Coffee Break – Double-Breasted Trench Coat

DIETRICH DOUBLE-BREASTED TRENCH COATCoat weather is almost here!  I absolutely love this double-breasted trench coat — the slim fit, the tie belt, the retro style — it’s a great way to add a good dose of glam to your daily life.  It’s $348, but you can enjoy 20% off BCBGMAXAZRIA merchandise through 9/24, bringing the price down to $278.  DIETRICH DOUBLE-BREASTED TRENCH COAT




  1. Poll for the lawyers of the hive:

    I’m a new attorney (well, I hope, I’m not sure if I passed the bar yet…) and I want to know whether you use “pled” or “pleaded”? It seems pleaded is correct, but pled is preferred. What do you use?

  2. Maddie Ross :

    Pleaded is right, though I hate the way it sounds.

  3. Two cents :

    Hi ladies, for those of you who have done a baby registry, any stores that you do or do not recommend? We’re looking for a store (s) with lots of selection, easy return policies, and extra credit if the store gives you cash back (not just store credit). We live in the Boston area. I’ve heard great things about Buy Buy Baby, but unfortunately there are so few stores in our area. Thank you!

    • Anonymous :

      I know you didn’t ask this, but in case you didn’t know – many people are offended by baby registries, because they think that the registries look like gift grabs.

      • Many people also find them helpful because they like to celebrate the babies of their friends and family members and want to get useful/desired items. Or they don’t have kids and need some suggestions in that department.

      • Lots of people are offended by lots of various things, but as a guest to a wedding or baby shower, I appreciate registries because I typically (i) want to give the person a gift, and (ii) want to make sure that they actually want what I’m giving them.

      • I know every now and then I have heard that, but seriously, everyone knows that if you go to a shower you bring a gift (unless told otherwise). In my mind, it makes it so much easier if people know what you need rather than trying to figure it out or having to call you – at least when I have attended a shower, that was my thought! And if someone finds a registry offensive, then they do not need to buy off it!

      • Hive Mind :

        This is not at all true.

        The ladies of THE HIVE feel it is fine to register, as long as you publicize it in a proper and discreet fashion.

        Carry on.

      • I’m from a culture where registries are unheard of, and everyone gets/gives cash. I thought the idea of a registry was tacky in the beginning, but having been to many many weddings and baby showers, I changed my mind. I appreciate the registry because it takes the guessing out of what to give friends and no one is obligated to give you anything (or anything off your registry). And most thoughtful people include a range of gifts for all budgets. I’m a registry convert, I guess.

        • Also, I would guess that for new parents, not having to go out and actually buy the stuff is helpful (see comment below re shopping with screaming 6 week old).

      • I just posted below as a baby gift buyer, and I have to disagree with the sentiment above. If you are having a baby shower, please please please register for gifts. I have one friend with an enormous Amazon registry and another friend with no registry, and I truly have no idea what to get the latter friend. I want to get her something useful that she doesn’t already have, and I have no way of knowing what she has already received or bought for herself, or what she doesn’t want.

        I might be able to get behind the idea that wedding registries are tacky because most people already have a household set up before they get married and therefore don’t need Williams & Sonoma measuring cups, but babies… you really don’t have the baby things. I’m more than happy to buy all the swaddling wraps and crib sheets you need.

      • Plus some of the baby needs are eye-opening for us not-yet-parents. If you’ve never had a baby, you might have no idea what new parents actually need. (I mean, how else do non-parents learn to buy Boppys?)

      • They’re extremely useful for baby showers.

      • REGISTER. How will I know if you want pink things for your baby girl, or want to be gender neutral? Do you want a jungle nursery, a farm nursery, or a princess nursery? Do you already have a crib/car seat/ bassinett/ bre@st pump or whatever other group gift we are considering? Your shower is thrown by someone else, so tell them about the registry, and maybe don’t put it on the invitation, but you MUST DO IT!

      • People are offended by baby registries now?

        Amy Poehler style: really?

      • I think the proper etiquette is that it’s okay to have a registry, but publicizing it (e.g., listing it on the invite) is tacky.

        • Bunky – I have never heard of this. How do people know where you’re registered if it’s not on the invite? You don’t tell them unless they ask? I’m genuinely curious.

          • Agreed. It’s rude to post on invites for weddings, but not for showers; that’s the whole point of a shower, to give gifts.

          • I’m pretty sure it applies to both weddings and babies. If you need to know, you contact the person throwing the shower or you google it.

          • Mighty Mouse :

            +1, Bunkster!

            That’s one of the ways that your mom / sisters / bridesmaids help you.
            MM: Wow, what does Bunkster need for the baby?
            Bunkster’s bestie: Not much, they’ve already done the nursery. She is collecting Shel Silverstein books, though, and she has a registry at Target.

            Easy peasy.

    • Diana Barry :

      I’m not sure about this, honestly – we registered at Amazon bc we had heard bad things about Babies R Us and Target registries. If most people are local you could register at Magic Beans to get super nice stuff (but I don’t know about their return policies).

      • Babies R Us is the Devil. Nobody to help you as you wander aimlessly through the hundreds of aisles looking for the impossible-to-find items on the registry.

    • I don’t have a baby but I do live in Boston, and one of my pregnant friends was raving about Amazon for baby registry last night. The selection is huge, shipping is free, and easy returns. And as a baby gift buyer, I agree – Amazon is fabulous because it’s so easy to use, great registry layout, it already has my payment information stored, and I don’t have to actually go to a store to buy a gift. Two thumbs up!

      • Anastasia :

        I don’t have a baby, but I did my wedding registry on Amazon and loved it — if I’m remembering correctly, if you find something at another site, you can still put it on the registry, and it will link (I might be making that up, though, it’s been a long day). It was super easy, and even if you get store credit if you return, store credit at Amazon is almost the same as cash because you can but EVERYTHING there.

        • lucy stone :

          You can indeed add something from another site. I loved it because we had a few odds and ends we wanted from some stores and were able to compile all of them on Amazon.

      • I don’t have a baby either, but I know a bunch of people who have used Amazon and loved it for the same reasons. As a purchaser of registry gifts off of Amazon, however, DO NOT pay for their gift wrap. A gift that I purchased came in a large cloth sack. Seriously. I could have just done that myself, thanks.

      • +1 for Amazon. We also used BRU. Target was terrible (and I big pink puffy heart Target) so we passed.

    • Target is tricky for returns in general. Trying to make a return to BRU with a screaming 6 week old who wants to eat is not recommended, but overall they were easy enough to deal with. Amazon has just about everything you could ever want. Also check out the magic that is Amazon Mom/Amazon Prime.

    • We had Amazon for our wedding, and it was great (especially the universal registry feature), but it’s not easy to return things. Basically, you will have to pay return shipping (or deduct from your credit) unless the item is defective.

      I think it’s a little dishonest to register with the intention to return stuff for cash. It’s one thing if you genuinely don’t like something or turn out not to need it, but I wouldn’t like it if I picked something out for you off your registry and you turned around and returned it for cash. I’m not sure of any stores that will give you cash back, anyway.

      • Sometimes its not an issue of registering with the intention to return it for cash, but more that some people don’t quite get how registries “work” so they buy you something from your registry but don’t get it marked off so then you wind up with 2 of that item. Or sometimes you register for something with the best of intentions only to find out later that it really isn’t a good fit for you or doesn’t fit your baby. I’d rather someone return something I bought them, even if they just use the credit to buy diapers than keep something not useful to them. And I’d highly suggest not giving in to the nesting instinct and removing tags/washing everything – sometimes even the items you thought would be just PERFECT off your registry just aren’t and you can’t return them once you’ve washed and removed tags.

        That said, Target and BRU only give store credit for returns, but they allow returns of items on your registry without a receipt, which is really helpful, and you can always use the store credit to buy diapers and baby food. If you have older family members I would suggest you register at at least 1 brick & mortar store for their sake – people like going to stores and picking out baby items and holding it in the hand while squealing “how cute!” – not quite as much fun to click on a picture online.

        • I’m a little late to this thread but want to echo every thing AmyRenee said. My baby’s due in two weeks and so I’ve just gone through this process. Many people (or check out clerks) do not do the registry right and you will get doubles so don’t take off tags until the last minute.

          I registered at Target and was underwhelmed by the selection and return process (despite the fact that many people bought off registry we also got several duplicates of things we did registered for, or realized things weren’t what we needed once we got it home – this first baby stuff is overwhelming).

          To the initial question, I would recommend amazon plus one brick and mortar store. My friends and family talked me out of amazon because they said people wanted to shop in person, but I wish I had gone with what I wanted rather than trying to find all the stuff I needed at one place.

      • That’s really useful info about Amazon return policy. I’m getting ready to revamp a baby registry in time for its birth. And I know we’re going to wind up with doubles of stuff and want to return it.

        • Also, if you’re still reading, the return period is pretty short. We got a duplicate cookbook off our wedding registry and didn’t try to return for a while. We were able to get customer service to extend the return window, but it’s just one more step. We ended up regifting rather than returning, because by the time we paid to ship it back, we wouldn’t have much credit left.

