How to Wear Ankle Length Pants to Work

how not to wear cropped pants for workCan you wear slim ankle length pants with a blazer to look professional? Reader M asks a pertinent question:

Can you comment on how to wear slim ankle length pants with a blazer to create a professional look? I tried this last week and missed the mark because my shoes were too casual I think. Would love your input on this.

Oi.  OK.  We know I’m not 100% on board with this trend, generally thinking that cropped pants are too casual for very conservative offices.  That said, logic dictates that they’re here to stay, so we may as well talk about how to look as professional as you can in them.  So I just looked at a zillion pictures of cropped pants — some by themselves, some with matching blazers, and a very few with mismatched blazers, and I have a few notes.  But first, let’s look at the picture above, which I think shows some of the worst styling mistakes I’ve seen, and demonstrates both rules really well:

- No platforms.  Personally I think cropped/ankle-length pants look best if you ask WWAHW (What Would Audrey Hepburn Wear?), with the answer in my mind almost always being closed, pointy-toe kitten heels.  I have seen them styled nicely with ankle straps, flats, loafers, and even sandals (know your office VERY well before you wear sandals to work, though), so I think my only real rule with shoes is that platforms just don’t look right.

how to wear ankle pants for work- When in doubt, leave the waist exposed (blouse tucked, no belt).  I had not noticed this before during my little survey, but almost all of the online stylists (I looked at about 30 stores) featured the pants with a neatly tucked blouse.  J.Crew did the J.Crew half-tuck, of course, but the vibe was the same.  Although a few places styled shorter pants with belts, I thought this only worked about 50% of the time.  The only time I saw a totally untucked blouse that I liked was at Reiss (pictured at right), where the stylist was clearly playing with proportion and shape (skinny pants, flowy blouse, fitted blazer).

I think if you’re working within those two rules, almost any blazer should work.  That said, because cropped pants are an inherently casual look, you may want to reconsider whether you even want to wear a blazer with them.  Readers, what other rules would you add — how do you wear cropped pants to work?

Comments

  1. First Year :

    I need some help drafting an email. I’m a first year associate in BigLaw and my hours have been extremely slow for the past few months. I want to reach out to a partner in my group who I’ve done an assignment for in the past asking for work. What is the best way to word this? In the past 6 months I’ve been here, I’ve gone down to his office 2 times letting him know I’m available if he has any work for me, and he always responds “I know, I’ll let you know when I need you.” This partner has dinged new associates in the past during review time for not actively looking for work. So, partly this email is to look for work and partly to cover my a** for when I inevitably won’t meet my hours for the year.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Senior Attorney :

      I think going to his office twice in six months is not nearly enough to show that you are actively looking for work. If I were in your shoes, I’d be in his office (and that of any other people who are in a position to assign work) daily, or nearly so.

      Honestly, I’m having a hard time believing this is a real post. Go out and look for work!!

      • Anonymous :

        Seriously. You should be seeing at least one partner once a day. so if that means you end up in this partners office 3 days a week, so what.

      • While I agree with you about the need to ask with more frequency, it’s really harsh to say that you are having a hard time believing this is a real post. I think your status as a “senior attorney” skews your perspective. Maybe you forget, or maybe you happened to luck into being at a very busy firm, but it is really really hard as a first year to figure out what appropriate ways to ask for work are. We are constantly told that partners are very busy people and they have little time to bother with first years, yet free market firms expect us to find work anyway. It’s not an easy balance.

        • AnonInfinity :

          I completely agree. Some partners, even the ones that I end up loving to work for, look at me like I have 3 heads if I pop my head in unexpectedly, just because they have a lot going on. It can be hard to stop by every single day when that happens.

          I also agree with the sentiment that First Year should be talking to one partner a day, at least, to try to get work. But maybe we need a little recognition that it sucks to get turned down over and over and over.

        • Senior Attorney :

          Honestly trying to be helpful, not harsh or invalidating or unsupportive. I AM (Ellen caps) rather shocked that anybody would think two attempts to drum up work in six months is anywhere close to adequate. And it seems to me that the “senior attorney” perspective is the one that matters most here and that dismissing it because it’s not all warm and fuzzy would be a mistake.

