What to Wear to a Company Picnic or to Watch Baseball with Coworkers

what to wear to a company picnic2018 Update: We love the readers’ input on what to wear to a company picnic or to watch baseball with coworkers — you may also want to check out our entire guide to tricky summer associate events just like this!

What do you wear to attend a company picnic and watch a baseball game — particularly when this will be one of the first impressions you make? Reader E wonders…

I finally have a unique fashion dilemma that I need help on. After working as a government attorney for several years, I have landed a job at a biglaw firm starting in the fall. I have been invited this summer to the firm’s trip to watch a baseball game and the picnic beforehand. It’s a family event to which SO’s and children are invited, and it’s on a Friday right after work. My dilemma–what to wear?? This will be the first time I meet many of the attorneys and support staff, so of course I want to make a good impression. Are jeans appropriate? Khakis? Do I need to wear team colors/jersey? Ack! (Also, I wouldn’t mind any tips on socializing at this type of event–I’ve never been to one and my SO can’t attend, so I’m really nervous about showing up alone and meeting people for the first time!) Thanks for any advice you have on this!

what to wear to watch baseball with coworkersUgh. I know firms think these things are fun, but the sartorial conundrum never is. Honestly, I would suggest calling the Hiring Department and asking them what people have worn to the event in the past. (In general, ladies, this is ALWAYS the right answer — call the HR department.) If they give you a vague answer (“oh, you know, pants or a dress”), I would ask what the men wear — if they’re still in suits from a day at the office (perhaps sans tie, or with shirt sleeves rolled up), I’d go for something more formal, like a sheath dress.  If they’re in shorts, polos, and sneakers (or team jerseys), welcome to Situation Casual — and perhaps consider jeans.

Some general things to consider for what to wear to a company picnic or to watch baseball with coworkers:

  • If you’re sitting in the stands at a baseball field, be careful of an overly short skirt (as you may have to climb over people to get to where you’re sitting), as well as of a low-cut top (because people will see you from entirely different angles than you’re normally used to — above, above and behind, twisting around to talk to someone, bending forward to talk to someone, etc).  In fact, you may seriously want to consider wearing pants — but that’s me.  If the company has a loge, suite, or some other super-nice area from which to view the game, with couches and other creature comforts, you may not need to take this into consideration.
  • If the picnic is outdoors, will it be on concrete, or on the grass?  If it’s on the grass, I would suggest wearing flats or wedges — nothing with a heel that can sink into the ground.
  • You may want to ask HR if there are ever touch football games or other things that spring up during the company picnic.  If there are, you may want to consider wearing clothes that you can move in (e.g., nothing too tight).
  • If it’ll be cold at night (or if YOU may be cold), this may be the perfect opportunity for my beloved blazer: arrive with the blazer on, say your hellos, and then take your blazer off if you’re hot.
  • If you would normally wear a team jersey to a game, only then consider it.  If you’ve never been into sports (like me) then don’t worry about it unless HR directly mentions something about it to you.
  • Finally: it stinks that your SO can’t attend, because these things always go much better as a team.  Are you sure he or she can’t reschedule the earlier commitment?  I’d be curious to hear what the readers say here, but I may even ask HR if you could bring another friend.  Qualities to look for in a friend to bring to this event:  a) Someone who isn’t needy and can be left setting in the corner of the room (if need be) while you talk to people.  b) Someone who doesn’t outshine you.  c) (bonus points) Someone who knows how to subtly talk you up to people (or can be coached to do so). For example: “Oh, your specialty is antitrust law? You should talk to my friend Reader E, I think she has a lot of experience in that from her time spent working for __ agency.”  A few other quick tips for networking:
    • Circulate as much as possible (unless the partner or other VIP is hard to get away from).
    • If you know one person talking in a group, try to sidle up and say hello — they may be willing to introduce you to the group, and you can hop into a conversation that already started.
    • Here’s a simple memory trick: As soon as you hear someone’s name, repeat it back to them.  “I’m Tom.”  “Hi, Tom!”
    • If possible, do a bit of recon on the website (and even Linked In and Facebook) to find pictures of your future colleagues and figure out who you want to talk to.  Try to put together a list of at least 3-5 people to whom you really, really want to talk to that night — and consider everyone else you get to talk to and meet gravy.

Readers, what would you wear to a company picnic under circumstances such as these? What do you wear in general for casual summer work events? What other tips do you have for navigating a company picnic, or what to wear to watch baseball with coworkers, clients, or your boss?

Wondering what to wear to a company picnic or baseball game? For young women lawyers it can be a difficult question for how to look professional but approachable at summer work events like this -- so we offered our best advice on what to consider when dressing for a summer event like this.  Of all the summer work events, baseball games aren't VERY tricky -- still, if you've been invited to watch a baseball game with coworkers, clients, or your boss you may be wondering: WHAT DO I WEAR? We rounded up some of our best ideas for how to look professional but approachable, whether you're coming straight from work or going to a weekend game.


  1. lawsuited :

    I’d wear a suit (or business seperates) with ankle-length pants which are more casual and summery (and chic!), and a blousy top with sleeves so you can take the jacket off if it’s too hot or too formal to wear a jacket. Definitely flats or wedges if there’s grass involved.

    I actually find it easier to mingle without my SO, and seeing as this is your first opportunity to meet the office, perhaps it’s a good thing that you’ll be forced to speak to your new co-workers rather than languishing on the sidelines with your SO?