    • From the perspective of someone who purchases gifts off registries, Babies ‘R Us is a pain in the neck with online purchases and shipping.

    • Two Cents :

      Thanks everyone for the immediate responses! Seems like Amazon is the way to go, and we are already loyal Amazon Prime members so we know how great that site is.

      Also, I do recognize that some people find registries offensive. My sister didn’t register for this reason, but ended up with sooooo much stuff that was not useful/that she could not return. I just want to give my friends/family the option of a registry. Thanks again.

    • Amazon mom!

      There is a Buy buy baby in Braintree…

    • We went with Amazon! I highly recommend it. Everyone can easily access – you’re not limited to specific brands and everything can be shipped to you directly for free. Oh, and for a little bit you still get the no tax deal in most places.

      FYI – they also have a Mom membership for I think $79/year, which I also recommend. It gets you 20% off a lot of regular use items (like diapers, etc.) and 1-day upgrade shipping for free. It was awesome, especially in the first year when we had to go through a bunch of different things to figure out what’s best.

      Oh and I would definitely recommend registering. It makes sense a lot less confusing and gives people who don’t have kids direction. Only after I had a kid, I realized how my cute boutique purchases were not really useful. So nowadays, I get them something of the registry and a cute toy/outfit.

    • PharmaGirl :

      I was pleased with B R Us for my registry. No problems with registering or returning.

      A friend registered with amazon and I found it difficult as a gift purchaser. I bought something that was sold to me by a third party and they failed to tell me it was out of stock. The friend didn’t receive the gift until weeks after the baby was born and I was not notified of that before buying.

  4. A couple of people asked for a report on my new ring ( It came yesterday and it’s beautiful! First of all, the stone is not as huge on my hand as it is on the mannequin hand. Looking down on it, you can still see the edges of my finger on either side. It does sit on a sizeable “basket” of a setting so it stands up pretty high from my finger (1/2 inch from finger to the top of the stone). I’ve been wearing it all day, though, and the height hasn’t bothered me. zora will have to vouch for how it looks on my hand. Sent her a pic last night.

    Good day for pretty new jewelry. My boss apparently cannot stop himself from sending out bomb-dropping emails at the end of the day. I spent about an hour last night doing damage control with two junior colleagues via text last night then spent about 30 minutes with them this morning, one of them in tears. Yeesh.

  5. lawsuited :

    If the fools at BCBG made this in an XL it would be on its way to me right now! Harrumph.

  6. Amelia Pond :

    I love trench coats. They are classy and sexy at the same time!

    Early TJ: I have generalized anxiety that I was diagnosed with years ago. I was on meds for a few months in the beginning to get back to even and since then I have controlled it with things I learned in cognative therapy. However, due to a series of events all timing themselves perfectly, I have ended up with too much on my plate and the cognative tricks are no longer working. I need to see someone to get back on medication just to “reset”, however I spent 2 hours trying to find someone today. I thought that the insurance/employer provided EAP (EPA?) phone people would be helpful, but out of the dr’s they suggested only 2 were accepting new patients. 1 doesn’t take our insurance (I am not sure why the insurance company would reccomend someone who doesn’t take our insurance but that is a whole different post) and the other guy doesn’t have an appt til Nov 29. While this is not life threatening, I would like to get this taken care of sooner than that. Can anyone reccomend someone in the metropolitan Baltimore area? I don’t mind driving around the counties to see someone great. Thanks for the help ladies!

    • Can you have your therapist that you worked with call your primary care provider in the interim? For now, take the appointment in November just in case, but I bet your PCP would be able to help you out since you have a history of anxiety, a medication that worked for you, and have done CBT. You might also call a few places and ask to be put on their cancellation list.

    • If you’d like to go back on the same medication, can you see your primary care provider? I was pretty much in your situation – was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, went on medication, and gradually went off them as things improved. A few years later, things got out of control again and I needed to go back on them.

      Unfortunately, the psychiatrist who had originally prescribed them to me had since retired. I was able to visit my PCP, explained the situation, and she wrote me a new prescription for the medication I was previously on. That reminds me, I need to call her and make a follow-up visit…

    • I agree with you on the trench coat love, but am sorry you’re getting overwhelmed.
      I don’t have a rec., but if it’s just a matter of getting back on the same meds, perhaps you can call your regular GP and ask for a short term prescription? I know not all doctors do that, but I have gotten BCP and pain med for a tooth before from my regular doctor, perhaps yours will do the same so you have something to tie you over while you seek another therapist.

    • Hi — sorry to hear things are overwhelming, and you’re right, better to nip it in the bud now before you feel more out of control. I work in the mental health field, and often, if someone has previously been on a medication, a primary care provider (MD or NP) is often willing to prescribe the same med for you. This is particularly true if it’s for a “garden-variety” diagnosis like generalized anxiety disorder or major depression.

      p.s. It’s a great idea to keep using your cognitive strategies; even if they’re not working for you as well as they used to do, they’re likely still helping a bit.

    • Amelia Pond :

      I knew you ladies would be helpful! I made an appt with the Dr on 11/29 and in the meantime I have an appt with my GP tomorrow to get a holdover prescription. Thanks!

    • Merabella :

      I was also going to say that because you are in the Baltimore area you may be able to go to Johns Hopkins and see if they have a Psych department where you can go talk to people who are training – they have to do a certain number of observed hours. You may be able to get some interim CBT as well through the University.

  7. Sydney Bristow :

    I NEED these boots in my life!

    • lawsuited :

      +1 How much do I love a cognac boot? So. Much.

      • Anon for this :

        Agreed! I don’t see them on the website. Any ideas?

        I want to be that model.

        • Jacqueline :

          I think it might be a Cole Haan boot. Nordstrom has them; they were on sale at the anniversary sale last month. They’re stunning IRL.

          • Sydney Bristow :

            My stupid giant calves just don’t fit into boots. I’m perusing the wide calf boots on Zappos and the ones that might be wide enough for me just aren’t as cute.

          • Have you looked at Duo? I don’t know if they are cute enough for you, and they are not as gorg as these, but they have a lot of nice options.

            And we don’t say “stupid giant calves” we say “athletic” calves. I’m on a mission for calf acceptance; it’s only happened to me in the past year. But now I proselytize far and wide. We have lovely calves full of muscles. They are nothing to be ashamed of, despite the deluge of equestrian boots that shame us.

          • Have you shopped IRL for any boots lately? I was just at DSW the other day and while I’ve never had issues with “athletic” calves before – things fit pretty well in general – I think the calls for “athletic” shafted boots have been heard! Of the half dozen or so pair I tried on, only ONE of them wasn’t too big around in the calves. Very weird for me!

          • Sydney Bristow :

            I tried to go for calf acceptance for a long time. I was a gymnast for years, so I really do just have muscular legs. But when I see such pretty boots all I can think is “stupid giant calves.” I’ve looked at Duo but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

            I went through this issue trying to find rain boots last year and even wide calf boots weren’t wide enough, but it looks like some on Zappos might be wide enough. I might order some to try. I’m just tired of being frustrated by boots that don’t fit every single year.

          • I own them! They are cole Haan. They are really awesome.

          • phillygirlruns :

            sydney bristow – check out widewidths dot com. i was skeptical based on the name alone, but they actually have an excellent selection of NICE boots with exact calf measurements for each size.

          • The Ros Hommerson over the knee boots are gorgeous! Found them on 6PM for only $119 but they don’t have my size. Otherwise, they would be mine. My calves are decided “muscular”!

          • Sydney Bristow :

            Phillygirlruns- thank you! There are some great options there. I’m going to take the plunge concerned I can figure out which ones I like best!

  8. Dear TCFKAG – I love your tumblr, but not sure how to express that love on said tumblr. The bobblehead avengers killed me this morning. That is all.

    • Awwwww thanks. Now I’m blushing. (BTW….much of that content I’m not responsible for. On Tumblr you can just reblog things from other people’s blogs — so I reblog things I find hilarious.)

  9. Reminder:
    Bay Area Meetup this Saturday, September 22nd.  
    1pm at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park (

    Also, East Bay ‘r*tt*s, if anyone wants to carpool or ride public transport together, I’d be down. I can drive, or do caltrain, I don’t mind which. So, post here, or email me at zoradances at the gmail.

    And thanks again to karenpadi for organizing!

    • Kontraktor :

      Hey Zora, I think might email you because I might want to drive with you. I can help pay for gas/tolls if there are any. Watch out for an email from cheshercat at hot mail.

  10. I absolutely LOVE this coat!

    On an aside: I got the new Talbots catalog in the mail this week. Is it my imagination or did they do a complete 180 and go back to their old “clothes for women of a certain age” ways (for a while, their catalogs looks downright JCrew-esque)? It wasn’t even just the clothes, but the models they used, the way everything was styled, everything. It looked like a Pendelton catolog (nothing against Pendelton but their catalog is not exactly inspirational). And — this is how I know I am on to something — the section on evening wear said something like, “Whether you’re mother of the bride or aunt of the groom, we have something for every dressy occasion…” I am wondering if this is just a mail order campaign or did they change all the clothes in stores, too. Thoughts? Feelings?

