Weekend Open Thread

Something on your mind? Chat about it here.

I love simple cotton dresses like this one from LOFT in the summer — easy, washable, and generally cool and flattering too. I bought this dress a few days ago myself during a 50% off pants sale — and wouldn’t you know, the entire site is now 40% off. Grumble. So the dress was $49.50, but code SHOP40 takes it down to just over $29. Dolman Sleeve Surplice Dress

(L-2)

Comments

  1. Merabella :

    I am the only one left at the office… Why didn’t I get the memo that we were all leaving early today? I would have gotten on that bandwagon.

  2. Curious Renter :

    This started off as as question about rent as a percentage of income, but it became more of a general question about learning how to spend money comfortably and sensibly. I’m turning to the hive, since I find the discussions on finance really helpful!

    I’m in big law in the DC area, and on paper I can afford to spend a lot more on rent than I do on the same one-bedroom I had in law school. Right now it’s about 12% gross, 20% take-home — law school loans are paid off, as is my older, basic but sufficient, car. Maxing out 401k, putting additional money in Mutual Funds and have an ever growing online savings account.

    I’m debating upgrading to a two-bedroom, or at least a one-bedroom with den — I’m old enough now that I’d like some more space, but I’m struggling with actually spending more on something when what I have now is perfectly adequate.

    This also extends to other big ticket items like my car — it’s in fine shape, etc., but it lacks certain comforts found in newer/nicer cars.

    On one hand, I’m a big proponent of living well below my means — this crazy salary may not last forever and I had ~ 10 years of adulthood where I didn’t save much money. I’d like to actually buy a home someday with 20% down. And I want to avoid the golden handcuffs.

    Then on the other hand, I’m a little frustrated with not having anything ‘nicer’ than I did when I wasn’t making this much. There’s a bit of a keeping up with the Joneses aspect (see the discussion about cars the other day), but most of it is just comfort. I’d like to have a nicer place with a little more space.

    I realize I’m pretty lucky to have these problems and don’t want to come off as being spoiled or superior. 1%-er first world problems indeed!

    • Curious Renter :

      Wow, that was a ramble. No wonder I never make any decisions outside of work.

      • Kontraktor :

        I feel like budget calculators often ‘recommend’ spending no more than 25-30% of your take home pay on rent. That said, you’re under the money in that regard, and I think it’s great you can find a space in DC that allows you to come right in at that budget. If it were me, I wouldn’t move for that reason. I just moved from the DC area, and honestly my impression is that more expensive (and bigger) apartments tend not to be worth the astronomical expense, especially if you want to be somewhere more towards the center of town. The finishes seem to be not that great, the space not all that much, and the hype not all that worth it. Plus, there is the added fact that spending more on rent is just more money you won’t actually ever get back- it will just be putting towards a situation that is 100% temporary. At least if you put the money toward a better car, despite the lack of monetary appreciation, you’d be contributing to a nicer item that you would one day own and would presumably last a long time in your possession.

        What about looking into upgrading your furniture as well? Or painting/decorating in a new way or in an upgraded way? That way you could feel like you have a newer, more ‘expensive’ place because you’ll have some fresh new things of potentially better quality than you had before. Bonus that you get to keep furniture and decor items.

        • I think Kontraktor’s idea about art and furniture is actually a great one. I can completely understand wanting to leave law school behind and “move up” a bit and you certainly have your finances in order. But moving is a huge PITA (and costly if you hire movers) and the money you’re saving now is worth more (time value of money, etc.) towards a house payment. Maybe upgrade the car/furnishings for now and save the rest for the down payment? Plus once you buy you’ll want to spend another small fortune on painting/window treatments/light fixtures, etc.

          • Agreed about upgrading art and furniture. That will give you a feeling of luxury without having a semi-permanent higher fixed cost.

        • Curious Renter :

          One of my other reasons for not moving is that it is a big PITA. I’m not in DC proper, but in NoVA, where the cost is a bit more reasonable, but I do know what you mean about certain luxury apartments not being worth it. My current place is a nice place, just dated.

          I do like the idea of just upgrading furniture — I’ve done a few minor upgrades with IKEA stuff, but a much nicer couch would go a long way!

          As for the car thing — my biggest current annoyance is a lack of an iPod jack –while it seems silly to spend money on upgrading a stereo system in a 9 year old car, it’s a much smaller amount of money that would significantly improve my drive.

          • FYI, if you don’t have an Ipod jack you you could also buy a small FM transmitter at r r a d i o s h a c k, for about $20…it plugs into the headphone jack on your Ipod and “broadcasts” on one of 2 or 3 radio frequencies. then you turn your car radio to that frequency and it plays whatever you are playing on your Ipod! There will be interference occasionally and you will have to play with it to figure out which frequency works best in your driving are. (this is assuming your car stereo isn’t *quite* as old as mine and doesn’t have a cassette player…if it does have a casette player you can buy a special cassette with a wire that plugs into your Ipod).

          • Don’t overlook the benefits of just a fresh coat of paint as well :-). If you’ve got money to spare you can even do a quick consult with an interior decorator, get interesting color suggestions. And I’d add that often a few well-chose lights do more to transform a blah interior than anything else.
            Basically, if you invested just what a move would cost into decoration, you’d probably feel very happy.

    • I’m just really jealous of how well you’re doing financially. I am saving exactly $0 for retirement, my house payment is 28% of my take home pay, and I’ve got $13,000 in credit card debt. And I’m 51, single parent. My problem was when I got divorced, I was determined to keep the same lifestyle for my kid, even though I couldn’t really afford it, and my child support was not enough to sustain it. My life sucks. Keep living below your means, you’ll be grateful someday.

      • This! I’m in a similar situation. Wish I’d made different choices when I was younger.

        To Curious Renter: buy a certified pre-owned BMW or something like that (so you get a comfortable luxury car, but someone else took the major hit on depreciation), upgrade your furniture and linens, and then keep saving like you have been doing. You won’t regret it.

        • Kontraktor :

          I agree. Certified pre-owned BMWs seem to hold up great. I’ve known a lot of people who have driven them into the ground with zero problems.

        • If all she needs is an ipod jack, she doesn’t need a BMW, just a newer car. Get a corolla or civil or scion or something cheap. Parts for beemers are extremely expensive.

      • Anon @ 4:29 – This is a sensitive question, so feel free to ignore if you are not comfortable. Would you mind elaborating on what choices you would have made differently at the time of your divorce (or before) to improve your current situation? I’m asking because planning for such an event is something that most of us don’t seriously think about when we are getting into a relationship until its too late or the sh*t hits the fan. Thank you.

        • Book ahead . . . I’m not anon but I’ve been through a divorce with two children; got remarried and more recently we’ve each gotten laid off at different times while living in a high COL city (Boston).

          I did better with the layoffs, probably because I learned the hard lesson Anon mentions when I got divorced. The strategy is the same though. When the income gets cut, no matter what the reason, costs need to drop to the new level.

          With my kids, that meant no, we weren’t going to sign up for every extracurricular activity out there. They could pick one each within a budget. We rarely ate out and when we did, we went to cheap pizza places (lived in Lawrence, KS then, home of KU so lots of cheap pizza places). Clothes came from places like target or kohls; shoes were the worst. Boys are hard on shoes and athletic shoes for boys are stupidly expensive.

          So really, it’s all the normal budgeting stuff you can read about on any number of personal finance blogs. The complicating factor of course is the guilt and the emotions running so high over the failed marriage. But I believed that putting myself in a giant financial hole wouldn’t make any of us feel better about what was happening and it most certainly would lead to awful consequences later on.

          What I would do differently: I did not fight for my share of his pension or my share of the house. I was stupid and believed he would do the right thing. I would also cut my expenses further in areas like groceries (I was still way too firmly committed to some name brand products—why??), haircuts, things like that. Also I would learn to make pizza then instead of waiting all these years :-)

          • edj – I just did some research on divorces and pensions. Somehow at least reading about it makes me feel better in the event I had to deal with something like this. Thanks you for sharing.

          • I made similar mistakes to those edj made in my divorce, right down to not fighting for a share of his retirement (or the business I helped build and worked in right next to him for several years).
            I did the opposite (but equally if not more stupid) thing with respect to the house. I gave up everything under the sun because I wanted the house. No pension, no stock accounts, no alimony, nothing, because I wanted the house because I felt so guilty over so much upheaval for the kids, and I didn’t want there to be *more*. It would have been a great move if the house were actually paid for, but I was really fighting for the equity, subject of course, to the MORTGAGE. This was in January 2007. You can probably guess how the story ends up, given the market. Let me add I was in one of the hardest -hit markets in the nation. Awesome sauce.
            Had a 2nd mtg that was NOT taken out with the first (and thus was not protected from a recourse action after foreclosure). Long story short, financial ruin. All because I couldn’t bear to make my kids move into an apartment after everything else.
            You think you won’t do that, you think you’ll be smarter. You think you’ll make the ‘wisest’ choices. But I’m telling you, really nothing prepares you for the knowledge you’ve broken your kids’ hearts and there’s nothing you can do about it. All you can do is try to remember that there is, in fact, nothing you can do about it, and going bankrupt for ‘keeping continuity for the kids’ is not going to make it any better.

