Sunday, August 15, 2010


For now.

You can read about my scary internet harassment incident here. Nothing new has happened since that post. I'm optimistic that the whole ordeal might be over. For now, I just want to be back to normal. But I am going to try to be a little more careful about what I post on any internet forum.

Does anyone know how to make the content of blogs not searchable? Is that even possible?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Adventures East Of The Columbia River

I'm the kind of person who will do something SOLELY for the sake of being able to say that I did something. My philosophy is to live your life so that you have stories to tell. This philosophy has guided me through many crazy little adventures and life tangents.

It's the reason I ate aligator on a stick and ostrich burgers at the Taste of Chicago in 2004. It's the reason I went to Space Camp in highschool . . . and put an unwrapped BabyRuth on the floor of the women's shower. It's (one of) the reason(s) I eloped. This philosophy has also led me to dance on top of many bars in my short life (Ok, fine. It was three bars). It inspired me to eat my friend's Mystery Pizza in middleschool (you don't want to know and yes, it tasted horrible).

aIt's the reason I skipped the only class I ever skipped in highschool and the reason I went home with the divorced elementary school teacher I met at a bar on my 21st birthday (he turned out to be a gentleman and slept on the couch, I swear). It's the reason I made my group of fellow law student volunteers walk three miles so I could ride the train in downtown New Orleans just for one stop.

This philosophy of mine has landed me one step from the beaten path on many occassions. And now that I've stopped going home with strangers and (mostly) dancing on bars, I still drag my family along on little adventures while we are on vacation. Never content to sit on the sideline and enjoy the freshness of a new place from pure observation alone, I'm the person who makes you try new things just fo the reason that it is new and therefore, "adventurous." I'm the person who takes pictures of everything she sees while on vacation. The one who makes you pose oddly with inanimate objects. The one who squeals over famous and not so famous landmarks and enjoys staying in any hotel just for the fact that, OMG, it's a HOTEL!

Last weekend my family and I drove out to Spokane for a mini family re-union. Aside from the five hour car ride with my mom, dad, little brother, husband and toddler, it was pretty fun. And I got to do some ADVENTUROUS things!

Monday, July 26, 2010

When A Partner Calls Your Cell At 7:30am

It's never to tell you that you are awesome.

During my commute this morning, my cell phone started to ring. I looked down at the phone in my lap and saw the name of one of the firm's partners dubiously flash across the screen. My first thought was, "Oh Shit!"

Oh Shit! was I supposed to be at a meeting that I forgot about?

Oh Shit! did he just read my draft motion and think it was the equivalent of what would come out of Satan's ass if Satan ate a bucket of magnet alphabet letters?

Oh Shit! does he have a last minute project that he wants me to finish in an hour?

Oh Shit! did he actually mean to call his Great-Aunt Cee? (and, btw, who has Great-Aunts anymore?)

Let's get one thing clear, I was not thinking happy thoughts when I saw his name. And when I heard the tone of his voice, my gut went the way of old lady boobs and dropped straight down to my knees.

"Uh, hi. Hello Partner."
"I'm preparing for that deposition in the X matter. The one that you prepared the notice of deposition for. The one scheduled for 9am today."
"Yes..... [insert feeling of death]"
"I didn't reserve a conference room for this deposition, did you?"
.... phew.... is that all?......
"No I didn't...I will talk to the receptionist as soon as I get in."
"You didn't happen to schedule a court reporter did you?"
"Shit." [my thoughts exactly.]

Maybe I'm too hard on myself. Maybe I always fear the worst. Maybe I tend to over-react. But the only thing I focused on during the rest of my commute was what kind of funeral my career might be having by the end of the day.

My imagination went wild and I expected to show up at work with all the partners and associations huddled by the front door, wearing scaldingly scolding expressions. 25 pairs of fingers pointing disapprovingly at me. Boxes full of my picture frames and office nick-nacks, waiting for me.

I began texting my husband like crazy, warning him of the impending doom and the fact that I might be a stay-at-home mom by lunchtime. I can't say that I didn't almost cry. How could I forget something so basic? Sure, I've never scheduled or prepared for a deposition before, but STILL. I should have figured it out. Did I think court reporters magically rained down from heaven?

