hard on transplants. I went to law school there and loved the state as a whole, but it was hard to make friends.

    • As someone who lives in the Twin Cities, sometimes even being “from” Minnesota originally (a different part of the state) is not enough. Don’t get me wrong, we made a choice to move back here from DC (and PollyD, I think you are correct – with the transient nature of DC, very few people are actually “from” there, making folks more approachable in general – especially if you live in the suburbs), but I find that despite having well-attended parties and gatherings at my home, it’s almost never reciprocated. :(

    • We moved to the just outside of the Twin Cities area when I was in elementary school, and had the compounded problem of living in the country (so no hanging out with the neighborhood kids). But there was also a real sense that unless your grandparents were from the town we moved to, you weren’t really part of the town. It’s like you grew up in town, and kept all the friends that you had from kindergarten, and just didn’t have room for any more.

      It’s not that they don’t like people, but they never had that moment where they didn’t know anyone and there fore didn’t have to learn how to make friends as an adult. I don’t know how to explain it.

      The winter hibernation tendencies and the lake cabins don’t help. In the winter it can be too cold and annoying to go do anything, which limits social interaction, and in the summer, everyone goes to the lake cabin on the weekends and isn’t around to do things.

    • All so true. I grew up in Mpls and lived there for 3 years after college. When my college friends moved away I found it really hard to make friends. Then I moved to NYC for law school. I met most people through law school, but I was blown away by how many people would invite me out with their friends — i.e. “my college roommate is having a birthday party in the East Village, want to go”? I feel like most people in NYC are willing to make new friends. And same with DC — I agree with PollyD. The summer I lived there I made at least 2 good friends in 10 weeks.

    • Isn’t it funny how the societal meme is that people in the heartland are so much kinder and friendlier than the elitist coasts, but many of us have found the opposite to be true? I don’t want to harsh on the Midwest too much, I grew up there and many of my good friends in DC are Midwest transplants. But I think the idea that many people who are born in these areas stay in these areas and thus have lifelong sets of friends and don’t understand the need to make new friends as adults rings very true.

      I’ll also admit that I rather like the overeducated/bookish/wonkish/geek tendencies of the DC area. I finally fit in somewhere!

      • mplswriter :

        Have lived here (off and on) for most of my life, have to agree–it’s a hard nut to crack for making new friends. Minnesota doesn’t have the environment of Eastern cities, where most people came from somewhere else and have to reach out. Even if you’re a native and are trying to build a new social network, you’ll have to work at it.

        Have to second the advice above, whoever recommended trying to connect through common interests that you truly care about. You can do something you love while finding others who share your love of it.

      • I actually find New England (Boston area specifically) to be much the same. I was surprised because I figured so many people are transplants, but it’s hard to break into groups here (I’m in the burbs, and it seems most people here have some long-term connection to Massachusetts).

  9. One more suggestion: “ethnic” societies. Does your city have a St. Patrick’s Day parade? Is there an Italian festival? Carribbean street fair? These types of events usually have committees that run them, and those committees are full of people to whom you might have a connection, but who are varied in age, career, etc. I got involved in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade because my partially Irish husband wanted to put his car in their parade day car show, and I have met so many really great, interesting people, many of whom have become friends. Plus, you get the “giving back to the community” feeling without the sanctimoniousness (is that word?) of some charitable organizations.

  10. I think I shared this before but I think volunteering at a pet shelter to walk dogs is a great way to meet new people because a) you’re volunteering and b) you’re walking around with a cute dog that’s wearing a vest that says “adopt me.” As a bonus, you’re doing a great deed and you’re getting excersice. It’s not a huge time commitment – you can volunteer for a few hours on the weekends.

    Also, join a sporting league if you’re into that. NYC has lots, I am sure most other cities do too. It’s a great way to build commaraderie and get to know people.

  11. In Disbelief :

    (Former regular poster, want to switch names at this point)

    My husband of 3 years gave a matter-of-fact speech on Sunday about how he’s lost himself in our relationship and needs to separate to figure out what he wants in life. I was just bowled over by it… while I knew our marriage had been less-than-wonderful lately I attributed it to stress on both of our parts due to the requirements of work and grad school. He moved out that night, and is declining couples therapy until he figures out some things on his own. Now… I’m just at a loss.

    Thanks to previous posts on here I ran out and bought us each copies of “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay”. I was able to take Monday and today off from work, but will have to go back tomorrow. Where do you even begin to sort out all the logistics of how to move forward in something like this? What should I be doing from the standpoint of protecting myself? Husband hasn’t worked in a number of years, and is wrapping up grad school- I don’t want to do anything like cut him off financially, but my income can’t support two households and if we add financial stress/debt to the rest of this mess things will only get worse.

    Please help, hive :-(

    • Anonymous :

      I wish I had advice for you, but just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you…

    • I’m not married and don’t know much about family law, but I wanted to say a couple of things.

      First, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have the rug pulled out from under you like that.

      Second, you should talk to an attorney who specializes in family law. You will think much more clearly if you know your rights and responsibilities (financial and otherwise) with regard to your husband. You may want to get a separation agreement for the two of you. None of this means you are expecting to or will get a divorce. It’s just that in murky times, it’s better to have all this stuff made as clear as possible to both of you.

      Third, take good care of yourself. This is my favorite Carolyn Hax advice for when a person has some sort of crisis. Get regular exercise, eat a reasonably healthy diet, get enough sleep, and find something to do that lifts your spirits (like a hobby or volunteering) if you have any extra time. Self-care will make it easier for you make good decisions and keep all the other parts of your life from falling apart while you are dealing with this issue.