          • Sadi, you have my utmost sympathy.

            You wrote “You think you won’t do that, you think you’ll be smarter. You think you’ll make the ‘wisest’ choices. But I’m telling you, really nothing prepares you for the knowledge you’ve broken your kids’ hearts and there’s nothing you can do about it. All you can do is try to remember that there is, in fact, nothing you can do about it, and going bankrupt for ‘keeping continuity for the kids’ is not going to make it any better.”

            So true and I can’t add anything to express that conflict any better. Nothing does prepare you for how painful a divorce is for everyone in it. Nothing. All you can do is make the best, most responsible decisions possible in an awful situation.

            I hope things are looking up for you now, four years later.

          • Hey girls, let’s cut out the “failed marriages’ terminology. How about making it “life upgrade” :-)?
            And I’m a child of divorced parents way back when it wasn’t common, and had to go through a lot of weird shit about it (a father bent on revenge, using me). But if I compare it with my sister’s experiences of parents staying together for the sake of the children, I think I’m much better off. At least I learned you can move on when you make a mistake. And think of it this way – if this jerk’s bad enough you’re willing to risk ruin and damage your children to get away from him, don’t you think perhaps your kids might feel some relief from not living with him any longer? A bit of short-term disruption is way worth the long-term improvement. Don’t assume yourself into a pit of guilt unnecessarily. My parent’s divorce was the best thing that ever happened to me :-).

    • Seattleite :

      I wonder if part of the reason you’re chafing is that you don’t have clear goals WRT your money. “I want to buy a house someday” is different than “I want to buy a $X house, and put $y down, by THISDATE.”

      Learning to spend money is difficult, especially if as adults we have substantially more than we did growing up. There’s a sort of survivor’s guilt about it. When we bought our first house, I agonized over whether we *needed* a fence – perhaps we should be donating that money instead?

      I suggest you read Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover.” His approach is that you set your goals, plan your budget, and then let go of the angst that can go along with spending. Essentially, you’re giving yourself permission to spend not when you’re at the register, but during your monthly budget meeting w/yourself. He also has some interesting suggested percentages – for example, car value shouldn’t exceed 50% of annual household income, etc.

      • Curious Renter :

        I think that’s some of it. And some of it is this weird semi-adult life I have. I don’t have the ‘traditional’ markers of adulthood — a house, husband, kids.

        My parents were the same way — they purposefully didn’t own a house until they had been married ~10-15 years and had two children. They’ve always lived well below their means and been very conservative with their money. As a result, they own their house and nice cars outright and are doing very well, considering their professions.

    • Keep the apartment. Open a new savings account, and sock away an extra 10% of your income in that account for your future down payment and for your future down payment only. You’ll have enough in no time and THEN you can get that 2 bedroom as an owner, not a renter.

      In the meantime, be like me and check out real estate p-rn on Redfin.

      • Curious Renter :

        Zillow is my poison.

        Why yes, I WILL take that multi-million house with a pool, chef’s kitchen, and master bath that is bigger than my current apartment, thankyouverymuch.

      • Anonymous :

        Ita. I bought our 2 br condo when I was single — now, 11 years, a husband, 2 kids and a dog later, we are still in it. Save up to buy a place, one that you can grow into or rent out at another time.

        • My DH and I frequently count our blessings that our town home/condo deal fell apart forcing us to stay in our house. A couple years later we had saved more and were making more and were able to buy a true family home that we’ll probably be in for decades. Quick turn-over of real estate is risky and hard.

      • This is exactly what I was going to say. Save up a downpayment and buy that 2br.

    • karenpadi :

      I went through this about 1 year out of law school. I had an apartment that I did not feel safe in and was waking up in the middle of the night because my circulation to my legs was being cut off by my cheap mattress.

      Look at your life goals. I was comfortable enough in my job that I didn’t want to leave in the near future, so I decided to upgrade to reward myself. I went from a shared apartment where I felt unsafe to a “luxury” apartment with an in-unit laundry and tripled my rent. It was one of the best things I ever did. A one year lease does not qualify as golden handcuffs. My 15-year mortgage? That’s a nice set of handcuffs but many would argue that at 30% of my take-home, it still doesn’t quite count.

      I still use 33% of my take-home to save/pay down my mortgage every month so I don’t feel like I’m squandering my money. Plus, I like my job better when I have a place to live and relax. That has literally kept me from quitting law for the last 3 years and will keep me at my job until my mortgage is paid off (hopefully in the next 7 years).

      • I lived in tiny, tiny, tiny places in Miami and New York alone and with husband for years. Won’t even describe them (ok, NYC condo we owned was 440 ft, studios in Miami). Then moved to Seattle as part of a ‘let’s go live better’ thing which has worked out perfectly and now have an unbelievable spacious view penthouse condo I adore. There is not a day that goes by that I do not fully enjoy it so much. Partially because it is amazing- partially because of all those years of not having comfort at home. We waited til we could do it right without worry- whatever that time is for you I recommend. We just refi’d at 3.1% (15 yrs)- hooray- rates are really good now for locking down real estate.

        I look back on the cramped years as uncomfortable but where we were at at the time financially so necessary due to our own choices/situations.

    • Oh.so.tired :

      Make your next move into a house that you own! Just wait until you have the downpayment. I’m renting right now and HATE that I will never see this money again but we aren’t able to save for a downpayment since I want to get rid of my lawschool loans (finishing up my last semester of school now).

      You are doing well financially and are a smart saver- dont compromise that for keeping up with the Jones’s. Your future self will thank you trust me!

    • Are the car and apt “adequate” or less than you need? Be honest. If you want something else, think about what else it is that you want. A home office? An exercise room? A greenhouse? More closet space? Some of these things might be possible in your current apt (we now have an exercise room in my son’s 10×16 bedroom; he has a lofted with desk at one end, and we got foam tiles for the rest of the floor) and even if you do need to move to get what you want, you’ll be able to move towards it much better when you know just what you’re looking for. But saving more than you *need* to is not a bad problem to have.

  3. One of the (nice) assistants just tipped me off some unidentified assistant(s) don’t care for it when I leave an envelope on the postage machine to have postage added. I’m part-time, so I don’t have my own assistant to do this, I don’t know how to use the postage meter, and I only mail one or two things a week. Apparently someone feels put out by doing an extra envelope or two for me, even though it is her job to put postage on envelopes for someone else. Fortunately, the nice assistant said that she doesn’t mind at all and that I should just put my mail on her desk from now on.

    Was I really way out of line by leaving my envelopes?

    • Yeah you were. You should have just asked someone to either tell you how the postage machine works or hand the envelopes to them and ask them to mail your letters when they are mailing the ones for their manager. An assistant is not your mother, they don’t just do things for you if you don’t ask. Just imagine how much it would annoy you if someone would do that to you – you’d probably be a little peeved. It’s not about the extra work, it’s about your entitlement attitude.

    • Seattleite :

      It smells a little of leaving a mess for others to clean up, even though I’m sure you didn’t mean it like that. For future reference, it’s probably best to ask how to use the machine, or what’s the protocol for getting postage on envelopes, etc. Absent an assistant of your own, it’s not really fair to expect other assistants to just pick up that work.

      I wouldn’t say WAY out of line. More like a hiccup, because you didn’t notice and adapt to office culture.

    • You weren’t WAY out of line, but you effectively left a mess for others to clean up. If you’d asked nicely I’m sure one of the assistants would have done it for you. If other things like this come up, just ask. Most people don’t mind doing a little extra work if they’re asked nicely.

    • Agree with the other responses, just want to add: maybe also casually (as in, not letting it drop that the nice assistant clued you in) apologize to and thank the other assistants to cultivate some goodwill and/or clear bad air, even if you didn’t really mean anything by it. Something like, hey, I realized I left some envelopes around before, thanks for stamping them if that was you, it’s silly but I kinda didn’t know what else to do, sorry for making extra work for you. Among some support staff, a reputation as being “entitled” or above administrative tasks can harden pretty quickly, and they’ll be more likely to help you in a pinch or generally make your life easier in the future if you let them know you appreciate them.

