Thursday’s TPS Report: ‘Françoise’ High Neck Blouse

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Classiques Entier® 'Françoise' High Neck Blouse Yes, this is a bit boring, but my guess is that this silk blouse will quickly become a wardrobe staple. It’s simple from afar, but as you get closer you notice the bit of pleating on the front and the piping along the neckline — it’s the perfect high-end substitution for your basic black crewneck t-shirt beneath suits, cardigans, and more. It was $148 at Nordstrom, but is now marked to $69.90. Classiques Entier® ‘Françoise’ High Neck Blouse

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  1. Guys, I think Ellen is one of the admins in my branch. We just got an email with random capitalized words reminding us to INPUT and CONFIRM our ATTENDACE.

    • If she is also the most beautiful and intelligent person you’ve ever met, and always right about everything, we may have a lead here. Keep us posted.

    • Ooh, ask her about Alan! Or her Manageing Partner!

  2. Why is it that something totally impractical, like a gown I’d wear maybe once in ten years, flips my lust switch like crazy to the point where I’m obsessing and fixating and feeling like I need it? But something like this–that’s lovely, that I know I’d wear regularly, and that I maybe even actually do need–just doesn’t inspire me to spend money?

    Is it just my id rejecting practicality? Why doesn’t my id want me to have nice things for everyday work?!

    • True! I do like this blouse but wish it came in more colors and wasn’t dry clean only.

      But yes, I have no problem spending $70 on a cocktail dress I rarely wear, but think $70 is steep for a blouse I’d prob wear twice a month!

    • Salit-a-gator :

      Simple. The kinds of things you’d wear this beautiful practical top to would not be fun…e.g. usual workday. The kinds of things you’d wear the gown to would definitely be more fun…gala event? wedding? glamourous charity fundraiser?

      I think your inner self needs more galas…or at lest a night out.

    • I think it might just be that this top represents everything that sucks about dressing professionally. Yes, it’s lovely, yes, it’s practical, yes, if you owned it, you’d wear it…but it is also one of the most boring pieces of clothing I’ve ever clapped eyes on.

      It has no personality. It has no interest. It has no sparkle. And I don’t mean literal sequins, I mean the je ne sais quois that makes you feel beautiful in a garment. I believe you can find lovely, practical, and wearable things that are also beautiful and interesting. This top just does not happen to be one of them. (At least not in black. In a color or print, it could be.)

      • Alternatively, you need more galas :)

      • I disagree. I think paired with those ugly pants, the top is boring. But tucked into a gorgeous high waisted skirt, that top could be gorgeous. I have a similar top and feel very Grace Kelly whenever I wear it. I think it’s a matter of imagination. Sometimes you need classic, well tailored basics to go with some of your more creative pieces. I would even maybe wear this to a gala with some super sparkly or lace skirt & some big, fabulous necklace. Speaking of which, I do totally agree that everyone needs more galas!

    • For the same reason I’m considering a $300+ pair of bright red Glenda the Good Witch-style sparkly stilettos from Milk & Honey instead of replacing my $100ish standard issue black heels that I wear consistently to work.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        Have you bought from Milk & Honey before. I am so intrigued, yet incredibly risk adverse.

        • MissJackson :

          I’m so intrigued, too! Ever since someone brought Milk & Honey up in a thread, I’ve been pondering it.

        • Nope, haven’t purchased from them before. I was going to post on this weekend’s open thread asking the person who first mentioned them to tell us a little more.

          I’m also holding off on purchasing because I’m afraid that once I open those fabulous floodgates, I won’t be able to close them.

    • I am the same way. Which is why I have closets full of fancy clothes, high heeled shoes, pretty skirts, blouses and dresses that I rarely wear. Fun colored pants, floaty lace tops, pink suede shoes, cocktail dresses. And I rarely go anywhere all that exciting.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      To take this one step further, why do I not debate the costs of more expensive fun nail polish at Target yet I seriously consider changing laundry detergents because although it’s still cheap it is 5 cents more than I remembered paying last time?

      I think this top is gorgeous and now I can’t wait to get the black shirt with asymmetrical pleating on one side that I ordered from Avenue on cyber Monday that is a less expensive semi-comparable style to this.

