Tuesday’s TPS Report: Les Halles Sweater

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

Milly Les Halles SweaterThe ascot/bow seems to be coming back in a big way, and this cashmere and wool sweater shows it off in a really classic way. Love the ribbed panels and slim fit, and love the details — the slight pouf to the shoulders, the ribbed trimming — fabulous. It’s $245 at Neiman Marcus.  Les Halles Sweater

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.



  1. I like it, though I don’t think it would work for the bustier among us (but that’s just ascots in general). But it is pretty, and probably awesome to touch!

    • Ka-yoot!!

      I’m pretty busty, and I find these things work well on me, as long as the “business” in front doesn’t hang too low. For bows, you can usually figure out a way to tie it so that it works.

  2. I can never get a bow like this to tie right on me. It always ends up looking fussy. Like it on the model, wouldn’t like it on self.

  3. First – I’m a huge fan of bows. Not so much of the ribbed material here, but the bow makes up for it.

    Second, I’m sorry to jump in right away with a threadjack, but I could do with some Corporette advice. I am in the process of updating my resume and one of the headhunters I am using has said that he wants me to put in a section about my ‘interests’. I have never had this section, but I can see why it is useful and he has asked for it so I’m thinking I should add it in. However, the problem – I don’t think I have any interests worthy of valuable resume space. I work in Big Law and hence have little time for interests anyway, but I realise that this alone makes me a potentially undesirable candidate (and is probably why I’ve never had an interests section in my resume).

    I used to take a lot of dance classes, but had to cut them out due to the cost and time factor (although I suppose this technically still counts as an interest). All my actual current interests are, arguably, vacuous – shopping, happy hour, Mad Men, watching sports… and I don’t want to make up interests because I would blatantly be caught out at the first available opportunity. Yes, I’m interested in politics and history and suchlike, but I don’t follow any of those sufficiently religiously to be able to respond to interview questions about them. Often those questions don’t get asked, but I would rather not take the risk. I also completely disagree with putting down things like ‘socialising with friends’ because that would be like putting down ‘breathing’ – it isn’t an interest!

    So, my question to your ladies who work in Big Law or other demanding professions, or are otherwise devoid of hobbies – how do you handle this? I don’t believe that the interests section is going to make or break whether I get the job, but I wouldn’t want to start off with a perception that there is absolutely nothing of interest about me aside from my experience in conducting due diligence!

    Thanks in advance!

    • if you are applying to lateral positions in biglaw I don’t think the interests section is really necessary and generally takes up valuable space on the page. But if you are applying elsewhere then I would definitely include it because it gives interviewers an opportunity to steer the questions into more of a conversation if they see you have something in common. Do you travel? Have you been anywhere of interest lately? I say choose 3 or 4 things you really enjoy and put those down. If you like watching sports list your favorite team or favorite sport that you feel comfortable discussing. It is common to see a few generic – travel, art museums, skiing, watching NFL games – interests mixed in with some very specific ones such as watching Mad Men. I think listing that and dance and whatever sport you enjoy watching are perfectly fine because they reflect who you are.

    • I can’t address your main issue, but I think Mad Men can be included in the interests section – so many people love and watch the show, it can be a great conversation starter in an interview. On the other hand, for some of us it might also be like “breathing” ;)

      • Is the general consensus really that it would be acceptable to put a television show (any television show) as an interest?

        I always thought this section was intended to show your outside interests and what differentiated you from the other candidates, as well as an opportunity to show other areas in which you’ve exhibited qualities that would translate well to being a great employee (example – “completed 4 marathons” = dedicated/goal oriented person). I know this is judgmental (but when would reviewing a resume NOT involve judging candidates based on information presented?) but if given the opportunity to tell me something non-work-related about yourself and the best you can give me is that you like to watch XYZ show on television, I’m not going to be impressed.

        To be clear, I have no problems at all if you love XYZ show, will discuss it at length with colleagues who also watch it when we are all at lunch, etc. etc. I just wouldn’t waste an opportunity to set yourself apart in a stack of resumes with “I like TV”

        • This. Exactly this is my concern. I got nothing. I’ve never run a marathon. Yes, I’d love to travel, but I can’t afford it. I don’t actually ‘do’ sports, because I suck at them, I therefore only watch them. None of these things say anything about me that would make someone want to hire me. Maybe one of my interests should be ‘making myself more interesting’!


          • I always thought the “interests” section was hokey and would push back on recruiter in your shoes. If you have to put something I would put dance and say you look forward to adding classes back into your routine after a hiatus and whatever major league or college sports you follow. No teams though – while DC seems to have its fair share of native Texans who are Cowboys fans, I can’t imagine admitting that in Redskins nation. Same would apply to some of the major SEC/ACC/Big 10 rivalries.

          • divaliscious11 :

            Watching sports is a perfectly acceptable interest, and depending on the client you’d be supporting, could very well be a plus in terms of client interaction…. i.e. you wouldn’t sit there mum as the first 15 minutes of the meeting is a recap of the big games from the weekend….

        • To clarify, I meant as part of a larger package of interests. For example, marathon running, oil painting, playing classical guitar, watching Mad Men.