      • Thanks for the responses. I can see the perspective that it seems like I’m leaving something for someone else to “clean up.” I think I have a good and, with certain assistants, great relationship with the support staff. We’re a small office with happy employees. I’m also pretty confident about who it was that grumbled about the postage issue. I’ve been trying to make a special effort with her (asking for her advice about her area of expertise, being enthusiastic when she brings in cookies), but I think she’s a complainer in general. She works on the other side of the building, so she doesn’t see all the administrative stuff I actually do. I’m confident that the support staff who regularly see me making my own copies, placing my own phone calls, hunting down files that I need, etc. don’t think I feel entitled. From now on I will be more aware about how the people on the other side of the building might perceive me. Glad you ladies could set me straight!

  4. Artsy lawyer :

    Just saw this on the WSJ Law Blog: http://141.161.16.100/career/pronunciations/

    It’s a pronunciation guide for a number of big law firms. I wish I’d had this for OCI.

    • That’s awesome. Although my firm’s name is out of date. Pronunciation is fine, however,

    • Funny. Fortunately, I was interning at a company with some former BigLaw people right before OCI. You should have heard how I was pronouncing Cadwalader.

    • Haha. I introduced someone in a speech who works for Miller and Chevalier. I speak French, and my inclination was to pronounce Chevalier as it would be pronounced in French, but I asked the speaker for the correct pronunciation ahead of time (it’s chev-a-leer). And then I went ahead and mispronounced it anyway by mistake. Oops.

    • karenpadi :

      This is great! No one at my firm knows how to pronounce the third name in the firm name. We revert to the first two names or the initials all the time. I have heard it pronounced at least three different ways and everyone is too baffled to correct any one. Too bad we aren’t biglaw, we could use this.

  5. I posted about this earlier and someone above posted something similar, but I’m a fourth year attorney with two years law firm litigation experience, and what will be two years of major non-profit impact litigation experience. I’m looking to stay in a generally-related world (healthcare, human rights, civil rights) and do more policy or management work, but I’m not sure where to start my search.

    What are some good websites for job search sites outside of the non-profit world? That’s all I really know and I want to search broadly. Thanks!

    • Indeed [dot] com is my favorite general job search site. It collects a bunch of the different job listing sites together.

    • For policy work, look at brad traverse. Soo worth the registration fee, if you’re interested in the arena– mostly DC jobs though.

      • Backgrounder :

        I like glassdoor it’s a multi-function website (job search, company reviews, company salaries, etc.) but across all industries.

    • Batgirl, I’m not an atty, but would love to work in the human rights kind of thing you’re experienced at. You say you know where to look for those kind of jobs; where would you suggest a social sciences PhD should look for them?

      • I would suggest talking with people more than cruising web sites. People in policy in Seattle (me too, former lawyer) work in big companies, local government, foundations, nonprofits mainly. The orgs have to be big enough to fund overhead types like this, or specialize in it. Find a few people to sit with and ask in your target locations.

      • Devex and Idealist are good places to start. I don’t know exactly what your PhD is, but my guess is that consulting firm in the international development field would be a good fit for someone with your background.

      • Sorry I didn’t see this till this morning, but if I were you, I would start with networking. Idealist will likely have all the job listings you’re looking for, but unfortunately those positions are very competitive. Are you in NYC? If so, the best thing you can do is sign up for the NYU and Columbia Law human rights listservs and attend as many of their free talks as possible. They have great panels and it’s a virtual who’s-who in the human rights world. They often have wine and cheese things beforehand or afterward and it’s a great place to network.

  6. Anon this time! :

    To tell or not to tell? I’m starting a summer associate position on Monday. This firm has virtually a 100% offer rate, so as long as the firm doesn’t unexpectedly go belly-up or I do something seriously terrible this summer, I imagine they will give me an offer in August. Two things have come up, however, and I’m not sure whether I should let them know right off the bat or wait until it’s important.

    First, just got an offer (and accepted it) for a judicial clerkship for the year after I graduate. Should I tell my firm that I’ll be clerking? I’m worried it might change their mind about giving me an offer if I tell them too soon. However, since it’s a done deal and I am definitely committed to it I feel like I shouldn’t try to keep it quiet. It’s a smallish legal market, and it wouldn’t be unexpected to end up in the same meeting or lunch group or something with someone from my firm and my judge. Additionally, I asked about clerkships repeatedly during the interview, and they said that it kind of messed up their hiring, but they were supportive of it, so I’m leaning toward just telling them.

    The second thing is a little iffier. I want to start looking for a second clerkship at a higher court after my first clerkship. I think I am well situated for a federal circuit court clerkship. Although my chances look decent, it’s not definite, so I’m leaning toward not letting them know unless I get an offer. The problem is I would probably get a second clerkship offer this coming spring – several months after August, when I would get an offer from my firm. How should I navigate this?

    • On the first question, it may depend on your firm. When I was a summer clerk, one of my fellow clerks got a one-year clerkship with a federal judge, and the firm offered her a job for when the clerkship ended. It was considered to be very good for one’s resume to have a federal clerkship, and a value to the firm.

      I really have no idea about the second question, maybe someone else will.

    • Former MidLevel :

      I don’t think you have any duty to tell them about your clerkship plans until they make you an offer. That being said, if someone asks you about clerking over the summer, I think you should be honest and tell them about the clerkship you have accepted. As for the second potential clerkship, I wouldn’t mention it until anything is more definite. (Btw, why do you think you won’t hear on that until the spring? Many judges follow the hiring plan and hire in the fall.)

      • Agree.

        If she’s talking about a second clerkship starting in fall 2014, she wouldn’t hear until spring 2013 at the earliest. The hiring plan only applies to current law students, so if she will be graduating in 2013 judges wouldn’t necessarily follow the hiring plan when considering her application for a clerkship that would start a year after graduation.

        • Former MidLevel :

          I assumed she was a rising 3L who got hired off-plan.

        • Former MidLevel :

          (Okay, so the ether ate half my comment….argh.) But I was going to say you are right, if she will be applying as an alum.

        • Anon this time! :

          Bluejay is right – since I will be applying for the Fall of 2014, I won’t have to follow the plan. The judge I am definitely working for has placed 3 clerks in circuit courts in the last 4 years, they all got their jobs in the spring.

          Plus, the plan basically fell apart last year, so I plan to mostly ignore it anyway.

          • Former MidLevel :

            Got it. Well, good luck in your search – and at your summer job. :)

    • I was up front with my firm when I was in the same position. Honestly, I never considered treating it any other way! My firm values clerkships and they are just holding my offer open until a few months after I start my clerkship. No one even looked twice at me about it.

      • Anon this time! :

        Up front about a clerkship you had already gotten, or one you were still looking for? I think I will tell them about the accepted clerkship, but am still undecided about the second one. Maybe if I get the offer from the firm in August, I should broach the subject then, and say I liked the firm but there is a possibility I wouldn’t come back for 2 years instead of just one?

        • I was up front during my summer about the first clerkship and after I got my offer, I talked to partners about a second. They were supportive and even served as references for my applications even though I have yet to officially accept my offer. Timing is key, but most big law firms seem to view clerkships as still being “on the right track.”

    • Tell them about your existing clerkship. No need to tell them about a clerkship that doesn’t yet exist, but if someone asks if you’re applying for a higher-level clerkship, be honest. Generally firms see clerkships as good, so it shouldn’t hurt your chances, assuming that you’re going into litigation and that it’s a big enough firm that they’re likely to make a lot of offers.

      • I think the way the firm looks at the clerkship will depend on whether it is a state court clerkship or federal court. No way would I tell them about the second one, as it is too speculative at this time.

    • Working Girl :

      Some more things to think about, OP: It sounds like you want to stick around. Do you want to make partner? I was very candid with my firm about wanting to be partner and not wanting to be mommy-tracked and become a second-class citizen. It’s tough, because you take off x number of months for maternity leave, you bill x fewer hours over the course of the subsequent years as part-time, and from a pure hours perspective you are off track. I decided it would be best for me to be held back one year because I didn’t want to be up for partner and not make it because I had relatively less experience than my peers who also were up.

      The other thing to think about if family planning. How long do you want to be part-time? Do you want to have another kid at some point, and will you go back to full time before? Two maternity leaves before partnership will set you back more than one. For the time being, I am holding off on #2 until partnership.

      Also, are there other part-time parents at your firm? You definitely want to form alliances with them, because they will understand and they will have your back. Are there partners who were part-time at some point as they were coming up? Become their friend. Ask them out to lunch. Ask for advice. They will be flattered and you will get more supporters in the partnership–critical to long-term success.

  7. TGIF! Work/life balance question for you. I am a midlevel biglaw associate at a NY firm. I like my job but am getting burned out from the hours. I recently had a child and am trying to keep up with work and life, but am getting behind in both categories. If you had the option to go part time, would you? If you have done so, how has it impacted your long-term career prospects? FWIW, I see myself staying at my firm long-term and like the people and work, just don’t want to get totally worn out (which I am already) by trying to keep up with biglaw hours. I don’t want to permanently sidetrack or damage my career/reputation by going part-time. But at the same time, I want to actually have a life outside of work and time to spend with my family. Any personal experiences with these tradeoffs and what has worked for you?