That was seriously the longest commute of my life. Then I got to work and it was so anti-climactic. No one even cared. No one even knew. Everyone was going about their own business and had no clue about my huge guffaw. I even popped my head into Partner's office and all he said was, "can you get me a copy of X's medical records? Thanks."

And so Cee rides again. She lives to make another mistake. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Spinning Wildly Out Of Control

I'm generally a happy person. People always comment on how much I smile (in fact, one of the partners at my firm recently called me "Smiley"). I'm very adaptable and, therefore, it takes a lot to make me upset. I like to think I have a high tolerance for stress, inconvenience, stupid people and for things generally not going my way. Well, this week, that threshold has been met.

It started last week with a bunch of assignments at work being thrust on me at the last minute and coming due all at the same time. Then it continued with more and more assignments. I would just come out from under my pile of work when I'd be hit with a mountain of more *urgent* things. From there, all areas of my life have snowballed into a big pile of shit. And it stinks. Like all my debts to the gods of Karma are coming due at the same time.

The thing is I still LOVE all the work I do. Each of my assignments is interesting and challenging and exciting in itself. The problem is with the AMOUNT of it that I have to do and the seemingly impossible deadlines that I have to meet.

Every day, it seems, for the past two weeks people have burst into my office with urgent, life-and-death pleadings that needed to be written and filed THAT DAY. In one day alone I helped to write and file four oppositions to motions in limine. Note to self: never, ever again hope that one of your cases goes to trial. I have so much on my plate that I feel like I'm dropping the ball all over the place.

On top of that, I got an email from management warning me that I did not meet my billable hours last month (or any month before that), telling me that I'm behind by 70 hours total and asking my to justify this. The thing is, I KNOW I met my billables last month so this is really frustrating. Another associate told me not to take it personally, but I can't help it. I was close to tears for the rest of the day.

Also, I'm working on an assignment for someone who literally stands behind me while I type. I just can't concentrate like this. When I can't concentrate,, I feel stupid and like a failure. I was forced to hold back more tears.

This week, I've worked three 11 hour days and two 9 hour days. Overall, I'm exhausted. I'm also mentally and physically drained.

Then there's the shit going on (or not going on) in my domestice life. For one, my house is a freaking mess. But I have no energy to do anything about it. My laundry is piled up into multiple out-of-control piles.

Because my house is a mess, my husband is pissed off at me. He blew up at me last night for not cleaning. Seriously? When was I supposed to clean, between my 11 hour work days and 4 hours of commuting?!

Then there's the fact that I haven't spent quality time with my son all week. I miss him so much. I feel like he's changing so fast and I'm missing it all. He just gets more and more sweet each day and it kills me to neglect him for work.

My student loan payment has increased by $300 dollars starting this motn. It's almost as much as our mortgage now. Forking this money over each month tears a tiny little hole in my soul.

Finally, I really, REALLY want another baby. And another one is still in the plans. But with all the things happening at work I'm really worried that I won't be able to balance the two. Will adding another person on top of this shit pile really be a good idea?

The cumulation of everything above is just really tearing me down. I've been on the verge of tears all day. I feel like everything is spinning wildly out of control and I can't get a grip on all my obligations and responsibilities. The work stress by itself, I can handle but the home stress, my feelings of inadequacy and the lack of sleep on top of that are really getting to me.

I think it's time to get lost in one of my cowboy western romance books... if only I had the time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Billing In Odd Places

One of the best things about my job is that I can work practically anywhere. Unless I need to meet a client or discuss something with a partner, I can do my job at home, in a coffee shop or even beachside. All I really need is my computer and internet access. Sometimes I don't even need that!

Here are some odd places I've billed today:

1) While taking a shower this morning, inspiration suddenly struck. Mid-lather, I basically drafted a letter to opposing counsel in response to a letter he sent me the day before. So, that would be .1 for preparation of correspondence to opposing counsel....while lathering my hair!

2) When I arrived at the ferry station I realized that they had switched out our usualy ferry boat for an older boat, one without an outlet. Ugh, if only I would have known, I would have charged my laptop. I circled the boat but the only outlet I could find was in the women's bathroom. Guess where I prepared my status report? The smell was less than inspiring though.