        • I don’t think the point is necessarily to differentiate. It can also be to show how you would fit in at the firm. If it’s a firm with sports teams, for example, you might put down that you plan basketball. It’s just a way to show someone who you are besides a professional. You don’t have to have interests that few others would have, necessarily (although that is something else that an interests section could show). Some interviewers love seeing interests because it provides segues and question topics. Some hate them because really what do they care if you enjoy jogging and baking? Whether you include your interests or not, whether you have unique interests or not, some will respond well and some won’t. (As evidenced by previous Corporette threads.)

        • I agree. I think of interests as something you actively pursue vs. passively, and watching television is a passive activity. I would never interview someone who lists a television show as an “interest”. Just exclude the interest section on your resume.

        • Really, I think interests are just meant to be conversation starters. Common interests can be a positive, though I like to make them somewhat specific (i.e. “Appalachian literature” rather than “reading.”) I like mentioning favorite sports and teams, too, because lots of people watch sports and it can really give you something to connect with – though you must actually know what is going on with the league/team, etc. and be able to talk about it! And, obviously, it depends on what kind of job you’re applying to. I wanted to work in a small office. Fitting in personally is very important in small office environments.

          • EXACTLY. Its so if someone wants to soft interview, just see if you can hold up your end of the conversation, they go straight to the interest section and say “soooo, you like travel. where’ve you been lately?” And you’re off. For the OP, if you like sports, put down whatever local team is your favorite, and then expect to get the “So, how bout that pitching [or whatever] last night?”

            DO NOT put Mad men.

      • Personally, I would not put a TV show as a hobby on my resume. While people love their TV shows, watching TV is not a hobby per se. You’re a fan, and including that on your resume sends a different message. I love the band U2. I travel around the country to see them. I would NEVER put that down as a hobby. If you don’t have any genuine hobbies or interests (gardening, golf, cooking, painting, writing poetry, etc.) I would not put an interests section on my resume. Just because the headhunter suggested it, doesn’t mean it’s a must have IMHO.

        • Why wouldn’t you put that down as a hobby? I think it’s interesting – I’d ask you about it in an interview if I saw it on your resume. There’s certainly nothing objectionable about being a huge U2 fan.

    • Having worked for a headhunter, once upon a time, and therefore seen thousands of resumes, I think the way to set yourself apart is to specify your interests. Don’t be generic and go: “I like to read, watch films, and spend time with my friends/family.”

      You enjoy taking dance classes (although you don’t have much time for it) – write it down. Don’t just write I like to dance. If there is a specific type of dance you prefer – write it.

      You like Mad Men -> write it. It does set you apart from the ones who would say: I like to watch films/tv. (although, it’s usually more acceptable to say films instead of TV – perhaps something in regards to the image it portrays? But watching a critically acclaimed show, that is on once a week is different from randomly channel surfing, imo.)

      With the sports – again narrow it down just a bit. Which teams do you follow? Which sports is it?

      I agree with the socializing with friends bit, but if there is a thing you and your friends like to do together, or travel to together, you might consider adding that.

      It doesn’t have to be long. Whenever I haven’t had an interest field on the resume, it has almost always come up in the interview in a broad term discussion (and I’ve always felt put on the spot – uh… I like to read… true crime, uh), whereas when I’ve had it, the discussion is inevitably much more narrow, and I feel much more prepared for the discussion.

    • Anon for this :

      I just updated my resume and am in the process of interviewing for a lateral position. I didn’t have an interests section either, but my headhunter told me they were valuable. Like you, when I’m not working or trying to make up spending lost time with my husband/family, I’m watching TV, chatting with friends, walking my dogs, etc. I put my two favorite sports teams on there (which spurred a discussion on them in my first interview yesterday) and a sport I play about once every other month. I enjoy it, though, so I can at least talk easily about it.

      For me, I guess every BigLaw litigation associate has done discovery, motions for summary judgment, etc, so I see interests as a valuable one line that gives the interviewer an idea that I’m not a litigation automaton.

    • “Interest”-ing question. As a BigLaw partner, I would assume that whatever interests you list are activities that you enjoy on occasion but that most of your time has been taken up with work and family obligations.

      Nevertheless, in your case, rather than just listing “dance,” I would list the specific type of dance you studied, still enjoy watching from the audience, and one day in the future hope to study again. A specific genre is more likely to flag a potential bond and break the conversational ice with interviewers. You say you like watching sports; if you aren’t confident about trading detailed stats with a rabid fan, then perhaps you could list that as “rooting for the [your favorite teams].” Most lawyers like reading; you could indicate a preference for either fiction or non-fiction and maybe even get more specific, e.g., mysteries, travelogues, memoirs, trashy novels. Just be prepared with answers to the two questions that will predictably trigger: “What is your favorite book?” and “What are you reading now?” And as for shopping, when it’s listed as “bargain-hunting” a lot of people can positively relate to it, but be prepared with stories about great deals you got on an electronic gadget, a souvenir from a trip, or your car–you will appear resourceful and good at negotiating–rather than rhapsodizing about clothing, shoes, or jewelry. Finally, any favorite foods?

      So in the end, you might come up with something like this:

      Interests: Flamenco dancing; rooting for the Toronto Blue Jays; reading 1950s cookbooks; bargain-hunting; chocolate desserts.

      Good luck!