      • found a peanut :

        Why do I go out of my way to go to the grocery store to buy beans on my way home rather than just get the beans at the local bodega when the savings is probably less than 50 cents, while I think absolutely nothing of dropping $400 on one pair of shoes?

        As I say to my husband, I hate spending money on things which are not shoes, clothes or handbags.

  3. Yesterday there was a thread on nice winter coats. has a list/gallery of 50 winter coats:

    The wool coats are towards the end. Some are quite pretty and well-priced.

    • But Bunkster, it is going to be 60 degrees in Boston for the rest of the winter, so I don’t NEED a winter coat.



      Bueller? Bueller?

      • Definitely won’t get below 60 in Boston this winter. I’m also convinced that it’s not going to snow at all this winter, so I won’t have to walk through 8 foot snow tunnels or fight for parking on streets covered in lawn chairs and paint cans.

        • Well, it snowed enough for two winters last year, so I think this is a reasonable assumption. :-)

          • Maybe we’re going to get Boston’s snow in the Pacific Northwest. I had to scrape my windshield this morning, which is totally unheard of for December 1.

      • Better to be safe than sorry, TCFKAG. Fabulous coat it is!

      • Good point. Or at least it was yesterday. Today’s a bit chilly.

    • anon in SF :

      Also, there was a threat yesterday about the Jcrew Metro coat and its lack of pockets. I ordered the green one and it arrived yesterday. I does indeed have (small) pockets in the front. They are sewn very tightly shut, but you can clip the thread and they will open. They are not huge pockets, i.e., you could not fit a big pair of gloves and a hat. But you could fit your keys and subway pass in one pocket, and phone in the other.

      In any event, the coat is *amazing.* Great fit, well made, beautiful color. I had a different double cloth coat I bought years ago, and I decided to replace it. I’m not disappointed.

  4. some legal advice please :

    dear corporette community,

    i’m hoping some of the lawyers or others with experience can weigh in here. my wonderful fiance and i are making plans to be married. among the many things we’ve discussed are finances, and we both want a pre-nup. while neither of us are lawyers, we did a LOT of research and reading together, an equally large amount of thinking and talking, and created a draft contract that we’re both happy with. the contract was based off the software from a book called NOLO (which we read together, cover to cover).

    now, we each need to find our own lawyers to help us execute the prenup. we both expect that the lawyers will take our document and immediately rewrite it based on their preferred standards, and that is fine. however, i’m hearing from friends that the process has cost them $10K or more in legal fees, and also that it was “the most unpleasant thing i’ve ever experienced” and other words to that effect.

    so here is my question. to what extent does this process need to be painful and expensive? we’ve really tried to do all the thinking and discussion on our own, before going to the lawyer’s office, and i would not be exaggerating by saying that there is literally not a single issue between us that I think we need to go over again. I’m also pretty familiar, by this point, with standard prenup language and terms and risks, etc. and obviously very comfortable with what we’ve decided. It seems that this process can evolve into a kind of pre-marriage therapy session (at $400/hr), or a referee-d divorce battle in reverse, and we’re definitely not looking for that. Does it have to be that way? Any tips on finding a lawyer that will serve our needs best?

    FWIW, we’re both financially independent and over 35 .. meaning, this is not a case where one of us is obviously at a disadvantage vs. the other.

    (also – for those of you who hate or don’t get prenups etc, i respect your POV, but please respect mine as well – not looking to be dissuaded here. thanks)

    • AnonInfinity :

      Do you have any friends who might know lawyers? I’d start there. Second, you can call or go to your state’s Bar Association website, and there should be a list of firms or attorneys by practice area.

      You could seek out a less-seasoned attorney in a well-respected family or estate firm. I’m not sure what region you’re in, and I know it varies, but attorneys with 2-3 years’ experience in my area cost less than $200/hour. You can also try to negotiate a flat fee with someone since it doesn’t sound like this will probably take a lot of work. Many older lawyers I know are set in their ways, but I know tons of younger lawyers who would be more than willing to review your document, advise you of what it could mean, and rewrite only if necessary (i.e., not just to conform to the firm’s standard forms).