    • PharmaGirl :

      Same here. If my husban were more social and talkative, it wouldn’t be a problem. But he is very reserved at these kinds of things, to the level of sitting in the corner playing game son his phone, which ultimately makes me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. I also would not bring a friend or other guest. That suggestion seems quite inappropriate, actually.

      • I only ever brought my husband to CHristmas parties. Its not that he’s THAT socially awkward, but he doesn’t enjoy cocktail socializing AT ALL. Why subject him to it unnecessarily.

        Plus he was a potential client, so the transactional partners sometimes swarmed, which was just awkward (since he actually had no say in hiring their lawyers.)

        • PharmaGirl :

          My husband also comes to the Christmas party but we work at the same company. ;)

    • A suit to a baseball game? You’re joking, right?

      • I’m guessing this is in D.C. and plenty of people wear suits to weekday games here.

        • I live in DC and I cannot recall ever seeing anyone in a suit at a baseball game. Half a suit with the jacket stuffed in your briefcase and the tie removed for men, maybe.

          • We must sit in different sections because men coming from work never go home and change and usually have on a suit sans jacket.

          • Which is exactly what I said. Thanks for making my point for me.

    • I think this is completely dependent on which part of the country you are in. Here in Texas, it would likely be 100+ degrees and *no one* would be wearing a suit or something even similar.

      Does the firm do casual Fridays? If so, the attorneys will likely be in something a lot more casual. I just can’t imagine a family picnic with kids and attorneys wearing their business casual/business formal dress.

      Also, depending on how large the office is where you will be working, I wouldn’t call HR but I might call the attorney recruiting coordinator or office manager (if you’re familiar with them). In my experience, those people would be a lot more likely to know the answers that you’re looking for.

    • I totally agree on the pluses of meeting the coworkers without SO for the first time. What’s important is the first impression you make, not as part of a couple. Many SOs which are perfectly satisfactory on a personal level don’t necessarily mesh at the professional level, your first time out is not the time to figure this out. But besides that, you want to be seen as an individual, you don’t want people to get confused about which one of you they’ll be working with :-).

  2. I suggested something similar in a recent thread, but unless HR says everyone changes into total casual wear, I would pick an outfit that looks like you left one layer at the office (since that’s what I/my colleagues do for these events). For example, a cotton pencil skirt, flats or nice sandals, and the shell from a sweater set. Or ankle-length pants and a button-front with the sleeves cuffed up.

  3. My other tip for these is to only ever get a small amount of food, so that you always have an excuse to leave a conversation if you’re having trouble thinking of a way to move around/not monopolize. “It was nice meeting you – I think I’m going to look for those pigs in a blanket” gives you a good escape.

  4. I disagree with the advice to bring a friend. Most people who see you / have you pointed out to them (“That’s Reader E, our new hire”) but who don’t talk to you, will assume that your friend is your SO. This misimpression, which is more dramatic if you bring a friend of the opposite gender of your SO, can be hard to correct, and may lead to office gossip about you right out of the gate that you don’t want. It also can create the impression that you can’t navigate such an event on your own, or that you brought your friend along to “cash in” on the biglaw freebies.

    • Jinx! (Agree – see my similar post below)

      • Former MidLevel :

        Agreed. Also, as lawsuited pointed out above, it’s often easier to network solo.

    • When my brother first started working in big-law, his wife couldn’t come with him to an event because of a prior engagement. He actually asked H.R. if it would be alright with them if he brought a friend and H.R. told that he could happily bring a friend or family member, as many firm members do. He brought me.

      He is a partner at the firm now, so I don’t think anyone thought anything of it, least of all that I was trying to cash in on anything.

      MsZ- I totally get why you would take this point of view, as there are a lot of people that will view things through whatever lens they want to view it, but for some people, they just feel more comfortable with someone they know around.

      • and so anon :

        I agree with you, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. If the lawyer is so uncomfortable on her own it might be better to have moral support. Ask HR.

        In addition, most people aren’t so brazen as to bring an extramarital partner to a public event, especially one in which the lawyer is being introduced to the firm socially. I think most people will think a friend is just a friend. If that’s too confusing maybe they shouldn’t be lawyers.

        I’m not sure if I were married or in a relationship that I’d bring someone who wasn’t my S.O. to a major event such as a big firm dinner in the evening. A baseball game, however, is pretty casual.

    • Exactly. Why start out with confusion? Even if you point it out, you’ll spend half your night on that, and not on actually getting to know people. Only possible exception is if you have a sibling who will be in town visiting or someone like that.

  5. And one more thought – I would definitely NOT ask to bring a friend. I think that would send the message that you’re too nervous to handle meeting people by yourself – the point of the SO/family invitation is for people to get to know each other’s close families, not for you to have company.

    • and so anon :

      I think it is well understood that meeting a bunch of strangers alone, especially when many have companions of some kind, can be an uncomfortable experience. It’s especially awkward when one has no defined role, such as explaining the legal implications of a decision to a client.

      So long as the lawyer presents herself well, I don’t think it will matter.

  6. WestCoast Lawyer :

    If it’s a Friday after-work event and you are on the West Coast, most BigLaw firms allow jeans on Fridays. In my experience, nearly everyone except the Senior Partners wears jeans on Fridays, so I’d just go with whatever you wear to the office that day (maybe with a slightly more casual knit top under a jacket that you can take off if there are any participatory athletics involved).