      • Ack! Is bargain hunting commonly listed interest? I have it on my resume and now I’m slightly paranoid it’s interpreted as code for “I like shopping” (my true interest in in finding exceptional deals).

        • I have a friend who has elevated coupon clipping to another level. She’s the type of person who walks into the grocery store and buys $100 worth of groceries for $30. She has ‘coupon clipping and bargain hunting’ listed as an interest on her resume and it’s lead to some very interesting discussions. (No job offers though.)

      • Have we really gotten to the point that when interviewing for a six figure job, people excharge stories about the great “deals” they have found on gadgets? I guess I just live in a different world…..

        • Meh. I’d definitely click with an interviewee chatting about where she got a great deal on her gorgeous tote bag or something. I’m not sure I’d list it on a resume, though.

      • I wouldn’t put in bargain-hunting. Too gendered. It really does read like “I like to shop.”

      • Try skydiving. That’s a pretty good icebreaker/interest point. Start with a line like “I have taken off in 200 more planes than I have landed in.” Of course, you will need to actually be able to back it up…but if you can, one of the points you make is nerves of steel and willingness to take risks.

        Okay, I have my flak jacket on for anticipated replies :).

    • This is a little manufactured, but can you spend this coming weekend doing something that maybe you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the time – that would make for an interesting interest?

      E.g., – go get yourself 30-40 exotic tea samples and say you’re interested in teas from around the world? Visit all the “weird” museums in your city (e.g., toy train museum, television museum, etc.) and somehow reference this? do some volunteer work and count it as an interest in a social issue (e.g., supporting literacy)? rent some exercise videos with an unusual name (e.g., something like Jazzercise) and say you enjoy that? take a beginner class in something (pottery, computer programming, whatever) and list “novice ___” as your interest.

      • legalchef :

        I definitely wouldn’t do this – what if the interviewer decides to ask “so how long have you been doing X?”? Then the response would be “1 week” or whatever it is.

        • of course you wouldn’t want to say that! but how about:

          “it’s a relatively new interest but i absolutely love it.”

          or “it’s something i’ve wanted to try for a long time and finally started out recently”

          • Anonymous :

            Both of those responses, to me, read: “I’m fibbing about having interests.”

            Just one person’s take.

            If you don’t have interests that you can really speak about at length, it is probably best to leave it off entirely.

          • Agreed, if all you have to say can be said in under a minute, then leave it out. But if you’ve always liked exercising and dance and recently started “jazzercising” and can talk about what it entails, whose videos you like best, how great a workout it is, etc. (i.e., more time than you’d reasonably want to spend talking about it in an interview even if it were a lifelong passion), then I think you’re fine. And I think there are quite a few very casual interests like this that you could develop into something more meaty in just a couple days if for whatever reason one feels the need to seem like less of a workaholic on her resume.

    • I have an interests section – short – but it is things I like to do – eg singing in choir, gourmet baking, and yoga. It gives people something to ask about in interviews.

    • Lana Lang – don’t include your interests. If you are struggling this much with it you should not include that section. “When in doubt, leave it out!” I’ve been contacted by legal recruiters in the past (no they are not all the same, so no offense) and I’ve generally found them to be off base on many things.

      • Ballerina girl :

        Agreed. Too risky anyway. I remember mostly making fun of odd interests when I read them in resumes. I’ve rarely found them to be a plus.

    • divaliscious11 :

      Are you looking to move laterally or in-house? If you are moving laterally, I’d tell the HH no thanks. If you are looking to move in-house, it may be that you want to put something down to show you have interests outside of work and to gage your ‘fit’ with both the legal department and the business team you’d be supporting.

      • Thanks for all the replies, much appreciated. For clarity – I am looking to move to another Big Law job, although I’m in Big Law in London, so I’m looking at jobs elsewhere as a back up for applying internally for a role.

        The two places my HH wants to send my CV to are both hardcore white shoe firms (not sure they are my cup of tea at this point, but I’m open to considering my options) where I imagine any interests I might have would quickly become obsolete due to absolute lack of free time so for these places it sounds like perhaps leaving the whole thing out might be ok…

    • My section is “interests and activities” and mentions my alma mater’s football team, salsa dancing (which, like you, I barely have time for now, but it’s still an interest), and the homeless shelter where I’m a volunteer. I think it’s good to list 3 or 4 things (one line) that you’re likely to share with someone at the company, like if you play a sport or love a particular director’s movies, that could spur a conversation. Make them fairly specific – “cooking Moroccan food” rather than “cooking,” for instance – to make yourself seem less generic and more genuine. And obviously, don’t put anything that’s not sincerely an interest or that you’re not prepared to discuss in an interview.

    • I agree the interests section probably won’t make or break you. I personally love interests sections and they help me differentiate and remember candidates. I have a friend in the same field who hates them. I usually ask people in interviews what they like to do in their free time and it pains me when people say “well school/work keeps me busy so I don’t really have any free time.” Anyone you’re interviewing with in biglaw knows that you don’t really have any free time. But I can think of a million things I have done avidly in the past and would do again if I had more time on my hands (skiing, trail running, cooking, and traveling to name a few). I think dance would be a great interest to list (I would certainly ask you about it when interviewing). You can always say “I took ballet for many years and still love watching performances.”