      • T&E lawyer :

        I’m a lawyer who practices in this area. No great solutions to your question, but I have had clients come to me with an agreement they drafted themselves and in one case it was quite comprehensive and more intelligible than many of the prenup forms I’ve seen from law firms, and we used the client-drafted agreement. You could explain that you really want to stick with this format and if they are not comfortable, move on to another lawyer. Because prenups cover two distinct areas of the law–trusts and estates and matrimonial law– it’s cheaper to find a “family lawyer” who does both, which will likely be at a small firm and therefore cheaper. At my Biglaw firm, we do T&E but not matrimonial law so if any issues arise over support or divorce, we have to consult with a divorce lawyer, adding to the expense. Prenups are complicated, not nearly as simple as people think when they have their own discussions, and raise a lot of hot-button issues. Example: if one spouse pays the down payment for the house you both live in, and you both contribute income to pay the mortgage but one spouse earns a lot more than the other, and the higher earning spouse also pays 100% for the new kitchen that raises the home value, and then you get divorced, how do you divide the proceeds? Or family wealth issues (i.e., even if inherited wealth by statute remains with the spouse who inherited it, is it fair to impoverish the non-wealthy spouse if they divorce?). The way I handle prenups is to have an initial long discussion with the client on the rights typically waived in a prenup and see if they are comfortable. Typically, the issues arise in asking each spouse to waive alimony/spousal maintenance and in dividing up the home or real property. If you can agree on those items in advance, you’re more than halfway there. Good luck!

        • some legal advice please :

          thanks for this insight, T&E L. I appreciate it.

          We have indeed had the housing/costs discussion as well as the alimony discussion (and the inherited wealth discussion). I posted below my findings on rates. If you have any thoughts on that, would love to hear.

          Thanks again.

    • anon for now :

      I’d be shocked if it cost $10K. I’m in NYC, I asked a lawyer about whether I needed a pre-nup (best $500 I ever spent), and she thought for a _relatively_ simple one (i.e. no family businesses, no trust funds) it would be $5K or less.

      Have you asked a lawyer about whether you need one? The conclusion I came to after talking to my lawyer was that we didn’t. We decided that if there were to be a divorce, there was a 95% chance that both DH and I would come out as we wanted in the end, and that given the unpleasantness of donig one (she agreed that they are generally unpleasant) it wasn’t worth it.

    • It does not need to be painful or to cost $10K, assuming you thought it all through and nothing is too complicated. There are very fine attorneys that would review this kind of thing for you, redraft it as needed with the attorney for your fiance, and all for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000.

      If you say where you are geographically, and it happens to be NYC, I’d be happy to recommend someone. If it’s not NYC, maybe someone else here can offer a referrence.

      • Diana Barry :

        Ditto for Boston. It should not cost 10K. Say 5 hrs of work at 250/hr, that’s 1250. (That would be for a 4th or 5th year atty at a small firm here). One attorney would probably be doing the drafting and the other the reviewing/markup (which takes slightly less time).

      • AIMS, please recommend for NYC. Not the OP, but in a similar situation.

        • Had a friend go to Valerie Wolfman (212 752 3380). Was very happy with results. Can’t speak from personal experience (not married), but second hand — all good stuff. She recommended another attorney for friend’s fiance. All in all, I think they were done in a day and the cost was reasonable and, I believe, flat fee. This was a few years ago. I can’t imagine it changed too much…

    • First, if you post where you are, I’m sure some people on here will be able to recommend a specific lawyer or two.

      Second, your attorney is there to provide the services (within reason) that you request. If you indicate that you (a) have a budget and (b) do not want this to be contentious, they should respect that. Absent extraordinary circumstances, you do not need a pre-nup that is so formalized that it could be a Asset Purchase Agreement between major companies. You need something that lays out what will happen if you split, what assets go where, and is enforceable in court.

      As long as you both come into the process confident in what you want (and no one is forcing anyone else into anything) the lawyer should just be there to make sure you’re not forgetting anything important and to make sure that it is enforceable and all the formalities are observed.

    • I agree with what everyone else says, but keep in mind that you should both have your own attorney and that would obviously increase the cost.