  7. Sending out the C*rporette Bat Signal: Any recos for comfy but cute walking shoes that are in-between flats and sneakers? Something that can go with jeans or shorts. Someone told me I should look into “French” sneakers. Thanks ladies!

    • get the Puma Zandy flats (check out Nordstrom of Zappos). LOVE LOVE LOVE mine.

      • mezzaluna :

        Yes! I wear mine for my 1.3 mile walk every day to/from work and they haven’t failed me yet. I think they have a few colors other than black, too.

    • I got these shoes called the Teva Mush Frio (awful name) that I find amazingly comfortable. I have walked 4-5 miles straight in them with no pain (including on the first day I wore them). I am usually a 9.5 in sneakers, 9 in dress shoes, and these fit me fine in a 9. They are not so beautiful, but I don’t find them bad-looking, and they are really great. I am thinking of getting some backup pairs.

      • To clarify, not the meshy/strappy ones, the ballerina flats. I got in gray, which to me looks kind of brown/greige-ish.

    • I just got these (though they were slightly different) at Nordstrom’s rack a few weeks ago, I think they’re kind of cute.


      I also got a pair of moccasins. (links to follow) which are crazy comfy and cute.

      • I can’t find the moccasins I got, but these are cute.


        (Holy crap sorry for the link.)

        • Also, these flats are very french feeling and would be cute with both.


    • I’m going to hijack this question for one of my own — I have a few pairs of shoes that fit this description (usually bought with a particular trip in mind) and can never figure out what, if any, kind of socks to wear with them.


      • I work very hard to find shoes like this I don’t have to wear socks with. The two I recommended that I own (can’t speak to the third) are all very good sock less.

        Otherwise, I never ever wear them.

    • I have 2 pairs of Jambus that are similar to this but plainer/less embellished that I got at DSW last summer and wear all the time: http://www.zappos.com/jambu-rainbow-mesh-vegan-tan-pink?zfcTest=fw:1

    • Lands End Gatas! I love mine – have just bought two more pairs.

  8. You didn’t mention where in the world you are, but if you happen to be in SF and happen to be going to a Giants game, do NOT wear a dress unless you’ll be in a box. Wear jeans or pants, and bring your winter jacket. I’m not joking – it can be frigid at AT&T Park. The only thought I had while reading Kat’s recommendations was how cold I’d be.

    • karenpadi :

      Agreed. I’m in San Jose and we do a Friday night baseball game every summer. Most people wear jeans, tennis shoes, a t-shirt, and a fleece (with the firm’s logo). I’m worn winter hats (it gets cold!). People who have jerseys wear them.

      Families are invited and we are a very casual firm, so YMMV.

  9. As someone who works in the hiring department of a large company, if I got that question from a new employee, I would seriously question why we hired you when you can’t even figure out what to wear to company function.

    Cat’s advice above is spot on. Dress as if you left one layer at the office. That’s absolutely perfect. Also, you must have gotten some sense of the feel of the place when you interviewed. Is it button down? Super-casual? Take some cues from that. Plus, I think it’s preferable to be slightly overdressed than underdressed to any degree.

    • Anonsensical :

      It’s one thing to try to figure out what to wear to a company function when you already work there, but another altogether you haven’t started yet. I would think anyone in HR would be understanding of the fact that not all companies are the same and that what’s appropriate for one might be unacceptable at another.

    • Seriously? “Casual” work gatherings (especially sporting events) still give me headaches at places I work.

      Why can’t you be just a little more sympathetic to other people’s plight? And a little less sure of your own perfection.

    • It’s not like HR can actually fire someone because they don’t like the questions they ask. Showing up in way wrong clothes or asking a new coworker would score negative points in a much more meaningful way.

    • And that my friends is why the HR department has little to do with the Recruiting department at any big law firm and is rarely if ever allowed to interact with new hire attorneys, summer associates, etc. I am currently a director of recruiting for an Am Law 200 firm and have worked at multiple AM Law 100 firms. I wish more summer associates would ask for guidance on dress code issues before making a mistake. My department is always happy to provide guidance and suggestions. My two cents for a baseball game/picnic — wear a pair of pants like the JCrew cafe capri, a casual shirt (not a t-shirt) and bring a jacket. Having worked in SF, I echo the advice to bring a winter coat to Pac Bell Park – it’s freezing.

  10. momentsofabsurdity :

    If you’re sitting in the stands at a baseball field, be careful of an overly short skirt (as you may have to climb over people to get to where you’re sitting), as well as of a low-cut top … If the company has a loge, suite, or some other super-nice area from which to view the game, with couches and other creature comforts, you may not need to take this into consideration.

    Sorry Kat, but I think even if the company has a lounge or suite or comfortable area and you’re not climbing on/over things, an overly short skirt or low cut top probably isn’t what you want your first impression to your new coworkers and bosses to be.

  11. SoCalAtty :

    Thank you all for the tips on Italy! I just got back to reading them because I got bueried in a trial brief :)
    So, a big giant thank you goes out to: a., Kontracktor, Margaret, NOLA, Gail the Goldfish, Godzilla, bgo, oclg, “Italy,” CAAtty, Jules, CW, JK, Mila, Turtle, Deborah, and W. I might have missed some, if so, thank you too!