          Nobody, least of all me, is saying it’s easy to go out there beating the BigLaw bushes for work assignment. Nobody is saying it doesn’t suck when you get turned down when you ask for work. But seriously, nobody in a position to make decisions about your continued employment is going to care about whether any of it is easy or whether any of it sucks. (Almost) all they care about is whether you are making your hours and are therefore profitable for the firm.

          If you are not willing to do what it takes to get more work in your current firm, then you should be looking for work elsewhere. Really, I think it’s as simple as that.

    • big dipper :

      Take this with a grain of salt but when I worked in consulting, and I wanted to work with a principal/senior associate I hadn’t worked with before my email looked like this:

      Hi X,

      We met briefly on Y occasion, and I heard from Z principal that you’re currently working on [insert interesting project here]. If you need any assistance on that project, or help on any of your other projects, I have some availability over the next few weeks.

      Regards,

      Big Dipper

      Or, since you’ve already worked with them, maybe

      Dear X,

      As I mentioned when I stopped by your office the other day, I have some availability over the next few weeks. If you, or any other partners in your group, need additional support on any of your projects over the next few weeks, please keep me in mind.

      • big dipper :

        Also, seconding the advice above to stop by more often. I didn’t really think of how few times you had stopped by over the past 6 months. I used to make rounds of the principal’s offices when I was slow once a day, or once every other day, just to see if they had anything pop up.

        Sometimes they might have something pop up that needs to be taken care of immediately and ask for your help. That helps you get your foot in on whatever that project is.

        I would still send an email though – some partners actually respond better to email requests. I don’t know if its because it’s in writing or what,. It just depends on their work style.

    • Is everyone slow and not meeting their hours, or just you? If it’s everyone, then I think the above comments are a little harsh. However, if you’re the only one not meeting your hours, then you do need to be more proactive. I had to send a few of these emails out at my old firm, and they generally said something like:

      Partner,

      As I mentioned when we spoke X time, I have capacity to take on some additional work. If you or anyone else in the group need some assistance, I’m available and happy to help.

    • Need to Improve :

      -Refer to the fact that you have asked before, e.g., “as I said last time we spoke” or something like that.

      -Show enthusiam, e.g., “I am eager to get additional experience doing X and think Y would be the perfect opportunity.”

      -Ask more people. You are in BigLaw and there surely is someone who can use your help. If your hours are slow, you should be aiming to ask one person per day (by email and then in person follow up) until you have the work you need. If you exhaust all the partners, start asking senior associates. Put yourself out there whenever you run into someone in the hallway or kitchen.

    • I just started at a new firm a few months ago and I’ve been looking for more work pretty much constantly since I started. Granted, my firm is small, only 4 partners, but what I’ve been doing that’s been working with varying success is mostly bringing it up constantly. So if one of them asks how I’m doing it’s “Great, but I could use some more work.” If we’re discussing another matter I’ll end our conversation with, “Please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like me to do, I’m a little low on hours.” If I’m particularly slow I go by everyone’s office once a day, but I don’t like going by their office and interrupting them if I have something outstanding for them that I haven’t completed, even if it’s something small, so I usually don’t do this unless I literally have nothing to do. When push comes to shove, the most effective method has been: “I could really use more work, I only billed 15 hours last week, which isn’t very efficient for me or the firm.”

    • First Year, I agree with others that 2 times in 6 months isn’t really that much. I think it would be fine and appropriate to stop by this partner’s office once a week, or even twice a week. If you wanted to send an email, it could be something simple like: “Hi Partner, I’m available to take on a new matter if you have any projects with which you need assistance. I look forward to working with you again.” Doesn’t have to be any more detailed than just saying you’re available and you want to work with him/her. Good luck!!

      • BigLaw SmallGroup :

        In BigLaw, it often depends on the group. If you work in, say, Litigation or Corporate, there are lots of partners and you should be asking at least one every day. But if you work in a specialty group where there are only a few (sometimes just one) partner, asking every day may be pointless. I do agree that once a week is the minimum.

