Suit of the Week: Rachel Zoe

Rachel Zoe Hutton Flared SuitFor busy working women, the suit is often the easiest outfit to throw on in the morning. In general, this feature is not about interview suits for women, which should be as classic and basic as you get — instead, this feature is about the slightly different suit that is fashionable, yet professional.

Wow, there are some ugly suits out there. (I’ve already seen an ikat print and a shiny metallic plaid; I’m not sure it gets any worse.) Anyhoo: gorgeous suit from Rachel Zoe. I love those contrast lapels, all of the darts, and the general chic look. Two notes about the styling: first, is that not the best under-suit blouse you’ve ever seen? I love the way it looks under the suit jacket lapels. (Eleanor Shawl-Collar Top, $275.) Second: tailoring fail! Her pants look way too long to me. The jacket (Hutton Jacket, Faded Black) is $375, and the pants (Hutton Flared Pants, Faded Black) are $250.

Rachel Zoe Hutton Flared Suit Rachel Zoe Hutton Flared Suit

(L-all)

Comments

  1. Honey Pillows :

    C’mon Kat, be a little sensitive. Rachel Zoe is clearly employing handicapped models in order to portray a diverse body of real women.

    This model just happens to have no feet.

    • Anonymous :

      He, he. This model isn’t “handicapped”; she’s “differently-abled” in that she can walk on the ends of her ankles.

    • I had the same thought. I love this suit, but I have no idea why they wanted the model to appear to not have feet. Maybe she has giant claws under there? Is Godzilla a Rachel Zoe model?

  2. speaking of suits... :

    If a man is going to be a teacher, at the high school level, what does he wear to work every day?

    I am thinking a man at the high school level wears button-down shirts, perhaps unbuttoned at the top with an undershirt, khakis, and a belt?

    Are there any men who teach at the high school level (including classes like shop, art, etc) who wear something other than this? Except for the gym teacher, I suppose.

    When, if ever, do (1) ties, (2) sport jackets, (3) polo shirts, or (4) jeans come into play?

    Thanks. DH may be taking a job as a high school teacher and based on his current job, he would definitely need an entirely new wardrobe. He interviewed in a suit, and he didn’t think to look around at the time…and we realized that neither of us have been in a high school since we were in high school. (He did a program that didn’t involve a student teaching component). If he is offered the job, he’ll be starting in 3 weeks, so we’ll be shopping in the next week or two.

    • Merabella :

      It has been a while since I was in high school, so take my knowledge with a grain of salt, but I NEVER saw one of my male teachers wearing a sport coat or a tie, unless it was an awards ceremony or something. There were a lot of polos, button down shirts, and sweaters in the winter time. I would say that jeans are probably a know your school kind of thing, they may have a jeans on Friday deal, or they may be OK all the time.

    • That sounds right. Polo shirts and jeans could also be appropriate. Except for one 70 year old chemistry teacher, I can’t remember one male teacher that wore jackets or ties to the classroom (I went to a public high school in NYC).

    • Research, Not Law :

      My father was a middle school teacher for 30 years. Khakis and polos or button-downs or sweaters are definitely typical. Some rare men wear sports coats and/or ties. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s not the norm. A suit would be overkill and probably cause confusion among the kids and/or gossip among the teachers. Jeans would be allowed depending on the school, although probably the norm everywhere but a school with dress code on ‘special’ days (field trips, etc).

    • emcsquared :

      My brother taught at a high school last year; he wore a lot of button downs, sometimes with a tie (no jacket, sometimes a skinny tie), sometimes with a blazer (not a matching suit), and sometimes with a sweater or vest over the top. He liked the darker men’s dress pants because he had to write on white boards and tended to get ink on lighter colored pants; I would reverse this if your husband has a chalkboard instead. He also wore either dress shoes or dressy men’s leather sneakers.

      He observed that the younger male teachers tended to dress up more so they were easily distinguished from the students; the older teachers would wear mock turtlenecks, long sleeve polo shirts, and golf shirts, or dark jeans and a blazer.

      Probably also depends on the school environment – his school was more working-class and low-income, so students were not going to show up in blazers or ties. At a preppier or more affluent school, or if kids have to wear formal uniforms, I think you would up the dress code so you continue to stay a bit more formal than your students.

      Having recently subsidized some of brother’s professional clothing purchases: Joseph A. Banks runs awesome 2-for-1 deals on men’s dress clothes, if you can catch a sale there. Express makes some good slim-fitting men’s button front shirts in lots of colors. Eddie Bauer and Land’s End outlets often have good men’s stuff. And Kohl’s is a surprising source of low-cost golf shirts with collars; their men’s pants are veering toward the “comfort fit” waistbands (read: hidden elastic panels), so read the labels carefully!

      • Amelia Pond :

        My ex taught high school. Jeans are 100% a know your school. Teachers at his school were only allowed to wear jeans on special days: Football fridays if they were also wearing a school polo, field trips, etc. If a teacher showed up in jeans on a random Wednesday they would have had to talk to the principle about appropriate attire. He was at a more affluent public school in the south if that makes a difference.

      • All of this, except for subsidizing the brother.

    • Seconding the importance of not being mistaken for a student. Depending on your spouse’s age/appearance, this might be not even remotely a problem, but IMO it’s fine to err on the side of slightly formal until he’s recognizable at the school as a teacher.

      • Migraine Sufferer :

        I worked as a substitute in my early twenties at a high-school. I was walking in the hall on my break back to the classroom. The vice principal saw me. When he asked what I was doing I told him I was a substitute teacher. He did not believe me and tried to give me detention until I found my drivers license and proved I was subbing. Dress up.

    • Bowie's in Space :

      My DH works in a private, relatively affluent high school. In winter, he wears a shirt, tie, and sweater or sweater vest every day. In summer, he wears a shirt and tie. For special events like parents’ night, he wears a suit. Good luck to your husband.

    • Has he asked the school about teacher dress code? Does he know anyone that works there that he could ask?

      • No Problem :

        Ditto. I’d be surprised if the school doesn’t have a very specific dress code for teachers. My SIL is a high school teacher and there is definitely a dress code (including what can be worn on casual Fridays). He’ll probably receive a copy of the dress code when he receives a job offer. If not, he should ask for it when he accepts.

      • yes, this. Schools often have a dress code, he should check on that. In this case, therefore it is: KYS (Know Your School) ;o)

    • My high school teaching friends (including at least one former teacher of mine) wear polos and button downs with khakis and slacks. Jeans are almost universally not allowed, except for special days and (for one friend) casual Fridays. A few teachers, mostly older men, I have seen in sport coats with polos or button downs (top button open). Comfy shoes, but no tennies. My favorite high school teacher wore cowboy boots every single day.

    • My male high school teachers almost uniformly wore khakis or dress pants with a button down and tie. School polos sometimes. I went to public school in the Midwest. From the looks of my friends who are teachers now, things might be more casual now, but it also might just be a know your school thing.

    • Maine Associate :

      My dad taught at my high school. He wore khakis and button down shirts. In the winter he wore sweaters over the button-downs. I think he only wore ties during parent-teacher conferences, never a suit or blazer.

    • I’d lean toward wearing a tie, in part because especially if your DH is teaching in an underprivileged area, students need to learn from their teachers how to dress professionally. Some charter schools in my area require a tie, and several of my teacher friends dress up to teach even if not required. Other teacher friends wear slacks and a button-down without a tie.

      • I was just about to chime in with a similar thought. My best friend teaches in South Central L.A. and wears ties and/or sport coats regularly. His students do not have a lot of middle-class role models, and some do not have male role models, either. They like that their teacher takes his job (thus, the students) seriously enough to dress up. It also sets the tone on day one that he expects excellence from them without his having to be gruff/macho about it.

      • Third this (and second Chicago above).

        My teacher dad did the same in his very underprivileged school.

    • DH wears khakis (of various colors), a button front shirt, and a tie every day. Colors of shirts vary and include some pretty non-conservative colors, and he has some pretty colorful ties. But he’s got a babyface, is still in his 20s, and it seems that wearing a tie makes him seem older than his students.
      Most of the other male teachers don’t wear ties.

    • lucy stone :

      I go to our local public school almost every week for truancy court, and most of the male teachers wear khakis and a polo shirt or khakis and a dress shirt. It seems the younger they are, the more they dress up.

      • Anonymous :

        Teachers should not wear jeans to work unless they are also wearing a blazer or something else to dress up the outfit. As a parent, when the teacher walks into the office, I should know that he or she is an employee and not another parent. I once ran into a woman wearing a short flowery skirt and sandals in the school library and yes, I mistook her for another parent. She said, “I know I don’t really look like a teacher.” Well, whose fault is that?

  3. Cute suit, and pants are too long. You can’t see her shoes at all. At all! I didn’t realize catching a heel or tearing holes in the hems of your 250 pants are a thing.

    Two thoughts:

    1) I found this very interesting, despite not being deep in media or law:

    http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/07/were-getting-wildly-differing-assessments/

    2) I have a pair of 100% linen maternity pants from Ann Taylor Loft (well, the belly panel is synthetic). They say dry clean. (not dry clean only). I’m cool with cold water, gentle cycle, drip dry and then iron, right? It takes us 5 days to get dry cleaning back, and I don’t have that many pairs of maternity pants.