    I’m calling cards and letting them know I’m going, and along with the AMEX I’m taking 2 backup Visas. I also plan on pulling out about 500 euros right when we get there so I have cash. Let’s see…I did know about the Cinque Terre flooding, so I know we may have to train around some of it.

    Good idea about shipping the wedding clothes, but equally good thoughts on them getting lost. I’m thinking I may see if one of my friends that is also going can just stick them in the corner of her luggage and then I’ll ship them back.

    Money is a little tight, but at this point I know the income is coming so carrying a balance for a minute isn’t going to kill me. It just makes me cranky to add to my balances while I still have student loans – but I’ve given up paying those off anytime soon since their rates are WAY lower than the “I’m young and dumb” credit card debt I’m trying to pay off first. (We only do pay in full charge cards or cash now, so that issue has been remedied!)

    I think that’s it! I’ll post a full report when I get back :)

    • Job Huntress :

      Ugh, I’m dealing with the “I’m young and dumb” credit card debt as well. Fortunately, I never raised my spending limits, so I could only do so much damage.

      • One more tip, in case someone else hasn’t brought that up yet: get a PIN code with your CC. A lot of EU countries won’t let you sign anymore, you need to use a PIN code. We just got back from Spain and it was a little bit of a hassle not knowing if you could sign or needed to use a PIN (which we didn’t have). Not sure if Italy is the same, but it doesn’t hurt to have one.

        • lawtalkinggirl :

          Ditto on the PIN. If you are interacting with a human you can just bypass the PIN step. But if you are at a gas station, vending machine, train ticket machine, etc. you need a card with a PIN. I ended up using my debit card instead of my credit card for those types of things. Not a huge hassle but I would rather have used the credit card.

        • Oh absolutely! Haven’t signed in Europe for years. And it may take a while to get it from your bank, so ask right away.
          Bon voyage :-)

      • SoCalAtty :

        Job Huntress, be glad you didn’t. I’ve got, oh, at least 40k knocking around on those cards. I made 2 big dumb mistakes, and both of them were due to counting on (husband’s) income he thought he had coming, but it never came. Family run business, construction, so you can imagine…1) in 2007 when we got married, we were paying half and my grandparents that raised me were paying 1/2. Total 40k – and DH was SURE he would have the cash if only I could float it on the CC for a month or two. I still have THAT balance…but I can’t say I regret it because the interest rate is reasonable (fixed 4.5%) and we had a wedding people still talk about.

        2) was recent – DH SWORE he had plenty of disposable income for me to buy a new horse this year (my old man had to retire). Not so much…so same “hey float this” for 60 days backfired. This time the interest rate is not pretty. Yes, I’ve learned my lesson. It will still be paid off within the next 15 months or so, and, honestly, I don’t regret that either because we can afford the payments and what I bought was worth more than the interest I’ll end up paying in the end. This mare is my 5 year old “prospect,” so the idea is she’ll be with my for a loooong time. Credit lines…helpful, but they can sure bite you in the rear. We’re not in danger of missing payments, it has just curtailed my savings account additions for this year.

        Anon. – good call on the PIN. I never would have thought of that!

        TCFKAG – thank you!!

        • You might try reading “Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich.” it’s a follow up to NGDGTCO by Lios Frankel. It’s a great book on money management for women. (Actually, I recommend it to everyone!)

    • Kontraktor :

      You guys are going to have a lovely time!! So happy for you that you get to go.

    • Um, I don’t know how I missed this convo seeing as how I love Italy more than any other place on earth and um…seriously, if I start now I’d probably type until five. But I’ll tell you what all Italians told me to do.




      Since its summer, eat melone e proscuitto and drink prosecco (or, pro tip, order a Rossini, which is LIKE a bellini but made with a strawberry puree and is about the best thing on earth.) Also…eat some more.

    • Have SO. Much. Fun!!
      I am jealous, can’t wait to hear all about it. ;o)

  12. HELP HELP :

    Hi, I’m a summer associate who has been given a research assignment and after two days has come up with nothing! I’ve searched everywhere, worked with the library, even called the clerk at the relevant court. I have a partner meeting tomorrow and I feel sick to my stomach. I don’t think this case exists. I just don’t think this issue has been litigated.

    What do I do?

    • Deep breath. Relax. That may be your answer – the issue hasn’t been litigated. If you’ve found some cases close or read some case law that may give some indication of how the courts receive the issue — advise of that.

    • Draft a memo (proofread so there’s absolutely no errors) of all the research (even if only indirectly related). If the issue hasn’t been litigated, you can discuss the relevant current state of the law maybe. When you discuss the research with the partner, have at your hands a list of all the avenues you ran down so that the partner knows that your search was at least exhaustive. Also, if possible, suggest alternatives or next steps, ie researching analogous areas of law etc.

      Finally, you probably don’t know this (and I didn’t as a summer) but summer assoc. research assignments often consist of triple-checking an issue–you may have been tasked as the inexpensive last attempt to make sure that the attorneys haven’t missed anything. You may also want to speak with someone else on the team for that matter to make sure you got everything. good luck!