3) Later in the day I had to travel to a nearby city to do a privilege review of our client's documents. When we travel for work we get to add that in to the amout of time it takes us to complete the billable task. So I happily rolled down the windows and bellowed along to the songs that played on my favorite country station, all the while billing some good, quality time. NICE!

My joy was interrupted, however, upon my return to the office. The second I stepped back into the office, I received a letter from opposing counsel stating that our answer to a complaint was overdue and warning of a pending default judgment. My heart skipped a beat for a second. Then I berated myself and wondered how I could miss such an important deadline. Of course, in my state you can defeat a default judgment by bringing your answer to the default judgment hearing but I didn't want to look bad in front of the partner!

Then I read the letter more carefully and looked up the civil rule only to discover that opposing counsel's argument is in direct conflict with the plain language of the civil rule. According to the civil rule, we had over 30 more days to file our answer. Um, seriously? Did he even read the rule? In response, I sent him a one paragraph letter re-stating the local rule word for word- with relevant portion bolded, of course. I really, really wanted to end the letter by saying, "EAT THAT!"*

But I refrained.

* This reminds me of one of my favorite lawschool professor's rants. Essentially he lectured to his 1Ls that students and attorneys need to read statutes really carefully. His quotable from that lecture was, "learn to read statutes, or else your children will not go to college."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Office Decor

My office badly needs a make-over.

The walls are bare with the exception of two nails poking out indicating where the old inhabitant hung his diplomas.

My desk is ugly. Butt ugly. It's a very light, yellowish fake oak color. And it's almost sparkly in the sunlight.

There are stacks of paper everywhere. I've been so busy billing that I've only had time to organize my case files into stacks of paper lined up across my desk, bookshelf and windowsill. Yes, it's pretty bad.

But at least I have my shoes in order. (see that white envelope to the left of my Frye boots? That's my law school diploma. Nice place for it huh?)

I've decided that my office needs this:

(a Fathead wall cling of a fireplace)

What do ya think?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Too Crazy To Blog

This week in one word: CRAZY.

I've basically been working every waking hour since Sunday. I'm crabby. Tired. Stressed. And I feel like I've been dropping the ball all over the place.

The source of most of my craziness is a case that I am helping on been helping that is scheduled for trial in a week. This case has basically taken all of my energy and mental thought. And I've only been in charge of certain assignments so I really feel for the associate handling the case. This week I finished up some motions in limine- which were filed today with a bazillion exhibits. It felt SO GOOD to see those go out the door and know that I won't have to work on them again- until our reply is due. However, at the last minute today I was reminded that we needed a declaration in support of the motions. OMG. I had totally forgotten about those..... There went the first half of my day.

Last night I started woring on special verdict forms for all the claims and parties involved. That was a crazy experience. It reminded me of a "Choose your own adventure" book. I think I still have a headache from those.

TONIGHT I have to work on the Trial Brief which I haven't started and which I have to turn into the partner by end of day tomorrow. In other words, I won't be sleeping tonight.

Wednesday I gave an in-house CLE to the attorneys at our firm. The topic I chose to present on was service of process with regards to foreign and out of state defendants. It was an hour long CLE but I put a total of 10 hours preparing for it. Thank goodness I get CLE credit for all of that time. I think next time around I will chose a topic that is (1) easier and (2) more thrilling. At least no one fell asleep....although I swear one attorney was sleeping with his eyes open.

I had to do all the above in addition to keeping up on my other cases-- which involved preparing and filing a 12(B)(6) motion to dismiss, drafting interrogatories and answering a complaint.

All in all, I am in serious need of a vacation. But, at this point, I'd settle for a full night's sleep (I'm averaging 4-5 hours of sleep per night this week). I wish I could look forward to the weekend but I'll be preparing an outline for an upcoming deposition and drafting another motion to dismiss instead of enjoying the weather. Seriously- who knew law was so much work?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Law Is A High Stakes Game

There are many things I do not miss about law school (ok, that's not entirely true- I kind of nerdly enjoyed law school). But there is at least one thing that makes life in lawschool preferable to life in practice.