    • I am honestly shocked by the responses here. “Coupon Clipping”, “Bargain Shopping”, “Watching Mad Men”, “Watching Sports”?! Lordy lord.

      I am all for individualization and letting your personality shine through, but this is a professional document speaking to your career, not a Myspace/Facebook profile! It is best to just highlight your experiences and PROFESSIONAL affiliations, and to describe them in the best and most impressive light possible.

      • I agree. I don’t think interests belong on a resume unless they are at a very high level (made the US Olympic team in a sport) or unless they can really highlight something that could be relevant to the employee (speak an unusual or obscure language). Sorry, I think what’s being described here sounds awfully cheesy. Especially talking about liking TV shows and chocolate desserts. And I like plenty of TV and plenty of desserts!

      • Also, since everyone supposedly watches sports and Mad Men, you are not exactly setting yourself apart from the crowd. And I don’t know what kind of HR quack would interview/hire someone even placing an ounce of emphasis on such a credential.

        • This is typically a single line at the bottom of the resume. I don’t think someone needs to be a “quack” to hire someone who says they like something passive or that isn’t exceptional or unique.

          Honestly, they’d be a quack to disqualify someone who’s highly qualified for a particular position for following common resume writing tips!

        • Oh, and as someone who has “bargain hunting” listed, the only time it’s actually come up in interviews, I’ve tied it very clearly into my job (I work in finance picking securities – and love finding undervalued ones as much as I love finding free-after-rebate items that can be combined with coupons!) and it’s gone over exceptionally well.

          (Though I do appreciate the feedback that this could be interpreted by others who aren’t asking as code for “I like to shop.”)

        • It isn’t a “credential.” It’s something to chat about during the interview. Nothing more. I think you’ll find that career services offices are very divided about it, but it is far from uncommon. Relax. Your experiences and opinions are far from being a panacea of acceptable resume and interviewing practices.

      • Trying to be gentle here, but I’m guessing from your moniker that you’re fairly new to the legal profession and haven’t done a lot of interviews? I interview a ton of people at OCIs and callbacks, and look at a ton of possible lateral resumes. They all blur together. Moot court, journal, 3 years’ litigation experience, pro bono, bar associations, blahblahblah. Probably 75% of the resumes I look at aren’t qualified for the job, and 25% are qualified but only 1-5% are actually going to get a job. Among those qualified 25%, the biggest thing I care about is whether they’re someone I’m going to enjoy having to spend 50 hours a week with for years. We don’t interview anyone who’s not qualified, but we don’t hire anyone who’s merely qualified.

        Honestly, it can be painful to have to spend an hour interviewing someone who’s a dead bore that I’d never want to work with. If I know you like football, at least we’re going to have something to talk about.

        • I saw that comment coming a mile away. While I am indeed “fresh” out of school, I have had dozens of internships throughout my BS/JD/MBA academic career, and one of my prior employers gave me the opportunity to interview interns, as well. I have read A LOT of the networking/professionalism/interviewing literature out there. I was also called for several interviews and subsequently offered a job very soon after graduating, during what most in the profession call “the worst legal market since WWII”. Also, I don’t have neither journal nor moot court on my resume, and not even “Top X%”, while many of my peers who did are still unemployed.

          I absolutely don’t proclaim expertise here, but I do think I have standing to opine on this thread.

          • That was an extremely defensive response to a comment that did not merit one.

          • Dozens? As in over 24?

          • Yep. 12 years of higher education (2 semester per academic year, and summer/winter breaks and getting hired for side projects)…it adds up. And this constant challenging is why I get defensive on this blog.

          • Or rather excuse me, 4 years of high school and 8 years of higher education. Either way, I can tally up to 25 internships/part-time jobs/projects/voluteering. Again, I did not profess expertise.

          • Congrats on the job and all your remarkable years of education. I got a job immediately, too, with perfectly average credentials, and I listed interests on my resume. In the interview, I chatted about football and Southern literature. Everyone has standing to opine on the thread; no one has standing to treat common practices as ridiculous.

          • I didn’t know that listing “Coupon Clipping”, “Bargain Shopping”, or “Watching Mad Men” under “Interests” was common practice. I stand corrected.

          • Anonymous :

            It’s fortunate that you didn’t list your interests on your resume. Only a true quack would hire someone who is devoted to “trolling on the internet” and “acting self-important on message boards.”

            In other words, chill.

          • I comment on this board all the time, and have been since almost its inception. I wouldn’t think that being contentious on one particular post makes me a troll. I tried to disclaim that I am not trying to be self-important when I wrote “I don’t profess expertise”, but I apologize to those who were nevertheless put off. I’m not going to bother responding to any more put-downs.

          • Lets not compare a legal market to WWII. We all have standing to opine on the thread, people have different opinions than you, its what makes the world go round! Deep breathes, and hope your day gets better.

          • In fresh jd’s defense, I think she was comparing the job market today to the job market in the WWII era, not the job market with WWII atrocities.

          • Oh, seriously, fresh jd is absolutely qualified to comment/opine here, and BTW her comments are spot on (from my perspective of 25 years in this biz, mostly with biglaw and always in an interviewing/hiring capacity – I do have some expertise). And fresh jd def wasn’t comparing the current legal market to WWII, she was noting that the job market is comparable…she was right, it is probably WORSE for lawyers now than it was then.