    • First, is there an associate you’re reporting to, or just the partner? If there are any in-between people, I’d discuss this with them first.
      If there is no associate to help you, just tell the partner that you were as thorough as you could be (listing all the avenues you searched down is a great idea), but you didn’t find anything on this specific issue. Can you widen your search to include other jurisdictions, similar issues, etc.?
      Also, did you start with the relevant statutes? Perhaps there is commentary on the code or something like that that could help, even if there is no caselaw. Perhaps a law review article has pondered this issue?

      • soulfusion :

        I was going to suggest searching law review articles and I will also suggest you ask someone else on the team or even contacting the partner before the deadline and let him/her know you are coming up blank and ask if he/she has any suggestions for other sources or search terms to use in your research. The answer very well may be that there is no answer. Take a deep breath, step away from the computer for a short break, this is far from disasterous. My summer the best feedback I received was that I needed to ask more questions and I often pass this advice along to summers and junior associates. Good luck!

    • I agree with 312, and also, sometimes firms give summer associates research questions where they think there is no case out there, but they need someone to run it into the ground. When you talk to the partner tomorrow, I would say something like “I’ve spent about # of hours on Westlaw, and I also went to the law library and called the clerk’s office just to see if they had any leads, and I haven’t found any cases addressing this. Are there other angles to the question that you think we should explore?” Nine times out of ten the partner will say, “OK, I thought there wasn’t anything, but I just wanted to be sure.”

    • Try the Westlaw research attorney helpline!

    • just Karen :

      Your best bet at this point is to look at surrounding jurisdictions to see if any of them have addressed the issue. That way you go into the meeting with some direction, and while not controlling, potentially persuasive case law. If there’s nothing ANYWHERE on it, try to document your search as best you can (both to show that you have tried everything, but also for the less selfish reason of avoiding someone else wasting their time trying exactly the same searches). If there ends up being law that you just couldn’t find, a roadmap of your search may also be helpful in figuring out what to try differently in the future. Good luck!

    • HELP HELP :

      Thank you!

      I’ve looked in every jurisdiction, law reviews, everything. I’ve spent hours and hours on Westlaw and spoken to the research librarians. I will document my research and see if I’ve missed anything. Otherwise, will hand that to the partner instead.

      • a passion for fashion :

        dont hand that to the partner — s/he doesnt want to see that. But do discuss it with hime or her. And if there are similar issues raised in cases, let partner know that and suggest a path you might take to get to the argument partner wants to make.

      • One final suggestion: Google it, if you haven’t already. Not that I’d cite to any websites, but someone may have written a blog posting about a relevant case that could point you in the right direction.

    • another anon :

      Don’t panic. You do need to be sure to have something to discuss with the partner, so make sure you’ve identified the closest cases (even if they are not all that close), and be prepared to discuss all the various research avenues you have tried.

      I would also consult with your firm librarian if you have one, as they can sometimes think of ways to search for things that you may have missed. And talk to your associate mentor if you have one, or if not, an associate that works with that partner.

      Also, it may well be that the partner won’t be surprised that you didn’t find anything. If I have an issue that I can’t easily figure out the answer to, I will kick it to a summer associate if I can, because it doesn’t matter if the summer spends 2 days on it and doesn’t find anything.

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      I can totally relate and I also absolutely second all the advice given above! Track everything you have done and the steps you have followed. However, to add to it, my old supervisor made a comment when I was a just-starting-out-trainee, which really stuck and may be helpful to you (if not now, in future).

      There is always AN answer. It may not be obvious, or direct, or there may not even be one, but it is our job as lawyers to tell the client what we think they should do based on the available information (this last part is key). Consider it like this:

      Client: I have a contract with X and they breached clause 7. If I sue them, what happens?

      You: This issue hasn’t been litigated, however, based on case law on analogous contracts and law in related areas, our view is that the outcome is likely to be A, B or C, of which we think B is the most likely. Your likely arguments will be [ ] and the other side’s counterarguments will be [ ].

      This is not ‘the’ answer, but it is ‘an’ answer. We can’t tell clients ‘we don’t know’. We take the information available and make an answer out of it. That is what we get paid for.

      This isn’t easy, and it takes a long time to get comfortable with it. I am not a litigator, but this applies equally to my transactional work.

      In your case, even if there isn’t an answer, the partner will want to see that you have thought about it and try to make constructive suggestions (even if they are wrong). It sounds like you have done all the right things, so don’t worry, just try to construct something out of the information you have. Sometimes the lack of an obvious answer is the answer – there is no case law on it because it is rarely an issue/can be negotiated away.

      Good luck!

      • Anonymous :

        spot on!

      • Anonymous :

        Ok, I agree with a lot of this, but I would not go off doing analogous case research without checking in with the partner first. Summers can often be given the “we don’t think this case exists, but someone should look” assignments. Even as a Summer, your time is valuable, and unless the partner has told you not to contact them, I would check in with a quick email before looking down other rabbit holes. Phrase it positively, along the lines of “I worked with X, Y, and Z and have not found a case on point for this question. Would you like for me to [fill in other potentially useful direction] before our meeting tomorrow?”

        Also, do you have a clear sense of what your work product was supposed to be for this project? Generally you want to know up front if you are supposed to report back your results in a meeting, give a brief answer in an email, draft a short memo, draft a longer memo, etc.

      • Former MidLevel :


    • This is what they use summer associates for. The questions for which there are no answers or for which others have looked and not succeeded. Certain partners are probably known for this around the office. Do what the others have suggested but also talk to your associate mentor about that (or else talk to the nicest associate about it.)