    • It seems to me that the real question in this situation is what is YOUR firm like. I think a lot of different people have expressed a lot of different stories about the success of work life balance, but I’d look around at your firm. Have women (or men) gone part time? Do they stay long term or get pushed out? Have any of the part-timers returned to full time? Have any of the leadership had a period of part-time work? Any of the leadership working mothers?

    • PharmaGirl :

      I would love to go part-time to be bale to spend more time with my child and, frankly, to get my house in shape. I don’t work insane hours but the job plus commute eats up all of my weekday time.

      One thing that has helped is telecommuting. Do you have an option to work at home on a regular basis? I telecommute twice a week and use what would have been my commute time to clean the house, weed the garden, or play with my child. For example, this morning I went to Home Depot to shop for carpet at 7:45 am and this afternoon I was able to get to daycare at 5 pm sharp and play with my child before dinner. I also do laundry when I work from home, just tossing it in when I go downstairs for a glass of water, not folding. This saves me so much time on the weekends.

    • Going part-time would have helped my career much more than trying to keep up with FT and single parenting and not doing either of them well! Seriously, if I would have just acknowledged that I was slowing down for this little miracle in my life and not claimed to be doing it all, it would have been much better. I eventually took time off from work and am going back now, am taking time to publish so I have a better cv, because what I did during those first years is so much less than what I can do.

    • Working Girl :

      I went part-time after having my kid. It was a very good decision. I STILL feel like I am constantly struggling to keep everything together, but it’s manageable. ish.

      First consider what part-time will look like for you. I am at 80 percent and I work every day, 9 to 5 or 6. I just take on fewer cases and generally try to protect my nights and weekends. I also have been part-time working 4 days a week, and that was much harder for me, because I had to cram much more into those 4 days.

      I have to run, will write more later . . .

    • I have worked at several biglaw firms and have rarely seen PT work well. Partners don’t really want to hear that you’re at budget for the week, or don’t work Tuesdays or whatnot, and neither do clients. Your annual hours budget will be lesser, but day-to-day or week-to-week, your life may not be more manageable. Consign the advice to see how this works at your firm. specialist seem to be able to pull this off better-RE, Tax, Employment, etc.

      • Working Girl :

        I disagree that part-time does not work, and I am in BigLaw. Part time does work, but it has to be done a certain way.

        The commenter above is citing examples of inflexible part-time schedules where you announce your inflexibility to the world. For the most part, that strategy does not work well if you are a litigator. Things come up, and you can’t say “it’s 5 p.m., I am out.” As I stated above, I *try* to protect my nights and weekends, but I recognize that there are times I have to take business trips. There are trials and depositions and mediations. And during those times, I have to be all in. But on other days, I might leave at 4 p.m. I never announce to anyone that I am leaving for a kid-related reason. I never ask for permission. I try not to draw attention to it. In fact, none of my clients know I am part-time. My colleagues know, but I think no one even notices anymore.

        The secret to making it work, in my view, is to make yourself available all the time / never have people think you are unavailable. Then, people don’t panic that you are the part-time person who is gone when they need you. And when you don’t need to be there, don’t be there and don’t apologize, just check your Blackberry.

        As noted above, your hours over the year are fewer, but your day-to-day can be challenging. Is this perfect? No. Do you have a lot more flexibility when you are billing 1700 instead of 2400 hours a year? DEFINITELY.

        • Excellent advice. You can’t act like you’re punching a time-clock when you have a good job (interesting, well-paid..). That means you just shut up and do what needs to be done. But you also have to do the flipside, and leave if nothing needs to be done. Not making an issue of anything is a better way to get what you want.

        • Thanks for this — I’m a midlevel in Biglaw with one kid and thinking about going PT after arrival of glimmer-in-eye second kid. I recognize it is a very difficult balance, but it’s good to see that some people can make it work! Thank you for the advice.

    • Working Girl :

      Some more things to think about, OP: It sounds like you want to stick around. Do you want to make partner? I was very candid with my firm about wanting to be partner and not wanting to be mommy-tracked and become a second-class citizen. It’s tough, because you take off x number of months for maternity leave, you bill x fewer hours over the course of the subsequent years as part-time, and from a pure hours perspective you are off track. I decided it would be best for me to be held back one year because I didn’t want to be up for partner and not make it because I had relatively less experience than my peers who also were up.

      The other thing to think about if family planning. How long do you want to be part-time? Do you want to have another kid at some point, and will you go back to full time before? Two maternity leaves before partnership will set you back more than one. For the time being, I am holding off on #2 until partnership.

      Also, are there other part-time parents at your firm? You definitely want to form alliances with them, because they will understand and they will have your back. Are there partners who were part-time at some point as they were coming up? Become their friend. Ask them out to lunch. Ask for advice. They will be flattered and you will get more supporters in the partnership–critical to long-term success.

  8. I had my first loss today. It was a simple hearing, and the (rather cranky) judge found that there wasn’t enough evidence.

    I’m beating myself up over how nervous I was, and the things I did wrong. I’m dreading doing the report to the client.

    Any advice on how to not obsess? I’ve been sitting in my office for an hour feeling like a complete and utter failure.

    • Maddie Ross :

      This is what I tell myself (and I’ve lost many many times) and it’s important to rememebr — it’s not a reflection of you when you lost. It’s a reflection of the law and the facts, neither of which you control. And reflection of the judge, and you cannot control him/her either. If you put your best foot forward and went in prepared, that’s all you can do. I clerked before I practiced and everybody flubs. Even seasoned people look nervous. That does not make or break your case. Seriously. You argued before a court today — that’s awesome! Have a drink or fun dessert tonight to celebrate that.

      • D. Ct. Clerk :

        Great points. I find that hearings rarely change a judge’s mind about the arguments made in the papers. And now you have some experience – which is still experience, even if it was a “loss.”

    • Former MidLevel :

      You are definitely not a complete and utter failure. For all you know, the judge had already made his decision before the hearing. I’ll admit I’m not very good at not obsessing, but I do find that distraction and physical activity (even walking) can help. Is there a coffee shop you could walk to, get yourself some caffeine/tea/a treat?

    • Don’t worry. After enough time passes, you’ll get so busy that you won’t have time to fret. In the meantime, learn from all your mistakes and keep your chin up.

  9. anon for this :

    This may be a bit of a vaguely-worded question, but I’m kind of leery of identifying the situation too clearly if I give more detail: if you were an employer, and you were in the middle of running your annual (standardized) “hire the new people” process, and you already had candidates scheduled for the final rounds of interviews, which would you prefer: the candidate that lets you know that they would like to pull out of the process before that final interview happens, or the candidate that goes through that final interview but then turns down a job offer?

    In this scenario the candidate could apply again next year and be eligible for the same job, starting at the same time (because of an intervening obligation that the employer knows about), and wants to withdraw in order to have that extra year to better consider and weigh options with regards to future employment trajectory.

    • Former MidLevel :

      I would rather have the candidate withdraw their application before the interview, to avoid wasting the interviewers’ time.

      • karenpadi :

        This. Word gets around fast and the firm will hear that the final interview was really a waste of time.

      • Politely withdraw before interview :

        Thank them for their consideration. Tell them that you (or the person) plans to apply again next year and you hope to meet them then.

        • anon for this :

          Okay, glad to see the consensus leaning the way I was already thinking! I should have just turned down the interview in the first place, but I froze when they contacted me and couldn’t get my thoughts together to explain my reasoning, so now I’m in this position (oops).

        • Anonymous :

          Good luck, DC Jenny!

  10. After living all over the country, I have friends spread out everywhere who I’d love to get together for a weekend to meet each other and party. Rather than waiting for a wedding that may never happen, I’ve decided to throw an epic 30th birthday bash. The idea is that I’ll rent out a large house/villa/whatever and tell all of my friends that as long as they can get there for that weekend, I’ll pick up the rest of the costs (room, food, drinks, etc.). I’m picturing BBQ’ing together and mostly sticking around the house to give everyone time to get to know each other and relax. So where should this epic party take place? Here’s my criteria:

    1) Must be accessible and not too far from an airport
    2) Must be somewhere nice but not someplace with outside distractions (i.e., Vegas or skiing)
    3) Must be someplace you can go in the winter (which rules out a lot of the places I initially thought of, like a beach house in NC or on the Cape in Massachusetts)
    4) Must be relatively affordable for my broke friends to fly to (i.e., probably not Hawaii)

    Thoughts? TIA!

    • What about the Keys? Flights to Key West are pretty inexpensive from DC at least, and it’d definitely be warm.

      • I’d say FL is a pretty expensive place to fly from many parts of the country.