      • anon for now :

        Good point. A lawyer may not be able to do it for both of you under the ethical rules — you’re technically adverse to each other in this.

        • some legal advice please :

          oh and yes, I’m aware that we both need our own lawyers. thanks.

        • @anon for now — it’s not really an ethical rules problem. Pre-nups aren’t enforceable in some states if each party didn’t have his/her own counsel.

          • another anon :

            It is also an ethics problem. You have two adverse interests, and as a lawyer, you can’t adequately represent both competing interests at once.

    • some legal advice please :

      Thank you, everyone, for your helpful responses.

      We are in NYC. I need someone who is authorized to practice law in NY and NJ. (We will either be married in NJ or NY). I’ve been given one referral so far, and the rate was
      $350 initial consultation fee
      $450 hourly rate
      + advance retainer for a pre-nup of $2000-$5000, depending on the case

      This seems incredibly high to me, but I’m not in the business. The $10K quote was from two friends who, to put it simply, have more complex financial situations than I.

      Thank you again for any thoughts or referrals.

      • Gourmet Chef :

        I think a good lawyer would try to keep things as pleasant and simple as possible for you. It’s ok to walk away and find someone else if you’re not getting that.

      • Please see what I said to Pat above.

        I am not sure it matters whether you get married in NJ and you have a NY prenup. It’s more a matter of where you live/get divorced that comes into play as far as enforceability goes, I think. I could be wrong (not in matrimonial practice), but food for thought.

        Another idea for a resource: if you call the NYC Bar lawyer referral service (and most states have something along these lines), they will recommend a lawyer for you, who will charge you about $35 for an initial 30 min consultation. These are lawyers who have all been prescreened by the bar and should be well qualified, etc. You can meet & see what the rate is, what your comfort level is, etc. (212) 626-7373

    • I work at a very small, flexible firm that does things like pre-nups. If either one of you came to me, I’d probably go over it in detail, then talk to you to make sure that you understand it and point out anything that I think could be a problem in the future to make sure that you understand what you might be giving up, and re-draft it as needed, but it probably wouldn’t be very much. Then I’d share drafts with the other party’s attorney and work out how to make them match.

      From everything you’re telling us about your work on it and the fact that you two are in agreement, I can’t see how it would cost more than a few hundred dollars. So look for a smaller, flexible firm, and make it clear that your intent is only to fix up and finalize what you have, and you should be good.

    • I just went through this with my husband. We married in October. Like you, we wanted to keep it inexpensive and uncontentious. Our finances are lopsided and both of us have parents who went through messy divorces.

      You will each need your own lawyer, and unless what you want involves creation of trusts (which you probably would want if you have children from a prior marriage), I suggest that you use a matrimonial lawyer. They know how these things really play out in divorces. This helped me when my husband and I considered whether we would keep our retirement accounts as marital property. My lawyer explained that in a divorce if these things are marital property, you have to get an actuarial expert to determine the extent that the value of retirement account is a result of contributions during the marriage. Knowing about how property is divided might influence your agreement.

      I suggest taking care of this well in advance of your wedding, so that the attorneys involved don’t stress and bicker over the drafting (and matrimonial lawyers are prone to bickering).

      Seek out solo practitioners, not firms. They are cheaper. Explain before you retain them that you want to keep it cheap and uncontentious, that you and your fiance have already done the negotiating and figured out the terms of the agreement you want. When you find one who you want to use, ask that attorney to refer another attorney who they work well with. A good attorney for a prenup will say that he or she doesn’t want to negotiate the terms with the other side, but just wants to put on paper the agreement that you and your fiance negotiate between the two of you. The attorneys should be able to give you an estimate of the number of hours this will take, and although they are not legally required to bill no more than the estimate if the job takes longer, I think they are conscious of the estimate and at least try to stay under it.

      Go ahead and give your draft to the attorneys, but don’t be married to it. If your attorneys have a form they prefer to use, it could be quicker (less expensive) to use theirs than to have them mark up yours.

      If you have not already done so, each of you should start putting your financial disclosures together. Depending on how complicated your finances are, this could just be a simple list of your assets and liabilities for each of you, or you may need your accountants to put it together.