    • Honey Pillows :

      Are they lined? If not, I’ve had luck with washing linen on gentle with delicates detergent, carefully reshaping, and laying flat to try. But my linens weren’t dry clean to begin with.

      The only consideration might be whether this is a wrinkle-resistant linen, treated with chemicals that might be damaged by a regular laundering. (You mentioned ironing, which is a lot more optimistic than I usually am with linen.)

    • No help on the pants, but I read that SCOTUSblog piece the other day and I found it really fascinating.

    • In my experience linen can absolutely be machine-washed. If you put it in the dryer it will get softer, too, but you may want to be careful with this depending on the particular fabric content of the synthetic panel (I machine-dry straight-up poly, but not rayon, for example).

    • If they’re unlined you’re cool. If lined, the linen may shrink a bit and the lining won’t shrink, meaning the lining could end up a bit longer than the outer layer, which is not a good look.

  4. Ladies, I need help with finances. I am one of those people who went to law school right before the big crash. I went to the best school I could get into and took out a LOT of loans to cover it. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to get the big firm job, but I was lucky enough to find a small firm and I’m doing what I love.

    Here’s the problem. I now am living on a small-firm salary, and my city is not cheap. Even if I wanted to move out to the suburbs, the increase in commuter costs would outweigh the rent savings. I’m making ends meet, but I’m not getting ahead. My boyfriend and I want to get married, but we just can’t afford it. I’m almost the age where I want kids, but I can’t afford them. I want to buy a house so I can stop paying crazy rent, but I can’t afford to save for a down payment. I would move to a cheaper city, but I can’t afford the time and money it would take to pass the bar exam again. And, of course, law school loan payments will still take a big chunk of my money in whatever city I live.

    I’m just at a loss for how to get out of this. I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck. But I also don’t want to stop living my life completely to save money. I would be miserable if I couldn’t go to the bar with friends once every couple weeks, and my boyfriend would be miserable as well. I try to pack lunches, limit going out with friends, etc. Am I just totally screwed because of when I graduated law school?

    • Anonymous :

      Have you kept track of your spending? That’s the first step. From there, figure out where you can cut expenses and where you are overspending. Mint.com is great for this.

      • Cornellian :

        I second mint or some other tracker, even though I tend to not log in becuase I feel like it’s judging me. haha, don’t do that! it sounds like you don’t have much control over salary right now, but you may be able to affect what’s going out.

        i take it you love your job and don’t think there’s a better one that pays more in your current city?

    • It does sound like you’re in a tough situation financially right now, but a couple thoughts.

      (1) Beyond the license, it doesn’t cost anything to get married. To have a wedding, yes, but if you really just want to get married head down to city hall. There are a ton of books and web sites out there on how to do a wedding inexpensively. Or another approach is to save the big party for your 10th or 20th anniversary.

      (2) Can you get a side job of some short to make some extra cash to throw at your loans? Or sell of extra possessions you have? There are a ton of personal finance and debt-repayment blogs out there as well.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        I was just going to say this – it doesn’t cost almost anything to get married. Don’t put off getting married because you can’t have a wedding reception. Our grandmothers didn’t have big weddings, just cake and punch or such for the family and close friends that attended the wedding. Buy a copy of A Practical Wedding – it’s the best book ever on all things wedding and relationship related, I swear.

        • Yes, yes, yes. Don’t let money get in the way of serious life decisions. Unless the issue is not so much that you want to be married, but that you want to have a wedding/be a fairytale bride/etc. That’s another issue.

          • Kontraktor :

            Yeah, if the issue is ‘one wants to have a hugely expensive wedding despite low finances,’ I unfortunately think the answer involves some tough love. We couldn’t afford lots of things we might have liked at our wedding, so we didn’t have them. I can’t afford an entire wardrobe of Dior and Chanel even though I might want that, so I don’t get those things. Life is about priorities. Sometimes those priorities can make us feel sad. But all we can do is see the blessings we do have in those situations (ex., that we have found somebody to get married to at all), try our best to work through the current difficulties, and hope for better times in the future.

        • Yes, read A Practical Wedding! book and/or blog

      • layered bob :

        yes, yes. And getting married should make finances easier, right? You only have to maintain one household, you can get on the same health insurance, and throw both incomes at your debt/living expenses.

      • I’ll back you on wanting a “wedding” in addition to your marriage. I come from a family that has large extended family celebrations for all milestone events. Nothing is ever small or intimate. It would have made me very sad not to be in a financial position to have a big wedding. Even Red Hot and Blue’s $16.50/person BBQ spread adds up fast if you have a big family and lots of friends. It’s okay to feel bummed about it.

        Unfortunately I think the “time, money, good job: pick one” thing is accurate. Rarely is anything ever perfect so you just have to figure out which two are the most important and go with that. And everyone who is saying “it won’t be like this forever!” is right, too. If you love your job and can manage being paycheck to paycheck for a few more years, the market might be better, you’ll certainly have more experience, and it won’t be a stretch to get a higher paying job.

        • Yes. The wedding matters. Not the expense of it, but the bother. My then-fiance and I figured getting married quickly was the best way out of his visa issues while remaining together. Most of the wedding reception guests were friends of my parents, so I went to visit for a long weekend, picked out the menu and flowers, left most of the details to the venue. Music was picked out equally efficiently. Seemed great at the time. My friends who came loved it, lots of presents from the network their friends that my parents had been paying into for years, hubby’s friend and dad came over, happy day, everything happy, right? Well, no. When he struggled in the US, he got homesick, really talked himself into how much better it was in the home country. When I got a 6-week summer job there (I was in grad school) he was aghast at the wasted fuel of flying overseas for such a short time and refused to come. More and more miserable, and then he was gone. That was it. I am convinced that if we had planned out the details of a wedding together, if he had to save for a ring instead of the heirloom I thought was so meaningful, then the whole thing might have been more real to him. As it was, he picked up his suitcase and that was all.

          I’m not saying a wedding needs to be expensive, but it needs to be “enough” for you guys to really work on it together. You might like the website offbeat bride Some of the weddings there are freaky, but some are lovely and there are lots of unusual and diy ideas there.

          • But I do think you should go ahead and get married. Don’t live together first to save $$. If you want to be married, then you should. Just work together to have a beautiful, inexpensive, happy wedding to start the two of you off. And register for good stuff ;)

          • Blonde Lawyer :

            Jen,

            Any chance that he was only looking to get married to fix that visa issue?

          • Blonde, I met him in his country, went back and stayed with him for half a year while writing my masters thesis. His friends were surprised that he, of all people, would fall in love with an American. He was happy for a few months, but I think the finality of being married to an American, in the US, just was too much. When he left me, he went right back to where I had found him, except to the apartment complex he’d been wanting to move to for a couple years, but was too timid. Lots of issues I should have picked up on, but I don’t think wanting a US visa was one of them.

          • Really? You think he would have stayed in the marriage if you would have had added a lot more stress to your wedding planning? If he wasn’t committed, he wasn’t committed. I’m not sure the size of your ceremony is what did him in.

          • Elle Urker :

            You think a more expensive wedding would have stopped your foreign fiance, whom you married for visa reasons, from feeling homesick and returning to his home country? Absolutely nothing in your post leads to the conclusion you have drawn.

          • Jen, half of marriages don’t make it in the long term. Living abroad is tough, and many people can’t hack it. Cultural differences can make relationships more fragile, especially if trips back home are expensive and take too much time for puny US vacations. Lots of real solid reasons for things to go south. I really don’t think how much money you spend on a wedding has any bearing on the viability of a marriage, in fact I could list so many counter-exemples that corporette’s servers would be overwhelmed :-).

          • Anonymous :

            JenK, your ex was a jerk and you didn’t do anything wrong.

    • Anonforthis :

      I’m with you. I’ve cut my spending to where there’s really nowhere left to cut. I pack my lunch, I only drink coffee at home and never treat myself to Starbucks, I grow my own veggies so I don’t have to buy produce all summer long, I only buy work clothes when absolutely necessary and only reallyreallyreally on sale, I ride the bus for half of my commute to save on gas and parking, etc., etc. And I’ll tell you what ~ I’m about thisclose to putting my law degree aside, getting a low-paying nonprofit gig that will allow me to do the public interest IBR loan forgiveness thing, getting out from under these monster loans in 10 years, and maybe getting back into law then. I simply don’t want to work this hard to live this poorly. I love the law, but not that much.

    • Not a Lawyer :

      I am not a lawyer, but I know financial problems unfortunately. I’m assuming you’re already on a budget, but a financial website that I have found immensely helpful is LearnVest. It’s specific to women, has very practical advice for cutting spending and saving. They also have tools to help you track spending, and have financial planners available (I’ve never used one so I don’t know what they charge. The website, tools and subscriptions are all free.

      Regarding not stopping your life: is it possible to have friends over for drinks and appetizers instead of going to the bar? Most of the time if everyone brings something, it’s way cheaper than going out. I know sometimes that’s not a possibility, but when it is, usually it’s a great alternative!