        I work in a tiny group. One thing that helped me when I started in 2008 was to pick up work from other groups through non-billables. Take on a ton of pro bono. Ask business development whether there are any client pitches you can help with. Think, what else can you offer? Do you speak other languages? Translate. The work will often be boring and nonlegal, but you will (1) have better raw hours, (2) look like you are really trying, and (3) get exposure to other partners outside your group who may actually need help. Make it known that you will do everything and anything. Once I got staffed in a huge document review that had nothing to do with my area because of a pro bono project. It was really boring, but my hours were awesome those 3 months. The firm did not care that the work was for a different group. That project also made the partners in Litigation realize I existed and spoke another language. It turned into 4 or 5 other big assignments. At least half of my hours that year were for them. And it is not lost work, because those contacts have helped me through my career even when I don’t need work.

        If everything fails, having a ton of nonbillable work is better than having no hours at all. Just make it clear that you are doing x because you are slow and think that way you will have a chance to develop some skills in the meantime (business development to get to know clients, research skills, comfortable speaking to clients, etc). At least the partners will see that you are hard-working and resourceful.

    • Another suggestion is to keep your ear to the ground about what matters the partner is working on and then offer specifically to work on that. If your firm sends around an internal listing of new matters that have been opened (which I think many firms do), you can send an email or drop by and say “I saw you just got a new matter for X client – let me know if you need any help on that, I have time.” Or talk about a current case he has: “I heard from so-and-so about that patent infringement case you’re working on for X client, it sounds really interesting, I’d love to get involved if you need any help.”

      • This.

        Anticipate needs and volunteer to take them on. What cases are they working on? What ‘leg work’ needs to be done? I would not only ask for work, I would look for specific work to ask for. It shows you are engaged in the firm and meeting their goals.

    • I’m not an attorney, can’t imagine a situation where in was hired into a company, then blamed for not doing enough work because the system of allocation was so haphazard that I had to go hunt down things to do. I think I’d start getting a little silly/sarcastic about it. Is everyone so formal in asking for work, and how do partners respond if someone says something goofy like “just makin my daily look-for-work rounds–have you got anything for me?”

      Seriously, not having any better way to keep track of employee hours is a messed up way for an entire industry to work!

      • Yeah, this is the problem with law firms. In a normal place, when you ask for work and the reply is “I’ll let you know when I have something,” you can assume they don’t have work for you and they’ll let you know when they have something. It’s not a constant machiavellian struggle to bug people just the right amount but not too much so that you don’t get side lined and then pushed out and then blamed for the whole thing.

  2. I actually think that cropped pants are more of a style for flats than any kind of heel whatsoever. Mainly because a heel will elongate your leg, leading the cropped pant to look even shorter on you than maybe intended.

    And for Audrey Hepburn, she would usually wear them with ballet flats.

    • hellskitchen :

      I agree. When I am wearing ankle length pants, I feel way more comfortable in flats than heels – otherwise I’d feel Like I am standing on tiptoe and saying “look at my ankles.” Also Kat advises not to wear a belt but if you are going to tuck in your blouse, don’t you need a belt?? Or is this rule dated?

      • I agree with the belt, I always think I look off without a belt to break things up between a tucked in shirt and a pants. Generally though, when I wear slim pants, I do like the above picture and break it up by wearing a looser top. I LOVE slim/ankle pants and think they are much more flattering on me than any with a flare. I do work in a business casual office, but I had previously been wearing a lot of pencil skirts and it’s great to find another flattering option for when you just don’t feel like putting a skirt on.

        • hellskitchen :

          yep, I prefer the flowy top and blazer with ankle pants look as well, which is why I am surprised that Kat didn’t find more photos of it done well.

      • hoola hoopa :

        I don’t wear a belt if I’m wearing a buttoned jacket to reduce bulk, so maybe that’s what Kat meant? This post was hard to follow since her advice seemed counter to her pictures.

        I also prefer them with heels, although I wear them with flats a lot because I simply like flats. I don’t think of platforms as appropriate for the office to begin with, buy maybe platform + ankle pant is a trend somewhere that I’ve missed.

    • I like them on some people with simple pointed toe heels but only when the leg of the pant is tapered. I’ve tried this look multiple times and am about to waive the white flag; it may just not work for my body type.

    • I have such short legs that I wear ankle-length trousers (should I wear them at all? debatable) with one thing only: pointy-toe heels of any height.

  3. Hollyhood :

    Sorry for the immediate TJ. I need some advice. I’m in my first year at a big law firm. I was placed in a transactional group at a sattelite office when I started. I have been billing less than 50 hours for the past 5 months I’ve been here. There just does not seem to be enough work here at this office. And because I summered here at the sattelite office, I do not have enough connections at the main office to get work from there.