    • When I was in a somewhat similar situation recently, I found a family law attorney (sole practitioner) who did this for about a 10th of what your friends paid. My now husband and I worked together with this attorney to prepare the agreement, although legally she only represented me. Once the agreement was essentially final, she sent my now-husband to another attorney to talk through the document. This second attorney understood her role was a very small one and was comfortable that both legally and professionally, i.e. she didn’t try to change stuff just so she could flex her ego or bill a bunch of hours. My now-husband and I recognize that we didn’t get the best of the best in terms of legal representation. But we didn’t feel we needed a high-profile, fancy firm. We wanted competent, solid advice at a reasonable price, and that’s what we got.

      Like you, my now-husband and I talked things through extensively ahead of time. We had the entire agreement outlined before we met with the (my) attorney. Even though we’d been living together for a long time and sharing expenses, having to put things down on paper and consider all the possibilities helped clarify our respective financial expectations and goals. I think we’re more likely to avoid conflict/misunderstanding over money down the road (that is, within our marriage, not only if we end up divorcing). Believe it or not, I actually found that the whole process to be a positive experience. It brought us closer together by getting us excited about the future we were building together. Good luck!

    • It doesn’t have to be contentious, super expensive, or uncomfortable.

      Solo practitioners or small firms are great for this sort of thing. If the lawyer doesn’t make you feel comfortable, than pay for the consultation (if required) and hire another lawyer.

      Ask around a lot before you give your money to any lawyer. Attorneys know their reputation is important, so the good ones treat their clients well. Do you know anyone who has gone through this before? They might have a reference to an attorney, or advice on someone to avoid.

      Get a few more quotes on price before you have any consultations. Check the websites of lawyers you are interested in.

      In some states, a Nolo prenup would be enforceable. Or some parts of it would. But I would never depend on it without hearing from a lawyer who practices in the jurisdiction where you are.

      • Some Legal Advice Please :

        Thank you to everyone for your comments. I really appreciate it.

  5. If anyone is looking for a small holiday gift for admins/mentees/etc., I found a great Kate Spade card holder (made by Lenox) for $20. I ordered one for my “staffer” and think it’s tres chic and professional.

    Link to follow below.


      (I ordered from Nordstroms, but the link has disappeared off their website.)

    • That’s cute! I kind of want that for me. :-)

    • PSA – everything Kate Spade is going on sale on GILT today at noon!

    • I love that! So cute. How is it that Kate Spade manages to make me want every single thing that they make?!

    • I so wish that it didn’t say “let’s do lunch.” otherwise, SO CUTE.

  6. viclawstudent :

    This shirt is almost exaclty what I’m looking for – from a distance it’s perfect, actually, because I thought the pleating continued all the way across the neckline but instead it’s just on the left and then the “twisted piping” on the right side. So, ladies: does anyone know of a shirt out there (preferably with shipping to Canada) that is: silk (or similar high-end, non T-shirt material); has sleeves (cap is fine, I’m just tired of finding shirts like this in sleeveless); and has that type of pleating the whole way across the neckline? Don’t care about the colour, although if it was available in a range that would be nice. Would prefer it was under $100, but would flex on that for the right shirt.

    • Ms. No Name. :

      Nordstrom? I have no idea if they ship to Canada.

      • viclawstudent :

        Perfect, and the reviews seem pretty good. Plus that’s a pretty good sale rate … Thanks!

    • “Classiques Entier Atelier Pleat Neck Blouse” on the same site.
      Does not meet the sleeves criteria, but a much better deal all around. I really prefer symmetrical necklines under suits or cardigans.

    • My answer disappeared into the wind, but Talbots has a couple long sleeve silk tops right now with pleating going all the way around the neck line. In several colors.

      • I tried on those Talbots tops. Great for looking like you’re concealing a pregnancy if you’re an hourglass! (But for under a suit, they would probably work fine).

    • From Nordstrom website:

      “*Free Standard Shipping to Canada is automatically applied in Checkout for online orders that qualify. Offer is valid through December 12, 2011 at 3pm Eastern. Offer based on merchandise total and does not include Gift Cards, taxes or any additional charges.”