    • I agree with Anonymous. Write down ALL of your expenses and go from there. Every little bit helps. We did the “stop living our life completely” route for about a year and a half and got out of massive, stupid, unnecessary consumer debt. Yeah, it sucked, but we managed (cheaper bars, wine/beer at someone’s house) and stayed VERY focused on what we were trying to do.

      Other thoughts – can you/your husband pick up a side gig for extra money?

      Good luck to you… I’ve been there and there are no perfect, “fun” choices.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I agree with Anonymous that the first thing you need to do is track your spending. Every dollar of it. You’d be surprised where the mney goes. From there it is easy to write out a budget based on what you actually spend each month. You don’t have to get fancy with it, but break it down into rent/mortgage, student loan payments, groceries, entertainment, etc. then look for categories that you can spend less in and pick a goal number. If you like going out to eat, don’t cut that me down as much (or at all) but cut down the amount you spend on going to see movies. You’ll have to prioritize what you enjoy most and then I promise you won’t feel like you aren’t living your life. My grocery budget is high because I eat out a lot, but I don’t have cable and my gym membership is really cheap so that balances out a bit.

      The other thing I’d suggest is paying down any credit card debt you have or any other high nearest debt. I was paying the minimums on my credit cards for years and never making any progress, but once I started paying as much as I could with the amount I had saved by cutting my budget allowed me to pay them off entirely pretty quickly and now I have that mney that was going to the credit card company and leaving me treading water every month available for other things. Those months were a little hard, but my goal was in sight so I was able to stay motivated.

      Which leads me to my last point. I actually got some great advice over the weekend on this very topic. My dad told me it is important to realize that your financial position today is not the financial position you’ll have for the rest of your life. The credit card debt is a great example of this. By working for a shorter term goal by cutting back elsewhere temporarily to free up some extra cash, my financial position changed a lot. The same thing is true for your job and your boyfriend’s job. Your income will not be the same forever. It may not go up as much or as quickly as you’d like it to, but when it does your position will change again and allow you to save that money for something else as long as you don’t change your expenses very much (although if you have children I’m sure that is easier said than done).

      Good luck with everything!

    • Gail the Goldfish :

      Except for the wanting kids thing, I’m right there with you. I’m not exactly paycheck to paycheck, but I’ve also had to put my loans on the 25 year repayment plan and still can’t save more than a few hundred dollars a month. I really don’t want to be paying my loans back when I’m 50, but at this rate… No advice, unfortunately. I just keep telling myself my salary will go up.

      • emcsquared :

        I think it’s interesting that you are saving money instead of using it to pay off the student loans faster – once our emergency fund was fully funded, we threw all of our extra income at the student loans (ours are locked at 6.88%, yay). My feeling was that there is no way to get a return on our savings right now that would be better than the 6.88% + inflation. Much as I want a new car, we’ve even delayed targeted savings for the car until the student loans are paid off, and we’re taking pretty skinny vacations so we don’t have to save much for those (piggybacking as much as possible on work trips, doing road trips to friends’ lake homes, etc).

        • Gail the Goldfish :

          I’m saving for emergency fund. Don’t worry, once that’s fully funded again, any extra will all go to student loans. But most of my emergency fund post law school was used up during a period of unemployment post-law school (thank god I had a biglaw summer associate gig in law school and *had* an emergency fund), so it was severely low once I found a new job.

        • It depends on your interest rate on your loans. I was lucky to get out of school in 2006, and most of my loans are in the 3% range. At that rate, they’re almost beating inflation. If your rates are higher than that (which most are these days), then pay them off sooner than later.

          I would also recommend Suze Orman’s book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke. It really helps you figure out your finances at this point in your life.

    • emcsquared :

      Good luck – this situation really does stink. I’ve had to stop myself from whirling down that vortex by mentally taking note of all the great things I can afford and am experiencing. Constantly wanting something more is a way to make yourself crazy…especially in this economy.

      And I second the poster who says that being married is not expensive – DH and I saved a bunch of money by being married (taxes, rent, car insurance, milk that gets drunk before going bad, running only one air conditioner/ceiling fan/furnace, etc). *Weddings* can be expensive; consider whether the expensive wedding is really important to you (if it’s important to Mom and Dad, then let them pay for it), or whether you can get married in a park and have a potluck reception. I have done the park/potluck route several times lately for friends and expect to do it a bunch more, given that the economy doesn’t seem to be getting better for the under-30 set.

      I don’t have any good advice on kids. Kids force some hard financial choices, but I think if you want kids, you just gotta do it and make it work on the back end. Hopefully you’d have two earners pooling income, or one earner and qualify for ICR on the student loans.

      • I will never regret having kids when we were young and poor. However, our situation was different than yours. I didn’t have the monster student loan debt and we live in Canada where health care wasn’t an issue. We also lived somewhere that had a low cost of living. I worked p/t from home to cover student loan payments & half the mortgage. Dh worked f/t. I went back to work f/t when my youngest was about 2 & dh was working p/t (long story). We had about 5 years being pretty rocky financially. Now, however, things are good. My career is going great (even if dh’s isn’t) and I’m so glad I don’t have to worry if having children now would affect my trajectory. If I could do it again I’d make some different choices, but having kids young wouldn’t be one.

    • Just to check, are you on IBR? If not, I believe you can switch to it even if you started off on a regular payment plan. If your loans aren’t through the government, maybe contact your private lender to see if you can work out a more manageable repayment schedule. My understanding is that with the high rate of defaults on student loans, the lenders are pretty open to adjustments because they’d rather get *something* than have you go into default.

    • Could you move to a cheaper apartment in the city? I’ve found that to be the easiest way to slash a good chunk of recurring expenses. Occassional drinks with friends might cost $50/month, but if you can cut $500-1000 off your rent, that will be a huge savings that you see every single month. It might be a smaller apartment or an older apartment, but once you settle in and make it your own, it will feel like home too.

      I also recommend Elizabeth Warren’s book All Your Worth. Her model is that you should be spending 50% of your income on fixed expenses (housing, loans, etc.), 20% towards savings, and 30% on discretionary spending. It sounds like your fixed expenses are the ones that are out of whack (which is pretty common with law school loans + expensive city). If you can find ways to cut your fixed expenses, like lowering your rent or putting your loans on a slower repayment plan, your finances will probably start to feel a lot more manageable.

    • I think it’s normal to feel this despair from time to time. I graduated law school in 2010 and I am very familiar with the feeling. In my experience, you’ll feel this way every now and then(when you look up the amount of interest accumulating monthly on your loans, for instance), and then you move past it and keep living your life. Keep moving forward. Pay it down one dollar at a time.

      I’ll be the hundredth person to say: get married if you want to get married. You can’t put your life on hold waiting to win the lottery. Keep your eye out for a higher paying job and a cheaper place to live. Does your SO also have significant debt? I have friends from school who are engaged to/in relationships with fellow lawyers who also have 6 figure debt. I certainly don’t envy their position.

    • Can you switch to the income-based repayment plan? You don’t have to be working in the public sector to get on the IBR plan. However, if you get a public-sector job, you could qualify for loan forgiveness after 10 years.

    • I would get a second job. Hopefully you don’t work an insane amount of hours already, but a second job will help you see real progress and let off some of the financial pressure you are experiencing. I do freelance writing and editing. I can squeeze it in during my evenings at home or on the weekends, and it doesn’t inhibit my life that much. Maybe you could find something similar.

    • I am a banana. :

      Been there. How long have you been out of law school? I have a feeling you might have graduated in 2011, because I am a year ahead and this was how I felt at this point last year. I’m at a small firm in an expensive city and would like to get married and have kids too, and felt exactly like you.

      I got over it by opening a completely separate account for rent and student loan payments. Money from my paycheck automatically goes to that account and the payments are on auto pay. For me, not seeing that money at all or thinking about my loan payments really helps. I can’t explain why, because it makes no sense, but it helps.

      Aside from my emergency fund, which I am also working on right now, I have other ING accounts that I put $25 or so a paycheck into for things like vacation, Christmas presents, and new clothes. I can’t put away as much as I’d like but I think if you do that and start seeing progress, you will feel a little better.

      Also, maybe it is time for you to ask for a raise!

    • Unfortunately, boyfriend and I already live together, so marriage won’t really save us much money in that respect. To be honest, I would be perfectly happy with a city hall wedding, but bf wants the big to-do. I went ahead and signed up for Mint dot com, and hopefully seeing every single penny will help me tighten the belt even further.

      Sigh. It’s frustrating when I can’t even afford to move somewhere cheaper because I can’t save up the $4k+ it takes for a d*mn deposit in this city.

      Sorry to be a debbie downer. I truly appreciate the advice and commiseration.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        Not a Debbie downer! It’s frustrating out there for so many people right now. Saving up for a deposit like that would clearly be a pain! One quick thought, which may not be helpful or possible, is that I assume you would get at least some of a deposit back from your current place if you move. This would probably be a big pain to do, but could you and the boyfriend stay with friends for a week (or however long it would take to get that deposit back) and put your stuff in storage temporarily so that you’d only have to save up for the portion of the deposit you would t already get out of your old place?