        Try somewhere that is a hub city for one of the major discount airlines, perhaps.

    • RussiaRepeat :

      Puerto Rico? Lots of good deals with lots of hubs available. If you wanted to go out and do something, you could go snorkeling or walk around the nature park, but nothing that demands to be done if you just want to veg.

    • What about Palm Springs? Not sure where you are coming from, but there will be nice weather and there’s an airport nearby.

    • layered bob :

      my mom just did this with her far-flung friends/sibs for her 60th birthday. they went to San Antonio – I guess a lot of airlines often have flight deals there? So it was relatively affordable for everyone to get to. It was beautiful weather.

      also, this is an amazing plan. kudos for doing it.

    • find a cabin-y house in a mountain-y area with a hottub? It would also be off-season in a lot of areas (like the Shenandoah mountains? i’m thinking non-ski areas) and so it would probably be pretty cheap, too. Or, yeah, beach houses are kind of awesome in the winter, too, but i like the kind of dramatic, romantic, windswept beach, Sense & Sensibility setting, why can’t you go to them in the winter?

      Sorry I don’t have more suggestions, but this is an awesome idea, and sounds like so much fun! I wish I was your friend ;o)

      • Of all the suggestions, this fits the “no outside distractions” criteria best (though personally, I’d go for the chalet so people could go ski or snowshoe or whatever and not feel pushed into an Agatha Christie 10 Little Indians feel)

        • I love yous guys: literary references when discussing vacation locations, but two vveeeerrryy different literary references ;o)

      • If you don’t mind cold weather (and cold is relative), the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area of East Tennessee would be lovely. There are some outside distractions, but they’re pretty low key (Christmas shops, mostly in winter, and outlet shopping, mini-golf, maybe – there are amusement parks which might be sort-of open), it’s cheap and easy to get to. Pretty views, nice cabins to rent, that sort of thing.

    • I was going to say the Gulf Coast, but airline ticket prices might be high for your friends since it can be pricey to fly into smaller cities. But the costs for room and board would be much cheaper for you. Tickets to Puerto Rico are pretty affordable, but your friends would probably want to go exploring at least a bit. Florida Keys are also a good idea.

    • Sanibel or Captiva Florida. You can rent large places there; the weather is fabulous. Beaches are wonderful, and you can fly to Ft. Myers, about a 20 minute drive, door to door.

      • Agreed, but Ft. Myers can be a really expensive to fly into. I’ve been trying to get a good ticket there to see a friend for awhile now. Also, go “off season” which is summertime.

    • What about somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico? I’m not super familiar with those areas, but the weather should be beautiful in the winter and I think you can get places with some really beautiful mountain views. And pools!

      But I agree with beach houses in the winter. You might look at Duck, North Carolina or the other coastal islands in NC, SC, or Georgia. There are tons of rentals and while it wouldn’t be swimming weather, it probably own’t snow like it might on the Cape.

      • Gail the Goldfish :

        My mother has a friend that always rents out the Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo Island in Georgia for her birthdays and they have a blast:

        http://www.gastateparks.org/SapeloReynolds

        Jacksonville would probably be the closest major airport.

      • Snow on the Cape? – not likely! Golf year round on the Cape. The Gulf Stream – remember 5th grade geography? The farther out on the Cape, the warmer. But it’s complicated getting rentals there – and expensive. Many of the houses are small – i.e., “Cape Cod Cottage”.

        A lovely idea is to get a whole B&B for your event – then you will have a cook – maybe!

        • It snows there sometimes! Or at least sleets and ices and is otherwise miserable. Plus, her guests would probably have to fly into Boston or Providence, where it certainly does snow!

          In addition to most rentals being small, some CC rentals aren’t winterized, making them not so useful at that time of year.

        • My parents live on this Cape and it definitely snows there, although not this year!

  11. I need to vent. I’m starting to dislike working with one of the more senior associates here in our office. Three months ago, he asked me to do research that say a specific claim is based on X or Y. Becase we want to bring a claim based on Y. I found a non-binding case saying exactly that, but all of the binding cases were extremely vague. Instead, one case (in old English, I swear!) says a party can bring a claim on three grounds: X, Y, Z. It doesn’t have an “and” and it doesn’t have an “or.” Instead, it’s just a list. He read that case and told me he interpreted that case to mean X or Y, and he wrote his motion that way.

    Now we need another motion (same case, second motion to dismiss) and he wanted a case that says X or Y – so I found him the case that he read before, told him that doesn’t use the word “or” and another option is to cite the other non-binding cases as examples. We discussed and he said to go ahead and cite the list case and cited one of the non-binding ones. I drafted the motion. He told me where it was the same as the first motion to copy and paste. I did. It was his exact words from the earlier motion, except I added a parenthical quoting the language from the “list” case and added a “see also” for the non-binding case.

    Motion is out – now he is rereading the cases and decides I misread the case with the list – because I couldn’t point to an “or” in the case. In the most condescending way, asks me to point to the part in the case that supports our position. And told me how upset he was about the non-binding case because the result isn’t what he wanted and lectured me about how we didn’t even need to bring it to the courts attention and now we had. There is another point in the case that he doesn’t like.

    Clearly these are discussions we had and on more than one occassoin. He called me into his office and had the case in front of him and said (with his arms thrown up in the area) – so where does it say *that* in this case? And gave me a glaring look. And told me I need to read cases more closely. I said I discussed this with you, and told you the case does not use an “or” and said the only supportive cases use the “or” but they aren’t the best. Your response was that we really don’t need this claim, but let’s give it our best shot. You told me to go ahead and cite one of the non-binding cases for support.

    I also have no problem admitting when I made a mistake or owning up to my mistakes and fixing them. But I’m having a hard time here. I’m not sure how I could have done anything differently here. I’m just upset because of the condescending way he talked to me. I cried when I went back to my office. Closed Door. I don’t even know why I cried. Because I made a mistake? (that’s clearly not it, I realize I’m not perfect and mistakes happen.) But I’m not even sure it was a mistake I made. Am I this upset because of how he talked to me ? I have pretty thick skin, so this really touched a nerve.

    Thanks for letting me vent somewhere.

    • He’s just a jerk. You stood your ground and didn’t cry ’til you were behind closed doors, so good for you. I work with so many condescending men and it’s so difficult to not get really frustrated and hurt. They are little, little people.

    • I could’ve written this a month ago- I feel your pain! So frustrating – there are just some people that are impossible to please. And there is nothing you could’ve done different so try not to beat yourself up.

    • ChocCityB&R :

      Just wanted to send you a virtual hug in dealing with this senior associate. I don’t see how you could have done anything differently either, and I can imagine that you were insulted by his tone and his condescension. I can only offer the advice of not taking it personally, because it’s a reflection of him and not you. Hope your weekend washes away the ick!

      • Totally off topic but I just caught up on last weekend’s open thread and saw what you posted about religion. If you (or anyone else) want to talk to someone about Islam, feel free to contact me on tumblr or my tumblr sn at gmail.

    • This sounds like he just didn’t pay close enough attention to what you were saying in your discussions, or to the cases, and possibly was distracted by how much he wanted the case to say one thing and not the other. I don’t see anything in your story that makes this your fault, or anything you could have done to make the situation come out better. Some people (probably most of us at various times) have a hard time accepting responsibility for their own failings. I get upset by this kind of b*llsh*t too, so I totally understand why you cried, but this is on him. Also, good job for making it behind a closed door before breaking down.

      Hopefully you can do something fun this weekend to forget about the DOOSH.

    • I feel your pain. Yes, he’s being ridiculous and the reason is likely that he doesn’t want to take responsibility for his own decision. It doesn’t sound like this is a situation where it was right or wrong to cite the case, but rather that it was just a judgment call which he made and has changed his mind about now. This type of situation is particularly annoying because there’s no way to avoid it (unlike a situation where someone senior to you wants to do something that you know is objectively wrong, in which case you can at least warn them away from it, even if they ultimately overrule you). I would feel exactly as you feel. I think it was good to remind him why that case ended up being used that way in the first place. Beyond that, there’s not much you can do other than try not to worry about it, because you can’t prevent someone from being a jerk.

    • Thanks! You’ve all made me feel better. I immediately felt better posting – but your comments have helped me stop beating myself up. It certainly is a learning opportunity on how to deal with people who act like this.

    • He’s a jerk. It’d be nice if you could develop closer relationships with other people in the office :-). But failing that, do this: don’t just go into his office and discuss things with him any longer. That is, do it, but follow up with a written expose of what you’ve told him, and your answers to his objections, and what he’s told you to do. Under the guise of ‘clarifying for myself the action points that came out of our recent meeting’. Make sure that email is saved to your own hard drive (or better yet directly bcc the message to your personal non-work account). This may be just a blip, but he won’t be able to stab you in the back by blaming you for his bad decisions any longer. If a third party is ever brought into this, you’ll have formal backup. And who knows, just seeing it all written out may either jog his brain enough to have him rethink the bad stuff he’s ordered you to do, or keep him from lying about it in the future.