    • Equity's Darling :

      Also, Nordstrom applies duty at the checkout, which is amazing (no surprises when it gets to your door)….just FYI.

      They’re also sometimes cheaper than Holts, even with duty, shipping and taxes. Holts has a serious monopoly in Canada, yet I still go there for convenience. If only it wasn’t a block away, and through the +15, and wasn’t immediate (as opposed to a wait for my package to be delivered from Nordstroms).

    • Nordie’s ships to Canada and I’ve had really good experience ordering from them. No nasty surprises.

      You may also want to look at Club Monaco or Jacob. I can’t speak to specifics re pleating etc., but I’ve had good luck recently buying silk tops for work from Club Monaco, and when I was on a tighter budget, from Jacob.

    • MeliaraofTlanth :

      Boden usually has something similar.

  7. Ms. No Name. :

    Back on holiday gifts. I work in a mid-size firm. We have about 15 paralegals total that work in our offices in the city and suburbs. I deal with partners in both offices and have a “go to” paralegal that I trust to push my assignments through in both offices.

    In buying holiday gifts, I am thinking I will buy my “go to” paralegals something bigger (around $30-50 each) and the other paralegals that I interact with occasionally a token gift of about $15 each. Do you think this will create animosity among the paralegals?

    Also, I love the Kate Spade card holder idea. Unf our paralegals don’t have business cards, but I’m seriously considering the Kate Spade folding picture frame, which they could display on their desk.

    • if it’s clear to all of them that you work more with some than the others, i would think not. the fact that you’re getting everyone something – even the ones you rarely speak with – should be seen as a positive. unless your firm has rules against this, which I assume they don’t.

  8. I could use some advice. I posted a few weeks ago about how I received a poor performance review. I’m a senior-midlevel associate in BigLaw, who does not want to make partner at my current firm, and I got a performance review that was mixed but overall negative. The overall message was a bit confusing, actually, but boiled down to the fact that they think the quality of my work is good, but that I am not enthusiastic enough and not a “go-getter.” They said I could either pick up my responsiveness/enthusiasm and they’d be happy to keep me around, or they’d be happy to make calls to find me someplace I’d be happier. I posted on Corporette, and the overall advice (which I agreed with) was that I should take the outplacement advice before goodwill evaporated and find someplace I *want* to be for the long(er) term. Great plan, except …

    I got a positive pregnancy test last week. I’m ~5 weeks along, I guess, which means (according to google) that I’m due at the end of July. I now feel like it’s a bad idea to try to switch jobs right away; given time lag, I’d probably end up interviewing while visibly pregnant and/or taking a job with only a few months to work before maternity leave (thereby having difficulty establishing myself and getting less-than-steller benefits). But the alternative is to stick around the firm for 9 months and take maternity leave, which I worry really will blow any good will. I’d like to think I can “kick up the enthusiasm/responsiveness” for this short time frame, but I know that given the likely fatigue, nausea, doctor’s appts, etc., that will be asking a lot.

    Any thoughts on the best approach for me? FWIW, there aren’t really any partners in my group that I feel comfortable talking to about this, particularly since I’m still in the early stages of the pregnancy.

    • wow. congrats! can you remind us again – do you still want to be a lawyer? meaning, is the “something else” going to be another firm with a better fit? or do you want to try in-house? or are you trying to find something else entirely? or, did you want to / can you afford to take time off with your baby?

      • It’s so hard to know the answer to that now that I’m pregnant. People say that you don’t know whether you’ll want to stay home until you have the baby — I suspect I want to keep working, but at drastically reduced hours. I can afford to take time off or switch careers altogether (perhaps to work in nonprofits) if I want, and my husband would be supportive either way. There aren’t really in-house options in my field, so the partner help would be in placing me in gov’t most likely or possibly some smaller boutique firms.

      • If you think you want to work reduced hours how about going out on your own or doing per diem/contract work? Do you have good relationships with other lawyers/firms or a local or industry bar association? I’m assuming since you’re married you can get benefits from your husband, and then you can work on your schedule.