    • Diana Barry :

      I feel like I read an article saying that Talbots was going to go back to the old style bc their ‘regular’ customers (the more mature ones) were irritated at the new style. No idea where I read it, though. I went into a Talbots the other day and I was the only person there under 60.

      Note: I got a Land’s End Canvas catalog the other day, and it looked EXACTLY like J. Crew, down to the bright lip color!

      • ChinaRette :

        Agreed–I actually liked a lot of the Land’s End things better than this season’s J. Crew! Rich colors and better prices. J. Crew is cute, but I think they’ve really gone overboard with the Jenna Lyons styling.

    • They probably did do a 180. I was in retail product development for years, and occasionally we’d convince the powers-that-were to let us try some younger, updated styles. If after 6 or 12 months it wasn’t a screaming success they’d pull the funding and we’d revert back to Golden-Girls-R-Us. People in “fashion” are actually often very scared of change.

    • They totally did. I had the exact same reaction when I saw their catalog and I was ESPECIALLY horrified by that evening wear section.

    • lawsuited :

      Yes! The new catalogue is awful! I recently visited a brick and mortar store and the in-store merchandise has a strong “women of a certain age” vibe. I guess it’s only for me from now on.

    • On the flip side of this, though, I think that Coldwater Creek is now going after all those 20-something professionals that Talbots has apparently given up on. The new CC catalog had a ton of things in it that I’d want. Yes, some of them are still to boxy and Chico-esque. But on the whole, I thought it was way more stylish and on trend than in the past.

    • SoCal Gator :

      I agree 100% about Talbots. Got some cute stuff this summer but their fall stuff is awful, boxy, old lady clothes (and I am no spring chicken but they were way too old for even me!). I mail ordered a silk blouse that looked like a nice burgandy but in real life was dark dull brown-red. I hoped to exchange it for a cute fall dress and found nothing at all I even remotely liked. Everything was dowdy, way overpriced, poorly cut (blousy) and completely lacking in any style. They are once again off my list of where to look for clothes. Such a shame.

    • OK I hated the evening wear and casual sections but I did not hate all the work clothes. I have never been a big wearer of plaid and houndstooth type weaves, but I like the look of the solid double faced wool separates and the lush looking coats.

      My mental image of how a Boss Lady like me should dress is somewhere between Miranda Priestly and Renee Russo in the Thomas Crown Affair. (uhhhh, that is, the parts where she was wearing a top.)

      But it’s not just because I’m in my 40s and a boss lady. I’ve been wearing Talbots since I was in my 20s. I like 100% wool and 100% silk, and they used to be hard to find. Talbots and Barrie Pace were my mainstays.

      So I guess I like old lady stores. But Coldwater Creek and Chico’s (aka The Menopause Store) still make me break out in hives.

      • Mamabear, I LOVE Renee Russo in Thomas Crown Affair. I want her hair in that movie and the wardrobe is gorgeous; Pierce Brosnan wouldn’t hurt either – grrrr. I must admit I don’t think I can ever pull that much “sexy” off while being all business. I wish!

        I ordered several Talbots v-neck sweaters for work. Havent received them yet so curious to see if they will look good. I am always on the hunt for v-necks that are not too low and it seems like crew necks are what’s in right now.

      • You aren’t alone. :) I haven’t cared for much of the Talbots line the past couple of years, but quite liked the fall catalog. Some beautiful accessories, and wonderful colors. I appreciated that they had certain cuts that actually fit my body (I’ve had a ‘mature’ figure since I was a teenager). I love their lined wool flannel pants in the Heritage cut.

      • Galloping Figlet :

        I, too, love her wardrobe in The Thomas Crown Affair (was just on the other night), and I knew immediately why- most of it was done by Michael Kors for Celine (huge MK fan) …and MK is not old lady-ish i nthe least; it’s refinement!!

        Why not try out some of his knits and look to Celine for structured separates…

    • YES!!!! Not happy.

  11. Another TJ: Anyone here from the Northern Ohio area? Feeling jealous of all the readers able to exchange tips on NY/DC/Seattle/Chicago/Boston/Dallas etc area info. Or anyone else from somewhere not highly populated with * r e t t e s care to join in on the commiseration?

  12. I’ve got a troubling situation and I’m not sure what I can do about it, if anything. I joined my firm about 1.5 years ago, and the deal was that I get a base salary (very low) and most of my money comes from bonuses based on a percentage of what I bring in. In other words, I don’t get money until the firm does. A couple of months after I got there, I was asked to do research on a divorce case that had been around way too long. Research turned into pleadings turned into my taking the case over entirely a few months later.

    Without going into details, the partner who worked it before me did something that, but for it, the case might have been resolved, but instead, we had an opponent who wanted to drag it out to hurt our client as much as possible. When I got the case, the client already owed a lot of money, and billing had been dropped somewhere along the way. I got things restarted and did my best to make things work and placate the client, but the case simply kept on getting more and more complicated. The client’s demands became increasingly, well, demanding, and I really worked my you-know-what off to try to fix things, including taking hours and hours of phone calls from and meetings with him and allowing him to nitpick through every letter and pleading multiple times before they were sent.

    He did restart payments during that time, but not really regularly and didn’t get caught up. I continued to work because the case was moving so fast and because he did promise that he was working on it (he has investments that he said he would tap into with which he could pay). I went to partner with questions, but mostly was on my own.

    Anyway, a couple months ago, he terminated representation and retained a new attorney. He told me that he would pay and said that I hadn’t done anything wrong, he just thought that the other might have more experience. Hadn’t heard from him, wrote a letter offering to discount for immediate payment, no response.

    Today, we got a complaint for malpractice. It does not implicate me, only the partner for what took place before I even started with the firm. The but is that he still owes a lot of money that would go towards my work. I really did need that money. I’m expecting a baby, and my portion of that money could literally make the difference between whether my husband could stay home for a year or not. It’s a lot of money.

    I probably should have backed out of the case earlier, given up, but I really wanted to fix it, and he knew what he was spending and kept saying that he would pay. I know that I need to work on pushing money more with clients. But, at the same time, he was already in the hole when I got the case, and I was handed a mess that was not my making. I don’t really know what I could ask the firm to do (they are obviously doing what they promised under our employment agreement), but I feel pretty frustrated at the partner for putting this on me (he certainly knew the amount of work that I was putting into it). I never asked to get out of the case, but I knew that the partner did not want me to because of fears of receiving a complaint. It all feels very unfair, but all I can think of doing would be whining about it. (Looking for a new job might be an option down the line (I’d like to make more money and maybe not work in divorce so much anyway), but certainly not with the babe on the way, plus the market in my area still stinks to high heaven, and I do really like the people that I work with.) Thoughts?

    (Sorry for the length)

    • You don’t mention the size of your firm. In the most ideal situation, you could go to the partners and say that you know this could be a long, drawn out affair, and you would like to be paid your percentage now (perhaps based upon the reduced fee you suggested for prompt payment). In a large enough firm, the firm should be concerned that a hard working associate not take the hit for a bad situation such as this one, where it’s entirely possible that the fee may end up as part of settlement discussions in the malpractice case. However, I suspect you are at a smaller firm, and no one wants to take a hit on the case and pay you $$ that the firm never received, so they would likely tell you that you can’t get paid until the firm gets paid-and they may even suggest this is a risk you knew you were taking with the months of work and the limited dollars coming in. In all likelihood, if I had to bet, the firm won’t do anything for you until the case is resolved, and even then, if they don’t get paid, they will try to make a smaller payment rather than pay you your percentage based upon what you should have received. I’m sorry, this is a really tough situation and it doesn’t seem at all fair that this ends up on your back, especially with a baby on the way. I just wouldn’t count on getting that money from the firm for a while.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I’d ask your firm to compensate you for the amount you would have received if he had paid given that the firm knew or should have known they were asking you to do work for which you wouldn’t be paid. They put you in the position of an associate, not someone running her own show. They need to pay you like an associate then with a fair salary for that time period. Further, if this guy ever does pay, your predecessor will likely claim he/she is entitled to the fee, not you.

    • I’m not in law, and so have no useful suggestions, but I’m sending lots of Internet hugs your way. That is really difficult. I’m so sorry.

  13. First World Problems :

    Disclaimer: I understand that I am lucky to have the problems that I describe below, and that they are definitely First World Problems.

    My husband and I both have well-paying jobs that required us to go to grad school. My husband is a few years older than me, and was lucky enough to go to grad school at time when it was both cheaper and federal student loans were doled out at much lower interest rates. We got together while I was in my last year of grad school but we did not married until the beginning of this year. When I graduated, the economy was terrible, and I was very lucky to find a job, and then a year later, a better job with higher pay.