See, in law school, the worst you could ever do was to get a bad grade. In my school, the worst grade you could get was a D, unless you were really REALLY trying to fail... And that's pretty much it. The most horrible thing that could happen to you was merely a lousy letter on your transcript. I do know, however, that at the time you are a law student, a lousy letter grade FEELS like the end of the world. But in reality, it's not. I've had my share of C's (no D's thankfully) and my life turned out ok. Despite the fact that each time I received a C in lawschool, I felt that a little piece of my earning power died and fell away forever and that I was sinking into a black hole of death, my life went on without a hitch. Now, I BARELY remember those feelings. So remember lawstudents, those feelings of hopelessness and misery are only temporary. But not the feeling of confusion, that pretty much sticks with you for life.

In contrast, things can get pretty ugly if you mess up in practice. We're not just talking about personal/career consequences either. In practice, if you mess up, it's really your clients' lives, futures, and bank accounts that suffer. I feel a little better representing corporations, but not much. Every time I turn around I feel like I discovery so many new ways to commit malpractice. It is SO important for a new lawyer to have good mentors that they can turn to. I don't know what I would do without the handful of lawyers in my firm that I can ALWAYWS turn to for a "quick question." These people are invaluable. And they just may prevent you from committing malpractice and causing your client to lose all his business assets.

In my firm, I hear stories all the time from the other attorneys about opposing counsel that have completely messed up their clients' cases just for not being vigilient about following Court Rules or for making really bone-headed moves. It scares me to think that one day I will mess up really badly and my opposing counsel will be telling stories about my goof up. I'm sure it's bound to happen, but hopefully not any time soon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kinda Trying

I wasn't sure if I really wanted to blog about this publicly but...oh well, why not. We're officially not preventing the addition of another person to our family. I'm really excited. Jacob just increases in his cuteness each day that we both are excited to see what our next kid will be like. (sidenote: I don't know what it is but there is something extra sexy about a man who wants to make a baby.)

It's really hard to be patient and wait for it to happen though. The last two months i've started to feel very ready and very anxious for another baby. I'm still terrified about a lot of things. Such as having another c-section considering that the last one was the most horrifying experience of my life. And the side effects of pregnancy while I'm working a demanding job. Oh, and more stretch marks, yuk....that might be as horrifying as another c-section.

So part of me is super anxious for it all to happen and the other part of me doesn't mind putting it off another couple months. I'm just worried that now that we are mentally ready for another one that it will take a long time. With Jacob, we stopped preventing pregnancy the day we got married... and we were pregnant the next month! I really hope that happens this time around so I don't have to go through the ups and downs, the hopefullness and the let down of waiting on that matching set of positive pink lines.

And super contracts (editor's note: that was totally supposed to say "congrats"- can you tell I've been working all weekend?) to Fumbling for Truth on her exciting news!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's Wednesday And I Still Need A Drink

My cases continue to explode on me. I swear that there was an urgent task on each one of my cases today (I have 7 of my own cases and I'm assisting on an additional 3 cases- that's alot of urgent tasks). While the stress level is pretty high, I ABSOLUTELY love being overwhelmed and knee deep in litigation. At the very least, it's better than the alternative.

I've responded to and initiated enough phone calls and emails today to make anyone crazy. Seriously, by the end of the day I counted up over 19 tasks that I billed as a .1 which related to some form of communication with a client, opposing counsel, expert or other third party.

Oh and I had over an hour long phone conference with one of my clients who doesn't speak English. And the interpreter in on the call didn't help much. She had such a thick accent that I almost couldn't tell when she was speaking English to me or the foreign language. Do you understand how hard it is to explain Washington law to a newly arrived foreigner with no knowledge about our legal system, especially when everything being said is filtered through a third party interpreter!? It's especially hard when they are the defendant and have no idea why they are being sued. That phone call was definately the most challenging hour of my day.

I can't even believe there was a time when my work load was light. I think my current work "to-do" list contains enough billable hours to last me for a whole month. But aside from the craziness, things keep getting better. I'm finally growing into my position. I feel a sense of confidence in my role as an attorney. I'm giving recommendations to clients and to the partners.

BUT most importantly of all, I HAVE BUSINESS CARDS!

This is so much fun!