    What do I do? Do I start cold-calling (emailing?) partners in my group at the main office and ask for work? For reference, a first-year in my group was placed at the main office and has been billing around 100 hours.

    Also, I asked the partner in my group here at the sattelite office about my hours and he said “dont worry, the hours will come to you”, but this was months ago. The partners in my group get a monthly report of all the associates hours, so everyone knows of my low hours.

    • Need to Improve :

      See the comment above. All you can do is hustle. Try your hardest, keep asking, and yes, write to partners in other offices. I realize that the main office does not seem to have enough work to go around either, but the purpose of asking is not just to get work, it’s to seem pro active. No one is going to look badly at your efforts to bill more hours, and you will have your butt covered come year end when you have really low hours. It’s way better to be able to say “I asked 100 people for work” than to say you didn’t think you should ask the main office because they are slow too. ASK!

    • And – you say cold-calling (e-mailing) – I would actually call. I had much better responses from partners in other offices when I called them then from just e-mails – you can always say “I want to learn more about our x practice in your office…”

      (Everyone knows the game – that you’re looking for work – and they’ll probably end up strategizing with you on who has work, how to look for work, etc.)

    • You can also enlist the help of the partners in your office – ask them to reach out to their counterparts in the main office to see if they can get you staffed on something there. Partner in the main office is more likely to go our of his or her way to find some work for you if asked to do so by his/her partner in the satellite office, than if you ask. (not that you shouldn’t try asking too)

    • Divaliscious11 :

      Who is your manager partner? Who is the senior associate in your group? Who is your mentor? Do all three know you have availability? All three should be actively looking to fill your plate, whether its with their work or if a nearby office needs coverage…. When I was a first year, I had a partner several states away that I did work for, because I’d done some work for a local partner who did similar work. If the work isn’t in your office, leverage your in office relationships to get work from others…. Is there similar work available in other practice groups?

  4. Slim ankle pants are really popular in my office with females- almost alway styled with heels (no platforms). Either a blouse or a blazer, matching & non-matching. The most important thing to keep it professional, I think, is to make sure the rest of your outfit is in “that categoy,” ex: heel’s you’d wear with a skirt suit, a blazer (though I’ve been working it with either a pop of texture or color… not both), etc.

  5. TO Lawyer :

    I wear skinny, ankle-length pants occasionally and generally style them with flats or wedges. (But I tend to think they’re more casual – if I was trying to dress them up, I’d probably wear heels). On top, I make sure I have a dressy tucked in blouse and a nice blazer. I like the look generally, but don’t think it’s formal enough for big client meeting days.

  6. cinderella :

    I need some navigation advice on the following. I’ve been at my firm for about a year (practicing for 10). The firm’s biggest client is in the industry that I specialize in so I do a lot of work for this client and have lots of direct client contact. Our firm does lots of sponsorship of client events and I asked if I could go to this client’s upcoming charitable event as part of the firm presence. The client responsible attorney (and master of the ticket allocation) is very protective of this client and says it is too soon for me to go to the event. I understand that the free sponsor tickets may need to go to more senior people/clients, but this response leads me to believe that I am also discouraged from paying my own way to the event and going. I’m pretty irritated. Thoughts? Advice?

    • You should TREAD VERY CARFULLY. It is touchey.

      Even tho you are NOT a new attorney, you ARE a new attorney to the firm, so you do NOT want to show up the attorney who is responsibel for this CLEINT. So what I would do is to go to the attorney who is responsibel for the CLEINT, and ask if you can assist him in cleint matter’s. Tell him that you would LIKE to go to the event and to get a ticket. Do NOT tell him that you are an expert or he will keep you AWAY from the cleint, even at these kind of event’s. That is NOT good.

      This is what happened to a freind of mine. She had the VERY same situation where she had dated a cleint from the gym, and then the cleint became a cleint at the firm she worked at. So the cleint knew her and wanted her to be the firm contact, but the partner did not want her to be faceing the cleint all the time b/c she was still dateing the cleint. So the partner said she could not date the cleint if she was to do work for him. She wanted the work and also wanted to date him, so she agreed that she would NOT be the lead on the acount with the cleint as long as she was dateing him. After 3 month’s the cleint did not want to date her any more so she then became the lead on the acount. That was still awkaward, b/c the cleint had been intimate with her, but I think it is workeing out now. Yay!

