If Not Now, Then When?


Saturday night, I received a gleeful call from my best friend from college to report that she just got engaged to her wonderful boyfriend.  They met when they were seated next to one another by chance at a destination wedding two years ago.

Then this morning, I got a gleeful call from my little sister.  She reported that a chance meeting on a cross-country flight resulted in a job offer as a jewelry sales rep for a major clothing line.

Since things tend to happen in threes, surely I would have some joyful news of my own to report, right?

Well, unless you count finding out that I will be working for 93% of the holiday weekend as “good,” I got nothin’.

Careful analysis of the aforementioned examples of actual good tidings leads to one inescapable conclusion: Fortune befalls those who capitalize on chance instances of being at the right place at the right time.

And do you know who that’s epically bad news for?  Me.  And every other similarly situated attorney on a BigLaw roster.  Because we’re in the exact same place, all the time.

I’m pretty sure that kismet doesn’t have proper ID to get past the guards at the elevator bank leading up to the 29th floor of my office building.  And three highlighters all the exact same shade of neon yellow and a four-inch-thick deposition meticulously arranged on a tray table by a pale, scowling girl in a wrinkled skirt suit (that’s me) doesn’t generally inspire spontaneous conversation from adjacently seated captains of romance.

Not to mention, I haven’t been able to attend hardly any weddings—let alone destination—since my third year of law school.  Seriously, the closest I ever come to seizing the day is when I enter my hours into the program on my desktop bearing the (cruelly absurd) name Carpe Diem.

In other words, the only thing that’s poised to fall into my lap by chance is the keyboard tray attached to the underside of my desk.

So, on the eve of a holiday weekend that finds its roots in the labor movement, I’m feeling a bit like inspiring a little movement myself.  A few short years ago, my goal was an inscrutably reliable salary that flowed from a lockstep existence in an ergonomic desk chair, devoid of soul and surprise.

But now?  Now I’m starting to notice that time seems to be moving exponentially faster every year that goes by.  In fact, I’m already developing an acute fear of the anticipatory regret and resentment that I will undoubtedly suffer when I wake up 40 and single.

I’m willing to face facts, which means I’m well aware that there’s no house on North Dearborn and a closet full of Christian Louboutins in my near future.  So instead, I need to be excited by the notion of living life out in the open and seeing where that leads.

It reminds me of this conversation I had a few weeks ago with a partner who hates practicing law.  He was lamenting that he bought a condo the minute he finished paying off his student loans.  Instead, he wishes he hightailed it out of BigLaw and onto some dream of doing something else infinitely more interesting.  All of a sudden, he looked at me heartily.

“You’ve got loans, haven’t you?”

Well, I don’t.  And since I don’t, I’ve consistently dodged answering this very question since I was a 1L.  However, he caught me off guard, and I answered honestly.

“No, actually.”

I tensed reflexively, expecting a snide remark.  Instead, he arched an eyebrow, and gave me a coy smile.

“Well, then.  You know what happens to a balloon that isn’t tied to anything, don’t you?  It floats away.”

I had a hard time not laughing in his face.  But the more I think about it, and the longer I sit around this tragic firm, the more I feel like he’s laughing in mine.

Have a good holiday weekend, lawyers.  And if you’re the firm’s bitch this weekend like me, think less about how lucky your are to have a job, and give some thought to where you’d float away in a perfect world.  Because the cosmic universe still needs one more report of good news to complete the cycle.

Law Firm 10 may lack the dazzling, magnetic charisma of a girl from the hottest sorority in school, but she (arguably) makes up for that with her wit, humor, and low-maintenance-ness. Read more from Law Firm 10.

20 Comments

  1. BL1Y

    September 4, 2009 at 3:21 am

    Big firms need to completely revise how they handle office hours and vacation time.  The policies don’t reflect the reality of law firm life.  Most of them give 4 weeks of vacation a year, but unless you’re on the Pink Slip track, you won’t get to use all of them.  They should cut it down to 2-3 weeks, but at the same time credit you vacation days when your weekends or holidays are ruined.  If you work all weekend on a deal that closes Monday, and don’t have any other pressing matters, you should get Tuesday off without having to use a vacation day.  One of the most demoralizing things that can happen in a firm is sitting all week in the office twiddling your thumbs with no work to do, only to have your weekend canceled at the last minute.

  2. Alma Federer

    September 4, 2009 at 3:34 am

    I agree with BL1Y!  Can you imagine?  Also, I think I could have written this article.  LF10 and I have soooo much in common.  We are both very hard working, we are both beautiful, and we are both finding THE right guy to spend our lives with.  If there is one DIFFERENCE that I see, it is that I am always clinging to the hope that I will find the right guy who will “rock my world” as my little sister always says.  She too is very pretty and she has a Masters in Communications, but she is already MARRIED and with a beautiful baby girl, Sara.  So I never lose my hope that the right man will walk right into my office and sweep me off of my feet and take me on a whirlwind vacation where we can really look into each other’s eyes and know that we are sympatico.  Until then, both me and LF10 have to spend our time weeding through the legal muck, and rebuffing those many weasely guys who talk a good line, but we KNOW that all they want us for is our beauty and our bodies.  Once men know that we are very smart and personable, they should respect us as equals, but I think I will not be able to hold my breathe that long until the right MAN comes along.