    I have been paying down my student loan debt but those payments were going entirely towards interest. I make around half of what my husband makes but we’re both in the six-figure range. My husband has saved A LOT of money, and has paid his loans down to a completely manageable amount with really low interest rates. He could just pay them off entirely (and still have more than several hundred thousands in net worth) but doesn’t because he’s doing better in the market.

    The only thing that we fight about is money— he’s very cheap. Initially, he refused to help me at all with my student loans. After several fights, he’s “agreed” to help out but letting me make payments our of our joint account but will not give me money out of his separate accounts.

    I’ve tried to reason with him and explain that even though it’s my separate debt, if my student loans rack up several hundred dollars in interest each month, it’s really money that WE are losing. It doesn’t really work. I also asked him to loan me money from his separate accounts to pay down the debt… but he wants me to make monthly payments to him and add on some interest. I think that’s insane. I am willing to sign an agreement that states that in the event that we divorce, he’s entitled to reimbursement with interest for any money loaned for the purpose of paying down my separate debt but otherwise I think it’s gross to pay my husband back during the marriage (note: he would put this in his separate account).

    All of my friends think it’s crazy that he doesn’t help out, and many of my friends have received financial help with their student loans from their partner who could afford to do so. Even his friends think it’s slightly crazy because they have all handled paying off student loan debt for their partner if they can afford it.

    I don’t know how to handle this with him. There are obviously some BIG issues that are underlying all of this. He refuses to go to counseling but should– he is very cheap, has slightly improved, and out of everyone is the most generous with me– that is of course, not saying that much.

    Anybody dealt with a similar situation? Anyone have tips? I am scared that we won’t be able to get pass this.

    • How do you split your other expenses? Does he pick up 2/3 of all other costs and you pick up 1/3 (given your salary disparities?) I have a hard time weighing in here since I would feel completely insane about this situation (and would DEFINITELY never agree to pay my husband interest!) However, I was pretty practical about student loans-they are my debt, they got me a degree and a job that I’m happy to have, and I don’t care if it takes me a while to pay them back. I just plug away at them and they’ll be done when they are done. However, I definitely think that you should be paying alot less for your expenses, and if I were in your situation, I’d be pretty clear that I cannot afford to pay for dinners/luxuries because of my loans, so hubby would have to pick up those tabs as well. It’s hard to understand his rationale-you are a team after all-but some people have deep seated money issues and it’s hard to turn that particular Titanic. My husband sometimes says that I hoard money as if it’s the Depression-I obviously wasn’t alive then and even my parents were very young-but obviously some of that thriftyness seaped through two generations. (Note: I’m not so thrifty that I wouldn’t help pay of hubby’s debt-I even helped him pay off his credit card debt before we were married because it killed me to pay so much in interest!) Good luck to you-it’s a tough situation, that’ s for sure.

      • First World Problems :

        We have a joint account that we put half of our paychecks into… The expenses (rent, gym, groceries, dinners, joint trips) are paid from there. I don’t use that account to pay for clothes (mine or his– he usually doesn’t buy anything, including clothes that he needs) or dinner or drinks that do not include him.

        • But doesn’t that mean he has twice the “extra” money you do (i.e., what’s not in the joint account)? That would be weird to me, if my husband and I had different spending abilities (and I’m saying this as someone who’s always significantly out-earned my husband, so if it we did this, I’d be the one with all the extra cash).

          • Merabella :

            Yea, I think that you contribute based on your salaries, not half for half’s sake. Watch Joy Luck Club girl, this right down the middle thing never works out when you aren’t making the same money.

    • No advice, but I think this is unacceptable. Do you want to have kids? Are the kids going to be “yours”? If you have to miss a week or two of work because of them are you going to have to default on your loans? If you get fired, will you have to borrow from the bank for your share of groceries? If you get a disease, will he not pay your medical bills?

      Would he consider you using 95% of your salary to pay off your debts, and he pays all living expenses? Or, will you have to pay your debts and clip coupons and sell your car, while he buys lobster? Ok, now I’m being crazy.

    • lawsuited :

      I tend to agree with your friends and your husband’s friends – this is insane.

      • lawsuited :

        Sorry – I hit the submit button accidentally! I meant to add that, although your husband is making more money than you are right now, that may not always be the case, and over the course of a marriage you may takes turns taking care of the other financially. Your husband needs to put some financial goodwill in the marriage goodwill bank in case he ever needs to make a withdrawal down the line.

        • Research, Not Law :

          This. Marriage = teamwork. I can’t even wrap my mind around his thinking here. I have no idea how to help, though. I’d go straight for the underlying issues. How are you going to share your life with someone who can’t even share money?

    • I kinda/sorta deal with this with my husband. He went to business school and I went to law school, and he’s been out for a few more years than I have, so he has one less year of student loans to pay for and he has more investments and a higher income. I also came out of law school right in the midst of the financial crisis and struggled to find a well-paying job for a while.

      We struggled with this for a while because he’s very frugal and is a little paranoid about not having enough money and he didn’t want “his” money to pay down my student loans. At the same time, I had some feminist issues about it and wanted to pay off my student loans myself and not be dependent my husband to pay them off for me. So we definitely went through a phase where he had a lot of money leftover every month and I was struggling to pay my share of the joint expenses.

      We eventually settled on a good model that works well for us:
      – Joint expenses (rent, groceries, etc): split 50/50
      – Individual expenses (lunch/starbucks, but also student loans): paid for individually
      – Joint savings account: This is the key one, for our marital sanity. We started saving very aggressively, and we contribute proportionally based on our individual incomes net of student loans. That last part is key. We both calculated our take-home pay less student loans, and then calculated proportional savings goals based on the remainder. In the end, it means that he contributes about 3x what I contribute, but we both save aggressively and feel the budgeting pain. We consider that money truly joint, family money. We also both put our bonuses in this account, which is important because his bonus is 5x my bonus.

      Sorry this has turned into a novel. Point being, he doesn’t pay for my student loans per se, but he contributes a lot more to the joint savings account because a good chunk of my paycheck goes to paying my student loans. That was a solution that we both felt comfortable with. At the end of the day, it’s kind of dumb because it’s all the same money going into different buckets, but I don’t think you can discount the value of a little emotional accounting structure that feels fair and both partners can get behind.

    • legit, this is insane. Honestly if it were me I would say its counseling or I am out.

    • Oh dear. That is very hurtful and yes, I do think you both need to work on things (him really) because I feel that this could lead to some massive resentment and terrible behavior for your potential future children to witness. A spouse does not deserve to be nickel and dimed. Money problems always spill over into other areas. And it sort of makes me mad on your behalf that as a couple you can afford these payments and he isn’t willing to work towards something for your marriage. It also makes me sad that you have been so willing to compromise in terms of willingness to pay him back (AND HE WANTS INTEREST) even to the point of drawing up a post-nuptial. Next time he wants S%X tell him there’s a fee – how is that not any more hurtful than what he’s doing to you. Good luck to you. His attitude is unacceptable.

      • Maybe I am weird, but I actually don’t think that a postnuptial is that weird. Certainly, even without it, that could be considered in equitable distribution if you did get divorced, I believe. So if it helped put his mind at ease, what the hey. BUT the interest is ridiculous!

    • I’m not sure what I would do in that situation. For better or worse, SO and I both have law school loans and, in fact, his are significantly bigger than mine because I lucked out with scholarshipsb and didn’t have to pay rent while in school. But I also can’t imagine either of us acting like your husband in this situation. I’m not sure I would expect to have him actually pay my loans, but I would certainly expect that he pay the bulk of our living expenses (rent, food, entertainment, vacation, etc.) and I direct my income to aggresively paying off my loans. Perhaps this is a psychological issue for him and you can come to a similar arrangement? For someone who seems to be very savvy with money, this is a very strange move to make, financially – assuming you stay together (which I think you assume when you marry), this money is money your family is overpaying in interest, etc. So if your loans are, say, $100K and will be $140K after all is said and done w/interest, that’s 40K you both threw away. I’m not sure I get his rationale.

      • First World Problems :

        Yes, it is unacceptable, hurtful and it’s not rational. Not sure if it’s highlighted in my post– but I have gotten an agreement from him that I can pay down the student loans each month with money from our joint account (in addition to my payment from my own account, which basically just pays off the interest). This is a start but it’s taken several months of fighting to get there.

        I am tearing up reading the comments because it seems like all of you agree that this is a bad situation and my husband sounds like an awful person… In reality, my husband is really a sweet guy if money isn’t involved…. Of course, money is practically always involved, and I have a feeling that my life will only get harder if he doesn’t get help.

        • Oh dear, it’s going to be ok. I love my tightwad husband – he’s a loving, warm, generous person in all other ways, but he’s just a freak about money. It’s ok. Money is an emotional issue for a lot of people.

          You’re splitting your student loan payments now then, yeah? If they’re coming from your joint account? You don’t need to pay more than that or down your student loans aggressively if it comes at the cost of marital harmony or your sanity. Pay what’s due, pace it out, and over time they will go away. It might not be the 100% best financial decision, but life is made of financial decisions and emotional decisions, and you can decide how to balance everything out.