            All of that said, I didn’t pay that much attention to the original question and I did post a cheeky comment about listing skydiving as an interest, but really unless you have an ‘interest’ that is majorly intriguing (and relevant – I used skydiving (which I actually have the history/chops for) when pitching to a major aviation co, and most of the audience were either military pilots, paratroopers or both – it worked there), leave it out. And definitely skip TV, shopping, cooking (unless you already have your own show), photography, knitting and any other activities that (a) scream ‘xx chromosome here’ and/or (b) just sound like what everybody/anybody might be doing when they aren’t actually working (eg, bike riding, yoga, etc – even if you are an ‘instructor’ – save it for the interview).

      • As long as she was asked by headhunters to add her interests to her resume – my guess is they wanted her to show some personalization outside the professional field.

        From an interviewer I once heard of someone who applied for a corporate gig – was quite qualified on the same line as about 50 other applicants – and mentioned practicing karate among her interests in the resume. The interviewer plainly stated that it was that interest that got her the interview over 40 of the others. Everything else on the resume had been quite the same as the rest of the applicants, and that she practiced karate was something quite out of the blue that made them stop up and take an extra look at her resume.

    • I’ve had negative experience with the Interests section on my CV. While interviewing at law school, I listed ‘photography’ as an interest. I am by no means a pro, but it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, and the pictures come out nice; I also like photography exhibitions, and buy photography books every once in a while. The interviewer asked me if I had an SLR (which I did not have at the time – I have one now, since I can afford it) and if I had a portfolio. I kind of felt like a fake after I had to answer no to both questions. This set the tone for the interview, and I didn’t get the job.

      I promptly removed the ‘Interests’ section after that. My current employer didn’t ask me about them (probably doesn’t expect me to have any!).

      • Anonymous :

        It’s a shame that interviewer made you feel that way! An interest in photography doesn’t mean you have to have certain equipment or have a portfolio. It’s an interest, not a side job. Boo on that interviewer.

    • Anonymous :

      Is this a common resume section outside of law? It’s never even occurred to me (I’m in architecture, if it matters). If anything I’ve often tried not to mention my main hobby – horseback riding/polo – since I’m afraid of how it would be perceived. When we first got out of architecture school my boyfriend wanted to downplay the three years he took off in the middle of college to try to launch a pro soccer career, which I thought was unfortunate since that’s at least interesting and memorable in a relateable way (he just thought it was embarrassing).
      Sorry, not really answering the question at all, just wondering if I’m leaving something important off my resume.

  4. I LOVE this sweater. The ascot works for me because I have a small bust. Very classy and chic.

  5. I like this sweater in theory. I’ll have to leave this one to my smaller busted sister, because on me, this could quickly become “mumsy”.

  6. LOVE this. it would be great for work but even better for my joan holloway halloween costume. too bad i’m broke right now :(

    • surrounded by lawyers :

      Do you mean your Joan Harris costume? ;) I like the theme emerging in today’s comments.

      • It suddently got cold out :

        I LOVE Mad Men. This weeks episode blew my mind. So many surprises! (Won’t mention what in case some didn’t watch yet). My oh my…. can’t wait til it comes back!

      • i refuse to acknowledge her marriage to dr. rapist. he’s not good enough for her. she will forever be JOAN HOLLOWAY.

  7. Hello legal and/or Hr rettes. I am in need of urgent advice. I am about to accept an offer after a long time of unemployment. However, I need to sign a confidentiality agreement that I think is an 8000 pound gorilla. Some of the clauses that disturb me include overly broad non-compete that prohibits me from working at employer’s competitors for a year after the employment has ended for whatever reason. since I work in consulting, many customers are shared across the many firms. So even if they lay meoff, I cannot seek employment with a competitor or customer?

    Secondly, there is a broad assignment of IP rights in the employee work porduct. However, work product is not a defined term, but just explained in a clause. Since it is not defined, work porduct, to me, can be interpreted very broadly.

    Thirdly, any commerically viable project that I work on on my own time and is not considered “work product”, the employer will have the right of first refusal to on that product if I intend to market it. There is no carveout for a time period int he caluse, like any project that is made/created by me only during the time I am employed by the firm. So when I read the clause, it seems to me that anyprojec that I work on at any time in my life, the employer can claim right of first refusal?

    My next question if for anyone with insight…can I suggest changes to this agreement without jeopardizing my job? I have been unemployed for about 8 months now.

    I understand that I am only asking for insight and no one is offering legal advice.


    • anon today :

      Obviously this is not legal advice, and I would take everything here with a grain of salt, but here are my thoughts…

      First, if you have any confidentiality agreements from past employers, I would compare this one to those. Also I would ask your friends in similar industries about their confidentiality agreements, perhaps they would let you see them (assuming the confidentiality agreement was not itself confidential).

      From the ones I have seen (admittedly not many, and all in the tech/science industry) this does not seem that different, I’ve seen the one year ban in all of the ones I can think of. I don’t quite understand your concern here though. How can your employer’s customers be considered competitors? I would think competitors are other firms doing similar work as your firm. I guess unless we’re talking about McKinsey hiring Accenture for a project or something.