  3. anonymous

    September 4, 2009 at 5:54 am

    why is she still working at that firm?  If the partner isn’t laughing in her face (and I think he is), I sure am!  There are way better gigs out there that give you the freedom you need to actually meet someone.  And, NO ALMA, Mr. Right will never walk into your office.  Keep dreaming though cause it’s funny to read your wishful thinkings

  4. KateLaw

    September 4, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Wow, she sounds so miserable.  I also don’t think she should stay there.  I mean, you only live once.. gotta make it count

  5. BL1Y

    September 4, 2009 at 7:59 am

    I understand why people with massive debt loads stay in big law.  And I get that some people are complete lunatics and actually find big firm work interesting and rewarding (after a few years of kool-aid, I assume).  But if you don’t like it and you don’t have to stay…why are you still there?  Figure out what you would enjoy and go do it.  In the mean time, find something you might enjoy but aren’t sure about and try it on for size.

  6. prog

    September 4, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Wow.  So you’ve intentionally chosen a life of despair and isolation and now you are lamenting it?  Shocker.  You’ve got some serious issues.

  7. EngineerdLawyer

    September 4, 2009 at 9:10 am

    @Alma Federer:
    Sure. Whatever. And you might have better luck if you don’t post (and talk) like a 17yr old teen girl on MySpace. Just saying.

  8. Robert Smith

    September 4, 2009 at 9:43 am

    LF10:
    YOUR JOB:  ignore the whiners pining for company at Starbucks whilst they look for a new job: they don’t mind seedy living quarters and public transportation.
    All the 60’s drop outs telling everyone else to “drop out” ran to investment banking or professorships as fast as they could when daddy stopped paying for their idle life.
    If any of the posters here had done anything with their life, they’d offer to fly you to NY or LA, but they’re sitting in sweaty offices with no AC, whining about their life. Law is a hard way to make a good living but it beats looking for a job at age 35. It beats being a teacher, waitress etc too.
    YOUR TICKING CLOCK You won’t find dates in your firm anymore than you’ll find clients at a bar convention: Go join or visit a private club: they exist and they are populated with men not too much older who will approach (ditch the wrinkled suit); those clubs are always looking for members and give tours. Go sailing with someone; visit a school on a parents day-single dads galore.  Take a cooking class: these stupid sounding ideas are good ones since they get repeat contact.
    BIG LAW my ex wife and I- both lawyers -found more time flex in big law when kids appeared than anywhere else except among people with inherited money.

  9. manda

    September 4, 2009 at 11:03 am

    OMG, STOP the BITCHING!  You make 6 figures and you have no loans?  And you hate your f—ing job???  QUIT for christ’s sake!!  What’s keeping you there?

    Why aren’t you happy that you can provide for yourself?

  10. Guano Dubango

    September 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Alma, I remain available, and can whisk you off your feet to my homeland, if you remain able to bear me children.

  11. Guano Dubango

    September 4, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I forgot to add that LF10 is also extended the same invitation, although at age 40, you may not be in a position to bear me the quantity of children I require, so you may not get the approval you need from my Aunt Ooona.  Nonethess, to be fair, I will, following inspection, extend you that same offer as I have to Alma Federer.  Alma must also meet with my Aunt Ooona, and secure her approval PRIOR to any nuptuals.

  12. Lawless

    September 4, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    bad weekend to be at the office sorry for you LF10!

  13. Anon Female

    September 4, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    another enjoyable read love LF10!!

  14. guana ubangee

    September 5, 2009 at 4:26 am

    i am married to guano.  he is not availble to other woman.

  15. JOIN USDOJ

    September 5, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Defect to the US Department of Justice.  You will love your work, and you will work with some very cool people. 
    Go work for Uncle Sam.  Talk to AUSAs.  They all love their jobs.
    Unless this is really about sadomasochism, you can leave your firm for USDOJ.

  16. JOIN USDOJ

    September 5, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Here’s you link. 
    http://www.usdoj.gov/06employment/06_1.html
    Check the link from your home computer.  Don’t tell anyone.  It’s just like leaving East Germany as a defector.
    May the Force be with you.

  17. Guano Dubango

    September 5, 2009 at 10:04 am

    LF 10, please to ignore post of Guana; she is not any longer my wife, she is wrong in saying I am not available to you.  I remain available for marriage if you will provide me with male heir child.  My aunt Ooona will need to verify qualifications, but I am sure you will learn to love my homeland, Ghana is beautiful this time of year.

  18. BL5Y

    September 6, 2009 at 11:34 am

    FInd a husband, quit your job, and do something more fulfilling – that’s my goal.  I’m tired of working every day.

  19. Bill Dugan

    September 7, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    BL5Y, maybe you are interested in banging Guano Dubango?  He is looking for a child bearing spouse.  If LF10 wont have him, you can.

  20. www.pinkshoelawyer.blogspot.com

    September 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Don’t be afraid to be happy.
    Quitting the biglaw life reminds me a lot of de-institutionalization, as in the shawshank kind.  You have to get through the first shock sans suicide—the loss of identity, purpose, and generally accepted accoutrements of success And be willing to forgive your (now former) colleagues their insecurity-driven derision..but then….
    if you’ve picked well.  you will wake up as happy as you were when you were 14 and had your first obsessive crush and he was your homeroom.
    Because really, you won’t every be REALLY rich unless you go into banking.  And I don’t recommend that much nowadays.

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