      • M-C, great idea. I do have some pretty good relationships with others in the office and I do have ways I can document our conversations.

        Again, I can’t thank you all enough.

  12. I would love to have advice on this one.

    I have an interview with a boutique management consulting firm in Seattle. The HR team suggested I wear “business casual attire.” HELP!!! Does this mean I can really show up in nice slacks and a cardigan/blouse or is it a kind gesture in words only and I should really show up in a suit?

    Thanks in advance!

    • I still wouldn’t do slacks + cardigan/blouse, because I think even “business casual” can mean different things at different places. I wouldn’t wear a full-on lawyer-y suit with pearls and pantyhose either. Do you have a more casual suit in fun colors, or with 3/4 sleeves? Or a pencil skirt + non-matching jacket? I would go the route of dressing down something formal with more fun pieces (bag, jewelry) over wearing a cardigan to an interview.

    • When I lived in Seattle, I went in for an interview with a boutique PR consulting firm and wore black slacks, a black t shirt with silk detail, and a 3/4 sleeves cropped white jacket. It seemed like about the right level of formality. This being Seattle, I would definitely not wear a full-on suit, because there’s a good chance you’ll end up feeling like a fish out of water. But you can definitely wear a non-matching jacket or blazer (and probably should, especially if it makes you feel more powerful). I doubt that a cardigan would make them think you had dressed inappropriately — I feel like it’s pretty hard to cross that line in Seattle, especially with the note that HR sent — but if you’re like me, you’ll probably feel more comfortable and come off as more commanding in a jacket.

    • This sounds like what suit separates were created for. I would where nice slacks with a coordinated, but not exactly matching jacket (like perhaps black slacks with a houndstooth blazer would be lovely, or a colored blazer in a conservative color). That way you won’t scream “i’m in a suit, i’m in a suit” but you’ll be safely dressed “up”.

      • I’m in Seattle- suits really don’t look out of place here in most business settings, even if others are in jeans (which happens often). But I would do pants, nothing flashy, not super high shoes etc. It is still an interview and I don’t think you would get dinged for a toned-down suit ensemble. Blazer/pants fine too.

  13. SV in House :

    Yay, I just got my new MacBook Air. I am looking for a sleeve to carry it in, does anyone have favorites? Also, I had a hard cover (Speck) on my MacBook Pro, but think that if I use a sleeve, the Air won’t get as scratched. Thoughts?

  14. Allergy sufferers: how’s it going? I’ve kinda given up all hope on ever feeling better again but how are coping?

    • Pretzel_Logic :

      Zyrtec, every night at the same time…and less contacts wearing. I’ve also gotten this cool thing this year where my skin is breaking out in “baby” hives (only in some spots, mostly unfortunately on my neck) so hydrocortisone throughout the day too. It’s doing a number on my hair but I’ve found washing it at night has made a HUGE difference for how I feel in the mornings.

      • AhHHHHH I’m getting hives this year too for the first time. F’n miserable. Haven’t worn contacts in 2 months. Cool oatmeal baths help. This allergy season is so weird. Usually I am a sneezy, drippy, nasally mess. This year, nose is fine but eyes feel like they were rinsed with hot sauce and my skin is itchy and hivey.

    • Zyrtec isn’t even WORKING anymore. I too have abandoned all hope. And I haven’t opened my windows in weeks; am just hanging out at home with my HEPA filter

      • I tried staying at home. It didn’t work. So I’m just a miserable grump everywhere. Oh and thank you steroids + antibiotics for NOT WORKING AT ALL.

    • Barrister in the Bayou :

      Allergy testing and shots! Seriously, they are a lifesaver. I’ve only been getting the shots since October, but I already feel much better. I’m still taking Zyrtec at bedtime but my symptoms are much more manageable now.

    • Usually Lurks :

      Acupuncture helped with allergies a lot. I didn’t think it would, but I was desperate and I’m glad I did it.

    • Allergies :

      I was just scrolling to the end of the comments to start a thread about allergies! How timely. I posted about six weeks ago about acupuncture for allergies. I went to a very highly recommended acupuncturist/Chinese healer about a month ago. He tested me (using little samples of allergens in little glass jars, which he had me hold while I was also holding one end of a jumper-cable like device while he held the other end and asked me to push against his hand with mine) and pronounced that I have no allergies, my problems are not physical but emotional, I should see a therapist etc. to work on them and in the meantime I should take antihistamines or decongestants.

      Since then, I have been taking one Claritin every morning and one Sudafed 12 hour decongestant every morning. It mostly controls my symptoms (runny nose, sneezing, left ear/nose canal stuffy). But it is not ideal because I still need tissues throughout the day, I still sound sick and there are certain intimate activities in which my husband and I cannot participate because I cannot breathe through my nose.

      I have an appointment with an allergist Tuesday to have a consultation and perhaps be tested. I would rather have a blood test than do the pricks on the back, but I will have to ask him about that. I am not allowed to take the Claritin or Sudafed until I see him so that he can see my symptoms and so that he can test me without interference from the drugs. So today I am walking around with a clogged left ear and a lot of kleenex.

      I do not relish the thought of twice weekly shots for months on end — hate shots and really, who has that kind of time during the business day? But I am trying to keep an open mind until I see him.

      • What???????? I feel bad now because I recommended acupuncture for allergies a few weeks ago. I think the acupuncturist is not the right one for you, even if he is highly recommended. When I went the acupuncturist only discussed symptoms and then gave me treatments. No tests. No “jumper cables.” No saying I have emotional issues. I hope this guy didn’t put you off too much that you won’t try another one.

      • Allergists are so useful. The back prick test sucks, but it’s worth it.

        I went earlier this year. Turns out I’m allergic to my cat. (And dogs and mice.) And I had given myself asthma because I wasn’t treating the allergy.

        Allergies grow and change, so you may not be allergic now to the same things that affected you as a kid. The allergist won’t always immediately suggest allergy shots. Mine gave me an inhaler, and that with Costco-brand Zyrtec, and I’m good to go.

    • I posted earlier this week about having a reaction (or rather, an overreaction) to a mosquito bite. It was not getting any better all week – larger than a half dollar, and hard and warm, so I went to the ER and they pronounced it an abcess. One painful and disgusting procedure later, not to mention my $100 ER co-pay, it does not hurt less. It hurts more.

      So, yeah. Allergies.

      • (I do feel guilty going to the ER for such a thing, but they said it was the right thing to do. My PCP would have sent me there anyway, because he wouldn’t have done this procedure in-office.)

    • Esquirette :

      I take a generic Zyrtec every night before bed and, when allergy season strikes, I add reinforcements. Depending on what I have on had, I add either Claritin or off the shelf Allegra when I take the Zyrtec. None of them give me any side effects. This strategy has me generally not sneezing more than a few times a day and only getting itchy as it gets later in the evening. My allergies haven’t been too bad this year so this is all I’m taking. In past years, I also used NasalChrom (sp?) nasal spray. It’s a good option that doesn’t lead to increased nasal symptoms when you stop taking it (like many other allergy nasal sprays do).

    • I’ve kind of given up too. Gone through boxes of tissues & Allegra & Mucinex. I supplement with Benadryl at night if needed. I’ve taken to washing my hair before bed, and staying indoors unless absolutely essential…despite all these measures, I still can’t breath through my nose most of the time.

      I’m missing some gorgeous spring hikes :-( ….these are the worst allergies I have ever had in my life!

      No advice really, just commiserating.

    • My pharmacist turned me on to homeopathic histamine. I can stand the &^&^ sycamores now, no more asthma attacks crossing the canal. I take a 30C dose at least once a week, once a day when pollen is really spewing out, it works for me. No side effects ever.

  15. momentsofabsurdity :

    I am TOTALLY embracing this “wildly bright colors” thing that’s in right now. At Express after work, I bought bright blue jeggings, purple jeans, a primary blue sweater and a hot pink sweater. I am really excited to wear purple pants and a pink sweater tomorrow and I can’t find a way to apologize for it.

    • No worries. I regularly wear hot pink and orange. One of my favorite cardigans is bright green. I may continue this trend even after it ends. I do love color. And I loved it before the annoying Target commercial told me I should.

  16. SoCal Gator :

    I think bright colors make you feel happy. I’m with you on embracing this trend. Wore my cobalt blue skinny ankle jeans today and felt fab! Bought a cute white linen jacket at Nordstrom’s today which looks great with them. Since I live in Southern California where the westher is sunny and warmish, I think I can wear that jacket right now instead of waiting for summer. What do you think?