        Other random suggestions for saving a bit each month are to drop your gym membership or find a cheaper one if you have a membership, drop cable and just go with Hulu and a Netflix streaming account, put your cell phones on a family plan, use Groupons for haircuts (or just get trims at Supercuts and stop professionally coloring your hair if you do) and anything else that you need to get done semi-regularly that can be costly, etc. Think broadly because sometimes it would be costly up front (like breaking a gym or cell phone contract) but would ultimately save you more money than that. Maybe your goal could be to start saving slowly whatever you can for the new apartment deposit and then move when you can because cheaper rent could make a big difference down the line even though it seems so far away.

      • Anonymous :

        Why do you always say, “I” and not “we” when you write about what you can and cannot afford?

  5. Looking for any wisdom the hive can share… I’m considering asking for an 80% schedule at work. This wouldn’t be common at my company, but isn’t unheard of either. I like my current job quite a bit but it’s not the be-all end-all for me by any means and I increasingly feel like I don’t have enough time with my 18 month old or just to catch my breath in general.

    Another aspect of it is that I’ve been feeling the urge to do something entrepreneurial for a while but have found it hard to get beyond the research stage due to time constraints. I have a couple different ideas, one of the most viable which is to do the same function as I do at my job currently, but on a consultant basis for other companies (it’s something I can do remotely).

    So, are there any ladies on here on a PT schedule? I’m not a lawyer, so 80% in my case would be around 32 hrs/week. Also, do you think my company would be liable to frown on my side business if it’s so closely related to what I do for them? (Even though it would obviously be all on my own time.) What I could do to help them feel okay with it? I feel like I have to tell them given that it’s in the same industry.

    • Research, Not Law :

      A 0.8 FTE schedule is commonplace at my current and previous employer. Most typically it’s to spend time with children, but it’s surprisingly common just for a quality of life adjustment. People are surprised when they find out I work FT. Everyone I know is happy with it. Some spread out their time over five days to ease the daily schedule with day care etc. I’ve heard it’s best, since people who work shorter five days often end up getting dragged to 40 hrs. Most work four days. I know a couple who work basically three 10’s and change on a fourth.

      If you plan on consulting in your same field in your off-time, you should be upfront with your employer or be prepared to be suddenly out of a day job when they discover it. I’ve seen it happen. That’s very dangerous territory. I’ve seen some employers okay with it so long as the consultation work is with a different clientele, but even then, you should be upfront.

      • You should also double check that you didn’t sign a non-compete anything when you started with your current job or you could be in other types of trouble!

        • Thanks for the feedback, ladies. To clarify, my function at my current employer is purely internal/support (i.e. no outside clients).

    • Any way you could still work 40 hrs a week but work 4 10 hour days? Lots of places offer that. Being able to do it would entirely depend on how you interact with others on your work. I know it may not be possible with an 18 month old. But thought I’d mention it because it’d give you a day off every week.

    • No advice on the side gig but I work 4 days/week (Fridays off) and LOVE IT. I have a 2-yr old with another on the way and this schedule has been invaluable. That said, I’m flexible enough to switch my day off or come in and work if necessary; I just track extra days worked and take them as vacation other times of the year. I also check email via smartphone and during nap though having to crack open a computer is rare.

      I report to the CEO and he has 4 kids so he’s uber flexible. I’m one of his 3 direct reports and oversee my own team, too, so it helps that I make the rules. That being said this is a very doable schedule. Good luck!

  6. Research, Not Law :

    Not sure how I feel about the suit, but I *adore* that blouse. Like, seriously, seriously love it. It deserves its own post.

    Mid-life career change TJ:

    My husband (early 40’s) is strongly considering returning to school to change professions. His current profession has taken a hard hit in the recession, but he was thinking about changing even before. He’s excited about the idea of the new profession, I think he would be good at it, and the change would be good for our family. Pay would be comparable and he’d lose his flexible schedule, but we’d be able to live wherever we wanted and he would be happier. It also should be more secure (there are job postings in our area).

    Is starting a career in mid-40’s a good idea? The program is only 2.5 years, but it will come with financial and family sacrifice. (We have two young children and would like a third). It’s stressful thinking about him walking away from an established career of almost 20 years, but he has another 20 years before retirement to build a new one. I’m not sure he can suffer another 20 years in his current profession – but what if he doesn’t like the new profession?

    • I don’t think it’s that unusual to start a new career in your 40s.

      Is there anyway he could continue working while doing the program?

      Are you sure you can afford it without assuming massive debt (so that 2.5 years of sacrifice doesn’t turn into many many more years of sacrifice)?

      You ask what if he doesn’t like his new profession. You already know he doesn’t like his current one. I’d say just go from there. Hopefully the new one will be an improvement. If it’s not (after a fair trial period), then the two of you will have to renegotiate what you want to do as a family.

      • Research, Not Law :

        He may be able to work part-time in his current profession for the first year. His work hours are so spotty right now that it wouldn’t really be much of a change for his employer, assuming no bad blood about him leaving eventually. That would help pay for childcare at least. It would also mean keeping up his licensure, etc, which would mean continuing ed and fees, but the ability to “fall back” to his original profession.

        Since he can do the first year (prerequisites) at community college, the overall price should be ~$25k. It would approx double what we have left from my education. Not ideal, but do-able. His parents may be willing to assist with tuition, as their sizeable college fund is still funded.

        Eek. It feels really huge to try something so different right now. But as he pointed out, if he had done this at the start of the recession, he’d already be a year into his new career.

        • I think this idea of working part-time during the first year is a good one. And maybe you can have baby number 3 at the end of that year, and he can care for the baby while he’s a student, since he should have more flexibility in his schedule. I think he should go for it. 20+ years is too long to stay in a dead-end job.

          • Research, Not Law :

            Hmmm… good idea for baby timing. That’s about what we were hoping for regardless…

            You all are making me feel a lot better about this.

    • Is the new profession one where he might face age-discrimination? Or is something in which people tend to have more flexible career paths? Also, when thinking about stuff like this I
      m usually biased in favor of change – I heard somewhere that people on the whole regret more things they didn’t do than things they did do.

      • Research, Not Law :

        I wouldn’t think age-discrimination would be an issue, but that’s an excellent question. It’s a the kind of field where there’s just two job descriptions: doing the work or being a manager, so I don’t think there’d be a lot of leeway. It would be interesting to know about the program admission, though.

  7. Blonde Lawyer :

    I am having the hardest time getting back into my work after being on vacation. Holy moly. I know I just need to buckle down but one week of turning my brain off has apparently turned my ability to concentrate and do work to mush.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Ditto. I took 2 weeks off and I can’t focus at all now! Can’t I just go back on vacation?

    • SoCalAtty :

      You read my mind! We just got back Sunday…and I feel like half of my brain stayed on vacation. I’m hoping it is just the jet lag (1 day per time zone, so I’m only 3 days into a 9 hour change) and the fact that what I’m doing isn’t all that interesting right now. I hope!

    • Same here! I got back from vacation on Sunday, but I just want to spend all day on facebook looking at pictures. It’s been an unproductive week so far.

    • Sounds like symptoms of chronic overwork to me.. While you’re in that state, take a look at what you might do to cut some less-useful stuff out of the schedule :-).

  8. Reposting from very late in last Friday’s open weekend thread:

    Has anyone read Hardball by Chris Matthews? Care to share a one or two sentence review before I decide whether to read it?

    Thanks.

    • I haven’t read it, but I generally find CM much more tolerable than the other pundits (across all political stripes). Of all the MSNBC people, he’s the one I like the most and I enjoy his Sunday morning show. I am not sure if it’s because he actually believes what he is saying or he thinks through issues in a way that seems natural and not just dogmatic.
      That said, I wouldn’t read it unless you are into those types of books. Personally, I find them very tiring after a few chapters (and I am a huge politics junkie).

  9. TJ:
    I found yesterdays discussion on gifted programs really interesting, particularly those who responded saying that there were some skills that they didn’t learn during that time that which has greatly affected them in high school/ law school/ their career/ now. You ladies articulated really well some things that I’ve known about myself that i have struggled with (don’t deal well will some challenges, poor study skills, laziness), and I was hoping you could share some insight; after not feeling challenged, or not having skills for studying, how did you make the change?

    • I’m interested in these responses as well.
      My only suggestion is to focus on something that you find REALLY interesting/exciting.

    • For me, it’s battling procrastination (always a built-in excuse for why I didn’t do well — I threw it together at the last minute, I didn’t get any sleep, etc.).

      I still have to force myself to step up, suck it up, and just start some things.

      You might look at StudyHacks for some ideas.

      This is a little crazy, but for me having a child who is a perfectionist helped. That’s because one of the things that’s good for dealing with a perfectionist kid is for you as a parent to try new things in front of them and to make mistakes out loud. It’s *so* hard to point it out when I make a mistake; my every instinct is to fix it before anyone sees. But she needs to see that people make mistakes. Part of doing that helps me deal with the perfectionist side of me, too.