      • Another Hax-phile! I give this advice all the time—for just about everything. It has tremendous power when done well.

    • If he’s declining counseling, you may want to just go yourself. Informal separation leaves a lot of things up in the air. Your level of comfort with that may dictate the path you need to take. I would meet with a divorce attorney to see where (a) informal separation leaves you and (b) where you stand if husband pops up and wants a divorce. Given the sudden announcement, moving out and refusing to work together on counseling, if you support him you are a much more selfless person than I could ever dream of being. Frankly, I wouldn’t. First and foremost, figure out what you need to take care of yourself – emotionally, professionally, maritally – and do what you can to be good to yourself.

      • I hate to say it, but when someone flat out won’t event try to save the relationship, there may be someone else waiting in the wings. You have a right to know (If only so that you can get to a doctor and get tested for STDs)

        • Always a NYer :

          Sadly, I agree with this. People rarely leave a relationship so abruptly without having someone on the side. While this is all still sinking in and totally devastating, please think of the worst case scenarios. Make sure everything you want is secured, your money is no longer being deposited into a joint account, money in joint accounts is still there, and get tested for STDs. You don’t want to think about him cheating on you but knowing sooner rather than later is best.

          This will all work out and you’ll find a man who will treat you like gold. Sending hugs and good vibes, things will get better!!!

          And definitely have a dinner of Girl Scout cookies and wine tonight ;)

        • >when someone flat out won’t event try to save the relationship, there may be >someone else waiting in the wings

          That was my first thought, too.

          Does that make you feel differently about continuing to support him on your income?

          It should.

          And you shouldn’t.

          Sorry.

        • I just caught up with this thread because of the post on this afternoon’s thread so I don’t know if you’re still reading these but I agree with desigirl 100%. I knew a guy who moved cross country, retaking the bar to be able to practice in the (subjectively to both him and I) lesser state so his wife could go to grad school, bought a house, supported her 100%…school started in August, she had moved in with someone else by Thanksgiving.

          In retrospect he did say that she seemed almost surprised when she told him she was going to school in far away state and he said he would move with her. At the time he discounted it thinking “why would she be surprised, we’re married!”

      • Anonymous :

        I agree. I would not support him either.

      • I think talking to someone is a really good idea. I have a friend who is in a somewhat similar situation and she found a support group for women who are either going through a divorce or doing a trial separation or simply considering one or the other, and it’s been tremendously helpful to her.

        I agree that you may also want to meet with an attorney so that if this does not fix itself, you know where you stand and aren’t left scrambling.

        Finally, I would say that it may be a good idea to schedule a dinner date with your husband and calmly discuss all this at some point. He may not want to go to counseling or deal with this until he finds himself, but you deserve some answers and I would explain that to him as calmly as I could manage.

        Hugs.

        • Other posters have already given the advice I would give (take care of yourself physically, go to counseling on your own, no need to support your husband financially), but I want to second AIMS’s third paragraph. Even if he needs time to figure things out, it is completely unreasonable of him to refuse to discuss anything or give you some clue as to what is going on or what he intends. While you obviously can’t make him talk if he refuses, you *do* deserve some answers, if you want them.

    • You need to freeze your joint bank account (need both parties approval to use) then open a new account in your name only and switch your direct deposit to the new account. Your husband has had more time for planning and totally blitzkrieged you. Any divorce attorney will tell you that the person who takes the first step has a huge advantage. You need to protect yourself first. You can always be the magnanimous one after he proves that he is NOT a sh*thead.

      • Another S :

        THIS.

        • THIS.

          Late to the thread, but I echo those who say you shouldn’t support him.

          Why in blazes would anybody support someone who has clearly shown his lack of support and consideration by pulling the rug out from under your feet?

      • This response resonates well with what I would have said.

        First off my thoughts were, go easy, this may blow over, but then again, it really does seem like he pulled the rug under your feet very suddenly, having had time to mull this over beforehand. And yes, frankly, it is hard to ignore the fact that he is refusing therapy. It could mean there was more going on than you picked up on.
        Given the regret and surprise that sounds through your post, I can understand your qualms about cutting him off financially but you clearly have good reason to do so, personally and logistically.

        Whatever, please try to bear in mind that *this too will pass* and be kind to yourself.
        Biggest possible cyber-hugs. I’ve been there. It wasn’t nice.

      • Diana Barry :

        Ditto.

        My thoughts are with you – keep your chin up (after wallowing of course).

        And DO cut him off financially – it would be ridiculous for him to walk out like that, refuse therapy, and expect any $$ from you whatsoever.

      • I hate to suggest checking with an attorney before any hard decisions have been made but I second Kanon. Check with an attorney in your area, but her advice is very similar to that given a friend of mine by a trusted family law coworker of mine. Best to know the process and options for protecting yourself in case things don’t work out.

        Whatever happens, best of luck getting through this!

    • Wow – that is a true gut check. My first reactions will not be easy to hear but 1) is there the possibility of someone else? and 2) why wouldn’t you cut him off financially?

      He is making this bed and you should not have to finance his “finding himself” while he refuses to explore this together in therapy. Meanwhile, you may want to consider talking this out with someone who is objective. Not friends and family, because if you do reconcile, you may not want this to be known to all. But please find some support for yourself because this really sucks.

      • I was just about to write this too – he moved out that same night, so he obviously had plans in place. Check with an attorney about having to support him financially; you might have a legal obligation but in absolutely no way do you have a moral obligation

    • In Disbelief :

      Thanks, ladies. I agree that it’s probably wise to go ahead and start individual counselling and meet with an attorney- just in case. I’m 99% sure that there isn’t a 3rd party involved, and that he’s been honest with me about the reasons for the separation, but I appreciate the advice about STD testing. That hadn’t occurred to me.