Oh and did I mention that I left my office tonight at 8pm? Yeah, where's that drink?!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday And I Need A Drink

Warning: incessant rambling follows:

I love and hate three day weekends. For some reason, time seems to slip away faster during a three day weekend than a normal weekend. How can this be when there is an entire extra day in there?! I hate that I can't slow down enough to enjoy life even during a holiday or a three day weekend. I feel like there is always a back log of chores, work and other "stuff" that I can't even begin to categorize on my "to-do" list. But I always seem to ignore it all or push it off for "next weekend" in the name of my quickly-escaping sanity.

Thank goodness for photos- without them I would never remember what happened in my fast-as-lightning life. (BTW- Jacob LOVES sparklers, pop-its and all other "f-eye-woks."

I'm the kind of person who requires a lot of down time. I have the physical "need" to veg out in front of a TV, computer screen or cooking magazine. I can't tackle anything on the weekend until I've fulfilled my quota of veg time. Good thing for me that shopping is also an acceptable method for fulilling my weekly veg time. I know many people HATE grocery shopping. But I absolutely love it. I love to take my list to the store, peruse the aisles to find just the right ingredients for my weekly menus and revel in all the consumer choices before me. I love buying snacks and treats and yummy things to eat. I should be a professional grocery shopper for Hell's Kitchen or Rackel Ray or [insert favorite cooking show}.

And the rambling takes a new direction..., The worst part about a three day weekend (besides the fact that it goes by too quickly) is that you have to return to work. Today, when I got to work every single one of my cases decided to explode on me! By the time noon rolled around (seemingly in the blink of an eye), I had made a call to an expert, called opposing counsel to have a nice argument about service of process, took a call from a client, made a call to another client, called an insurance company, scheduled a site visit for my expert, finished a status report, signed a notice of appearance and reported to two different partners on two of my cases. I was dead tired by noon but I felt like I got nothing done! As the day progressed, other demands seemed to pile up on me until I thought my body would sink into the floor.

And then I desperately needed one of these:

Or these:

The funny thing about my job is that it is so unpredictable from day to day. As I lay in bed the night before work, I plan out all the tasks I will accomplish the next day in priority order. But by the time I get to my desk the next morning, listen to my voice mails and read my emails, my task list is overcome with a slew of new "highly important" tasks and assignments. My task list dies until the next day where it just gets pushed aside by other new tasks. I've had one assignment on my personal mental to do list for an entire month!

I guess this is how things go in the litigation world. It's crazy and insane and draining, but I feel like I'm doing something important and valuable for my client each day. Each day I navigate local rules, use case law to support my position, confer with clients, strategize with experts and generally push my cases that much closer to resolution. All of that is precisely why I love every second of this crazy little thing called litigation.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Someone is forever banned from the markers.... or at least until he turns 3.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Strolling Down 1L Lane

While reading cases for a research project I'm involved in, I had a sudden flashback to the very first time I ever read a law case. Like every other lawschool graduate/attorney out there, I've probably read hundreds upon hundreds of legal opinions written by the court.

During my research project, I realized how much reading case law is second nature to me. I can (and sometimes do) pick up a stack of cases and skim through it flippantly during my lunch break in search of something relevant to an issue I'm dealing with. I can even do this while scarfing down a bowl of raisin, date and walnut oatmeal, sipping Det Dr. Pepper, and catching up on my emails. Reading caselaw is just a routine part of my life.

BUT. To this day, I can STILL remember the very first time I ever read a legal opinion. Not just a nicely edited portion of an opinion conveniently printed in a caselaw book- but an actual case, printed in full from a legal report.

It's clear to me now that an essential part of lawschool is the hazing of not knowing what the hell you're doing. In this respect, lawschool totally prepares you for a shining career in the legal field. In fact, I think the motto of legal education across the country should be "if you think you know what you're doing, you're probably doing it wrong" or "if you have no clue what's going on, you're in the right place." Anyway, back to reading caselaw.... If you look up the definition of legal career, the words "on the job training" should be the first thing you read.

The first time a lawstudent reads an actual case is a major milestone, fundamental to the experience of becoming a lawyer. Or, at the very least, a definingly traumatic experience. For me, it was scary, exciting and adventurous. And I believe the accompanying feeling of utter confusion it brought may never be rivaled.