      And one tip, ask the partner who is giving you an assignment “About how much time do you want me to take on this”. Because the last thing you want to do is spend 18 hours looking through every source known to man (and spending thousands of dollars in research money in expensive databases) only to find out that the partner didn’t really care that much in the first place. Of course, then you’ll always have the DOOSH partner who will say “As long as it takes” (but won’t mean it) — but most will say “Oh, well work on it for X hours and if you haven’t gotten anything, come back to me.”

      Another tip, if you’ve worked on something for more than a full business day and have gotten absolutely nothing, I’d at least stop in to talk to the partner about it. I find they take failure or disappointment better if you’ve primed them for it.

      • soulfusion :

        Good advice but don’t short change your own time! It is not your responsibility to write-off time. If you have spent 15 hours on this issue, record that you have spent 15 hours and the billing partner will write off what they can’t charge the client. Sometimes you will be told “don’t spent more than X” on this research but lacking that, every attorney senior to you knows that it will take you much longer to do the work because you are new and learning. It is part of the deal.

        • Oh, I’m not saying she shouldn’t credit the time she spent on this project. But on future projects — I’m saying she should always find out how much time the partner thinks it should take (gives you a sense of what level of detail they expect, how difficult they think it should be).

          No no, always bill your time.

    • Oh, welcome to the practice of law: where a partner is absolutely completely CONVINCED that there must be some case out there that discusses XYZ point of law or ABC factual pattern. And there unequivocally isn’t, a fact you know because you’ve looked under every possible research rock out there.

      Again, welcome! You’ll love it here.

      • In fact, the more convinced they are that the case is out there or the fact pattern has happened, the more likely it is to (a) have never happened or (b) to have been decided in exactly the opposite way that they think it had (actually that’s more likely really).

        • One more piece of advice (although the rest have been spot on) — when documenting your research, be as specific as you can be (e.g., Westlaw search in CA2 and NY state for (contract agreement understanding) /5 (car auto!)) — you get the point. You’re going to leave in a few weeks and someone may pick up the file and say “did we ever run this to ground?” You want something they can look at and say “yep, can’t think of anything else I’d look for.”

          • One more piece of advice – if you’ve looked for hours, and enlisted the help of the library and others in your search, and you haven’t found anything, it’s because there is nothing out there. Be confident about that when you speak to the partner. A partner will much prefer to get a definitive answer (“there is no case law that addresses this issue”) than to hear something like “I can’t seem to find anything on point, I don’t think there’s anything out there” etc.

  13. How long does it take before hair starts to grow back? Am going on a vacation for about two weeks, and am trying to figure out when to get waxed so that I don’t have to shave while on vacation (or whether I need to just bring a razor).

    • karenpadi :

      It depends on you. I can barely make it to two weeks but some lucky people are able to last a month or so.

    • I waxed for the first time when I went on a cruise last winter. It was growing back after about 7-10 days, when I was on the ship.

    • Two weeks seems more than reasonable to me. Consider also that regrowth, if any, is softer than shaving one, and so can be snuck under the radar better :-). If you have time, get it ripped immediately, and do it again just before you leave. Best results that way, so you don’t have half a shaving regrowth ready to go when you leave.

  14. Threadjack: Anyone have experience with custom-made suits and shirts? I just spent WAY more money than I would ever spend on clothes, and am a little wigged out by having written so large a check. Anyone else order custom suits? Did you find it was worth the sticker shock?

    • Yes, but in Asia–went to my good friend who was living in Singapore’s tailor. I’ve never looked sharper. And then I went up a size over the next six years…so the suits and shirts look great in my closet. I wear button-downs every day, and the one thing that was really fun was to be able to pick a lot of patterns and colors that you just can’t find in stores. For instance, Brooks Brothers, to my knowledge, never offers green pinstripe shirts for women. But I got some made. Also, the suiting fabric I picked out was lovely–a super-fine cashmere. I would never have been able to find it.

      One tip–if you have a pair of pants or a suit you love–bring it. It can be “copied” with amendments, so you can show them how you like things cut. And make sure that you go for several fittings. Don’t do the “take your measurements once and send you the finished product” thing. It’s not a good idea and looks way worse than if you were to have something actually perfectly tailored.

  15. If it were me, I would wear a modest summer dress with sandals. I would also bring capris, t-shirt, and sneakers as a back up – I am athletic and love a good game of just about anything. Though, honestly, if you are not athletic and not interested in playing, I think women get a pass. And wearing a dress would be a good way to “get out of” having to play sports – if that is not your thing.

  16. I was at a conference with librarians, and one delegate was rocking (and I mean this seriously) a suit with shorts. She looked fabulous. Granted this was a very casual conference, and she was probably one of the ones dressed up the most (inasmuch that a short-suit can be considered dressed up), but I saw and thought of all the discussions here.

    Even though my workplace is fairly informal, it is not a look I would have done myself, but even in the library world the degree of what you can wear is very fluid.

    • kerrycontrary :

      I’m a librarian. and yeh…our profession gets a little too creative with our wardrobes sometimes. I was horrified at the conference I went to this spring to see oversized tee shirts, holiday-themed sweaters (not worn ironically), and clothing that should be reserved for those under the age of 8.

      • Librarians often work with children, so I think people who work with kids get something of a pass to dress a little bit more…interestingly.