      Does anyone have any recs for counselors or family lawyers in Chicago?

      • Chicago lawyer :

        I know Ursula Irwin personally but not professionally, but I think she is smart and a very good lawyer: http://www.ursulairwin.com/

      • I don’t know whether he’s seeing someone else or not, but I don’t really see why it matters in terms of what you should do/feel next. If it were me, that thought would just make me go completely nutso. I generally think (and I know many will find this naive) that you know whether your partner is the type to have an affair or not. You can’t always tell and people act out of character sometimes, but your instincts are probably right because you’re there, etc.

        Either way, I’m so sorry. Things may very well work out and you may be able to work through it, but it’s smart to take some protective measures re: freezing your joint account. But I would tell him that’s what you’re doing, explain that you’re not doing it to punish him but that you think it’s a good idea for both of you. And if you want to work things through, tell him so (again).

        Therapy is always helpful in my opinion so get thee to a therapist right away. He/she may have insight into how to have the conversation with your husband again re: couples’ therapy.

        Lastly, be kind to yourself. You’ll get through this.

        • In my personal experience, when my ex suddenly moved out there wasn’t a third party at the time, but the breakup was because my ex wanted to explore other options. So I feel like the OP should be prepared for that situation too.

        • In Disbelief :

          Thanks for your comments- my post wasn’t worded very well. I meant to say that I’ll take action on counselling and consulting a lawyer, and that b/c I didn’t think a 3rd party had been involved, STD testing hadn’t crossed my mind. I think you’re exactly right, that sometimes you can know someone well enough to know what is/isn’t likely behavior from them, but then again, I was just blindsided with the rest of this…

      • I fully recommend splitting your bank account off as soon as possible and changing any direct deposits. There may not be a third party now, but there could be in the future, and you should not be paying for his livelihood in the interim anyway. He chose to leave, it’s now his responsibility, and your money needs to stay yours.

      • Urban Nomad :

        So sorry to hear this. First of all, know that you will get through this. Second, I agree with all the recs about finding a good therapist and a good attorney. Feel free to email me (urban underscore nomad1 at yahoo) if you want recommendations for either — I’m in Chicago, too.

      • This is really late, but I just got notice of the thread from a later posting on the 20th. Maybe you will come back here. I would suggest Margaret O. Griffiths for counseling (she is on Lincoln Ave near ). She is great for strong, smart, powerful women with a high level of education. She is a PhD clinical psychologist and I have found her super helpful and understanding. She doesn’t just listen, but helps you process and plan.

    • AppealingLawyer :

      Hugs….

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Beware of informal agreements before you involve the court. I have heard of people cutting the leaving spouse a check for their share in the home equity, then the Court, when they file for divorce, considers that a “gift” and re-splits the equity. This also can happen with advances on accounts, etc. Talk to an attorney before you come to any agreement no matter how informal.

    • There is a poster in the Boston area who had almost the exact same thing happen to her last fall. Her husband is in grad school, too.

      I’ll try to email her to see if she’ll post some tips for you.

      • In Disbelief :

        Bunkster, that would be amazing. Thank you for going out of your way to put us in touch.

        • There has been more than one poster here who has gone through this, though I don’t want to step out of line by naming names. I might suggest posting a call on future threads for any who want to be in touch as to how they have worked through this, or are beginning to now if at a similar point as you.

    • Can't Wait to Quit :

      What a horrifying thing. In addition to moving your direct deposit to a new, separate bank account, think about your credit cards. If you have a joint card, do what you can to cut it off. Talk to an attorney ASAP – while you may have some financial responsibility to him since he has not been working, you want to have tight control over how that is coordinated, and not have him running up credit card debt that you will become responsible for.

    • Honestly? You don’t. For right now anyway.

      For right now, while he is focusing solely on himself, you need to do the same. If you reunite, you’ll both come back in as stronger partners and if you don’t, you’ll be in the early stages of becoming ok on your own, so it’s a win either way to step into your own shoes right now.

      Focus on who you are independently of being half of something. Focus on what makes you incredible and amazing. Spend time with friends, watch junk tv, take up a new hobby or sport or whatnot. Start seeing a therapist.

      There’s no way to try to be logical in such an emotional situation right now and trying to plan or make guesses will only waste your time since there’s no way to know what he isn’t sure of yet. Give him the space he needs, take the space he’s given you, and work to better yourself.

      That said, start to figure out the financial aspects too and make sure your bills and whatnot are paid. Keep in mind too that any credit cards or whatnot he opens or uses while you’re married become your responsibility as well, so if he’s not someone you trust financially, consider whether to file a legal separation or take some other step to begin to protect yourself financially.

      PS I would recommend the book “In the Meantime” as well. (Just skip over the small bits about g-d if you’re not religious or sub out that name for whatever you believe in)

      • and PPS I’m really sorry this is happening to you. I know you asked for advice and everyone is giving you great tips, but I wanted to be sure the pain and shock aspect were acknowledged too.

        sending you tons of virtual hugs

        • In Disbelief :

          Thanks so much, K. I’ll pick up “In the Meantime” in the next day or two. I hope your relocation is going smoothly- you’ve been in my thoughts lately, too.

      • I’ve recommended “In The Meantime” here as well–and bought it for more than one friend! There’s a lot of junk out there, but this book really helped me, and I even go back to it from time to time.