    • Seattleite :

      Dress for the weather, not for the calendar. Otherwise you’ll be like the missionaries of yore who sewed themselves into long johns October-May. Even in the southern hemisphere.

  17. What to Say? :

    My current boss is a horrible, mean, evil person who enjoys making other people miserable. I have an interview scheduled for next week with another company and have a (completely fabricated but it sounds good) reason to give if asked why I am leaving.

    Now the problem – there is an internet posting about my current boss that has apparently gone viral in my mid-sized market. Three different people have emailed it to me in the last 24 hours. If my interviewer asks flat out about the horrible, mean, evil boss (or some other question that makes it clear he had seen or heard of the posting) do I plead ignorance as to why anyone would say that? Say that I have heard that evil boss can be difficult for some people to work with? Admit that evil boss is really evil? I already feel uncomfortably like I am lying with my made up reason for leaving. I don’t want to compound it, but also want to follow the “never say bad things about your employer unless they have been indicted” rule.

    • I wouldn’t plead ignorance, but I definitely would not say anything remotely bad. If an interviewer asks about the article, you could acknowledge seeing it and then shift the focus to all of the skills that you’ve built and experiences that you’ve had at your job. Or, if your interviewer doesn’t ask about the article but just directly asks about your boss, I would again focus on what you’ve learned and gained from your current job. More than the general rule about not talking bad about your former firm, I think that you want them to remember what a great candidate you are, not what you said about your ex-boss.

    • “Yes, I saw someone had posted that”. Pause. Let them shift. I’d be surprised if they pursue it, but take note of what they do say next.

    • Do lie, this is one time where lying is expected and you’ll be given credit for it, even if you do it badly :-). But isn’t it good word is getting around?
      Maybe you can print it out and slip it under his door anonymously after you give notice..

    • karenpadi :

      I’ve been there and been asked the same thing. I interview people who are in the same situation.

      If they bring it up, I’d acknowledge it with a smile, snort, or laugh. I might even joke, “yeah, there some truth to that.” Then go immediately into my skills or rehearsed reasons for leaving.

      I would not outright lie. When I interview people in this position, I want to know that they aren’t big jerks who actually look up to or admire a jerk. Years after my nightmare boss, I interviewed at another firm, the head partner mentioned that they work often with nightmare boss and enjoy his wit. Whether he was being polite, I don’t know. But the interview was over for me.

    • You could say, “Yeah, I saw that. I’m sure there are some people that would have a hard time working with him. I’ve learned a lot, though.”

      So are you making up the reason you’re leaving? I’m a little more concerned about that.

    • Spin is everything here. Everyone has good and bad points, and publishing them on the Internet is poor judgment. Something like “yes, I heard that was out there. There is some grain of truth at the heart of it but I have also learned a lot from him, some of it on how not to behave but also on how to handle X/Y/Z”

    • Legal Marketer :

      I was in a similar situation when interviewing. The current boss was known throughout our small industry/market as being a B, so when the interviewer (who knew her from working on a conference panel together years earlier) asked me about her, I responded with, “She does have a unique management style, but I’ve been able to adapt.” and then spun it into how the job itself involves dealing with lots of different personalities and I’m good at this because….

      The interviewer later commented on what a nice response that was “unique management style” since it’s a very neutral word, but as someone who knew her, she said it was clear what I meant without being negative.

  18. I’m in-house counsel for a large company. I like my assistant as a person (who’s worked with me for the past 4 years) and she generally does a good job. Over the last year or so she’s been more lax about coming in late and taking time with personal appointments. It’s unclear to me whether the time is being made up since she leaves after me (also unclear whether she’s needed full time, but I don’t want to go there). I’ve let it slide since I am also a working mother and understand the need for flexibility. However, I think it’s gone a little too far and feel that I need to provide some boundaries, but don’t want her to feel like she has to clock in/out and that I’m policing her. Any suggestions?

    • Former Assistant :

      Why do you need to provide some boundaries? If you need her at her desk to answer phone calls/sort the mail/file, then tell her that. “I would like the billing done before the phone starts ringing at 9am” or whatever the need is.

    • Is she doing a good job with what she’s supposed to be doing? Is she getting done everything she needs to get done? If not, address those specific tasks with her, if so, I don’t see what there would be to bring up with her.

    • I don’t know what your relationship is with her, but it might also be worth trying to find out whether there is a reason why this pattern has developed over the past year, as you indicated. One staff person in our office has recently gone through a divorce, and another went through a pretty horrible illness, and both of them tried to tough through it without telling their bosses for fear of making it seem like they couldn’t do their jobs — instead leaving their bosses without explanation for the sudden spikes in absences. If there is something like that going on with your assistant, it might be easier for you to work out an accommodation for it so that you’re getting your work done and she’s able to take care of it.

  19. 4th Year NYC Biglaw attorney here. I’m about to do a few interviews for a lateral position at other big firms, but am having a hard time thinking of questions to ask to help me differentiate between the firms. Any suggestions from the hive? I would like to end up at a place that takes professional development seriously, but mostly, I just want to work with people who are not horrible.

    • nyc biglaw attorney :

      One thing is to ask how assignments are managed. Free reign to pick your assignments lets you avoid the horrible people.

      • Former MidLevel :

        This. Also, how small/rigid are the practice groups? If you are stuck in, say, a tiny reinsurance litigation group, it will be harder to avoid horrible people than if you were in general litigation or something equally broad.

  20. WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait ..I like it.

  21. Gift overload :

    Looking at my calendar for the next few months, I’ve realized I have two big weddings coming up, plus three friends who are pregnant and due in August and September, which means baby showers in July and August. Plus Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and three close family members’ birthdays. I’m on a tight budget as it is (had to buy a car to get to work, and my student loan payments just kicked in). To make matters worse, my clerkship ends in September and I have yet to line up a new job. With the economy the way it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m unemployed in September, and I’m frantically trying to save a couple months’ worth of living expenses just in case (I have next to nothing in my savings now due to a totally unexpected household emergency back in January). I love my friends and family and I’m usually very generous but feel like I just can’t spend that much on anyone this summer. I’m barely spending money on myself ~ just replacing some worn out summer sandals that I need for work gave me fits of spending anxiety. Thoughts on what I can give? I don’t want to look cheap and stingy, but I’m terrified of spending money knowing I need to save for what could be a very long period of unemployment. It’s totally irrational but I’m feeling less happy and excited for everyone than I should be because I’m so freaked out about my finances.

    • For birthdays/Mother’s Day, I’d just get cute unique cards and write a heartfelt note. For weddings, I’d shoot for a personal gift-when I was a poor student, I made a childhood friend a photo album that went all the way back to our toddler years. Or you can buy off-registry so you can bargain-hunt. To be 100 percent honest, it wasn’t even on my radar that some guests just brought a card to my wedding-I was just happy to see them. But some people really seem to keep track, and to hold grudges, unfortunately.

      On the baby showers, tht’s tough, because they’re gift-centric. Maybe see if you can save money by pooling funds with someone else, or, once again, go off-registry.

      • agree, I am so sick of getting gifts I don’t want, despite being appreciate of the efforts. You really don’t need to spend money. Wedding gifts are okay a year from the wedding. Offer to help people- make a meal for the baby families- or get a small book or give them something like that from your past (I just got someone’s own Velveteen Rabbit- so sweet). heartfelt card + offers to help are great and your presence. My living room has 8 bags of stuff from my baby shower half of which I don’t need/want, nor have time to return/exchange (I am not mobile at this juncture), so it is more of a stressor. Honestly wedding was same way- lived in tiny place, didn’t want STUFF, money was great from people who had it, but I was happy just to see people and the whole must-gift thing can be a huge pain on both sides. Cards, help, smiles- these are the better things in life. Offer to help set up for some of these events or such if you can.

    • Honestly, the only thing that mattered to me when I got married was that people were there to celebrate with us. Many guests had to spend a lot of time and money to attend and I was moved that they were willing to do that. The only time I noticed who gave what was when we wrote thank you notes. While my perspective may be somewhat unusual (we told our guests not giving gifts was fine and really meant it), I think your friends would want you to attend and not be stressed out about gifts. So I’d say, either give something small and token-like off the registry and tell your friends that money is tight but that you wanted to make a modest contribution to their household, or just tell them you can’t afford any presents at the moment and that you wish your situation were different but that you’re thrilled to attend.

      About the baby showers: I think buying something inexpensive but nice, like a stuffed animal or a cute t-shirt, is totally fine.

      Sorry about your situation… Hang in there and keep pounding the pavement!

      • Oh pleasseeee no stuffed animals. I have a baby due next month and have been given an entire tub full of stuffed animals already and need to get rid of them- we don’t have space for 30+ bunnies and bears many of which have choking hazards attached. I’m also giving away more than half the clothes, same reason (space). Some baby people get hand me downs and many new clothes.. that is all people want to buy. Now diapers, bring ‘em on (if the toxic-free kind for me:)

        • Thanks for the perspective!