The first law case I ever read was Marbury v. Madison (boy, what a doozy for a first time caselaw reader). (Tangent: The second case I ever read was Pierson v. Post. Seriously? One person sued another person over a dead fox? Moral of the story-- "fox killers always prosper?"). The day before my first 1L lawschool class, I opened up and printed the case. And... I couldn't get past the first page without thinking I was reading something in code or foreign language.

The caption was intimidating and scary- what did it all mean? What is a plaintiff? What is a defendant. What are the justices saying? Are they writing in latin? Then I remember how amazed I was when my Professor unravelled the case for me, dissecting it piece by piece. I remember how awestruck I was to learn that just the name of a case tells you who was suing who and where and when. I was amazed to discover that the seemingly incoherent document I read the night before actually meant something, and it meant something rather significant in the field of law.

I clearly remember looking at the jibberish contained within that first case, reading it diligently all the way through and still not knowing who had "won" the suit? In fact, I can't tell you how many times I did this my first semester of law school.

"So a case is 'remanded'.... wait, who wins again?" (Sound familiar?)

Looking back at where I was before lawschool, before I was consumed by the strange requirement to read case law, it's not hard to be amazed at how much has become second nature and fundamental to what I do on a daily basis. Without remembering how far I've come, it's so easy to take for granted all the stuff that I've learned that lead me to where I am now.

Practicing law is such a wild, exhilarating ride. Or I could just be a total nerd.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Love That Grows Away

The other day I came across old photos of my baby Jacob. I was amazed at how different he used to be. So tiny and helpless. I remembered looking at these pictures right after they were taken. Looking at them now, I feel like I see them differently. From the same image, I see a different version of my child. That must sound odd but I don't know if I can explain it any better.
I love each of Jacob's new stages. He's funny, smart, charming, sweet and mischevious. He tells us "I love you" (or at least, "I lub oo"). He picks up and copies our mannerisms, like holding up his hands when he asks where something "went." He also copies our phrases like "how about this." The other day he asked me for a sucker. After I told him no, he smiled, cocked his head coyly to the side and said, "Please mommy. I like sucker." Of course, I instantly gave in. Who can resist the sweet voice and head tilt?

But with each new stage of Jacob that I come to know and love, I still yearn for that little baby I once knew. The one who crawled across the living room floor. The one with the baby talk. The one with the fat, rolly legs. I know I can have another baby and that might be what this feeling is about- me telling myself I'm ready for another one. But, at the same time, I don't want just ANY baby. I'm yearning specifically for the baby that I once knew. The one that has grown up into such a handsome little toddler. It's silly to feel this way when I have such a thriving, healthy boy who adds to much joy to our lives, but I can't help it.

It reminds me that he's going to be changing for the rest of his life. He will still always be the same person but he's going to grow up so much that the person he eventually becomes will be unrecognizable as the boy he is now. That is exciting and kinda sad at the same time. I want to bottle him up and always remember him. I hate relying on my fuzzy and faulty memory for a sense of the baby he used to be and the toddler he is now.

Aint that just life?! As moms, we're doomed to fall desperately in love with something that is always changing, becoming more independent and growing more and more away from us. And it's our very love, care and guidance (and success as moms) that gives them the ability to set out on their own and live their own lives. UGH! Life's so not fair!

Friday, June 25, 2010

When Your Expert Is Stupid, You Know You're In Trouble

One of the motions I'm preparing is a motion to exclude opposing party's supposed "expert." I sure as heck wish there was an ER 707 which said, "experts that are stupid as shit shall be excluded from providing expert testimony." If there was one, it totally be applicable to this case.

Q: Do you have any specialized training or education in [relevant construction field]?
A: Not really. I did take a night class in car mechanics.

Q: So, if I heard you correctly, you plan on providing an opinion regarding the allegedly defective siding and roofing on this project, correct?
A: Yes.
Q: So what, in your opinion, are the defects with regards to siding and roofing?
A: I have no idea what the issue with the siding is. And the roof, well, I have no clue what's going on there.
Q: Ok....?