    • I have no advice for you, but I am interested in seeing the replies.

      I am getting ready to go back to school, and definitely need to learn study skills since I coasted through high school and flunked out of college as a result. I’m not happy at my current job, and am trying to work up the courage to go back and get at least my B.A., but would like to continue on to a Masters.

    • For me, it was my competitive nature that kicked in. I am (maybe this is a flaw or a benefit, not sure) pretty competitive, come from a competitive family and when challenged, this was what kicked me in to high gear.

      I can remember my junior biochem class in college. The rumor was that only 1 or 2 As were given out each semester. I looked around at people who were deeply committed to getting those, and secretly thought “hey, they really aren’t smarter than me” and decided that I would be the one to get it. I worked my rear off and got one of them.

      Another example was preparing for the MCATs. My family, while not poor, wasn’t really in to the 1000-2000 dollars test prep courses cost at the time. A switch flipped in me, I decided that I was going to prove to the world (not that anyone else was paying attention, mind you) that you didn’t need to spend that money on review courses to get a good score. I studied and studied and studied and did well enough to get into med school with very respectable scores.

      I’m not sure if these stories portray me in a good light — maybe it would be better if the love of knowledge or the light of learning encouraged me, but it really didn’t. Getting a chip on my shoulder sort of did.

      • Research, Not Law :

        I often have the same thoughts, and it is motivating. I’m not competitive in general, though, which is interesting.

        I learned to push myself. I always worked a serious number of hours and took more than a full course load. I took the more difficult version of a course, even when not required. I graduated undergraduate with a million extra credits. I finished graduate school early, which was my goal.

        I developed study skills and time management skill, but to meet the need that I had artificially created. I had/have no interest in learning them just to learn them.

        It’s admittedly been much harder in my professional life. I have developed a terrible habit of stalling until I really, really need to do something. I inadvertently settled in to a position where I can do my work without really trying most days. I am very aware of it now and may change in the future, but right now I really enjoy it. I have time with my family and a relatively low-stress, high-flexibility career. Some would see that as not reaching my potential. I see it as work-life balance.

        • Oh, this too.

          I totally do better when I’m busy (not impossibly busy because then I have an excuse and can give up, but busy enough that I need to stay focused and on-track).

    • For me, it was a couple of things.
      1) Taking notes by hand instead of typing. It helped me to focus on what the professor was saying and doing more active listening since there is no way to write down the entire lecture whereas I can type fast enough to get almost everything. I had much better retention doing this.
      2) A quiet place to study. Like the quiet room of the library where I cannot be distracted by my couch, tv, friends, etc.
      3) Like InfoGeek, I can be a terrible procrastinator so scheduling study time and knowing yourself is key. I always gave myself Friday night and all day/night Saturday off. But then I forced myself to go the library first thing on Sunday and I couldn’t leave (other than to grab a quick bite/coffee) until I finished everything.
      4) The Pomodoro technique was also a good one for me (I know Kat has featured it on here). Basically you work for an hour and then take a 10 minute break (I’m not sure of the exact times but that is my typical schedule). I shorten/lengthen the time spent studying vs. breaks as needed. Sometimes I worked as little as 30 minutes before a 5 minute break. Whatever it took to keep me focused that day.

      And some of it is just telling yourself you’re an adult now and you have to suck it up and deal with the task head on because the consequences of not doing so are more severe than not getting an A in Algebra. My inner monologue gets very sulky teenager sometimes and I just have to give myself a good talking to.

    • I went to a public high school (no choice – my Dad was superintendent of schools) and I was not at all challenged and I left there with no study skills. College was much more challenging for me, in that I had to do the work, but I found that it took me less time to get things done in college because I didn’t waste a lot of time (studying in front of the TV, in bed where I’d fall asleep, etc.). I was forced to be more regimented about my time because I spent a lot of time in rehearsals when others would have been studying. In my first graduate degree (master’s in a scholarly field), I was overwhelmed by how hard it was and felt completely inadequate. I think, at age 21, I just wasn’t prepared for that. In my second degree, I had two jobs, went to school full time, and sang in a choir and still did very well. Again, I was forced to be productive when I had the time. I find that at work I am more productive than most, even if I waste time. But I don’t waste a lot of time and I’m very engaged in my work. Some of it is challenging but a lot of it is just problem-solving, which I’m good at. Not sure if I answered your question, but I wouldn’t consider myself lazy at all at this age (mid 40s).

    • For me, it was about goals. I was able to skate by with little effort in middle school and would have done fine in high school without much effort, but my goal was to get the heck out of my parents’ house and their unhappy marriage, and to not end up like my mother, dependent on a man because she dropped out of college to get married and never had a career, and not like my dad stuck in a dead-end low wage job because he didn’t finish college either. In my teenage brain, it seemed to me that the best way to accomplish my three goals was to get the best grades I possibly could, to get into the best college I possibly could, to get the best grades there I possibly could, to then go to law school, get the best grades I possibly could, and finally have a stable, lucrative career. That way, I would never have to move back home, never be dependent on a man, and always have a good income. I worked my rear off in school for ten years. I studied all. the. time. I didn’t have fun in college, which I do regret now, because I was so focused on grades. And I’m writing this from my office at my big firm. Missions accomplished… and I’m in therapy ;).

    • emcsquared :

      I unknowingly entered into a really hard college major, fell in with the highest achievers, and did a mixture of competing against the high achievers and listening to them as much as possible. Smart people who are working really hard bring out the best in me. Smart lazy people bring out the worst in me.

      Which explains why I’m trolling this comment thread today – my only assignments are for clients who won’t return my phone calls and give me half-a**ed answers to all my questions…

    • Maine Associate :

      The change for me did not come until 1st semester at law school. My law school offered classes on how to study. Until that point in my life I had coasted through school with As and Bs, so never needed to figure out how to study. These classes taught me how to outline, how to read a case and how to write an essay. Learning to outline was key for me. I did so much better in law school because I was actually learning something rather than just memorizing what I needed for a particular exam.

    • I breezed through high school and college but got stuck at the thesis for masters.
      It took me 2 semesters of procrastination and by the 3rd I had reached such a low self-esteem that I got angry at myself (an overdue deadline, and the idea of having to pay tuition once more helped to).
      I remember sitting for hours straight with tons of food and the most depressing 2 hours song (in loop), over 1 weekend I had written 40% of my thesis!

      I have yet to be able to recreate that moment, but what I see works for my ADHD “smart” self is to be overwhelmed. I will not start working unless I know I have X number of things to do. So sometimes I create “dummy” things to do to fill up the to-do list in my brain, and that gets me moving.

      I hope this make a little sense…

    • Mine was part competitiveness; once I got to college I realized I wasn’t the special snowflake who was probably going to ace everything on reputation alone, like I did in high school, but I still wanted to be at/near the top of my class. And the rest was having a roommate whose slacker boyfriend was in most of my classes/same major. Half the time, I ended up reteaching most of the material to him before the exams, which made me doubly-certain I had a grasp on it, and that it was organized well.

      I went to an undergrad university where the professors seriously piled on the reading and writing assignments, and you had to keep up or drown/fail. It made graduate school so much more manageable for me, though, as I was used to the volume of work.

    • I was never challenged that much academically, but I grew up in a family that didn’t have the “going to school is your job” mentality. As a consequence, I worked on the family farm from as early as I can remember, began driving tractors and farm equipment at the earliest legal age, began cooking meals for the family as soon as it dawned on everyone that I hated working on the farm but was good at cooking, and began working in a restaurant as a dishwasher and later prep cook at the earliest legal age. So lack of academic challenges didn’t mean that I never learned to work hard or apply myself. I think one of the big problems with kids today is that they never learn to do work that they don’t WANT to do. No, doing the dishes and the vaccuuming isn’t fun, but the required classes in college aren’t either. And so smart kids just sort of flounder and slack off, and fall behind while kids from certain other cultures or families who appreciate the value of hard work get ahead.

      I know that doesn’t answer your question, but it’s something I really appreciate about my own upbringing and that seems to have been lacking in the upbringings of many of the people I supervise at work.

      • Seriously agree with this. As children, we were expected to do our share of the chores. Ultimately, by about 12 or 14 we were doing “most” of the housework (my mom would probably disagree, but it seemed that way!). I also had a horse, and so part of having the horses was feeding, cleaning stalls, stacking hay in the barn for the winter, etc. Did I want to stack hay when it was 105 outside? No. But if I wanted the benefit, i.e., the horse, then I didn’t have an option. I didn’t doubt for a second that my mom would have sold the horse if I had tried to get out of it/was difficult about it. I think kids that grow up with everything handed to them with no responsibility for earning it are at a definite disadvantage later in life.

        There was an article in the NYT or New Yorker maybe a couple weeks ago about how entitled American children are compared to other cultures. The concept that resonated most with me was that in most cultures, children strive to earn their parents approval, which is not just freely given, and in today’s American culture, parents strive to get their children’s approval…

        • Haha. I didn’t want to break the ice at the top of the horse’s water trough every morning before school at 6:30am when it was 5 below! Sounds like we were sisters separated (by a long distance) at birth.