    • First of all, congrats! I’m not sure what I’d do in your situation, but I do have some thoughts (I am 25 weeks pregnant with my first). First of all, you may not feel that bad in the first trimester. How do you feel so far? I had some food aversions, but nothing that really slowed me down. (I know it’s different for everyone.) Also, I have found that doctor’s appointments really aren’t that time-consuming in the 1st and 2nd trimesters (once a month really isn’t that often). Finally, I recently had a colleague go on paternity leave almost immediately after starting a job on my team. It was almost easier because he hadn’t really gotten that involved in anything, so his absence wasn’t that big of a deal. Management basically just planned for his “real” work to start when he returned. That being said, I know that the benefits may be significantly reduced if you are new at a company, so I totally understand that angle.

    • First, congrats on your most excellent news.

      I’m not sure there are any “good” options for you. I think you’re basically going to have to decide what’s more important to you – a reasonable maternity leave or good will. I agree with everything you’ve already pointed out: (1) that not only will it be difficult to find a new job, you’ll have issues with maternity leave and adjusting to the new job with a newborn, but (2) given the way you already feel about your job, it’ll be difficult to ramp up enthusiasm during or after your pregnancy.

      FWIW, if I were in your shoe, I would take the maternity leave, regardless of what that means w/r to the goodwill from your current firm. Since you’re not sure where you’ll be headed, having the maternity leave and then additional time thereafter if you choose to leave your job will give you time to really reflect on what you want to do and what you’ll need in a new job to accommodate your new status as a parent. It sounds like you have sufficient experience and history of good work that some grumbling over your departure won’t derail you.

      Good luck.

    • Maddie Ross :

      If you don’t want to make partner and have good work product (despite the enthusiasm issues they note) and are interested in possibly doing reduced time, do you think there’s any chance you could stick around and either do part-time or contract work at your own firm after your maternity leave? I know I counseled you to consider taking their outplacement help last time you posted, but IMHO, the pregnancy might change things. Maybe just sit tight for a bit, work on your enthusiasm in the short term and don’t make any long term decisions right away. If you feel good about where you are towards your due date, approach them about the PT options.

    • Firstly, congrats! There really is never a good time for a baby (28 weeks pregnant here), but it’s still a blessing. If you’re thinking about reduced hours in the future, is there an option at your current firm where you could work flex-time or reduced hours? You already know that you don’t want to make partner there and you figure that it’s not a great long-term option, but it may be the best option for “right now.” You can certainly start looking for a new job (which is not mutually exclusive with working reduced time), but just know that you won’t be covered by FMLA and your benefits will be totally and completely up to the company hiring you.

      Second, as for just picking up your attitude/enthusiasm/responsiveness, that will be wholly dependent on your pregnancy. I didn’t have the world’s worst morning sickness in my first trimester, but the constant fatigue made it SO HARD to work and to care. Surviving the first trimester for me involved a lot of going through the motions. Second trimester was a breeze and I felt like myself again (albeit in a lot more empire-waist tops). Now that I’ve hit third trimester, I’m in the range of doctor’s appointments every two weeks (which are cumbersome) and back to general fatigue. Picking up the attitude is certainly do-able, but it will be entirely up to you to make happy.

      Finally, (on the third hand?), there’s always a chance that you could be put on bed rest for a period of time. Being somewhere with established benefits if that happens is a lot better than the unknown.

    • Ouf, this is tough. I can’t tell you what to do but thought I would chime in just to help you flesh this out. I’m also pregnant at a biglaw firm (7 months), midlevel, and am sticking it out, in part because I like it here and will be happy to come back after maternity leave. I also think they will help me find something else post-leave if I don’t think biglaw is a good fit post-baby.

      How much leave do you want to take? How much do you want to work post-baby? If you want to take a long leave, you might think about staying. Your current firm might not love it, but they probably have a generous leave policy if they match the market. Also, if you think you will want really reduced hours, it might be hard to search now.

      But I guess if it were me, and I didn’t see myself wanting to come back after leave (because no warm fuzzy feelings about the firm), I would start looking now. There is a lot of time between now and July and you might become less marketable in the meantime, because you will only get to be more senior. I also think job hunting with a newborn is going to be really hard. Yes you might be tired and pukey now, but I think motivation and energy are going to be harder post-baby. If it matters to you to come back to work after leave, then I think it matters to be at a job you want to come back to. Isn’t this what Sheryl Sandberg said? It makes sense to me.