        • It was sent to me while going through a breakup where marriage was in the plan… I read it as I was ready, stopping when the next part felt like too much and then picking it up once a week or so and moving through it as such. It really did help.

          The relocation is a weeklong project that’s costing me a fortune but I turn a new year of life on Thursday so I’m hoping it’s a good start to a new year and I’m watching shelters for a male maltese in need since one from a breeder would cost more than I can afford (approx. the amount of a blouse or pair of shoes listed on this site lol). I am still crying a couple times a day over missing my pup, but I hope someday I’ll be able to afford to purchase a new dog so I have a place to put all of this love that’s no longer able to be given to my beloved who’s gone anymore.

    • I’m so sorry! Please take care of yourself!

    • Hey, In Disbelief, this exact thing happened to me last fall. As exact as — he was a grad student husband of 3 years (although we’d been together for 10) who decided one day to drop the bomb and leave that night. I’m really really sorry you are going through this.

      I reached out to the Corporette community as well and got some amazing advice. I also got some new real-life friends out of it, including Bunkster (who emailed me to let me know about your post. That’s how good the ladies on this blog are.)

      I can’t predict how this will turn out for you. I can let you know how it went in my case, and offer support. (You can email me if you want to chat, reach me at yellosaurus (gmail). I’m in Boston, or I’d buy you some drinks.)

      Here’s the link for my post and all the advice I received. http://corporette.com/2011/09/02/weekend-open-thread-98/

      I’m now doing a lot better personally, professionally, financially, and psychologically… But I can tell you it was the worst kind of pain in that first month. Going out for drinks with friends helped a ton. My mother’s availability at 3 AM for phone calls was invaluable. My sister’s advice to use the freedom as an opportunity to “kiss all the boys!” as ridiculous as that sounds, helped too. Getting young, fun roommates has helped.

      Exercise and healthy food are so important. I had trouble making myself eat or do anything, so I took a pretty nerdy approach: I made a list of things that make me happy and healthy – all different things like exercising, going to the museum, eating with a friend, playing with my cat, making food, going to a concert, making an appointment for self-care (dentist, pedicure, haircut – whatever) and made sure to hit a few of these things every day. It kept me busy and I felt like a grown-ass woman instead of a victim of some kind of accident. I reconnected with intellectual interests I’d been neglecting through joining clubs (meetup.com is great for that) and attending events.

      Therapy – do that too. For yourself – regardless of whether you see someone together.

      Yeah, there’s still a space where that comfortable relationship was. But there is *so much* other joy out there, and I’ve made it my business to find it.

      I will leave you with this – it sounds like you’ve been the breadwinner, as I was. I have found the financial freedom exhilarating. I made a point to go buy the shoes and lingerie I’d been fretting over the expense of. I jumped on an airplane a couple times a month for about 4 months (hell, I’m still doing it), just to visit people. I bought stuff just for fun (hello Kindle, new iPhone, new laptop). I’m not saying material things will make the emotional pain go away, but the act of procuring things I wanted without worrying about “our” money was nice. And nice things are… nice.

      Oh – and don’t make any big financial decisions until you’re ready. This needs to be on your terms, not his. Just freeze everything. I was thinking of some crazy things in that first week.

      • Oh, one more. Part of the pain of apart from a spouse in this way was almost like getting over an addiction for me (I found aspects of it remarkably like my experience quitting smoking.) Don’t be surprised if you obsess a bit, but try not to spend all your time on it.

        My ex also said he wasn’t seeing anyone else, and it now appears that was true. In retrospect, I spent way too much time trying to verify whether it was true or not, because it really didn’t matter at that point. These things aren’t really about the “other” woman anyway.

        • In Disbelief :

          Thank you so very much for coming by this thread and sharing your experience- it truly means the world to hear the words ‘It will be OK!’ come out of the mouth of someone who has so recently been in this position. I will read through the original thread (I think I skimmed at the time…) and will send you an email when I can do so coherently and with a more specific goal than my current ‘Where to from here?’.

          From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

    • Sweetie, I’m sorry. Big hugs, I wish I could help more.

      • To the OP: sending kind thoughts, hugs, and good wishes your way. I’m so sorry you’re going through an incredibly hard time. To the rest of the ladies who took time to comment and offer advice/support to the OP: you are wonderful people and the reason I keep coming back to corporette.

        • In Disbelief :

          Thanks for the well-wishes, and agreed re: your sentiments. This community is amazing.

          • Senior poster :

            I love this blog but am fairly sure that I am much older than most participants. I’ve never posted before but I am very sympathetic to you. I was “in disbelief’ too when 23 years ago my husband and father of my 5, 4, and 1 year old came home a dropped the same bombshell. Therapy helps. A therapist pointed out to me– a third party can be involved without there being any physical relationship. There are friendships between members of the opposite sex that are great and there are inappropriate friendships where a spouse diverts all their emotional loyalty to someone else. My ex-husband’s second wife was a woman who worked for him, had a bad marriage according to her, was sometimes the reason he’d come home late for dinner because she “just had to talk.” It could have been an ok friendship, but it wasn’t. If you can get professional intervention when something like this is going on, I think you have a good chance of repairing a relationship, if that’s what you want. It didn’t happen in my case but it can.

    • Anon for This :

      In Disbelief–

      So sorry to hear this. I am going through something similar with a significant other of 6 years (though not a husband–we lived together). I am in a similar state of total lack of udnerstanding about what’s going on and feeling blindsided, even a month later. I don’t have advice for you beyond what other ladies have said here, but I do want to add that I don’t agree that there is always a third person involved and you shouldn’t have to feel like that’s necessarily what’s going on. I also just wanted to send a huge hug your way.