Q: So, what are you going to testify as to the standard of care of the [relevant party] in this case?
A: What do you mean by "standard of care?"
Q: I mean the level of conduct they are required to follow, their workmanship or professionalism.
A: I guess, well, I'm still not sure what you mean. Like whether they did all the work in their contract?
Q: I mean, are you going to say whether or not they performed their work in a professional, or workmanlike manner?
A: I'm sorry, I still don't understand what you are asking.

An expert who has no idea what a standard of care is? OMG.

And Later:

Q: Are you going to testify about causation?
A: I'm, sorry I don't understand.
Q: Are you going to testify about whether a party's work caused the alleged damages?
A: I'm sorry, I still don't get it. Can you take the legalese out of your question.

And my personal favorite:

Q: How did you come to your conclusion that the [relevant pary] used sufficient and not excessive force in pressure washing the building? Did you do any calculations or analysis?
A: Well, that's just what I think and I spray my house with a hose all the time-- I do it to kill bees.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jury Trials & Tribulations

Our firm has a monster of a trial coming up ... and I was enlisted to help! When I say monster, I do mean monster. There is one plaintiff, who in essence represents over 80 people, four defendants and four third party defendants. As the defendants we get to defend claims against the Plaintiff as well as pursue claims against the third party defendants. Plus, this case involves 10 causes of action, none of which have been settled by motion or summary judgment. It's pretty exciting around here!

So Partner sends me an email asking for my assistance in preparing for trial. Then Associate walks into my office:

Associate: "Hey, did you get Partner's email? Do you know what you need to help with?"
Me: "Yes, I got it right here. Prepare jury instructions and.... motions in lime?"
Associate: "Um, you mean 'motions in limine.' Do you think you can handle those? I'll give you all the prior status reports and pleadings that you will need."
Me: "Sure, no problem. Actually, I'm pretty excited."
Associate: "Good."

Associate walks out of my office. I take a big breath, turn to my computer screen and immediately google "motions in limine." This is the epitome of being thrown into practice. You get to work on assignments you never knew existed with names you can barely pronounce. Like voir dire....who the hell came up with that term?

Then there's the jury instructions. The first ten jury instructions were kind of fun. You have to establish the elements and burdens of proof for each claim and try to present them in a coherent fashion to the jury. Except the pattern jury instructions are dripping with legalese. I re-read them and kept thinking to myself- really? I barely understand this definition of proximate cause and I went to lawschool. You're going to pull 12 random people off the street and talk to them about superceding causes unbroken by a direct chain of sequential events? Good luck with that. I might as well write all these jury instructions in Chinese. The jury can just decide which party is correct by which witnesses have the most realistic looking toupes.

Also, I have a beef with exhibit lists. Can someone please explain to me why I have to review an "exhibit list" containing 997 exhibits? Seriously? My poor brain can't handle it all. Why do we even need exhibits? I mean people swear to tell the truth (the whole truth and nothin' but the truth) anyway, right (ha ha)?

After I'm done with all that, I get to work on voir dire questions and a trial brief. Cool huh? Actually, I have no idea because I have never seen a single set of voir dire questions and I have no idea what a trial brief is! Let the fun begin!

The crazy thing is that most cases never get this close to trial. Many lawyers never really get a chance to do trial prep work. I should feel lucky that I get some of this experience so early on in my career. But I can't help but be amazed at how much of the trial prep for this high stakes case is being done by lawyers who have no idea what they are doing (me!). Then I reemember, in the field of law, you never have all the answers.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Muddling Through

There is a lot of stuff on my mind tonight.

We found out that one of Jacob's grandmas might not be able to watch him anymore. During the work week Jacob spends half the time with my mom and half the time with my husband's mom. We've been so blessed that he is being watched by people who love him almost as much as we do. And we've been so fortunate that we haven't had to pay a small fortune in child care. With our mortgage and my student loans, it would be rough.

So, right now we're re-thinking our child care options. We only need to find child care for twice a week but it's still stressing me out. The thought of leaving Jacob with someone who is not family for 11 hours a day (7am to 6pm) is totally weighing on my mind and filling me with guilt. Then there's the cost. Then there's the ever present but usually dormant thought that maybe I'm making the wrong decision by going to work. And then there's the fact that we want to add to our family soon, so the guilt and the cost will likely double. It all makes my stomach churn.