        • e_pontellier :

          “I have gotten an agreement from him that I can…”
          It sounds like he’s using it as a control technique. I would suggest getting yourself into counseling/therapy, so that you can be more comfortable asserting yourself, and figuring out what you want in your marriage. You need support, and if you’re not getting that from your husband, you need to get some from a therapist at least for the time being.

          • First World Problems :

            No real issues with asserting myself. I tell him this is not fair or rational, and the “agreement” was his suggestion after bad fight.

            He’s afraid that I am going to divorce him after my student loans are paid off (hence, why I agreed to do the post-nupital). Due to some unresolved childhood issues arising out of his father leaving the family without any money, he has basically turned to hoarding his money. So he’s not able to be rational about his money, and gets a lot of joy from saving, investing, and watching his money grow. He’s the type of person who doesn’t look for a deal in terms of what kind of quality you can get for the lowest price. Instead, he either doesn’t buy at all, or just buys the cheapest thing. I have pushed him to be smarter than that about purchases, and sometimes it works but I feel like lately, he’s reverting.

            The whole situation makes me really sad because he is otherwise a terrific husband, and there is really NO reason that we should be fighting about these issues. I could pay off my student loan debt on my own after several years but it doesn’t make sense to me to end up paying $50,000 in interest when I could be using that money for something else for US.

            Ok guys– thanks for all the comments and letting me go on about this yucky issue.

          • Merabella :

            It seems like therapy would still be a good option because obviously his anxiety about money that stems from his relationship with his parents is effecting how you two deal with your marriage. It would be good for both of you to work out a way where you aren’t always stressed about money matters.

        • anon for this :

          Of course I don’t know your husband or his background but this is kinda ringing a bell for me, in that I share what seems to be your husband’s anxiety about being without money. It’s completely unreasonable wrt my current situation but because of past events in my life, it is a big deal to me. I’m trying to stop it and be rational but it is hard. So I don’t know if that’s the case for your husband too but it does sound kinda like that to me.

          That said, though, I agree it is completely insane that he a) won’t help but b) will help if you pay him interest. That’s crazy talk. I also agree that hammering it in that you are both, as a family now, losing money if those loans and interest are not paid asap, may be the best way to get through to him.

      • The last part about interest is what I find so difficult about this situation. By making smaller payments without his help, you’re losing so much money to interest. Why he won’t consider your compromise where you pay him interest, I don’t understand. He’d rather you give that money to the lender than keep it within your family?

        Sending good vibes your way. From the sound of the situation, you have an incredible amount of patience.

    • Anonymous :

      Did you guys talk about finances before you got married? Is this different for the approach you discussed?

      DH and I have a very different approach, so I can’t from a personal experience perspective. We both went to grad school, me for free before we married, him for not-free after. I paid the bills while he was in school, we pay his loans from our joint checking.

      Even though we weren’t married wen I was in grad school, then BF paid for our dates bc he was well employed ;)

      • This is a great question. Like others, it seems crazy to me to keep separate finances in this way if you are a first-marriage, childless couple (it makes a little more sense when you’re merging pre-existing families, step-children, etc.), barring exceptional circumstances. But I’ve never known a couple to have this kind of arrangement without having discussed it first. If this is the first circumstance in which this kind of serious financial arrangement issue is coming up, I’d really suggest financial and possibly marital counseling. Seek out a financial, spiritual, and/or mental health advisor who can help you two come to a mutual decision about what your finances should look like. Separate finances must work for some couples, but from my perspective it’s really hard to build a life together if you’re so focused on what’s “mine” or “yours.” In a lifetime of marriage where you both have careers, there will almost certainly be times when he is doing more of the earning and times when you are doing more of the earning; one of the beauties of marriage is that you can work together when things are tougher for one or the other of you. Keeping a ledger, either of finances or of “wrongs,” it’s a recipe for strife and resentment.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      In some states, one can file for spousal support without getting separated or divorced. Basically, in those common law states, a spouse has a duty to support the other spouse. If one is failing in that regard and the spouse needing the support can’t get it, they can get the court to enforce it. I highly doubt that would be good for a marriage and would probably be a precursor to divorce, but it works for those opposed to divorce for whatever reason. If yours is one of those states, it might help to remind him that spouses are required to support each other, in the marriage and in divorce, and if he doesn’t come around, you have recourse even if you don’t want to divorce him.

    • Sorry, but this is insane. First of all, as a married couple, I think this divided finances thing is crazy. But also as a couple, the faster you can get rid of the burden of the student loans, the better it will be for you in the long run (in terms of being able to save for a house or get better terms on loans, etc.) And…well…its just so controlling and unfair. Finally, since you’re married, its not like you can go on IBR (since as I understand it your joint income is considered).

      Basically he’s being completely unreasonable. And I agree with the above who think that this is a bad sign in the larger marriage. There’s cheap (as in frugal) and then there’s cheap as in controlling. He’s trending towards the second. Of course, this is all my opinion.

      Oh, and if you’re wondering what my husband and I do in a very, very similar situation – we just split everything and are focusing on paying down my student loans at the fastest possible rate (because what else is paying 8% or even 6% interest right now…nothing).

    • We have a 50/50 arrangement for common expenses (mortgage, groceries, baby) and then we’re on our own for our expenses, which includes student loans, lunches, presents, etc. When we had our baby, he took an extended unpaid leave, and we split everything then as well until his short-term savings ran out and then I paid for everything. When he went back to work, we went back to our regular arrangement. It has worked really well for us. I guess I’m fairly similar to your husband. I wouldn’t say I’m paranoid about money, but I’m very territorial about it. :)

      However, I do think in order for this arrangement to work you both have to be comfortable with it. Obviously you’re not, so I think you need to ask yourself whether you’re not comfortable because you make less and he makes more or if there’s something more behind it.

      • Anonymous :

        I hear this. I am totally the “cheap” one in our relationship, but my cheapness very much understands that not paying high interest loans now is NOT cheap!

        Now, when it comes to valet parking, you can bet your you-know-what that we’ll be walking six blocks in the snow, thankyouverymuch.

    • I was going to write out a long answer, but you’ve gotten great advice. But this is awful. AWFUL. I say this as someone who’s SO is frugal; your husband is more than cheap. It seems almost manipulative – mine versus yours instead of the collective good. That to me is a big old red flag, which in my mind means therapy even if it is just for you to gain new perspective on how to talk to him.

    • “but he wants me to make monthly payments to him and add on some interest

      what. just what.

    • Wow – so I’ve been reading some of the other comments, and I guess I’m in minority. I’m not saying he’s right and only you know whether he was hurtful to you on purpose, but there maybe a valid reason why he doesn’t want to split things. I would just make sure that you understand where he’s coming from before you make any rush decisions.

      I’m honestly surprised that so many people are completely sharing finances with their SOs. Am I weird to think that?

      • joint vs. split :

        It seems like a few of the commenters understand his desire to keep things separate, but she’s said she would be willing to pay back the loans to him and sign a post-nup, so it seems like that takes all the risk out of it for her husband, while leaving all the upside of paying off the loans faster/not throwing money away by paying interest to the lender. I can understand being territorial about money, but it makes much more sense to keep the money in the family. That, and I agree about issues down the road re:kids, house, medical bills, etc. Is he going to pay her for carrying his children? If she uses the couch more, does she have to pay more to use it? I think some people can reasonably split finances, but it doesn’t sound like her husband is asking for a reasonable agreement, and that’s why most seem to think that he should help her out with her loans.

      • Maddie Ross :

        So you don’t feel alone, my husband and I handle things the same way Ketchup and happily have for nearly a decade. We discuss our joint purchases and vacations and split the household items equally, but our individual debt (car loans, student loans and our own credit cards) are our own issue. Frankly, for us, I think we’d have too many argument if we did everything jointly. The way we do it, he can’t argue if I buy a purse, and I can’t get mad if he eats out every single day. I guess to each their own, but I certainly don’t want you to think you’re alone in splitting things up. We each work and make about the same in the end, though our compensation on a monthly basis is dramatically different. We also watched his mom deal with things after his dad passed away and knew that neither of us should ever have all the control, or abdicate all control, financially.

      • Stepmom re driving and ACT preparing :

        You are not the only one. We make joint decisions about what to spend for which purposes. But we keep all accounts separate.

        Here, I think that would translate to:

        1. Use his separate money to pay the loans down (because it saves the community money in the long run),
        2. No interest (because that’s icky while you are married)
        3. Written agreement that if you split, you pay him back with interest.

    • Didn’t this come up in a movie based on an Amy Tan novel? Joy luck club?
      I don’t have any advice because my husband and I share everything (i have big loans, significantly out earn him, he supported me thru law school, we’ve been together since before either of us had anything) but I hope you can resolve this because it sound miserable. Hugs.

    • My husband and I have a very similar situation, and I don’t think it’s as terrible as some of the comments are making it out to be, so don’t despair!

      My husband comes from a family of money. He went to medical school, but never had to take out loans, and he also has significant money (though under $1mm) in savings/stocks/investments. I was raised in an upper-middle class family that values investing in one’s own education, and when I went to law school I took out full loans for tuition + living expenses, so $200k over the three years.