      The fact that there is a work product section and also a section about work that you do on your own time, it seems like there’s a distinction there. Work product is usually understood as things you come up with/work you do within the scope of your employment. Generally, when a term isn’t explained in an agreement, it is understood to be what the regular person in that industry would think it was.

      The fact that the third section does not specify that it only covers “while you were working for this employer” seems like an oversight but also something that’s understood in the context of the agreement. IMO it would be pretty ridiculous if your firm tried to sue you five years after you’ve left them because of an invention you came up with after you left them, I can’t imagine the judge that would say (after it was shown you did not come up with that invention while working for this firm) that they could enforce that agreement in that way just because they didn’t specify an end date.

      This is likely a standard form that they have used with everyone so I’m not sure I would ask for too much change (unless you think something is blatantly unreasonable), but you might ask for clarification on what they mean by competitors, for example, or make sure the third clause really only applies to things done while under their employ. I would frame this as seeking to understand what you’re signing. Whether this would jeopardize your offer is impossible to say, I wouldn’t think asking some clarifying questions would, but there’s no way to even guess without knowing all the circumstances.

      Keep in mind that if the agreement has a clause to the effect that “this is the entire agreement between the parties” or some such language (essentially saying that any discussions you had with them prior to signing that weren’t put in the agreement don’t count), you’ll have to ask them to reduce whatever you care about to writing in the agreement, and they may be unwilling to change their standard form if you’re not a top level hire (or even if you are).

      HTH and congrats on the job!

      • I’ve worked in other places that have that same definition of work product- e.g. pretty much anything you do while working for the company, even if in your own time, must be offered first to the company. I actually worked for one place where an IT employee decided to make something for his work in his free time and required each branch to buy the product via a separate purchase agreement. I believe this is why many work product agreements were so strict.

    • You can always suggest changes to an agreement– that’s why it’s called an agreement: you have to agree to it. I am not a lawyer and this is certainly not legal advice, but those terms sound pretty sketchy to me. I would at least talk to the employer about making them more specific, if nothing else.

      To avoid jeopardizing your job, you can say something like “I’m really excited to start working at X and I think it will be a great fit. I just have a few questions about the confidentiality agreement.” Think of it as an additional form of negotiating, just like how negotiating a salary doesn’t jeopardize your job (as long as your negotiations are fair and professional).

      Good luck!

    • Where are you located? State law will make a big difference. For example, non-competes a basically unenforceable in California, though non-solicits and provisions re: work product are more acceptable.

      • Illinois

        • I’m a lawyer in Illinois and represent and employer whose former employee is violating his non-compete clause. Not legal advice, but if it were me, I’d definitely ask questions of your prospective employer and probably even talk to a lawyer about the proposed language. Non-competes in employment contracts are generally enforced if they are reasonable in time and territory, so I wouldn’t blow this off. You might also want to consider whether the non compete takes effect even if your job is terminated “without cause” (versus getting fired “for cause). That would matter to me since I would not expect to do anything that would get me fired, but realize the possibility of being laid off always looms. Good luck!

    • I agree with the comment re enforceability – unless non-comps are drafted pretty cleanly they are unenforceable in most parts of North America. Basically the employer has to show that this is the minimum protection it needs to protect its business. As well, courts tend to follow the principle that someone can’t be prevented from following their chosen profession. But I don’t know anything about Illinois law in particular.

      In general, assignment of work product is pretty standard but the bit about things you come up with on your own time seems a bit sketchy. In terms of the non-comp provision, you might try to get them to limit it to either a particular geographic area or to a pretty specific area of work.

      Congrats on the job and good luck!

      • Long-time lawyer :

        Actually, that is not true, in my experience. I’ve been practicing for more than 20 years, and have enforced these agreements all over the US. The courts will look to reasonableness, and in some states may blue-pencil the agreement to make it reasonable, but will then enforce it. the only states that I’ve run into where these agreements might not be enforced are California and Nebrask. Right now I work in-house for an IT company, and this agreement is very similar to the ones we use with our employees and contractors. We do, howver, allow people to tell us in advance about things they are working on during their own time, and exempt them from the agreement. But anything they create on company time belongs to the company. The reason is simple: we patent and/or copyright our products and sell them to others. We can’t have a former employee asserting IP rights in one of our products at some point in the future.

    • If you’re really concerned, find an plaintiff-side employment attorney to look it over for you and let you know the consequences of the particular language you have.

      I agree that many non-competes are unenforceable but it doesn’t mean your employer won’t try to block you from taking a competing job and they may file suit against you which can be a pain even if the court rules in your favor.

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t know about all the issues involved here and my opinion may not be universal, but I do often hire consultants on behalf of my company. We include a nondisclosure agreement, among other clauses, in their contract. Some of the language is standard and non-negotiable, and some isn’t. I would never ding someone or be upset if they tried to negotiate, though. The answer might be no, that it can’t be negotiated, but there’d be no negative consequence to asking.

    • Ahhh Corporettes please stop giving legal advice on a blog. Qualifying it with, “this is not legal advice but…” does not make it ok! Advice – go get some in-person legal advice from a lawyer in your state.