        • haha. I was at my kids’ elementary school yesterday for an event. I noticed all the girls are dressing alike now (including my daughter) – short skirts or running skorts worn with capri leggings and flats. Then I noticed a couple of teachers wearing the same thing. :)

          • I hate to break it to you mamabear, but girls always used to dress alike. It’s just that their alike is much different from our alike :-).
            But totally agree that grownups should not get pulled into dressing like their charges, whether biologically related or not.

        • I hate the way “mom” fashions are often assumed to be related to babies or little kids’. Having a child doesn’t mean being one!

  17. Job Huntress :

    TJ- Advice on asking for referrals from a friend of a friend?

    I’m applying for a position at a large consulting firm, where referrals are pretty much the best way to get hired. A friend of a friend works there, but my friend isn’t particularly savvy about networking, and seemed willing but confused when I asked him to introduce me. Assuming he says I’m amazing and interested in a position there and completely qualified (I am all of these things), and I meet the person at the organization for coffee and ask the requisite questions about office culture, what she likes/dislikes about the place, and what she knows about the department, is it kosher to ask for advice on how to get a job there? For that matter, if she doesn’t offer to forward on my resume to her HR people, is it ok for me to ask her to do that? Blarg, networking.

    I miss the simple days of spending time with people because you wanted to be friends, without ulterior motives. Ah, college.

    • Seattleite :

      I think what you’re asking for is an “informational interview,” which is understood to cover all the stuff you’re asking about, including what specifically they tend to look for in candidates. Also understood is that you’re not a candidate *at this time*.

      As someone mentioned last week, don’t go into this with ‘how do I get them to hire me?’ You are seeking information, will be pleasantly surprised if they invite you to a real job interview, but really don’t have any expectations beyond learning more about the company.

    • The questions you suggest are fine for this kind of occasion. This is how networking works. Congrats!

  18. Kontraktor :

    Yay. Two more 2nd/possibly final round interviews. Very excited. The jobs are different but both ones I would really like to do. One is with a team of all women. I’ve never had anything like that before (as in, I think it would be good). The conversation with that hiring manager was great and we had very friendly rapport. Fingers crossed. I went from 0 leads at the beginning of this week to 2 by Tuesday and now I’m back in the land of Don’t Get Too Excited Over Bones Because They Get Taken Away Very Quickly.

    • Good luck grrrrllll. And I know how it is. Damn bones. Always being taken away.

      • Kontraktor :

        Well I know you were saying you had some difficulty this week. Just keep in mind that as quick as bones can be taken away, they can be given. I feel that’s one of the worst parts of job hunting. You just never know how leads will turn out, good or bad, or when they will come up.

        I am hoping these don’t get taken away but we’ll see. One thing at a time.

    • Crossing fingers! :o)

    • SoCalAtty :

      Good luck! I know about those darn bones. My most recent was a mailing from the State of CA telling me I was 2/22 on the eligibility list for a local Administrative Law Judge position and asking me to send my stuff in.

      No love on that one, but we keep trying!

      All women? That’s good you’re good with it! I actually have a sticker on my forehead that says “does not play well with other women.” No idea why that is.

  19. Can’t think of a circumstance in which it would be appropriate to bring a friend to a firm event clearly aimed at firm lawyers and their families.

    Also, I’d be completely mortified if I knew that a “friend’s” criteria for inviting me to an outing involved (1) how likely I am to tolerate the friend ditching me in a corner; and (2) confidence I can’t outshine said friend. With friends like that…

    As for dressing, go for a business casual look (assuming the firm’s dress code is biz cas) modified to account for weather. Are you going to be in a box at the baseball game? Access to AC also makes a big difference.

    • It would be appropriate to bring a friend to a firm party if they were a potential client. I think that’s basically it, and even then, still a bit weird.

      • TCFKAG, at my firm there were parties clearly intended for firm personnel only + their families. Then there were other parties where it certainly would be appropriate to invite clients, potential clients, or other business development targets. Maybe it’s not like that at all firms, and any firm event is open for simultaneous business development. This outing sounds like it falls in the former category, not the latter, but as always KYO.

        • That’s why I said…still a bit weird. :-P Because just go alone! :-) And then the HR or recruiter will show you around and you’ll be fine.

  20. Baseball game? :

    I asked this question earlier this week re: a suite at a baseball game with clients, and I had decided on dark wash jeans, ballet flats, a team color t-shirt, and a cotton blazer. I had been worried I was too formal with the blazer (but current work with the client makes me inclined to look like a lawyer since he has to trust me), but reading this I’m worrying that I’m going to casual with the jeans.

    Cranky hiring person upthread aside, dressing for casual events drives me bonkers!

    • You’re going to be totally fine. I think that sounds like a great outfit for a baseball game.

      • Baseball game? :

        Thanks! I’m kind of embarrassed at this point by the amount of room this issue has taken up in my brain over the last few days!

  21. New York and DC ‘rettes, can I ask you for travel advice? We are sneaking in day trips on the cheap this summer, by booking our flights to/from my parents with 6-7 hr layovers in Newark and DCA airports. The plan for NYC is taxi to Staten Island ferry, then either Ellis Island or Tenement Museum, lunch at Katz’s, and back to the airport. In DC, I know my 9-yr-old will love the Spy Museum and we’ll probably have time for one other thing, maybe the Congress or White House.