      Husband’s family “doesn’t believe in debt” (HA, nice thing to say when you don’t ever have to take out money for education or a house!), and so when we first got serious my “debt” (which I hate the sound of–it is “student loans,” not some nefarious “debt”!) was a big issue to him. He REALLY wanted a pre-nup for a long time, until I explained to him how a community property state works–what’s your’s before is your’s, what’s mine before is mine, what’s our’s after the marriage is our’s.

      Now that we are married, we combine all income as “ours,” though I work in big law and he is a resident, so I make about 5 times what he does. From our joint account, we each are allowed to take $1k/month for “discretionary spending,” e.g., Starbucks, lunches, gym, facials, haircuts, clothes, travel, etc. We then pay all of our expenses from our joint checking, including my student loans, and the rest goes to joint savings. We each also have our separate, pre-marriage savings (though mine is, of course, tiny compared to his).

      We have talked in the past about him using his personal savings to pay off my student loans. If we did this, we would have an agreement that he would be paid back in the event that we got divorced (though I would like it to say “AND if we were married for less than 10 years,” or something like that). However, I actually prefer not to think about his savings as an option, and like that I am paying my loans off on my own AND supporting my husband at the same time. Maybe this sounds silly, but I like that he will not be able to one day say to me “why did you get that expensive degree and use my family money and now you want to work part time/stay at home with the kids/not be a lawyer at all?”

      Also, assuming that we do stay together forever, we both know that the purpose of his separate savings is to ensure that we have a guaranteed retirement/kids’ college education fund. If he were to be using it to go buy fancy cars while we “jointly” struggled to pay off student loans I wouldn’t be happy, but instead I look at it as savings for our future, and don’t need to have it now to pay off my loans.

      • First World Problems :

        Please let me know if you’re interested in having two husbands because are my husband’s dream wife.

        • Well, she’s actually your husband. She’s the one making way more money, and since all the money (except prior savings) is pooled into a joint account, and the bills all paid from that, she’s actually ‘covering’ way more of the expenses than he is. First World Problems, I am pretty sure you’d be fine with both of you putting all your money into a joint account, holding back $1k each for ‘personal’ stuff, and paying all bills (including your loans) from the joint account….
          Your husband would sh!# bricks if you suggested that, I think.

    • My first husband was a lot like yours.

      He was a good kind of first husband to have.

      Mainly because I appreciate my second husband so much more.

      You can tell your self-centered jerk of a husband mamabear said so.

    • eastbaybanker :

      What I would add late in the day to many insightful comments is that it’s not a simple as him being a jerk or insensitive or a bad husband. You really can’t underestimate the psychological impact of experiencing want as a child. I speak from personal experience.

      I don’t think his actions alone are so terrible. I can see hoarding money as a normal reaction to what he went through. And I believe that he’s still a good person. What is *not* acceptable is his unwillingness to discuss money issues in counseling, or decide to grow and heal as a person with and for the woman he loves. Accepting that you both need counseling is the reasonable and adult response to this difficult situation. Baggage isn’t permanent. You can put the stuff down and carry on with your life. But he has to be willing to do so.

    • The fact that he demands interest from you is A Big Red Flag.

    • Maybe try talking to him about a five or ten-year plan? Point out how your debt affects the both of you and where you both plan to be in the future. Maybe he will come to see that this is not just “your” debt but his debt too.

      Also, tell him how this situation makes you feel. Not just, “I feel like you’re being a jerk,” but, “I feel afraid that our future will suffer because so much of my income is going to pay off these loans.” Or, “having to pay back my student loans on my own without your help makes me feel abandoned, and makes me feel unsupported and unloved.” As others have pointed out, I think your H has some emotional attachments to money. Perhaps if he can see how his actions are affecting you emotionally, he can begin to open up to his own emotions.

      He also seems afraid that you will leave him. I’m not sure, but the post-nuptial agreement may or may not contribute to that fear. I would address his fear openly. He may just be hoarding money because he really thinks he’ll be abandoned, but he may feel more generous with his money if he can feel secure that you will not abandon him, and that sharing his money brings him more joy than hoarding it does.

  14. @ Monday –

    I didn’t get a chance to respond earlier, but – I have not yet pulled the trigger on the red lace dress. I keep meaning to go in store to try it on but not finding the time. Although I did just get a friends & family promo card in the mail, so perhaps it is time to just pull the trigger.

    Also, I wholeheartedly applaud you on the floral jeans! Bravo! I’m admittedly a bit of a sucker for floral prints, but I defintely don’t think you’re too old for ‘em. Please share a link, if available! And happy almost birthday ;)

  15. Unpredictable Schedule :

    For those of you in biglaw or similarly demanding fields, how do you cope with the unpredictability of your work schedule? I love my work, the people I work with (usually), I thrive in a high-pressure environment, and I either like or don’t mind long hours. But I also like to be able to plan my work day and my social life. I hate not being able to spend as much time on a brief etc. as I intended because something else more important came up at the last minute, and I despise having to cancel social plans. I feel like I have no control over my life. I feel like a flake, which is SO out of character for me because I’m a huge planner, and that I’m constantly letting everyone down.

    I’m pretty good at setting boundaries so I have to cancel only when it’s absolutely necessary, but I still stress a lot that I MIGHT have to cancel, and I have to cancel far more than I’d like. My anxiety has gone through the roof in this job and I’m not sure how much more I can take of this. I really love so many aspects of my work and I don’t want to give it up, and financially I can’t afford to give it up for a few years, but I definitely need to learn better coping skills. Any advice or book suggestions on coping with the lack of predictability? TIA.

    • I have no suggestions. This was my biggest gripe with BigLaw. I didn’t mind the hours; it was the unpredictability that got me. I often felt like I was disappointing everyone — either I disappoint my friends and cancel, or I disppoint the firm and try to get out. In retrospect, the only correct answer was to never make social plans or to cancel them at the faintest hint of a late night at work/weekend hours. I found that my firm often told us to set boundaries in the “associate happiness” seminars but that no one actually wanted an associate to do this. Even asking what the evening/weekend was going to look like and offering to cancel plans was not taken well. We were supposed to simply be available to the firm at all times without making the firm feel guilty about it. This sounds bitter/snarky. It’s not. This is just BigLaw. It comes first, always. That life suits some people. My friends who have been successful in BigLaw run their social lives this way. They either don’t make plans, or they make them and cancel them. I’ve just learned to assume they won’t be able to make whatever plans we’ve made and treat it as a pleasant surprise when they can.

      • Former MidLevel :

        This. It’s just a fact of BigLaw life.

      • One more point — if you have friends who hate your firm (and I know you do, everyone has friends who hate “the Man”), they will treat the firm like it’s your abusive/controlling boyfriend and will hate it on your behalf. This will be hard to deal with because you’ll feel like you’re constantly making excuses for the firm. You will have other friends whose work is just like yours or who’ve been there in the past (like me) and won’t get hurt by you cancelling because they know that this is just what this life is. Unfortunately, it might be hard to keep the former if you stay in BigLaw for a long time. There will come a time when they really feel you need to be present and you won’t be able to make it. That’s why this is so hard.

        • Only slightly related, but I often joke that I have a BDSM relationship with my biglaw job. The more it hurts me, the more I love it.

          My friends and family, meanwhile, think of my job as more like creepy Christian Grey.

          • SoCal Gal :

            I love you for this metaphor.

          • I love this metaphor! The one I always use is Stockholm Syndrome…like how proud I got about my billables even though part of me knew it was insane…

      • Agree with all of this. The unpredictability was one of the things that drove me nuts. I would have rather known I was working every other Saturday (or every Saturday) than not know whether I was going to work one or both days on the weekend until Friday night (or Saturday morning). Hated canceling plans all the time. So I just stopped making plans entirely, which isn’t good for your social life….yeah, kinda reduces it to zero.

        My best suggestions is to be friends with other lawyers because they understand you still want to be friends even though you’ve canceled dinner with them 5 times in a row and you’re not just giving them the brush-off.

        Now when I make plans with my friends who are lawyers, I assume they will cancel. If it’s a lunch date, I bring my lunch to work on those days—and usually end up eating it.

      • This exactly, but my advice is aim to quit. Put in the time you need to do something else, get experience in in-house areas, pay down loans, etc., and go when you get there.

    • a passion for fashion :

      some of this depends on how senior you are. As a junior associate, you really have to accept that you do not have a lot of control and just get over it, or you will continue to freak out (I was just like you and it took me some time to realize this, but when I did, and was able to let go, it made my life much, much easier). That said, as you become more senior, you will both become better at not needing to control your schedule so much, and you will have more control over your schedule.

      In any event, here are a few tips: dont plan stuff during the week with friends unless they are good friends and totally dont care if you cancel, and similarly, have some friends that can grab dinner or drinks or go shopping with you on a whim when you happen to have some free time, and try to find one thing (you can add more later) that you can stick to — maybe early in the morning or later at night — a 6 am pilates class or an 8 pm yoga class, a few days a week. having some constant will help you feel more in control.