    • HappyHoya :

      Depending on what exactly the responsible attorney said, he/she may not have meant it was too soon to go, but instead that it is too soon for you to represent the firm at the event. Even if the message was clear, you can go to them and ask as if you misunderstood to get some clarification. If you’re willing to pay for your own ticket (so you’re not taking the place of another attorney), there is absolutely no reason for them to not want you there. I would ask for clarification, bring up that you’re willing to pay for your own ticket, and throw in something about how you know you’re new and it would be a great chance to learn about blah, blah, blah. I would be shocked if the responsible attorney rejected that idea, and if they did, I would be cautious about working with them in the future (and certainly not look to them to be supportive of your advancement at all).

    • This strikes me as perhaps a political issue. If they said it was too early to go to the event, I would hesitate to buy my own ticket and just show up. I think it could get very awkward if you did that, but YMMV.

  7. I like ankle-length pants with dresses or tunic tops. Flats, low heels/pumps. Ankle-length pants with platform stilettoes and a blazer looks date night to me.

    • I think wearing a dress or tunic top over ankle length or cropped trousers is rather informal – it’s quite “fashion forward” – and would probably be more appropriate in a media/creative industry rather than a conservative corporate office.

      I don’t think ankle length trousers are “casual” by nature though (as long as they’re not so tight they look like skinny jeans!), and they’e definitely more formal than calf length capris. I live in London and slim/skinny ankle length trousers (particularly tapered styles) took over the shops this spring and summer – great if you’re tall and skinny, notsomuch if your BMI is a little on the high side and you’re apple or pearshaped (I’m undoubtedly a pear, although I try to claim hourglass since I got boobs with the last couple of dress sizes I gained).

      Anyway, I digress…

      A lot of these trousers came as part of suits (e.g. http://www.next.co.uk/X5236s7#850681X52) with cropped jackets and looked stylish while still professional. I saw ladies wearing these with slimline shirts tucked in or formal tops that graised the top of the pelvic/hip bone left untucked. Definitely nor with long-lined shirts/bloses untucked except in “budiness caeual offices”. Shoes ranged from ballet flats to all out skyscraper heels… a lot of ladies still need to learn not to wear “club shoes” (and “club makeup) or shoes with a platform over 1.5 inches or a heel over 3 inches to the office.

      This is a “classic” suit with ankle length trousers: http://www.marksandspencer.com/Collection-Modern-Slim-Ponte-Trousers/dp/B00D2I45HG?rrClickthru=PDP

      Personally I think ballet flats or loafers work well with these trousers if you are slim, a 1or 2 inch heel to elongate the leg looks better if you are carrying a bit of weight because otherwise you can end up looking a bit frumpy and as if your trousers are just ill fitting and too short.

      Anyway, that is just MHO.

      Kandi

  8. Shopping help TJ :

    Looking for a work-appropriate medium-to-dark gray skirt for work, with no pattern/texture in the color (if that makes sense). Hopefully also not prone-to-wrinkle fabric. Thanks to anyone who might have ideas!

    • try J crew’s super 120s pencil skirt. I have practically every color and the “heather flannel” is a perfect medium gray. Actually wearing right now with a black blouse. Fairly wrinkle resistant.

  9. Speaking of Pants... :

    Calling all ladies with wildly varying waistbands!

    My body stays essentially the same no matter how much I weigh, except for my waist. I haven’t bought jeans that cost more than $10 because I can’t wear the same pair for any reasonable length of time.

    Are there any good pants for someone like me? I am comfortable hiding the waistband (I don’t tuck ever, for obvious reasons). I’m talking jeans, dress pants, anything.

    • HappyHoya :

      I like the Cassidy cut from the Limited. I have two pairs with a wider waistband that are my go-to pants when I am feeling puffy or wearing a shirt that is more fitted around the middle (and would show any lumps/bumps from a pinching waistband). Not every style in the Cassidy cut has a wider waistband, but the ones that do are awesome. I machine wash mine and wear them a lot (my first pair was my only pair of black pants when I started work, so they’ve been through a lot) and they’ve held up well for a couple years.