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      I am not sure if anything could have prevented me from falling flat on my face at age 16 (seriously — I flunked 3 classes, not because I couldn’t do, or even ace, the work but because I didn’t want to put any time into things I didn’t think were “worth it” — I really was a little sh*t). It was really hard at the time – on me but especially on my parents. However, in a lot of ways, it is probably the best thing that ever could have happened to me.

      Learning to fail is, I think, extremely important. I needed some sense knocked into me – that I could fail, just like anyone else, I wasn’t some god that was incapable of it.I turned it around in college through a combination of things – a different/better peer group, and also, a fair amount of humility. I worked my tail off in college (especially in junior/senior year when I could focus on classes I really enjoyed rather than standard gen-eds) and graduated with a good GPA and grad school acceptance.

      Do I still fight against things like procrastination and the urge to skate through on natural ability rather than hard work? Absolutely. It’s really hard not to – especially in a professional setting, honestly, where I feel like because I work fast and well, I end up doing more work than people who work slower and need a couple goes at something. That gets frustrating. I am not really competitive, like some posters above – it never bothered me if I wasn’t “the best” in the class (since I could usually rationalize that as attributed to my own laziness, not my intellect), but it DID really bother me if I felt like I was wasting my time. Learning to accept that a teacher, professor, boss, etc might see value in something even if I couldn’t see the whole picture right this second and know it was important was a huge lesson for me.

      I think I largely made the change through internal motivation to reach a sense of reward and accomplishment that comes with hard work toward reaching a goal. I never really felt that way, when I’d get an A on a middle school test without studying, but getting an A in a college 400-level science class (where I’d really struggled and needed a tutor) was immensely more satisfying. Feeling like I worked hard and deserved the grade/reward/accolade is really what pushes me now.

    • I think it is easy to find challenge if you want to – it doesn’t need to be from work or school.
      Same goes for studying – I refuse to believe anyone learns everything easily – there is something out there that will be a challenge for everyone to learn.

      I think what is more important and more meaningful is to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and to maintain healthy relationships.

  10. proud geek :

    Trying again since my last attempt never made it out of moderation. DC meetup one week from today. Location TBD. Email me at dc (this site) at yahoo dot com if you’d like more info or have suggestions.

  11. West Coast 3L :

    LOVE this suit. Nice pick, Kat.

  12. Speaking of Suits :

    Can we campaign to ask Kat for more 360 reviews? Jane Bingum from Drop Dead Diva? Alicia Florrick and/or Diane Lockhard from The Good Wife?

  13. Just wanted to say this group is awesome. This week is crunch time on our huge project and I’m hardly in my office at all. I subscribed to comments this morning so I could enjoy my breaks, even when it’s just for a minute.

  14. anon today :

    I would really like some sage wisdom from the ladies of [this site] today since I’m feeling a little bit down and confused. I just finished my first year of law school at a T20 school. We don’t rank, but my guess is that I’m top 20-25% based on my grades/median. I’m getting a lot of pressure from school to go through OCI, but I just can’t seem to muster the appropriate enthusiasm. On one had, I really feel like I should because if I can get it (with my grades I know nothing is a given), it is prestigious and will open more doors later on when I decide it is time to leave. On the other, I don’t even know if this is what I want to be doing and the more exposure I have, I feel like I’m in the wrong place (I am currently at a government agency in a litigation dept.) but don’t know how to extricate myself. I’d rather spend my summer next year doing some kind of policy or research and then keep going in that field post graduation. But everyone keeps telling me that I should do OCI to “keep my options open.” Typing this out makes me feel more like I don’t want it, but I need real life successful people to tell myself that I’m not shooting myself in the foot, as my career office would like me to believe.

    Side note: sometimes I dream of taking the bar and then leaving with the Peace Corps when everyone else goes on their bar trip. I know this would make me really unemployable upon my return, so it’s unlikely to happen, which makes me even sadder I didn’t do it when it was feasible. I’ve wanted to join the Peace Corps since sophomore year of college, so it’s not an escapist fantasy. (I started the application my senior year and then had to withdraw for reasons that aren’t relevant anymore.)

    This whole post started off as a to do OCI or not do OCI and then it just turned into a rambling vent. Any advice on any of it would be greatly appreciated!

    • Um, why wouldn’t you do OCI? All is does it try to get you a job so you can have a career? And all it can teach you is if you want to continue in this field or not?

      No offense, but you sound young and immature (enthusiasm to just apply to a job?). Most of us adults do not work because we want to, but because we have to. Have you ever been a professional, or are you straight out of college to law school? (I am assuming this is it). I, along with everyone else I know, hates interviewing and although I like my job, if I won the lottery I wouldn’t still be doing it. We do it to live better lives.

      • anon today :

        Because you asked so nicely, I’m 28 and worked for 5 years before law school. So maybe I’m younger than you now or when you went to school. I had a job I enjoyed and more or less looked forward to 8/10 Monday mornings. So forgive me for wanting to maintain a standard for myself. Yeah, I know I need a job. But I would rather have one that I find somewhat enjoyable. And if I don’t find it right away, tough sh!t for me becauase I know I need a job. And it’s not the interviewing I hate. It’s the feeling like my I’m not following through with the reasons I went to law school in the first place.

        • Anon for This :

          Good answer.

        • Nice answer. Also, not all of us lawyers are bitter and only work because we have to. I love my public interest job, and if I won a billion dollars, I’d keep doing it and donate my salary back to the organization because I like it that much. Your standard is totally maintainable.

          • new york associate :

            Good heavens, Bluejay, please tell us all where you work so we can start applying for jobs there. I can’t even imagine feeling that way about a job, and that includes both the corporate and public interest jobs I’ve had.

          • new york associate – sadly, only 8 people in the whole world have my job, and none of us are leaving soon. Most of the rest of our staff are nonlawyers. But I work in human rights/public international law, and there’s pretty high job satisfaction in this field, so you could consider a career change maybe.

      • OP was not saying she doesn’t have motivation to WORK – she is saying that she is not enthused about OCI where the only job prospects are big law/all work lifestyle jobs. This is great for some people and not for others. I know plenty of people that have gone through similar struggles as the OP, and I don’t think its immaturity, I think its having to make large life decisions about who you are and what kind of lawyer you want to be.

      • AnonInfinity :

        I think it’s actually a sign of maturity that OP has the insight to realize that she is not interested in BigLaw, even though others are pressuring her to pursue that. And, if she is enthusiastic about something, why should she have to go after something that she isn’t drawn to?

        I agree with the advice of others that OCI is a good chance to practice interviewing. It’s also a good chance to practice faking enthusiasm, which can also be useful.

        BUT, I also think you should look for other jobs that fit more in line with your policy or research interests. So, practice at OCI, really go for jobs you feel more enthusiastic about.

      • Psquared, sounds like you are projecting some of your own issues onto the OP which were not at issue at all based on her dilemma. Reading comprehension fail.

    • Not sure how helpful my experience will be, but it’s the only one I have, so here goes. I went to law school with zero intention of working in the private sector. I went to a slightly lower ranked (but still T20) school on a full ride instead of a top 5 school with little scholarship money, because I was certain I only wanted to work in legal aid. Entered law school in 2008, and then found that what I wanted to do wasn’t really a job anybody was hiring for.

      I did OCI because I felt like the career services people were pushing me into it, and I shared the “keep my options open” mentality. I summered at a gigantic firm, where I currently work. It turns out the prospect of turning down an offer and fighting an uphill battle with employment, security, undergrad loan payments, and lifestyle was a big deterrent to rejecting my offer.

      Here’s where the hard part kicks in: ask yourself if you’ll be disappointed if you find yourself in my position in two or three years. To be honest, I’m not disappointed (most days) — I find ways to build my interests into my practice, and my firm has enough people like me that there are solid ways to do that.

      Many of my (very academically successful) classmates in law school remain unemployed, more than a year after graduation. I think they’d all argue (and I’m inclined to agree) that OCI is the easiest way to not be in that position. But easy is a tough sell if it means you’ll feel like you’ve compromised something more important.

    • Anonsensical :

      I let my school pressure me into doing the OCI thing (I was top in my class and it was unheard of that someone in my position wouldn’t do it) and, while the money was certainly nice, it was a waste of time. I knew I wanted to go into public interest law and would never be happy working in a firm, so I would have been better off spending a summer working with refugees or something like that. When it came time to apply for the jobs I really wanted after graduation, my firm experience didn’t help at all and may have actually hurt my credibility with nonprofit employers. If you know firm life is not for you, that’s not being immature ~ that’s knowing yourself and not going along with what everyone else does just because everyone else is doing it.

      And you can always do the Peace Corps when you’re older! Mr. Anonsensical and I plan on doing it after we pay our loans off.

      • Actually doing Peace Corps brings with it some student loan benefits. I’m not sure it’s the best way to begin a legal career, but you don’t have to wait until the loans are all paid if you don’t want to.