      • Unpredictable Schedule :

        All good suggestions, thanks. I’m a third year and I told myself, just stick it out for two years and it’ll get better. But it hasn’t; if anything it’s just gotten worse. Early morning workouts have definitely helped me to feel more in control and healthier in general, though.

        • new york associate :

          If it’s getting worse, then you should try moving firms. Not all BigLaw firms are like this.

          Also, you should just stop making weeknight plans. I think in BigLaw you really have to just pick your battles and weeknights aren’t worth fighting for. If you’re routinely cancelling weekend plans, then it’s time for a new job.

      • I agree with the advice regarding junior associates. I work on a specific team where the partners and counsel/senior associates work crazy hours, all the time. Even when we don’t have filing deadlines. As a first year, there was zero control and I literally stopped making plans with people. As a second year, it’s gotten a bit better and I’ve also relaxed into it a bit. I’ve become better at predicting when I’m going to get busy. I have some friends who are lawyers who completely understand, and then I have friends who don’t understand at all.

        I tell my friends that the only weekday that is potentially feasible for me to meet up is typically Friday, around 7:30-8pm, and that I will try to give them a heads up by mid-day whether that will still work for me. I caution them that if I am very likely to cancel plans if we try to arrange something M-Th, and I tell them that weekends are usually best. I try to work out in the mornings because I know my team is full of night owls.

    • TO lawyer :

      Wow I feel like this too (although I’m not at a big firm, I work CONSTANTLY). I try to schedule things on down times. For example, even if I have 95 things to do before tomorrow morning, I know the partners usually leave by 6 or 7 so I’ll schedule my plans for 7:30 or 8, and then try to be home by 10 so I can put a few more hours in/go to the office early.

      I’ve found mornings at my firm tend to be quiet and slower so if I’m really crazed and getting anxious at the unpredictability (I’m a planner too), I can get in an hour or two earlier than normal so by the time things get nuts, I’m already caffeinated and have gotten some things done.

      I’m also trying to figure out what’s a real deadline (i.e. this has to be done ASAP or we’re screwed) vs. what should be done but isn’t quite so time-sensitive. I will only cancel plans for the former.

    • Cornellian :

      No advice, just commiseration. I also hate when people are like “haha you’re STILL at work?! go home!” as if that’s really an option.

      • yes. Like you are there just for fun, because the internet is faster or something ridiculous.

        • TO lawyer :

          haha love this! I’m totally going to tell my friends (in a VERY sarcastic tone) that I just hang out at work in the evenings/on weekends because of my internet access or something.

          As a side note – the commiseration is helpful. My law school friends generally understand but my non-law school friends always tell me I’m crazy, or I work too much, or I have problems setting boundaries.

          I’ve actually gotten a lot of flack from guys I’ve dated (including those who have demanding jobs) about working too hard… I’m not sure where it stems from

        • My coworker is, in fact, often at work late because we have internet at work and he doesn’t at home. That and cable TV.

      • This x10000000000000. It’s not that I hate the “work”. If I’m in the zone, it’s all good. But cancelling on plans and feeling like I can’t make plans is frustrating.

        A lot of my friends are in strict 9-5 jobs, so their response is “You’re still at the office? Why? *Insert workaholic joke*” :(

      • Woods-comma-Elle :

        OMG this! “Just leave. Just tell them you wanna go home.”

        Um… yeah no.

    • I’m in consulting, but my schedule is similar. It’s often that I get 1 day notice to go out of town and we work crazy hours as well. For me things have changed as I got more senior. I’ve been at it for 10 years now. I wouldn’t say that the workload lessened, but the flexibility increased. When I started, I had to be in the office or at a client and had to travel close to 100%. Now, I’m doing less grunt work, so I can work off site more often and my travel is often 1-2 days long; basically as long as I can get things done, I’m good. As an example, I had to be home early to take my kid to an appointment, so I took off at 2, and then made it up after she went to bed. Or sometimes I have a crazy 80-90 hr week, then I try to balance it out the next week by getting it out early a few days. Overall, I think you just need to embrace that style, which definitely doesn’t suit everyone and god knows I still gripe about it sometimes.

      If you’re stressing over it, I think you should pinpoint what specifically you’re stressing over. Is it cancelling on people you love, or the fact that people can’t rely on you, or some other reason? I think the answer on coping with this maybe different depending on what specifically makes you stress out.

    • Not in law, but used to have a crazed schedule. Be up front with your friends about your job and explain that its not *you* think your work is more important, but sadly the boss signing your paychecks does. This helped a lot with my guilt and most of my friends understood I had to have a paycheck.

      I set a deadline for cancelling. So if we were going to grab dinner at 7:30 and I knew my friend would normally leave work at 6:30 to go home, I’d assess what kind of sh*tshow was happening around 6. That way if I needed to cancel, my friend could have time to go home or figure out their evening plans.

      Also, I started doing early morning coffee as a nice way to catch up. If you’re busy, but you can get away for a bit go to dinner somewhere close to the office and then go back.

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      I can definitely relate to this, particularly at the moment, as my BigLaw job has been steadily increasing in craziness over the last couple of weeks. I work in a small team and we just have way too much work right now. I left at 8.15 tonight and it felt really early.

      I also really like my job, but this is a huge frustration. Especially the bit where I would rather not make plans because I worry about being able to make them! Life is often just easier by not making plans during the week unless I’m quiet and have no deals on/about to close. But I agree with NY Associate below that if you can’t even have your weekends, get out if you can. I try to keep my weekends sacred (although it looks like I may have to do some work this weekend) and would rather stay late on Friday and then have two days off completely.

      I’ve learned to pick my battles, though. I’ve cancelled plans a bunch of times, sure, but I don’t tell the partners unless it’s something really important so that if I have something I genuinely need to get to, I can be more firm about it. It sounds dumb, and a bit game-playing, but it works quite well because it gives the impression that I am more available and they think/know that I only say ‘I can’t do that I have plans’ when it’s something genuinely important.

      It’s def hard to cope with this when you have friends who work 9-5 and the bit I often struggle with is that I can more likely make plans for tomorrow, say, than a date in three weeks’ time, whereas for some of my friends the logic is reversed and they say ‘well let’s say x date and then it’s booked and we can def make it’. This is the exact opposite of what happens in BigLaw!

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Yep, that’s just biglaw. I’m very sorry to say that you need to adjust your expectations. I learned years ago to never make nonrefundable vacation plans, and to not make plans with anyone other than other biglaw lawyers (of any firm) on weeknights, because they are the only ones who understand if you call ten minutes before you’re supposed to meet to say that you just got hit (with work) and can no longer meet them. I don’t make much in the way of plans anymore because I feel badly when I cancel them. I also am very quick to pull the cancel-trigger if the little voice in my head says it’s likely that I’m working all weekend… I don’t play the odds on free time anymore. In exchange for our huge paychecks, the firm basically owns us.

    • I’m posting late but in case you’re still reading – it works really well for me to set aside pretty much every Saturday evening for having friends at my house for dinner. Saturday evening is the safest bet in terms of least likely to require cancellation – even a work-crazed weekend allows some down-time for a meal, I have a lot of flexibility as the hostess to spend the afternoon cooking something good or to call in a delivery at the last minute, and over the years, my friends and family have gotten used to getting together in this way. It is definitely a bum that I seldom accept their invites but luckily they have been very patient and understanding with me. It also helps that my husband enjoys our Saturday evenings at home as much as I do and is equally committed to them schedule-wise.

      Like most other commentors, I avoid planning anything on weeknights. I should also add that things don’t necessarily get better as you advance – you may spend less time in the office but much more time with clients. So coping skills are definitely the right thing to be acquiring at this stage !

  16. The coat is beautiful, but come on — it’s not a “slim fit,” it’s a coat on a slim model.

  17. a passion for fashion :

    Some of you may recall my discussion last month regarding my “shopping addiction” that resulted in my self-imposed shopping budget (which, BTW, i have been doing very well on).

    I realized this week that its not addiction after all. Rather, fashion really is my hobby/art/whatever. I just love putting outfits together, searching for clothes for myself or others, and i fully appreciate the beauty in so many pieces (particularly shoes). I would often wind up buying something (which i could admittedly afford, so really, not a problem per se) simply because I thought it was beautiful. But I also realized while on this budget that i can derive almost as much pleasure but shopping for others (and indeed, if i was not an attorney, i would likely be a personal shopper) or just perusing things on line. I have more than enough clothes, and can save my own purchases for truly rare finds.

    • YES. This. All of it. Shopping is my hobby :).

    • Yay! Let’s hear it for empowering statements and realizations!!! Bravo!

