Holiday season has arrived, which means returning to your family as the only law student/lawyer/assumed legal authority and the legal questions that will inevitably befall you. The key is to say something without violating the code of ethics by giving legal advice despite being a law student/in another state/wrong. Furthermore, one must direct the conversation away from the legal topic (this is your day off!) in a way that is artful and seamless.
With Thanksgiving break approaching, law students everywhere are looking forward to going home, spending time with friends and family. There’s an abundance of things to be thankful for during any break from school, not the least of which is not being in class. But, there are some other not-so-awesome aspects of break. In the spirit of the season and being a student, here are some things most law students won’t be thankful for this upcoming break.
Winter break for law students is an oasis in a desert of depressed exhaustion. We spend the semester day dreaming of things we’ll catch up on: tv shows, time with family and friends, sleep. And when those times finally arrive, when we finally reach the long awaited and longed for oasis, we can count on some fool to be a fly in the ointment.
It starts like this. Your father/mother/uncle/aunt/grandparent asks if you want to eat a meal with Family Friend. You agree because you want to see Friend and you want to please Family Member, and as a practical matter your finals diet of gold fish crackers and residual cabinet pasta has your stomach less than satiated.
This is what happens next.
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith says life’s a journey. Huh.
While I would have to agree, I also have to admit that there’s no way I’m going to be satisfied with that. I don’t want a journey. I can journey to the grocery store. (With me driving, that’s probably the only option.) Nope, not a journey.
I want my life to be an adventure.
This is the part where my grandma says, “Honey, be careful what you wish for.” In fact, she probably did say that . . . about 15 years ago. I just wasn’t paying attention. And as much as I don’t want to devalue Grandma’s lessons, that just might have been a good thing. Because my life is an adventure. How do I know that? My son told me.
Valentine’s Day: The one day each year that lawyers are expected to have feelings. If you’re dating (or worse—married) to a lawyer, you know they need even the most rudimentary pointers to be able to express their love. Still, love it blind, so if you care enough to impress the lawyer in your life this weekend—and you’re flummoxed about what to buy your special JD—avoid the following hazards and stick with our suggestions.
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If the past few years have proven anything, it’s that nothing is predictable at law firms anymore. Lockstep gave way to mass layoffs. The billable hour absconded to “alternative billing.” “Offer” was replaced by “defer” and “rescind.” And year-end bonuses—don’t get us started.
But there are still a few things that happen annually in BigLaw around this time of year that are extraneous to economic conditions. Irrespective of the financial climate, there are seven things that always seem to happen at law firms around Christmas.
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Cue the triumphant fanfare: I had an impromptu date with someone really great. I did not blow it by sleeping with him, and we even have a full-fledged date scheduled for this coming Friday. Things like this don’t normally happen to me. But then again, the world hasn’t been all that normal of late.
For starters, I made my 2009 billable hours requirement this past week—a couple of weeks AHEAD of schedule. I’ve been asked to do the direct examinations of our experts at an upcoming insurance recovery arbitration. The UC Bearcats are playing in a BCS bowl game. The Bengals are 9-4 (FIRST in the AFC North), while the Steelers have collapsed and are playing like total losers. The once dazzling Patriot dynasty has completely lost its luster. The Crimson Tide has produced a Heisman Trophy winner. The formerly imperviously flawless pre-programmed golfing robot otherwise known as Tiger Woods actually has holes in his character so gaping you could drive a Mack truck through them.
In other words, the recent past has been so full of the improbable that I should have seen this coming.
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Most lawyers make enough money that, when there’s some consumer product they want, they just go out and buy it without giving it much thought. So, when birthdays and holidays roll around, a lawyer’s friends and family are often left wondering what to get someone who already has everything—or at least everything they can actually buy. This year, however, there’s a good chance those people will be trying to pick out the perfect gift for the lawyer who has nothing—or at least nothing new since finding himself/herself in an involuntary career transition.
As a recently laid-off lawyer myself, I’m offering some tips on what not to buy the laid-off lawyer in your life. Remember, his fragile ego has been put through the grinder, and you definitely don’t want to think it was your crappy gift that put him over the edge and sent him on an eggnog-fueled ghost-driving farewell down I-75.
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I just got back from a meeting regarding a response (due Monday) to a motion for summary judgment in a trade secrets case. Junior partner who was left in charge of dealing with responding to the 865 statements of undisputed material fact (and who had been aggressively insisting since last Monday that it was “under control”) revealed that although he had disputed nearly every one of the statements, he “hadn’t really had time to completely finish” filling in the supporting cites from a record containing hundreds and hundreds of pages.
For the un-anointed, all you really need to understand is that there is a lot of fucking work left to do. Not only is Thanksgiving shot, but so is close to every minute of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, including those traditionally spent sleeping.
Of course I desperately wanted to fire off a searing indictment of this abuse, until it dawned on me: This is precisely why they pay me five times the median household income for single women. So perhaps my mood (and productivity) would be better served by reflecting on why this abuse should be greeted with holiday gratitude:
- It’s concrete proof I haven’t been laid off
- Won’t have to pretend I’m working just to save face in front of my law school friends who work at more prestigious Big Firms than mine
- Perfect opportunity to act out my fantasy of pulling that senior associate of indeterminate relationship status into a make-out session in Docketing
- Can finally stare for as long as I want at the creepy family photos in the offices of the senior partners I work for
- The borderline psychotic wife who is convinced I am having an affair with her junior partner husband is (presumably) with him today, which means an all-day reprieve from those unsettling hang-up prank calls
- Won’t have to take the long route to the bathroom to avoid the secretary that terrifies me
- It’s a weekday (holiday or no holiday), and I might be able to cut out before 10:00 PM
- No need to come up with excuses to get that Mormon paralegal who thinks we’re BFFs out of my office
- Will not be subjected to the open-mouthed ogling usually caused by my office’s placement on the path to the men’s room—none of the male partners will be here
- The saved calories means slightly less guilt over not having gone to the gym since five weeks before the bar exam
- Won’t have to deal with the newly minted family holiday tradition of having my Uncle Joe announce derisively “Here comes the bigshot rich lawyer” every time I enter a room