  12. Former MidLevel :

    I’ve had good luck with continuing, interest-based networking groups, e.g., a specialized American Inn of Court. Especially for an introvert like me, having a smaller (or at least defined) group of people, multiple events, and something in common makes it a lot easier to strike up random conversations.

    • I’d like to second this — though the Inn I joined wasn’t specialized this was a *great* way to meet other attorneys (all litigation although in both civil and criminal practices and from firms and government), including quite senior and experienced members of the local bar and the bench. It does take work in planning and executing the one presentation per year that your “group” does, but in all the other months, you just go watch some other group’s presentation, and then all go to drinks and dinner together. The latter being my favorite part, of course! I joined solo and nonetheless felt welcome — I think there is a new “class” of first-year members starting up each September, so that helps, because there are multiple people who are newbies looking to strike up conversations. Also, it’s truly so much easier to start a conversation cold when you’re sitting next to someone at dinner. (Vs. c*cktail parties, etc. where everyone already seems to be plugged into a group.)

      I don’t know whether all Inns are structured this way, or whether or I just struck it lucky with a particularly social and welcoming Inn. This is the Edward J. McFetridge Inn of Court in San Francisco.

  13. Anonymous Southern lawyer :

    Sorry for the threadjack. Need some input from the group.
    I am 40 years old, a married mom of 2. Medical malpractice defense attorney. Kids are 9 and 13. Have been married almost 17 years to an engineer. Got married just before graduating law school. On paper, all is really good. Kids are relatively polite and well adjusted, and make good grades. My partners at my firm like me, and we all get along. I like what I do for a living, as does my husband. We live in a comfortable house. We do have debt, but are not drowning. Here’s the issue : Husband and I are essentially like glorified roomates. He helps around the house, and we each have our respective speheres of influence. Mine: grocery shopping, meal planning, general household cleaning and laundry, social calendars kids sports, kids doctor visits, etc. His: our cars, the yard and house maintanenance, regular bill paying/budgeting, son’s boy scout leader.

    We rarely fight, and when we do, it blows over pretty quickly. I have no doubt that if there were some terrible thing to happen to me, like a brain tumor, etc. that he would be there for me, as I would for him. But I just wake up in the morning and wonder if this is really all there is. I don’t hate him, I am pretty sure he doesn’t hate me, but we just kind of co exist in the same space most of the time. We don’t often have sex, but we have both always have had really low sex drives. Frankly, I don’t really miss it.

    I feel kind of selfish complaining about this when so many other couples have it so much worse than this, but what am I missing ? I have never expected there to be “fireworks” for the rest of our lives, but thinking that this is really all there is for the next 30 years is pretty depressing.

    Thoughts ?

    • No ideas, but I’m right there with you. : (

    • AnonInfinity :

      I have not been married for as long as you, but I had these same thoughts a couple of years ago. I told my husband, we went to counseling, worked hard, and now our marriage is better than ever. I’m not saying you should stick it out if you are unhappy and can’t be happy, but there is hope for getting out of this type of rut.

    • Appelican :

      I think it is normal to kind of settle into marriage after so long. Things become routine and often that also means boring. So in a marriage we have to work on keeping it exciting! Get out alone, try new things, and honestly have sex more, even if you have to schedule it. It sounds like you have a good thing going, but that it has become boring. So I would work on spicing things up! To me, that is better than being divorced.

    • Do you tell each other about your day? Watch shows/movies? Go out as a couple? Laugh together?

      Your older kid is hitting the teens, so there is a chance that you’ll miss your quiet boring existence. It takes a crisis to realize how good you’ve been having it.

    • Off the top of my head, I wonder how much time you and he are investing in your relationship. Do you go on dates? Have time at the end of the day to catch up with each other? I sort of think of marriage like a marathon. You wouldn’t try and run one unless you had trained for it, and done a bunch of running. If you are not investing in your marriage, it can definitely atrophy.

      You both sound like good people and I’m sure you fell in love for a reason. Would you be open to going to one of those couples retreats? Or even a weekend getaway, just the two of you? Things don’t seem totally broken to me, just stagnant. That can be fixed.

      • Diana Barry :

        I agree – some time away with just the 2 of you might be what you need to rekindle your feelings and reconnect with each other.

    • There have been a few threads on here about how to spice things back up in the l*ve making department — though they are hard to search for because of the need for euphemism.

      One slightly out of the box suggestion, especially if its something you’ve just never addressed with your husband, is to just start reading through the archives of “Savage Love” by Dan Savage. Not that you’d necessarily DO most or any of the things that are talked about in his column, but just thinking about s*x and all the different ways it can be had in happy relationships, I think, can help you start to think about it too.

      I’d also suggest finding a s*x-positive couples counselor — but again, that requires you actually talking to your husband about it.

    • MD/DC observer :

      You’re not selfish for asking this question, and the fact that other couples are dealing with extreme crises (financial, medical, child-related, whatever) doesn’t negate your desire to have more overt happiness in a life that’s basically going well. At least, I’m concluding that you want to inject more warmth into your relationship rather than define and resolve any obvious problems. Can you find time for some activities with just the two of you? Tell him you miss him or miss doing [insert pleasant activity*] in here. Keep it low-key and see if things improve after a month or so of weekly or biweekly get-togethers. I don’t even know if I’d call them “dates.”

      * I think I’d choose something that both of you used to enjoy sharing, and stay away from any activity that carries baggage or elicits anxiety from either one of you. Just a gut-level sense on my part. I’m not a psychologist or counselor.