        • Anonsensical :

          Yeah, the bigger part of my problem now is that I’m saddled with a house and couldn’t earn enough money to make my mortgage payments doing PeaceCorps, nor can I afford the huge loss I’d take if I tried to sell it right now. I may, however, do AmeriCorps in the fall and enjoy some of the same loan benefits!

    • Ugh. I had posted a really long response to you, and then got the ‘commenting too quickly’ screen.
      Basically, I know a lawyer who had a great Peace Corps experience that was legal related and turned into full time work back in the states.
      Do what you love, and not what other people tell you to do!
      As far as OCI, I did it with similar grades, didn’t get a job, and ended up working for a well-established solo practitioner, where I got far better experience and mentoring than my friends at firms. Go with your gut. If you don’t want to do it, you are only closing one door (big law) that it sounds like you don’t want anyway.

    • Do OCI. You might just find a firm you love. You might just get a lot of excellent interview practice. Both good things, and there’s no harm, risk, or commitment involved in doing the interviews. When you get your offers, then you’ll have more information to go on and can make a more informed, specific decision.

      • Former MidLevel :

        Agreed.

      • I’m not sure if your school is different (it probably is, i’m at a school in the 70′s range, def. not a top 20 one) but in a big city and we have OCI with all the big firms, but plenty of gov’t agencies, judges, whatever…so doing it may actually lead to a career that’s more up your alley? I’m not interested in a big firm at all but have signed up for OCI for the other opportunities it gives. I say do it – don’t close any doors, you know? Just only apply to what interests you! And no one says you have to take stuff, you know?

    • OC Lawyer :

      You might do some research to find out whether having summered and/or been an associate for a couple years in BigLaw will help you get one of the NGO or Peace Corps type jobs you think you want. I expect that those jobs are extremely competitive and that having worked in BigLaw (perhaps even for just a summer) will serve as a marker that you are “worthy” (e.g., good school, good grades, at least one major firm thought well enough of you to accept you).*

      * I am not trying to invite a normative discussion of whether this should be the case. I am simply asking whether this is an accurate description of the current world. (I believe that it is.)

      PS: Second Psqaured who asks why wouldn’t you go through OCI. I am having the same discussion with my stepdaughter, who is applying to colleges. She initially thought she should apply to the (one) school she wants to attend. We had a long discussion about the fact that you need to hedge your bets, that hedging your bets is not a bad thing, and that if you get accepted to more than one school and need to tell the others “no, thank you,” you are not being rude. The other schools are expecting a certain number of admitted applicants to reject the offer. That is why colleges — and law firms, more important when we are discussing you and OCI — make yield calculations.

    • Anon for This :

      First, I agree with everything Hmm said.

      I was in a very similar position after my 1L year. I knew I didn’t want BigLaw, but my very smart aunt convinced me that, for what they were paying summers, maybe I should be *extra* sure I didn’t want BigLaw. :) I did OCI and some callbacks, but didn’t get a summer job (I was top 10%, had made law review, but wanted to be outside my law school’s major market, which was hard from my top-25-but-not-top-14 school). I don’t regret OCI, and I do think you should do it. Pick an aspect of private practice you can at least feign enthusiasm for. There must be some kind of legal work that interests you, or presumably you wouldn’t have gone to law school. Or look at your grades and/or activities and see what it “looks like” you should be good at/interested in. I had done particularly well in Civ Pro, so I claimed a passionate interest in civil litigation. Go to interviews, meet people, ask questions. At the very least, it’s good practice for you. Also, even if your OCI goes extraordinarily well, you will have several months before you have to decide to accept a summer offer. If you get one, and you think the people are a good fit, I’d consider taking it, too. Even if you decide to go to a different field, it could be very helpful down the road. It’s only a few months, and it may well provide some security in the form of a job offer to fall back on after graduation and some saved up money.

      In the meantime, I would also encourage you to look at legal positions and legally-related positions that may fall more in line with your “true passion.” You don’t say what you think you may secretly want to do, besides policy and research, but unless you mean something really different like you want to study infectious diseases, there are probably some positions available for law students that relate to your passion. Lots of policy organizations have summer internships and fellowships that a law student would qualify for. Many organizations even offer fellowships for you to work for other public service organizations, if you can create a legal hook and do vaguely legal work. Heck, even if your passion is infectious diseases, check for tangentially-related legal jobs. Maybe the CDC has legal interns? You get the idea. The great thing about all of these, though, is that you can be looking for them while you’re prepping your resume and doing OCI.

      FWIW, I ended up spending that summer at a federal agency, which was really interesting. I did not end up in private practice (or practicing at all, really), and so far I’m happy with my career. So it’s not the end of the world if you decide (or have it decided for you) that you just can’t do BigLaw.

    • Unrelated to OCI, but if you are into Peace Corps, have you thought about applying for a Fulbright? Different but similar, (I personally think there is more/better funding and support for fellows), would not make you unemployable, and could be a good way into policy or research.

    • First, as another poster asked, are you sure there are no employers you would be interested in at OCI? My school had a big firm interview mill, and then a separate process where I interviewed with 4+ places (gov’t, nonprofit, small firm).

      If you’re truly not excited about anyone at OCI, I think that lack of enthusiasm will show in your interviews and it will not be worth doing it–I saw that happen with some friends. If you can put on enough of a show that you would be likely to impress someone and might consider it as an option, go for it.

      Do you have a plan for how to pursue the kinds of jobs you actually do want? Does your school have public interest career resources? Have you talked to people that do work you could see yourself doing and see how they got there? While I didn’t do OCI, I was very determined to go into a specific public interest field and had an idea of employers I would target for 2L summer, both through the less-formal OCI at my school and on my own. If you really don’t know, then I think trying to get interested in some of the firm work and going through with OCI to keep options open might not be a bad idea.

    • I did OCI just for the public interest employers at my law school, and don’t regret that decision in the least. I knew myself well enough to know that (a) I’d be extremely poorly suited for a BigLaw environment and (b) it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life, but (c) once they were throwing more money than I’d seen in my life at me for not doing any work all summer, that would become really easy to ignore. And for a lot of my friends, it was easy to ignore and they ended up in jobs they hated and which made them miserable. I make a lot less money, but look forward to going to work most mornings, and have a life outside it. It worked out fine.

      Of course, there’s the loans issue, and that complicates thing. I was lucky enough to go to a school with a good loan repayment assistance program and this was just before the crash. So you have to decide your risk tolerance for that. But the fact of the matter is, there’s always something you can do to chase more money, and deciding that a particular something isn’t one you want to do is okay, even if it’s the path of least resistance and everyone else is encouraging it.

    • I was at the top of my class at a T20 and I didn’t do OCI. No regrets. If you don’t want to work in a firm, then you don’t want to work in a firm. I was quite certain I didn’t want to, and so there was no reason to do OCI.

      The only word of caution is that if you don’t do OCI, it’s extremely unlikely you will ever work at a big law firm. So if you’re even slightly uncertain, do OCI. Worst that can happen is that you spend your summer at a fancy firm, bank 30K, and decline the offer to pursue something that will make you happier. Not a big loss.

      • I also skipped OCI. Skip it if you want. That’s how law school is – there are lots of things that people say “you must” do. None of it is true. You are the captain of your ship.

        I’m thinking of Tina Fey’s book. She said that when people tell you “you must” do things, it means you don’t really have to. No one tells you “you must” breathe fresh air in every day, or “you must” eat enough and drink enough water to survive.

    • Does the Peace Corps offer legal internships? Running a quick LinkedIn search led to at least one Peace Corps attorney. Perhaps inquire if her office is looking for interns/externs for the summer/school year. Link to her LinkedIn to follow.

    • Alanna of Trebond :

      I am not sage at all, as I am younger than you (although I just graduated from law school). Here are my thoughts from reading your post and some of the responses:
      1. Do you really want to be in law school at all? It sounds like you don’t. Since you have a scholarship, maybe you should cut your losses and join the Peace Corps, if that is your dream. You can also do policy work without having attended law school. Sometimes going to law school actually makes it harder to get these jobs.
      2. If I have misread you, and you do want to be in law school, it is possible to take off time and do Peace Corps (or other work) before starting even a BigLaw job. I know some people who went to seminary or culinary school, so this is an option.
      3. It is quite difficult to get a public interest job in this economy. It is actually more difficult to get one than a private sector job, because many of the usual suspects don’t have as much funding as they did before. From what you’ve said above, I’m not sure that you are within the range of grades that guarantee you a job in public interest. I just graduated from a T5 school, and those classmates I have who are still seeking jobs are all interested in public interest work.

    • I’m really confused by this post. It sounds to me like you don’t actually want to be a lawyer. The reason I think that is that you feel like you’re in the wrong place in government, you have no desire to go to a firm, you don’t seem enthused about law generally, and you mention “policy” and “research” as your preferred future.

      If you really want to work in policy and research, maybe you should leave law school. That may sound harsh, but my experience with recent legal graduates looking for these jobs is that the law degree didn’t benefit their job search and mostly handicapped it because their graduate degree would seem to compel a higher salary without the relevant experience. There are perhaps more appropriate policy masters programs that would be useful for your future job hunt.