      • As a non-lawyer, I’m curious why this is such an issue? Is it illegal for the lawyers to be doing? (Though I guess you can’t answer because that would be legal advice? Haha!) :-)

        I think in certain situations where there’s minimal risk of losing a maximum of a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars based on unclear wording in a contract (not saying this is one such situation), it doesn’t seem to me to make economic sense to pay for a consultation with a lawyer. It’s just like any other non-legal economic analysis t0 me – like going online to ask if people think it’s worth it for me to remodel my bathroom if I’m planning to sell in X number of years. I understand the nature of the advice and I don’t expect to have a case against a poster on the internet if it doesn’t work out.

        I’ve also had good experiences with discussing/diagnosing health issues online. I’ll then go to the doctor and when she says “I think you have X,” I can say, “I value your experience, but can you tell me whether you’ve ruled out Y, and why?” Seems like it would be helpful to go into a consultation with a lawyer armed with some “general” advice, and if this is something the legal profession is trying to stomp out, I don’t necessarily think it’s in my best interest.

        • Anonymous :

          If you give legal advice, you might be giving an impression that you’re creating an attorney-client relationship with responsibilities on your end that you may not want– OR, someone might rely on your advice, find that it doesn’t work, and sue for malpractice. Although that would be hard to do sine everyone on this blog is anonymous.

        • Anonymous :

          Also a lot of people assume that since someone is a lawyer, everything they say must be correct, not realizing that in 50 states their are 50 different laws (not including federal) and most lawyers only know the laws in the state they practice. Also, there are many areas of law and most lawyers don’t know anything about areas of law they don’t deal with on a regular basis. Often “general” legal advice is not helpful, or worse, dead wrong.

        • E Anon – giving legal advice over the internet (or even over the telephone) violates many states’ ethical rules. The lawyers may not practice in that jurisdiction, there is no fee agreement, they aren’t aware of all of the issues without talking to the advice seeker, conflict of interest issues…I could go on. Also, if Advice actually relies on the advice that “non competes are generally not enforceable” or “non competes are usually enforceable depending upon reasonableness” (without the agreement being really analyzed for reasonableness) it could create huge liability issues. For these reasons I am surprised and cringing at some of these entries!

    • Anonymous :

      You don’t say whether you are going to work for a large employer or a smaller one or how senior you are. Nor do you say what your concerns are–are you planning to invent/code/etc in your spare time or are you just generally concerned? I work with these agreements, and the aftermath when an employee bumps up against the terms, quite frequently (but I am not an HR lawyer). For the most part, these agreements are standardized and the employer will not like you trying to change things. If it is a smaller employer and you are more senior, you may have some wiggle room. On the other hand, you absolutely have a right to understand the agreement. Do ask them your questions, I’m sure you won’t be the first person to ask. Regarding non-competes, many states will not enforce and this is a civil matter; in other words, if you did go work for a competitor, your employer would have to pursue you in court (the police won’t be coming after you) — this rarely happens unless you have detailed confidential data (sales, inventions, product plans) that you may leak to a competitor that has hired you. Re: work product, yes most employers will treat it broadly–they are paying you for your time but also your energy, skills and ideas. If you hold back your best ideas to work on and profit from in your own time, the employer isn’t going to encourage that. If you want to do something outside of your employer’s line of business then you can typically get a consent from them for that specific work. I know the agreement seems unfair, but 99% of employees won’t run into a problem with it and if they do, it’s one that is easily resolved (e..g, by getting permission to work on your friend’s e-business website or whatever). If you have something specific you want to do on your own time, or existing work product you don’t want them to claim, I would consider writing it onto the agreement you sign.

  8. LOVE this! Did I mention LOVE?

  9. This sweater looks like something FLOTUS would wear. * Love*

  10. I REALLY love this piece. So pretty and high fashion.

  11. I like this in theory, but I don’t like things with bows and flowers and other things around my rather large chest. Also, how do you keep the bow from looking droopy and messy?

  12. I love this. I have yet to see anything by Milly that I don’t love at first sight.

  13. Sorry to be off-topic, there is a book which is frequently referenced: NGDGTCO. Help! Can someone tells me what it stands for?

  14. Took me a while too!

    I think it’s “Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office.”

    No amount of googling the acronyms got me anywhere. Had to see the book referenced in another Corporette post for the aha! experience.


  15. This is a great sweater! I’m seeing ascots on a lot of shirts, but often they seem a little too showy for the office. This one looks to be about the right size!

  16. LOVE this sweater. Too bad I can’t afford it. LOVE.

  17. I love love love this sweater. In fact, I spent all of my free time last night scouring the internet for a similar one, although my ideal would have been in houndstooth. Blair Waldorf was wearing one on GG the other night (yes, I am an almost-30 lawyer who watches that show), and I’ve been dreaming of it ever since!

  18. Job application question:

    I am a recent law school grad applying for a fellowship for which I am supposed to include my salary expectation in a cover letter. I’m not sure how to phrase this or where to place it in the cover letter.

    In case it helps, my standard cover letter format is:
    1) Intro paragraph stating law school info, current job, and interest in fellowship;
    2) middle paragraph listing my qualifications and interest in some detail; and
    3) brief concluding paragraph saying thanks, contact me with questions.

    Where do I put in, “Please pay me $X”?

    • Never done this because I wouldn’t DREAM of putting it in a real job app, but if I had to do it, I would probably say something like, “I understand from my research that fellowships of this type are generally compensated in the range of $x to $y. Given that you expect me to do a, b and c, I would expect to fall into the low/middle/high end of this range, but would be pleased to discuss with you further at your convenience”.