      • AppealingLawyer :

        I think this is a common problem for people at your stage of marriage and it’s why you see a lot of divorces “when the kids leave the house.”

        Ask yourself how your life would be different without your husband. Would it be more exciting? Would you be dating? If so, what kinds of dates? What would you like to be doing more of. Then, before ditching your husband, try doing some of those things with him.

        This isn’t easy. We get into routines and routines are not always a good thing. But to keep life interesting, you have to be interesting. Take an interest in something new and try to share it with your husband. Now, if he’s not up for it, that doesn’t bode well for the success of your marriage. But, chances are, he’s feeling the same way you are.
        When

    • It sounds like it may be time for some grand gestures. Go out of your way to do something nice and demonstrate how much you appreciate him. Whatever that means between the two of you.

    • Geezerette :

      Sounds to me like you need to get out of town together for a few days — even a long weekend. Go to a favorite city or the beach or mountains — just get away and spend some time together without the kids. Remember, when the kids are grown, you want to LIKE this guy! I’ve been married 39 years and we LOVE our empty nest.

      • Just have to say that freaking love your handle, Geezerette.

        • Me too. And even though I’m in my 20s I consider myself an honorary Geezerette. I went out two nights in a row last week, and it took me four days to recover!

      • Another S :

        Geezerette, I want to be you in 30 years! There is some great advice in this thread and while my relationship with my husband hasn’t gotten to the point of the OP’s, all of it is a good reminder that we need to keep making time for each other.

    • I think this is a normal phase that many if not most relationships go through, and just requires a little time and effort, rather like others here have suggested.
      You sound like you have something worth hanging on to!

      • Anoninnyc :

        Agree. I vote for 1) couples-only vacations, and 2) doing something new, probably together. There’s some research that shows that doing something new — learning a new skill or experiencing something new — can rekindle the flame (something about firing up new brain pathways). You need some adventure in your lives.

    • I recommend this book:

      http://www.amazon.com/Hours-Great-Marriage-Step—Step/dp/0787968005/ref=sr_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331666998&sr=1-18

      and I would suggest looking into some marriage retreats, and working on having “date nights” where you do something you both enjoy. And having better sex is very healthy for your relationship and in general, and the more you have sex, the more you want it, so it’s a good way to get closer. :)

      • I am the original poster. Thanks to all of you for the good advice. I like my husband as a person, and when we do go out ( maybe 1 x every three or four months), we do have a good time together. I just feel like we hardly ever “connect” anymore.

        I have to go to New York for some expert depos soon. Maybe I can build a long weekend into it ( they are on a Monday), and he can come with me. Off to call my mom to see if she can watch the kids. . . . .

        • I think that the fact that you have a good time together says a lot. It’s easy to fall into routines. Relationships require work. A long weekend in NY sounds like just what you need.

        • My bf was married for 30 years and had this kind of a relationship. They had nothing in common, liked different things, rarely did anything together except raise the kids, but loved each other. They kept putting things off for “when the kids are out of the house” “after the next promotion” etc…and then she got breast cancer and by the time she caught it it was in the bone and she died a horrible long drawn out death. And they never did any of those things. He did get the singular pleasure of changing her diapers and cleaning out her bed sores.

          Love each other NOW. Think about how much it would suck to be 10 years from now thinking…”why didn’t we ever…” just go do it! My bf and I have now gone sky diving, we have jet skis that we take out as much as possible, we try to get every minute of enjoyment out of life. He has said that he doesn’t want our relationship to be like his with his wife. Even though he loved her and she loved him there was always something just missing. And I come to the real point, HE KNOWS IT WAS HIS FAULT. Not only his fault, no. But he accepted the status quo for 30 years. He never spoke up. He never said “hey, lets liven up this game!” He never said “hey, on my one day off every week how about you stop ditching me for your friends, spend time with me and go hang out with them the other 6 days!”

          He was a doormat. Don’t be a doormat. You’ll be sad.

    • Anonsensical :

      One thing that helps my SO and I reconnect is doing something new together, something that neither of us has done before. Either trying a totally new restaurant, or taking a trip to a city neither of us is familiar with, or doing an activity we’ve never tried. It’s a nice bonding experience and reminds me of what it was like before our lives became so routine.

    • getting the spark back :

      I also have not been married as long as you, but sometimes “the grind” just wears on your marriage. My husband and I recently went through this, as we’re both so busy and stressed, we barely have time to say anything to each when we get home! We actually decided to go to a hotel down the street for a night, planned a boudoir photo shoot in which I was the model and husband was the photographer, got really dressed up and brought a bottle of champagne, and basically just dedicated the entire weekend to “us”. I spent a ton of time on hair/makeup/styling the shoot, he spent a ton of time setting up his lights and focusing the camera, and we ate, drank, photographed and “enjoyed” each other all day/night. We just decided to make time to do something unusual and pretty ridiculous to get ourselves back in the mood to want each other. We were incredibly mushy, clingy, and generally “that couple” when we went down to the bar for a glass of wine after our photo session, and we just determined that darn it, we wanted to feel “young and in love”, so we did! Sometimes you just need to get away from your life for a few days to remember that you are attracted to each other and it’s fun to be “in love”. I do think you should talk to your husband about it. It’s not wrong, and it doesn’t spell doom, but if you don’t at least acknowledge that your marriage needs a little pick-me-up, you won’t find ways to improve.

    • job hunting :

      Just putting it out there…

      have you considered signing up for dance lessons with him? Just you, him, and an instructor. My partner and I started dance classes (both of us were terrible when we started, but like most things, you don’t have to be good to have fun) and IT IS SO AWESOME!!! It totally brings spark to the relationship. Highly recommend.