          • this inspired me to sort through more stuff today.. spent an hour… have boxes labeled keep, maybe keep, exhange, give away, etc. picked out the animals that vibrate or play songs, there is still a tub full of others! and the clothes.. my mother in law just went nuts, seriously.. she bought multiples of the same ugly outfits without realizing it. threw everything hot pink into the exchange box. i have enough for triplets.

    • Don’t get anyone gifts. Seriously. I know you want to celebrate with your friends and family, but stressing out about money to get them the gifts you think you have to get probably isn’t what your friends and family want.

      If you are really set on getting something – wait until after the weddings to get something so you can save up a little longer, make brunch for mom/dad on their respective days or just hang out – whatever would mean the most to them, home made gift certificates for babysitting or meal making or whatever for the mom-to-bes.

      Find ways to give of your time, which presumably you have more of than money, without having to shell out too much money.

    • Totally totally agree with all of the above that you should breathe, relax, and remember that your friends and family love you for reasons other than presents. Use this coming year as a chance to be more mindful of what you get people, rather than how much you spend (which I am constantly struggling with — I frequently fall into the “I need to spend x amount because its what you do” camp.)

      For Mothers and Fathers day, if you live close to them, we always do a nice homemade meal for our parents with cards and maybe a small gift like a book or something. For family members, again a heartfelt card and maybe some nice baked goods would be appreciated. Or if you have some pretty pictures of them with you, you could buy a frame at a arts supply store and frame them. Something like that.

      For the weddings, do you know the people well enough to offer help before hand as a gift? In the couple weeks before my wedding, I would have kissed someone who offered to help pick stuff up or help print things (like the dinner cards or the table numbers) or whatever.

      For the baby shower, again if you know them well, a really cute personal gift is to send e-mails to all the relatives and friends who are going to be at the shower (or even those who won’t) and ask for their best parenting tip. Then get a pretty journal or little note cards and print them out in nice script (or handwrite if you’re good at that) so the mommy and daddy to be have a nice keep sake. You can even leave spaces for them to put in pictures from the shower and of them and the baby, that sort of thing.

    • For the baby showers, my broke SO and I have been getting classic children’s books and write a note in them for the future child. You can get Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss, etc. for just a couple of bucks on Amazon.

    • If you were my friend, I would really only want your presence – no gifts, I promise! I couldn’t live with myself if a dear friend of mine had to undergo financial strain to get me a gift.

      A relative of mine went through an extended period of unemployment, during which she sent cards in lieu of gifts- but they were always thoughtful and heartfelt, and I saved them all in my ‘hand-written letters and cards’ treasure box.
      If you are looking for thoughtful cards and have a Trader Joe’s nearby, their $1 cards are artistic and interesting. In fact, I pick up a few every now and then as they keep changing their stock.

    • Learn to knit. Get to work.

    • Legal Marketer :

      For the baby gifts, there are tons of great books you can buy for under $10 each, just write a note in each one.

      Or if it’s a friend, give her a “favor” gift. My favorite was the friend who came over one day with bagels and sat on my couch addressing all the envelopes for the baby announcements and thank you cards. (Ok, honestly, she may have even written a few on my behalf to distant connections who wouldn’t know my handwriting.) You could offer to spend a morning running errands or going to the grocery store on her behalf, and then offer to snuggle the baby for an hour while she naps and showers.

      People who brought meals were also high on my list. Any task that can be outsourced is a valuable one to “gift” to a new mom.

  22. I think the cardigan look has had its day. Even Michelle Obama is not wearing them anymore so far as I can see. Very few people look their best in a sweater unless it is really structured. Anything knit really reveals the lines of the body. If upper arms are wide or shoulders are narrow, that becomes really conspicuous.

    • You can always wear something else if you are paranoid about revealing the lines of your body. But if you have objections to other people’s shoulders, you should consider they aren’t any of your business.

  23. Diana Barry :

    Prob no one will see this bc it’s Saturday already (2 weekend threads? pleeeeeez?) but the Blowfish flat espadrilles arrived yesterday and they are GREAT, comfy right out of the box (and accommodate my bunion, so they do run wide) and very cute! :)

  24. First world jewelry-related problem: I’m Graduating from law school next month, and my DH wants to know if I’d prefer an 18-in pearl strand (not Mikimoto, but something around $2k or less. I already have a 16 in pearl strand, but it’s sometimes a little short) or diamonds by the yard (I think the 5 diamonds 16-in) from Tiffany. How would you prioritize these purchases? :)

    • AnonInfinity :

      Do you have a diamond necklace? If not, I would get the diamonds since you already have pearls. If you like diamonds, that is.

      I absolutely love pearls, but I find I don’t really wear mine as much as I thought I would because they seem so formal. You can wear diamonds with anything, including a t-shirt.

    • Clueless Summer :

      I have 18 inch pearls and I like it much better than the 16 inch sizes. Depends whether you are a pearls or diamonds girl, in my opinion. Perhaps a black pearl necklace instead? I was given as a gift a super long strand of pearls (whatever the longest option is) that can be knotted, doubled and tripled (as a choker) and it has been really wonderful and versatile, imo. Obviously the quality of pearls you get is much lower then but it’s a really great length.

    • I would get a 18 inch black pear strand. That’s my current dream jewelry (plus, if you have white pearls already, black is a nice addition!)

    • Don’t get from Tiffany, or at least check out local jewelers first. Everyone is selling these, and Tiffany is going to be more expensive than the average for no better quality. If you are in NYC, go to 47th St. and ask around.

  25. Upcoming Review :

    Looking for salary negotiation tips and benchmarks for an upcoming review.

    I’m a third year that moved from a mid-sized firm (small nationally, big for my location) to a small firm that has big cases. The partner I work for most is former big-law who brought a lot of the cases with him when he started the firm. I made the move there half-way through my second year.

    To move to small law, I took a 6% pay cut. I also lost went from a more traditional year end bonus to a three digit “bonus.” I was assured that this was a “temporary financial set-back” and there would be a lot of other lifestyle benefits for moving to this firm.

    I knew old firm was doing poorly financially and my job wasn’t secure. I hadn’t received a raise from first year to second year b/c the firm didn’t have enough work for me to meet hours. For the same reason, my year end bonus had been below what it should have been. They have since laid off a ton of people and my new firm knows this and knows if I hadn’t jumped ship I likely would have been out of a job. So, the lack of raises at old firm makes it even more complicated to negotiate salary now.

    For new firm, I love the job, have tons of freedom and control over my cases. Work load is heavy though and I work the same if not more hours than at old job even though my billable hour “requirement” is less. I also get to work for very nice people in a beautiful place.

    One year review at new job is coming up. As I said, I’m a third year that will be a fourth year in September (by traditional big law calculations.) Do to the above situations, I’m making 6% less than I made straight out of law school. I don’t know what kind of raises and bonuses I would have received if old firm was still profitable. What should I be shooting for here? How does one define “temporary financial setback?” How much should I focus on the lost bonuses when boss probably knows old firm had to stop paying them?

    I plan to focus on the amount of work and cases I’ve taken on, the long hours I work, that I far exceed their hours expectation but I don’t know what goal number I should be proposing. What I was making before the move or more? I might want to note to them that what they set now will be my “fourth-year salary.” I’d love if you could tell me what percent of a raise you got from first year to second, second to third and third to fourth as well as how your bonuses changed – particularly if you are in small or mid law.

    • I changed from a primarily small defense firm to a primarily plaintiff, and even smaller, firm after my third year, fourth year counting a federal clerkship. I also took a paycut, primarily in my mind b/c I did not like doing defense work and would be happier doing plaintiff work. There was also the expectation that I would get a raise and bonuses depending on how the firm did (it was only a few years from original formation itself).

      I did not make as much as at the old firm the first few years, but when I made partner after a few years. no doubt that I made much more at new firm. I am sure that in many years I have made much more than the top partners at the old firm.

      You should be cognizant of the new firm’s finances. They may simply not be able to pay a guaranteed higher salary right now, and if partners are not getting paid, they are not going to be sympathetic to requests for larger bonuses or raises. Just be sensitive to this issue.

      I would not focus on the old firm. Focus on what you are doing at the new firm, how valuable you are, hours you are working–if billable, and focus less on wanting a six percent raise. If the firm is doing well, you should be able to get that. I do think smaller firms are more willing to pay “what they can get away with,” rather than the going rate.

      Good luck.

      • Upcoming Review :

        Thanks. That is very helpful. I do a lot of plaintiff work too now so it is hard to figure out my worth when I can’t follow the usual formulas. I have a mix of billable hour cases and contingent cases.

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