      • No no no. Don’t go into this much detail. I’d die laughing if I saw this in a letter from an applicant.

        The employer already knows how much they’re going to pay, and it’s going to be low. They just don’t want to waste their time interviewing a candidate who won’t work for what they pay.

    • Most people don’t state a salary requirement even when requested to do so, unless they absolutely wouldn’t accept the job if it paid less than X. Since you’re a recent grad, if you aren’t working yet, you could just put that your salary requirement is negotiable. Or put nothing. I don’t think they really expect you to.

      If you do put it in, I’d put it in end of the first paragraph. “I am currently working at State Agency, and am extremely interested in the position at Legal Aid. My minimum salary requirement is $40,000.”

      • Thanks, all, for the guidance.

        Sadly, they do: “Submissions without salary expectations may not be considered.”

        (Not sure whether this is a may-can’t or may-might.)

        • Then put it. I work for a nonprofit, and we’ve invested a lot of energy and time into candidates who ultimately turn down our offer of employment because they don’t want to take a pay cut and we can’t pay them what they are used to making. We don’t publish our salary ranges because they’re even kept confidential internally (if we published them everyone would know what the new hire is making). I’m sure that this is the case here, too.

          If you currently make decent money and don’t want to give them a hard number, you can be a little bit manipulative and say “I currently make X, but I am willing to take a pay cut to pursue the work I love, and look forward to discussing salary further should you make me an offer of employment.” That shows that you’re aware a fellowship is going to mean a pay cut, but it puts the ball in their court so you don’t accidentally end up lowballing yourself.

  19. Losing my Hair :

    Hair Question:

    My hair has started falling out in small clumps recently. Nothing huge, and no bald patches, but still more than my normal shedding. I went to the doctor, and she said it’s probably my hair dye, and I shouldn’t dye my hair for the next 6 months. (She also ran bloodwork, but told me she didn’t think it would be anything that showed up there).

    My question is this: how can I camoflague my roots? My hair is curly, naturally dirty blonde, dyed a copper red (Amy Adams-ish). By the time these six months are up, that’s about 4 inches of growth. I work in a dressier business casual office, in a conservative field (Big Oil). People will notice if the top of my head is a different color than the bottom, and I work in a position that means I interface with people outside the company often. How can I continue to look professional, while letting my hair heal itself?

    • Can you dye your hair one last time, back to your natural color?

      Or what about cutting your hair short, so that it’s basically all natural in a few months?

    • Anonymous :

      First, did the bloodwork come back ok? This could be a sign of thyroid problems or PCOS. There’s also a disease called alopoecia (sp?) that causes your hair to fall out. I assume your doctor eliminated those possibilities.

      Assuming the cause is your hair dye, could you use a gentle organic dye to match your natural color? Then you won’t have to worry about roots. I know Aveda salons use all-natural hair dye. If you don’t want to use any dye and you also can’t see yourself with a pixie cut (ha), then I suggest investing in wide headbands. That won’t camoflauge it totally, though.

      What the best option might be is to pull your hair back every day in a bun so it the bottom half of it shows as little as possible. Tell your coworkers that you are experiencing a skin problem and you had to stop dyeing your hair. They’ll understand. Clients who don’t see you constantly probably won’t notice, or won’t ask.

      • Losing my Hair :

        Thanks for the help! To answer some questions, I can’t really cut my hair short, because I have incredibly thick hair (like hair for 3 people thick), that tends to pouf if it’s any shorter than chin length, although I have ALWAYS wanted a cute pixie cut. But the hair gods weren’t smiling on me for that one. It’s also why it took me so long to notice that I was losing my hair in abnormal quantities, because I’ve laways lost so much due to shedding anyway.

        As far as bloodwork, it should come in tomorrow. My doc is testing for thyroid problems, as both hypo- and hyperthyroidism come from both sides of my family, so despite my young age (23) it is relatively likely, and I have gained 10 lbs over the past 8 months, which is really not normal for me. Truthfully, I can’t decide if it would be worse to never dye my hair again, or to be able to dye my hair but have to manage my thyroid!

        • I don’t have much of offer except sympathy. Sounds rough, and I’m sorry you’re going through this! I hope the blood work shows no problems.

    • Maybe after the roots grow in a bit, your stylist can dye the rest of your hair to match, staying away from the roots/scalp? If you don’t have a great colorist, I’d find one asap just to see what kind of things can be done. And maybe wide headbands could help by covering the break between the natural color and the red?

      • PPD allergy is pretty common, and in a lot of hair dyes, as well as other products. If you are allergic to ppd and your preferred colour is in the red spectrum you are fortunate because there are a lot of PPD free dyes available and a growing number of specialist hair dressers who use them.

  20. I like bow blouses, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen one that was a sweater (rather than blouse fabric). I like it–would be a nice alternative for the long, wet, gray winters where I live.

  21. Skip interests. You don’t want to spend time during an interview talking about a tv show or your hobbies vs why you/ your skills are right for position. I lead legal talent acquisition for major corporation and saw a resume just today that said “enjoys planning dinner parties”. Unless you want to work for MarthaStewart I’d always advise against.

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