    • Can totally relate. It all starts to seem like another job – these are your roles and responsibilities and deadlines. Falling into bed at night all I want is sleep and if someone tries to interfere with the minimal amount I am getting, they better watch out!
      I have realized that I can become quite rigid in my head about what is required of us – the house has to be clean, the meals have to be cooked every night, the grocery list has to planned out, the house needs baby-proofing blah blah. It can seem like husband is making life difficult when he just doesn’t get with the program and follow the rules or even acknowledge the rules. Not much fun to think that way for me or him so I have tried to be a bit more relaxed and actually make time to do fun things, like having wine and cheese on weekends at home with him and move away from the “rules”.

  14. lucy stone :

    I have a second interview (office interview followed by dinner) at a law firm this week. Right now I work as a government attorney. What are some good questions to ask to see if the firm is a good fit for me? My first interview was a lunch interview and we mainly focused on how I thought I could bring in business.

    • Former MidLevel :

      What do you want in a firm?

    • AppealingLawyer :

      These are off the top of my head…

      If you’re expected to be a rainmaker, I would ask a lot of questions about how the firm’s current practice areas could be used to support yours. I had a career coach tell me once that it’s a mistake for litigators to only network with other litigators (sort of like a girl scout trying to sell cookies at a girl scout meeting). How can you use your skill set to support the firm’s existing clients (e.g., how can you “cross sell” your set of services to the existing clients) at least until you make your own connections? Also, how will the firm support your client-development efforts? Are there existing groups in place that market to a particular industry, for example? Is there a marketing budget? How does the firm do marketing? Conversely, does the firm have a practice area that will obviously create a lot of conflicts for you (e.g., if you want to represent the banking industry but they sue banks a lot)?

      If you’re going in as something other than a partner, I’d also want to know what the route is for making partner. Some firms have requirements that an attorney be with the firm for X number of years before being put up for partner. If you eventually get an offer, I’d like a commitment (preferably in writing) as to when you will be considered for partner. Also, be sure to understand what the requirements are for partnership and if you’re required to make a capital contribution.

      At some point, I ‘d like additional information about the financial health of the firm. Does it have a lot of debt? What is the utiliziation rate of the attorneys?

      • I’m looking to change law firms. I’ve heard salary can be calculated by your billable rate x hour requirement divided by anywhere from 2.5 to 4 (and in my own firm the divisor has changed from time to time). Can any of you tell me what is most common? 3? And does that number change if I tell you it’s a small firm (5-10 attorneys)?

        Thank you all!

  15. I’m currently in my Provisional year in a northeastern branch of the Junior League and I’ve had definite ups and definite downs with it.

    The ups — I love my community placement (i.e. the volunteerism). I’ve also enjoyed the people. I sort of compare it to “dating” women — I’m not becoming best friends with every woman I meet through it, but its forcing me to make an effort to make new friends. And they are all young professionals like me.

    The downs — its a lot of time and a fair amount of money. And it can just feel sometimes like, I signed up for this “fun” extracurricular and now its driving me crazy.

    But overall I’m glad I did it.

    • How much does Junior League cost? It’s been suggested to me before but it seems like a lot of money which could otherwise go to student loans.
      Also, how friendly are they to minority women?
      Thanks for answering – I would feel rude asking these questions my colleagues who belong to the organization.

      • Well — the cost sort of depends on the stage (and I think the group) — but I think you should assume somewhere in the range of $500-$1000 or so dollars a year (not counting the extra money spent on socializing, which I don’t count) all in. I’ve certainly incurred costs that might have been otherwise avoidable, but they ease my life so I don’t mind.

        In terms of women of color, while I imagine it could theoretically vary by area, I think my JL is fairly welcoming, though it is majority white certainly (though I am white…so take with a grain of salt). For me, something of an adjustment was the fact that I think I generally come from a different social class from many of the other members, but I don’t find that its anything that holds me back — just something I’ve noticed (if you know what I mean).

        • Amelia Pond :

          My JL is a smallish chapter and I spend approx 300 a year. My league is great about time vs. money. You can pay more and opt out of the time intensive activities and only do social things/small volunteer activities if you want or you can just pay dues (ours are 189 for active members) and then donate more time and not spend a penny more. 1/3 of my league is African-Ameran and 1/4 is other minorities (Asian, Hispanic, etc). Some of the older gals can be a bit class conscience (remarks about sizes of engagment rings) but no worse than stories other commenters have about other lawyers.

        • I should say that I’m a provisional in a relatively large chapter — so my costs may not be representative of all experiences (I’ve also attended a couple costly events.)

      • It also depends on the city. I was in Junior League in Providence. The dues were minimal. I ended up becoming the finance chair. When I moved back to Boston, I didn’t join because it was a lot more expensive and there was more work required. I also knew more people in the area.

    • I was in London and it was easily 500 quid a year. And also, “buying” your way out of charity didn’t seem very charitable to me. It seemed like a weird way of saying that money trumps actual good works. I still had a good time, most of the time, once I found some folks to snicker in the back with.

      Basically, at least in London, the JL is stratified between those who do it for charity and those who use it to socialize, and pay their way out of anything. Also, the
      provisionals” were treated HORRIBLY! The full members didn’t lift a finger at so many events I went to–and the provisionals slaved! I distinctly remember having to pass/carry an enormously heavy tray of crudite at the Holiday Boutique (for hours) to colleagues, since the event happened to be sponsored by another firm I worked across from often. Mortifying. This was followed by washing dishes.