    • just Karen :

      This may sound crazy, but what about looking at maternity pants meant for early pregnancy? Don’t some of them have either adjustable waistbands or elastic, but with the rest of the pant being tailored? My friend has a pregnancy skirt she adores because she can wear it through a huge range of weight fluctuation…

      • Yeah, a lot of them have a narrower elastic band instead of the full panel coverage. If you look for maternity pants for early pregnancy, they should work well because apart from the band at the waist you can’t usually tell that it is a maternity pant

      • Speaking of Pants... :

        Trust me, I am not above this at all! I always imagine the full panel when I think of maternity pants.

        I will look into early pregnancy pants.

    • hoola hoopa :

      Look at Lands End’s Hidden Elastic 7-Day pants! They have the adjustable waist similar to children’s clothing (if you are familiar) that allows you to size them up or down in the waist. Looks like they have lucky sizes only in the pants because they are stocking the cropped pants for summer. I expect they would come back, as it’s one of their standard items.

      Also worth checking LL Bean’s Easy Stretch Pants, which probably wouldn’t offer as much range as maternity pants but look like regular pants.

  10. Anonymous :

    I could really use some opinions on whether these shoes, or shoes like it, could be appropriate for a junior employee in a slightly dressier than business casual work environments (legal support services, not in a firm): http://www.zappos.com/clarks-wendy-land-tan?cb=257606697&utm_content=AD50_dyna&utm_medium=targetdisplay&zap_format=FD2&utm_campaign=PR1

    I have a lot of foot problems and wearing professional shoes 5 long days/week has aggravated some mildly serious medical issues that require a series of corrective surgeries. I realize I can get away with something more casual in the immediate recovery period (with explanation), but I am concerned about the months after, when I don’t necessarily need “special” footwear, but I need to have shoes with some air circulation to minimize risk of infection. I don’t have my own office and I’m not in a position where I could slip my shoes off under my desk, change shoes at work, or anything like that. Whatever I put on in the morning is pretty much what I’m going to wear all (work) day. I am hoping that a sandal, like the ones I linked to, would be acceptable. I am thinking the black color would be best, and most inconspicuous with black pants. I wear a lot of skirts in the summer, would those shoes be totally inappropriate with a skirt? Has anyone found any professionally looking shoes that have some perforation or weaving in the front (so that you’re feet are covered but not totally sealed in)?

    FWIW, the women where I work dress is a very wide array of business casual clothes- from tunics, leggings, and ballet flats, to pencil skirts, blouses, and heels. I am just getting started, look younger than I am, and will be looking for a new position soon (and recommendation from this employer), so I try to err on the side of dressing up.

  11. Dress me please! :

    After getting several compliments today on a sort of periwinkle top I’m wearing, I am thinking this would be a good color to wear to a wedding I have coming up in June. Knowing the bride and groom, I would rather err on the casual side (i.e., I think anything too shiny, sparkly, etc., would be overkill). Has anyone seen any cute dresses lately in a bluish purple?

  12. Also want to add that for the look to work there are a couple of things I noticed while walking around NYC last week:

    -the pants shouldn’t have stretch that outlines your calf muscle; thus if you have athletic calves, no go.
    -the stretch shouldn’t also have the pants look saggy/wrinkled by 1 PM lest you are actually a soccer mom on Saturday morning
    - the fabric should be solidly in the “dressy” side and tapered to the ankle.

    Honestly, it’s probably really difficult to find the perfect fit/fabric for professional attire that many people err on the side of “frumpy.”

  13. not in law :

    Sooo… after posting here for a couple of years, I’m finally going to ask: What exactly is BigLaw, to the layperson? I’ve picked up some sense by reading posts (big hours, big pay) but still don’t really understand specifically how BigLaw is distinctive from Law. Is there LittleLaw and MiddleLaw? Is the client base and work flow different or is it just the size of the office and/or work environment?

    • Famouscait :

      Please, please tell me there is such thing as LittleLaw and MediumLaw…..

      I have also wondered “What is BigLaw, exactly?” so thanks for asking!

      • “BigLaw” refers generally to large lawfirms (the definition varies in different cities but it generally means firms that have more than one office, do a “full-range” business/corporate practice, and have high billable hour requirements for associate but pay high wages for said associates.)