    Does this plan sound absolutely crazy or workable? Would would you add (or subtract) to make it work? We will absolutely check luggage and just carry daypacks.

    • I think that is pretty ambitious for NY. It could easily take you 2 hours or more to travel from Newark to Manhattan and back if there is traffic. So that’s already a third of your 6 hours.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        Plus, assuming you want to be back at the airport an hour or two before your flight, that time doesn’t really exist either. I think the train is probably a good suggestion, but I don’t think you’ll have time to do everyone on your list in NYC.

    • Depending on how many people are in your group, it may be cheaper, quicker and more convenient to take the train to NYC. Take the airtrain to Newark Penn (5-7 min) or directly into NY Penn (30 min). I’d say go to Newark Penn and then hop on PATH, which will take you directly to WTC (20 min). However, rush hour is terrible, TERRIBLE via car or train.

      • Anonymous :

        Ditto. I would plan for NJ Transit train from Newark airport to Penn Station, cab to Katz’s/lower east side, then RUN RUN RUN back to the airport. Even then, this is pretty risky, IMHO.

    • Hmm, it’s an easy trip on Metro from DCA to Gallery Place, near the spy museum (yellow line). And the security lines are generally short. But the Spy Museum can actually take quite a bit of time – when it’s crowded there can be lines to get in, and then it’s extensive. And there can be long lines at Congress too (if you want to actually go inside to the visitor’s center). And tours of either the White House or Congres you’d have to book ahead of time and figure your logistics around that. So if you just want to see the outside of those buildings, it’s fine, but if you want to go inside, I’d try to add a few hours.

      • If you go to the Spy Museum, be sure to book your tickets in advance. Otherwise, the line is long and they may not even have space available. It also takes a while to go through the museum (several hours) – and some of that is also dictated by the # of people inside as you can hardly read/move around b/c of everyone in there.

        Going into the WH is probably not going to happen; you need to make reservations w/ your Member of Congress months in advance (6 if I recall). You can walk by the WH and view from the outside.

        Going through the Capitol Visitor Center – which is the entrance to the Capitol – to then take a tour of the Capitol; again, highly suggest reservations for a tour. The lines can be long to get in b/c of the summer tourist season.

        You definitely need to make sure it is a small day pack as well – no large bags allowed in the Capitol. Sometimes they are fussy about backpacks; depends on who you get at security.

        Enjoy DC. It’s a fun city to play tourist in.

    • I would not go to Ellis Island…the anxiety of the ferry schedule with only a six-hour layover would be too much for me.

    • and so anon :

      Lifelong New Yorker here, that’s too much.

      Of what you’ve discussed, your best bet is:

      Tenement Museum and Katz’s and a walk around the Lower East Side. Google “Walking the Big Apple” and see if there’s a suggested walk.

      A taxi to the S.I. Ferry will be very expensive and may take longer than you think. The ride is great, but there isn’t a whole lot to do in the immediate vicinity. The closest thing is Sailor’s Snug Harbor, which is a long walk or a bus ride away. It’s neat, but it wouldn’t be at the top of my list of things to do as a person new to the City.

      An alternative:

      Subway to the S.I. Ferry, return to Manhattan, spend time walking up through Battery Park City, the Hudson River Park, and if you get up that far, the Highline.

      In July, New York City is supposed to start a bike share program. That might be worth exploring. It will still be pretty limited, though.

  22. On bringing a friend – do not underestimate the tenacity of office gossip. A partner at my firm (whose sexuality is a subject of much veiled debate) brought a woman to the office baseball game outing some four or five years ago and people still bring it up when debating whether that was a girlfriend or just a friend friend.

    • And that makes it sound like I work with terrible people – I don’t, really (at least I don’t think so). The gossip is not unkindly meant; it’s just omnipresent.

      • and so anon :

        And since it is omnipresent and one hopes this guy is being appreciated for his contributions no matter his orientation, maybe we should just try to live our lives.

  23. the spy museum is boring and expensive in a city of free every thing else (except the equally boring museum, also expensive). I zzzzz out at 30– all text and politics, and I love politics as a politico– I can,t imagine a kid digging it.

  24. I would wear capri pants (Banana Repuibic has great ones right now, their “sateen crop” resemble work-wear more than casual wear), a crisp white t (or any color that works, again, can’t go wrong with Banana Republic, I love their timeless or luxe touch ts), a light weight scarf, flats and a blazer.

  25. I’d go with cropped pants, perhaps in a fun color, and a flowy shirt/blouse ( depending on how informal you could even go sleeveless), flats and a nice belt. I second Kat’s suggestion to go with pants rather than a skirt and a high neck top for practicality and modesty reasons. Opt for dressing down by wearing cropped pants, flats in an animal print etc etc

  26. I’m so glad for this article and all of the comments–I’m in a similar position: I just accepted a position at a medium sized law firm after working in government and legal aid and was almost immediately invited to the firm’s BBQ. It’s a pretty casual office, as far as firms go, but I know that I will be the youngest person there and that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression….I also recently had an incident in which I attended a outdoor reception in a suit and heels, because that was what I was wearing that day, and found my shoes to be very impractical. Once bitten, twice shy.
    I’m more of a dress person than a pants person, but I think I’ll opt for a pair of ankle length slacks and flats, just to be ready for anything!