      Also, I think you may lack a little perspective about the brutality of the job market. Top 25% in a T20 school doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you would get a job out of OCI. There are no guarantees. I was top 5% in my T14 law school and had only a few options. Of course that may vary by the competitiveness of the market, your interview skills, etc. But if having a job when you graduate is a priority, you might want to go ahead and at least interview.

      Finally, I guess I just don’t see the downside in OCI. Yes it can be time consuming, but the schools usually try to be accommodating of the schedule. Also the employers will foot the bill if they are flying you anywhere and you aren’t obligated to take any of the job offers you may receive. So I guess I’m just giving you the whole “keep your options” open lecture, but the reality is that this market sucks and if you aren’t committed to being a lawyer, it doesn’t make any sense to pour money/time into law school.

    • emcsquared :

      I’m not sure, but it seems like you’re questioning whether you even want to be in law – if that’s true, you should talk with your Dean of Students (or equivalent) about taking a year off from law school. Do the Peace Corps during that year, or do something policy driven. Then when/if you come back, you can pick up and do OCI the following summer. Taking out loans or throwing savings down the drain for a second year of law school is a bad idea if you don’t want to practice law or get a job needing a legal degree.

      If you are at least 75% sure you are going to finish law school, I would really recommend doing OCI. Best case scenario, you get a law firm offer that you turn down because something better comes along.

      Second best case scenario, you find a law firm that has some really quirky practice area that lets you get involved in policy and research (these do exist in lots of firms) and you learn everything you can from a senior attorney who introduces you to all the main players in that field, so you can transition to something else at higher pay after a couple years in the firm. I have worked with law firm lawyers who drafted key state renewable energy legislation, were on committees that set the economic development goals for large metropolitan areas, and wrote op-eds that informed educational policy in our state.

      FWIW, I don’t *love* working for a law firm and it wasn’t my initial plan, but it is fantastic legal training and the things you learn as both a summer and possibly 1st year/2nd year associate will help you a lot if you stay in the legal field; it will also help you if you wind up in government or policy making roles, because you’ll have a better understanding of how your policy will affect the day-to-day work of your former clients.

    • totally great you know yourself & what you want to do. I don’t have a good answer on “to OCI or not” as I didn’t end up doing it & still did a biglaw job for 5+ years and summered in big law too (i-viewed early and skipped the OCI process). To your peace corps desire, I have several friends who went into the UNHCR after law school — they had done peace corps in prior lives and this seemed like the post-law school version. That is as much as I know about it, but it might be something else to look into/position yourself for.

    • anon today :

      Thank you for all the really helpful responses! I have been kicking this back and forth in my head for so long that hearing each side in different words was really helpful. Rereading I can tell how it totally appears I don’t want to be a lawyer. Last year I did 2 projects with an adjunct and a professor in my preferred area that really did solidify my desire to be a lawyer and know that somewhere, there is the right job, even if it takes a while to get there. I have talked to them and one said to do OCI and the other said to not, mostly for the same reasons you all have said. So that wasn’t super helpful, although one did point me to some firms of all sizes to consider.

      I know that my odds of getting a job from OCI aren’t stellar (although after posting this I did find out I made law review) and that the job market still sucks pretty hard, especially for externally funded positions. I think today’s decision is to do it, knowing that there are one or two firms coming that do work in the niche market I am interested in that allow for the weird combo emcsquared mentioned. Worst case, I will have wasted a few hours. Best case, I’ll have a long time to make the final decision, during which time I will keep applying to non-biglaw firms and weigh my options when appropriate. It is a hedge that I can always back out of and good practice if/when I do other interviews next semester. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I actually feel ok about this position, knowing that I’m not using all my bids to use all my bids to make someone else happy.

    • Recent graduate here. Do OCI, at the very least for the interviewing experience. If you can get an offer, strongly consider taking it… Particularly if the firm will allow you to split the summer with a gov’t or public service agency. I know some who did this. Get the offer at the end of the summer. Look for your dream job/clerkships/policy positions until November 1st or whenever the NALP acceptance date is for the firm. If you don’t get your dream job, accept the firm offer and keep looking, turn down the firm if/when you find something better. It is a terrible, terrible market out there for recent law graduates. Think long term!

      • I just wanted to chime in to say that I completely disagree with all of those who say “do OCI for the interview experience.” I found OCI interviews to be completely different than public interest interviews, and I think it might have actually hurt me in public interest interviews because I got so used to trying to downplay my “do-gooder” side. Unless you’re the extremely nervous type who just needs practice talking with people, I don’t think it’s particularly helpful just for the experience.

  15. Nordie’s cardholders, do you know if the Suzi Chin for Maggy dress that everyone adores (item number 265875) is going to be included in the sale? I’d like to buy it in a second color, but will wait for the sale if it’s going to be available at a lower price.

  16. Blonde Lawyer :

    Someone here once posted a link to a website where people anonymously share their salaries for various fields. It was the first site that I was able to find reliable data in my area. Now I can’t remember the website. It wasn’t glass door or salary .com. Any ideas?

  17. Shopping request: I’d love to get a nice pen and pen holder for someone who keeps a guest book at her vacation home, but the only ones I can find in my price range look very generic, like they’re intended as parting gifts for employees who aren’t retiring, just leaving the firm. Like this

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/102965439/oak-pen-stand-with-candle?ref=sr_gallery_4&sref=sr_742e8f82aefd4de70d86ca2af73c0e97c0205e5d86bacf92d906f6617a074c33_1341846988_14303328_pen&ga_includes%5B%5D=tags&ga_search_query=wood+pen+holder&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

    Sorry for the long link!

    Can any of you find better?

    • Questions: what do you want it to look like (that is, in what way would you like to avoid generic)? Also, what is your price range? :)

      • Without waiting for your response, and because it just makes me smile, here’s a turkey feather pen and stand. It’s certainly a little more unique!
        http://www.nostalgicimpressions.com/product_p/4400j.htm

      • I wish I knew. There’s a marble on on eBay that I like, but it apparently has some signs of wear. Ideal would be something Florida-ish crazy that a woman as old as your mother would find “fun” (recipient is past retirement age). Price should probably stay under $35, definitely under $50.
        Thanks for the feather suggestion, but I don’t think that’s “it”

  18. Anon for this :

    I’m hoping I can get a quick bit of advice:

    I’m preparing for a job interview. I have discovered that the attorney to whom I would report was recently dressed down in a scathing court opinion criticizing his skills and his approach in the case. He’s a seasoned attorney who recently opened his own solo practice. For various reasons, this would be a good job for me right now. It’s a contract job.

    My inclination is that I should not bring it up in the interview. Then again, I don’t know that it makes sense to just ignore it.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • I think it’s a good thing that you know about it, so that if it comes up or is alluded to you can avoid putting your foot in your mouth. I would absolutely *not* bring it up yourself. I can’t imagine any way in which it would make you seem like a better candidate, and I honestly can’t think of a way in which you could even bring it up that wouldn’t be incredibly awkward and potentially off-putting. To me, this is not even like a major public scandal, where it could be the elephant in the room. There’s bound to be a lot of negative feelings about the whole thing, and you don’t want to tap into that in an interview. If for some reason it gets brought up by someone else, you’ll at least be able to gauge what the feelings are about it before commenting (i.e., “I really blew it on that one” vs “Judge has had it out for me for a while” vs “Judge misunderstood what I had done”). Good luck in your interview!

    • I can’t imagine why on earth you would bring it up, and I seriously doubt he’ll raise the issue.

      • He probably won’t raise it, but I’d have my super long extra sensative anntennae out for any sign of it. Depending on how clear the reference is I would 1) act like I didn’t hear it. 2) sound vaguely sympathetic 3) ask how he would like other peoples comments on it to be dealt with.

  19. SoCal Gator :

    Well, I had a great time shopping the Nordie Anniversary pre-sale. Did try to show some, but not much, restraint. Picked up a fabulous navy Theory suit, not available online (my first!), two great Lafayette blazers (the purple one –item #555556– is amazing) and slim fit ankle pants (boy that brand runs big!), some terrific Classique, including a grass green skirt (#537946) & long cardi (#537648) combo and great blackspeclked multi cardigan (#537668), a few great Halogen polka dot blouses, cardis. jackets (#530757, #530806, #530821, #399905) and a Nordstroms collection tween skirt (#529743) and silk blouse (#529765). Also my favorite Natori tshirt bra is one sale.

    So much fun. I got there at 8am By the time I left, nearly all the sizes 0-4 were gone which made me glad I got there when they opened.

    • onehsancare :

      I had avoided feeling envious of the wider variety available to regular-sized people by limiting what was displayed to inventory available in petites. So much for that strategy.

    • Working Girl :

      I bought the Theory suit too, along with 3 pairs of boots and all sorts of other stuff. I keep wanting to go back for more . . .

  20. lawtalkinggirl :

    Don’t do OCI if you don’t want to and if you don’t want to work in biglaw. I went to a T10 law school and was on the dean’s list first semester of 1L year and I didn’t do OCI. I did not want to work in biglaw ever and I saw no reason to participate in such a stressful exercise.

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