      However, I did make some nice friends. If you can laugh about JL, you’ll do fine. I still remember one older woman giving us a lengthy speech about “embarking on our Junior League Careers.” Those of us that had actual careers found this hilarious.

    • What is Junior League?

  16. Toastmasters, if they have one near you! It’s an international organization, helps you learn to network and increase your prepared and extemporaneous speaking, and can often be used as part of your performance developmental objectives – and even though it’s a paid organization, some employers will pay for it simply because it has a lot of benefits.

    I have met a ton of amazing people through Toastmasters at my work, and I think it’s completely worthwhile.

    • This!
      I just posted a couple days ago about TM. It is a great org…perfect for introverts like me and “public speaking champs” too.

  17. This is a little random, but for any dancers out there who are located in certain major metro areas…

    After a break-up and particularly rough period at work, I decided I had to do something to try and retain my sanity. I love going to the gym, but have gone to the same classes and stood next to the same people for close to 3 years now without knowing their names. In short, my gym was not a good social outlet.

    While in college (ahem, 10 years ag0), I had belonged to my school’s swing dance club. I knew that there was a bar in my city that hosted swing dancing on a certain night of the week. Last month, I decided to go. And holy geez, you guys, I had such a great time. I went alone, and kind of hung back away from the floor for a while until a determined guy asked me to dance. Once I got out there, I couldn’t get OFF the floor…as soon as a song ended, the leads (men) were chasing their next follow for the upcoming song. By my second visit, I had perhaps a half dozen new FB friends sending me invites to upcoming dancing events. Now I go dancing 3-4 times a week, and when I told a couple dancer friends last night that I was going to Seattle for the weekend, they were like “Oh!!! I know a dancer in Seattle! S/he will be happy to show you around, let me send you his/her phone number!”

    For you single ladies out there….swing dancing is especially awesome because you have to talk to a guy for 3.5-ish minutes. While holding his hand. Also, and in this way I think swing really distinguishes itself from other forms of social dance such as salsa, people tend to be there to dance — not to pick you up. There are less jerks, and more people who are into jazz, the history behind the dance, etc. I’ve met artists, university professors, and professionals. A notable percentage of the guys are nerdy science types who appear to have gotten into dancing as a way to meet women (or at least not be petrified of them). After only 6 weeks, I know that I can go alone to almost any swing/blues dancing venue in the city and run into someone I know.

    If you live in a city with a swing dancing scene, and especially if you like jazz, I highly encourage you to check it out!!!

    • AppealingLawyer :

      That’s awesome!! Way to get out there!

      • Anonsensical :

        Dancing is great! I’ve never done swing, but I belly dance and have met so many amazing women that way. For me, dance led to some lifelong friendships and also greatly expanded my circle of people I can call for the occasional dinner/drinks/coffee outing.

    • I second this advice… but for Contradancing. I guarantee there is a dance in your community. If you’re more a hippie/artsy-type, and prefer live folk or bluegrass, contra is for you. Contrandancing is like square dancing, but way more fun. And there are tons of newbies at every dance (most are single), so there are people there to welcome you. The guys are about as described by BT.

      I have several family members that met their partners at Contradances.

      • Amelia Pond :

        I play for Contradances and the dancers always are having a blast!

      • Really? My sister was a big contradance fan for years and she was the youngest person in attendance by about 30 years. I have heard that the contradance in my area (at the senior center) tends to appeal to people in the 50+ range as well. My guess it depends on the city, but my sister has attended events all over and has never mentioned to me that she’s seen any youthful groups.

    • How would you advise a beginning dancer to get into the swing dance scene? My husband and I have been thinking about getting into dancing for a while now, but we’re both really bad dancers and kind of self-conscious about being bad dancers.

      • Hi Lynnet!

        The best way is probably to take a class together from a local studio. However, if you do not want to make a month-long commitment you will find that many places will kick off the evening with a lesson that is oriented for beginnners. The lesson is then followed by open dancing. Where I go there are always new couples showing up, and the beginners relax when they see that (1) there are other beginners, and (2) everyone is really welcoming. The more advanced dancers all remember what it was like to start out, and they are interested in expanding the swing community:)

    • phillygirlruns :

      swing dancing is SO. MUCH. FUN. i also did it (sigh) 10+ years ago, when it was popular in the late 90s/early 2000s, and really miss it. i recently learned that there are still dances held with some regularity here in philly and am making it a point to get to the next one.

    • footnote from fellow social dancer who misses it terribly while pregnant: please don’t generalize dance scenes. entirely varies by crowd, venue, city. I live in Seattle. There are tons of sleaze-free salsa venues, most of my friends are from that crowd, and it’s the most fun b/c of age group (20-40s average) whereas swing is older/younger people. I lived in NYC, DC, Miami, etc. and different stories there. It also depends on the place and what night of the week.
      ps if you are visiting seattle, century ballroom is where to start. I like east coast swing, but find west coast swing quite dull. I love all latin dance especially salsa. Tango haven’t learned. etc. we have it all here with friendly, early-bird crowds.

    • If you’re coming to Seattle you should totally head to the Century Ballroom–it’s awesome! They have classes and dances every night for different types of dance (swing, salsa, west coast swing, tango, etc)

  18. heatherskib :

    Develop a hobby outside of work. Take crafting lessons, or play a sport and join a team (mine’s tennis). I also meet alot of people through Weight Watchers.

  19. Once you move to the new city, see if there’s a corporette meet-up group. The Boston group is meeting again this Thursday night. We try to get together every month.

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