    • This is how I feel! I decided to limit my “self” spending this month and haven’t spent a cent on clothing (shocking…). Instead I turned my focus to advising friends on clothing/reworking my closet. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even realize I hadn’t bought anything for over a month. It seems playing with clothes is what I get excited about :)

      • a passion for fashion :

        I’ve been doing the same thing with my closet! And although TCFKAG seems to have the market cornered on shopping challenges on this site, to the extent any others need the services of KC or a passion for fashion, it seems like we could have some friendly competition here :)

    • a passion for fashion :

      like the amazing zebra print pony hair valentino pumps i just found on a consignement site for $125. score.

    • im in the same boat as you. i love shopping for me, and i love buying gifts and picking up things for other people just as much. of course, buying gifts all the time (for no particular reason) hurts my wallet just as much as shopping for myself. the solution? i write a shopping column for a blog now :)

    • Same here – just came to this conclusion about a week ago. It’s a hobby. I browse when I have a few minutes to kill here and there and really like seeing what’s out there. It’s fun. I have been trying to be better about keeping to a budget lately, too – it’s been helpful to keep really gorgeous Armani dresses in mind. Do I want to buy this other dress that has an unusually pretty color or a nice cut? Is it as quality and nice as the Armani? No? Then, no. I have plenty of other mid-quality items. All the new fall colors have been making it difficult, though… :)

    • emcsquared :

      Have you found Polyvore or Pinterest? I spent so much less money when I was using those to virtually fill my deam closet instead of actually filling it. Added bonus: fit doesn’t matter at all! All clothes fit my virtual dream body.

      • Merabella :

        This! I have found that putting together outfits on Pinterest fills my need to shop and I have shopped far less because of it. And I have actually found that I’m more adventurous in my outfit choices because of it, but only using things in my own closet.

  18. Best interview questions to ask? (or best that you’ve been asked)

    • The Journal had a great article on this awhile back.

    • Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know from reading your resume.

      • Anonymous :

        OOh, and what would be a good answer to this one? Are they looking for professional or personal? I am super-ambitious / hard worker, yads yads sounds so trite.

        • I’ve received both personal & professional -related responses – and if someone asks which I want I tell them it’s up to them. I’ve heard about hobbies, novels they are writing, a new baby in their lives (from a male candidate, actually) and all kinds of interesting responses (I think I shared on here that I once had a candidate tell me they “make the best f*cking brownies on Capitol Hill” – that was a short interview!) . It’s really just a great question to see how someone thinks on their feet. My DH always tells me it’s a cruel question but I love it!

    • What do you do for fun outside of work? I find that it gives you a bit more of a character assessment and also throws people off a bit, so you get to see a glimpse of their non-interview persona and how they react when they’re off-balance. Just be careful how you ask it, so it doesn’t seem like you’re asking them on a date. And obviously be careful about answering – I’ve gotten some crazy ones before.

      • Clean house? Do laundry? I really hate that question, lol.

      • I haaaaaaate that question. The only people who ask it are people with intense and cool sounding hobbies (“I run ultra-marathons!” “I hunt elk with bows and arrows!” “I’m a gourmet pastry chef!”) and “I read, watch TV, cook a bit, and spend a lot of time hanging out with friends and chatting,” does not go over well.

        • GUILTY! I hunt elk with bows and arrows while whipping up amazing pastries on mile 14 of my run every day listening to Confucious on my iphone. Did I mention I’m size 2 with perfectly coiffed hair and amazing wardrobe selected by Kat?

          I don’t have a particularly interesting hobby. Actually nobody has ever asked me that question. I guess I just like to see people outside of their interview regimen, so I know what it would be like to spend 12 hours/day with them. But I get your point, ladies…. I may have to rethink that one. :)

      • Professor TBA :

        Honestly, when I was on the “meat market,” I hated that question. Seriously, I had a full-time job and had to write law review articles in order to be a credible candidate….I didn’t have time for fun. :(

    • anon atty :

      my favorite question to ask interviewees is “what is your dream job” or “if you could do any job in the world, what would you do.”

      In my mind, there is no right answer to this — i could very it as very positive if they said something totally unrelated to law, or potentially as a sign that they really were not all that interested in doing what we do. However, most people give me some BS, non-committal answer suggesting that they want to be a lawyer. I have only had one person answer honestly (he gave a great answer about the job he would want in the music industry), which i thought was wonderful — totally a positive.

    • Tell me about a project you really enjoyed working on and why.

      Tell me about a particularly difficult problem or person and how yout dealt with it or him/her.

      What’s your favorite thing to work on? What’s your least favorite thing to work on?
      (PS if you say you don’t have a least favorite, I know you’re lying – not that I would say this to the interviewee)

      Why are you looking around?

      How did you choose your profession?

      Do you have any questions for me?
      (I know everyone hates this one, but you should be prepared to answer it)

    • Tell me about a time you’ve made a mistake.

      • I hate that question. I can never think of anything, other than marrying my first husband, which I’m pretty sure is not a good answer. I mean, I am sure I make mistakes all the time, but I really can’t think of a work-appropriate mistake to discuss.

    • I haven’t figured out the perfect way to ask this yet, but I like to ask something like “One year into this position, what will you have accomplished to feel like that year has been a success”. I also like to ask “What will you find most challenging about this position?”

  19. Always a NYer :

    For all the Downton Abbey fans, you can see the new season on ITV player =)

    Not sure if you smart, g**gle savvy women have found it yet but I thought I’d share. I only discovered it when looking for the next installment of Leaving, which is with Helen McCrory and really good. I saw part one last week when in London and need to see parts two and three now that I’m stateside again ;)

    I haven’t been sucked into Downton Abbey yet but after watching this new episode, I’m going to catch up on season 1, 2, and the Christmas Special ASAP!

    • I don’t think the ITV site will let you watch in the US. That would almost certainly violate their contract with the US distributor. There are always not-quite-legal sites that you can stream from, though.

    • any tricks for skirting the region restrictions?

    • Anne Shirley :

      I am so sucked into Downton I recently visited London in large part to go see the house in person. Highly recommend to other fans!

    • Where can I watch the old seasons?

      • You can get them from iTunes. Highly recommended — love, love, love that show.

        • "Allergies" PSA :

          How does this work? I am in bed, post-op, with my iPad. When I tap iTunes and tv shows, and then do a search for “Downton Abbey,” the only thing that comes up is a ringtone.

          I would love to watch season two.


      • I think they were free with Amazon prime, although I could be wrong.

        • "Allergies" PSA :

          You can buy all of season two on amazon instant streaming for US $15. Reasonable. But you cannot watch them via Amazon on the iPad because it requires Flash, which Apple, in its wisdom — NOT — does not allow.

          • "Allergies" PSA :


            Amazon prime 30 day free trial (to be canceled later) + amazon prime streaming for iPad app = one happy post-op girl.

          • Allergies!!!! Your surgery was today, right? How do you feel? TELL ME EVERYTHING.

          • "Allergies" PSA :

            1. Amazon app stopped streaming Downton Abbey for “licensing” reasons and I don’t have energy to deal.

            2. Throat is sore from anesthesia tube. (Not proper medical term, I know.)

            3. MD told fiancé that it went really well. TMI alert: he could tell from the appearance of the gunk he removed that it was fungal at root and he could tell the difference between the fungal gunk and the my-body-generated gunk that had developed to attack the fungal gunk. All to be confirmed (or not) by pathology. But if true, then strong likelihood that this will solve problem.

            4. Two Vicodin today. Upper teeth hurt. Weird.

            5. Appointment next Thursday 9/27 to have plastic separators/stents removed. They are holding newly-empty sinus cavities open.

            6. Start saline rinsing again tomorrow. Trying not to be scared of that.

            7. Cautiously optimistic that I will be able to join fiancé on trip to (his home country in) Middle East on October 10 but MD has final say next week or following.

            8. Ate three Popsicles and lots of ice chips to start peeing and stay hydrated and soothe throat all day. Three Popsicles is too much sweet for me. Fiancé made me bowl of mashed cool peas for dinner because I got hungry but can eat only soft and cool/cold foods. (Need to keep little blood vessels cool so they can recover without stress.)

            9. Surprisingly little bleeding.

            10. Because they use separators, they do not use cotton packing. So separators come out next week, but my fears of having to have reams and reams of cotton pulled out of my nose are unfounded. That was good to learn.

            11. Only minor anxiety-induced tears before surgery this morning.

            If you have questions I didn’t answer, feel free to post. This is just what is on my mind right now.

      • I looked on itunes and could not find them and may be the only person who is not an amazon prime member.

        • Did you know if you are a student, or married to a recently graduated student, or by chance still have a .edu email address, you get Prime FREE for a year? And then 50% off (so $40) after that?

          Just saying…milking every last bit out of DH’s MBA.

      • Netflix streaming has past seasons.

        I am anxiously awaiting January! If I were to travel to London and then stream them from the hotel room, that wouldn’t be bad or weird, right?

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      I’m so glad Downton is back! But I hate watching it on TV because there are just too many ads and it ruins the mood! On Sunday it was like five minutes of show, five minutes of ads and the same ads all over again. Not cool.

  20. Wasn’t sure if you would see it, but I left you a response on this morning’s thread on places to ride in NYC. -Gail the Goldfish

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