        “Mid-law” (I think is the general term for mid-sized law firms) – and they tend to be firms with only presence in a single city but a larger office or smaller offices in a smaller regional area. They tend to be a bit more specialized and they *can* be a bit lower pressure and have lower billable requirements (they tend to pay less) but its certainly not universal.

        “Small law” are small law firms (which can mean anything from 40 lawyers to 2 lawyers really.) Most are far more specialized and only practice a few areas of law, though some are “generalists”. They pay much less, though they sometimes have alternative pay structures with associates that are not entirely based on the billable hour or at least work generation is more important.

        (Other areas of practice you may see listed here are “in-house”, which means at the legal department at a company, “public interest”, which means at a non-profit, NGO, or other similar org., or government. Then there are people who do non-legal or policy jobs.)

        • Anonymous :

          Sorry but I dont think this is right at all. LillyB had a good explanation.

          • I don’t really think LillyB’s definition is in direct conflict with mine – but okay. :-P I’m not overly invested.

        • Blonde Lawyer :

          That’s how I define it too and TCFKAG is in the same region I am in.

        • I wouldn’t view firms in the 10-40 lawyer range as “small law.” I would think of them as mid-size firms, and keep small firms for the solo practitioner to 10 lawyer level.

    • To me, BigLaw refers to super-sized law firms–like, 100+ attorneys, and to firms that pay better than average salaries. They also expect attorneys to work a lot of hours. And, they usually have a hierarchical structure, which involves junior associates at the bottom, grappling their way up to the ranks of partner over the course of 7-10 years.

      There definitely is SmallLaw and MidLaw, but they don’t call themselves that–maybe they should! Most lawyers in practice are either in solo practice or in small firms with fewer than 5 attorneys. So… I personally feel like BigLaw has a bit of an elite vibe. They usually only hire from the top 10% (and nowadays, top 5% or top 1%) of law school graduates.

      • I’m not sure I would characterize 100+ attorneys as “super-sized”. These days I would call anything under 400 lawyers a medium-sized firm. Given that there are now firms with 2000+ lawyers, 100 is actually pretty darn small.

        • another attorney :

          yeah, but mid-law is definatly considered in the 25-100 atty range. a mid size law firm is not, by anyone’s definition, a 400 person firm. That may now be the average size of BigLaw firm . . . .

    • BigLaw = market (or close to market) pay (160k for first years in NYC, DC, Chicago, Boston LA, Dallas/Houston, 145k in smaller markets), usually with lockstep compensation and 250+ attorneys nationwide.

    • not in law :

      Thanks to all!

  14. Personally, I covet a pair of black, slim, ankle-length trousers that I can wear with heels — but I can get away with the ensuing leg elongation because I’m 4’11″! Definitely tuck, and I’d probably go with a belt because belts are nice to women whose waists are +/- 1-2″ depending on how much water we’re retaining (and I don’t feel like buying doubles of everything). :) I loathe sagginess more than I fear a belt ruining the lines of a blazer, say. Sagginess makes me look every inch as skinny as I am — no good.

  15. Any suggestions on how to clean a cream colored leather Kate Spade purse? There are some dirt/pen marks on the bottom. TIA!

    • I use Cadillac brand Boot and Shoe Care. It’s what Nordstrom sold me to take care of my Cole Haan purse and I am a Nordstrom robot. Anyway, it works, should be fine on light leather and it really cleans and conditions. Also it’s good for all colors of leather, vinyl, reptile, and other exotic skins. Godzilla — you read that?!?!

      • Adding that I’ve also used old school Coach handbag cleaner and Kiwi leather cleaner and the Cadillac brand is by far the best and easiest to use.

  16. Nice timing for this post. I wore a pair of navy blue Banana Republic Sloan ankle length pants to work today. I styled them with at nice tank, blazer, belt and square toe flats. The BR Sloan pant is not as form fitting this spring as it has been in previous seasons. The fabric is nice quality and very comfortable. I’m 5’8″ and have long legs. The tall size came right to my ankles which was perfect for me. I am between sizes so I sized up. The leg looked straight with no calf definition in sight. I agree with Kat’s comment to not wear a belt. I wore one today but didn’t think it looked right. I will probably leave the tank untucked next time too because it is more form fitting. My office is casual so an ankle pant that hits the ankle in a nice fabric works fine.

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