      Can you start the job search without letting your firm know?

    • Congratulations!
      Personally – I’d stay at your current firm, take the maternity leave, and then decide how you want to proceed. I interviewed for a job at 4 months pregnant (and I did not look visibly pregnant or gain any weight until I was 5 months along thanks to a rough first trimester) and I was shocked at how this ‘family friendly’ ‘best places for working mother’s’ firm quickly went from moving me through the interview process ASAP to the recruiter ducking my calls once I disclosed my pregnancy (my choice, as I didn’t want to blindside new colleagues, but still annoying).
      Just an FYI – even large companies in this day and age can and do discriminate against pregnant candidates.

    • From my experience, I changed jobs once about 3 months after my first daughter was born (I left the 1st job just before I delivered her). The next time, I interviewed while visibly prgenant and took the job about a year later (LONG hiring process). Go with your gut. As a working mother, I need a career I LOVE or at least like and feel empowered/excited by to leave my girls, especially when they were babies. If I’m losing time with my kids, I want it to be worthwhile. That said, I’ve never stayed home with them more than 3 months. I’m just not wired that way. Plus, I really like what I do.

      Good luck & congratulations.

  9. I have a basic 401(k) question that I can’t seem to find the answer to. The 401(k) contribution limit is $16,500 for 2011. Does this $16,500 include only my individual contributions, or does it also include my employer’s contributions?

    For example, if I put in $10,000 and my employer matches $6,500, can I still put in another $6,500 up to the max, or am I maxed out?

    • $16.5K does not include employer contributions.

      • this

        • Yes, the $16.5K limit is on your contribution. The limit on total contributions is a separate matter. From the IRS website:

          “[A]nnual contributions to all of your accounts – this includes elective deferrals, employee contributions, employer matching and discretionary contributions and allocations of forfeitures to your accounts – may not exceed the lesser of 100% of your compensation or $49,000 for 2011 and $50,000 for 2012.”

          • Link for above:,,id=151786,00.html

    • Anonymous :

      My understanding has always been that it’s your individual contributions. Please let me know if I’m mistaken!

    • From the IRS website:

      Contribution Limits

      Total employer and employee contributions to all of an employer’s plans are subject to an overall annual limitation – the lesser of:

      100 percent of the employee’s compensation, or
      $49,000 in 2011 and $50,000 in 2012.

      The amount employees can contribute under a traditional, safe harbor or automatic enrollment 401(k) plan is limited to $16,500 for 2011 and $17,000 for 2012.

      Traditional, safe harbor and automatic enrollment 401(k) plans can allow additional catch-up contributions in the amount of $5,500 for 2011 and 2012 for employees aged 50 and over.

  10. clueless summer associate :

    Lovely blouse. This one: from Lands End looks similar, although with a bit more of a sleeve and brighter colours available. Anyone looked at this one? It caught my eye this morning.

  11. Does anyone have a cell phone headset that they can recommend? I have had bad luck with this in the past – people often have trouble hearing me. I travel often and take a lot of calls, so I’d really like a hands-free way to talk. I am fine with wired or bluetooth.

    • Fashion Faux Pas :

      I have a Pro Plantronics headset that seems to work well. I use it most nights on my long commute home, and haven’t gotten complaints about sound quality, whereas I used to get complaints with my old headset.

      I’ll post a link in a separate comment.

      I’ve been trying to post this comment for hours, but I keep getting a “posting too quickly” message even though this is the first comment I’ve posted in nine weeks.

  12. Thanks Hivemind :

    Not a real threadjack, but a big thank you to all the ladies who recommended the Wacoal bras a good while back during the “busty” post.
    I finally got one, yesterday at Macy’s friends and family sale and it’s GREAT (but you already knew that).

  13. Research, Not Law :

    I love, love, love this blouse. I rarely see an item featured that I must have – but this is great. If I weren’t going to be in maternity clothes and easy-access tops for pumping for the next nine months or so, I’d be purchasing this top this very second.