I keep reassuring myself that anytime I feel that I need to, I can quit my job. Quit my career. We could survive off my husband's salary if I took a mindless part time job to cover my monthly student loans. But I love my career. I could never find another job I enjoy this much. And I've worked SO hard to get this far. I worked my BUTT off to get where I am now. Can I just throw it all away- is that even responsible considering my $120K in student loans- in order to satisfy the little nibbles of guilt that come and go?

I think I have to accept the fact that I will never be 100% at ease with my decisions no matter which path I take. But it just plain sucks. I just want to know what's "right." But in life, just as in the practice of law, there is never a simple "right" answer. Life and law are all about muddling through.

Sidenote: We had a great Father's Day weekend. We went on a seaplane tour of Seattle and then had a three course meal on Lake Union!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

27 Banker Boxes Full Of Hell

Work has been crazy this week. I have a million things due and not enough time to complete them all! From Monday to Thursday, I billed over 34 hours. That might not seem impressive to some people but that's usually my weekly goal to reach my 155 billable hours per month. And that time is in addition to a 1 hour work lunch, a 1 hour work function and a 2 hour in-house CLE. To put it lightly, I'm kind of exhausted.

And guess what I get to do today? Resume document review of 27 banker boxes full of construction documents! I started this task yesterday and I only got through about 8 boxes for the entire day. In total, I reviewed 4 years worth of construction meeting minutes, 2 years worth of change orders, and god-only-knows how much random correspondence. UGH. 19 more boxes of awesomeness to go. Opposing counsel did their review of these boxes in one day- with 6 people helping out. I get to do it in 2 days, by myself. YAY! (not).

So, you know what's not so awesome about finally having a bar number? Opposing counsel gets to see how new your bar number is and try to take advantage of you. It's pretty much a lovely walk in the park with a rainbow sno-cone....

Weeks ago I was tasked with scheduling this awesome document review project with opposing counsel. The documents are at a third party counsel's office (this party already settled out of the case). After working with everyone and their important schedules, I finally got a week set aside for the doc review. Weeks later and one day before opposing counsel is supposed to review the files (it just worked out that they were scheduled to review first) a partner from opposing counsel's office calls me up all frantic-like. He claims he wasn't involved in the whole scheduling process and begged me to switch days with opposing counsel.

I was a little bit excited to have a partner from opposing counsel's office call me. See, I'm IMPORTANT now. I have a BAR NUMBER. (insert head inflate). So I decided to be nice and accomodate him. This is what that complying with the "spirit of discovery" is all about right? So I agree to switch days and we both left the conversation satisfied. However, I did think it was odd that instead of just rescheduling his day for review he specifically asked me if I would take his day so he could take my day.

I pop into Partner's office to let him know about the schedule change. Partner looks at me and asks, "did he say why he couldn't go tomorrow?" I reply, "No, he just told me he had a conflict and asked if I could go first." Then Partner looks at me again and with this wise old expression on his face (except he's not really old and, in fact, he's kid of hot- in a partner-sort-of-way) he says, "I think he wanted you to go first so he could copy all the documents you flagged."

That's when it all made sense. DUH. Why else wouldn't he just reschedule with the third party who has the documents? Why else would he make a specific effort to call me and request to switch days? on the phone he was so pleasant and I thought I was doing him a major favor. But to find out that he was swindling me the whole time- UGH! I feel so burned!

So what did Partner and I decide to do? We called third party with the documents, and rescheduled our review for later in the week (to be honest, we weren't prepared to view the documents one day early because we were waiting for a phone call from our client regarding what we should be looking for). Small victories are important in the practice of law. Especially when you are staring into the heart of a mountainous pile of banker boxes awaiting your review.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

5 Little Numbers

Cee has a bar number! I've been checking my State's bar association website every five minutes for the past two weeks hoping that the State Supreme Court got my application and that everything went through. It feels so weird to actually see my name there with my very own bar number. I shrieked like a little girl (or big girl) at a Hannah Montana concert and then immediately memorized my bar number (I get excited about the little things ok?!).

I feel so official! I never knew five little numbers could have such an effect! I almost feel like a different person. Later in the afternoon, I had to make several calls about a discovery issue. When I introduced myself over the phone, I made a very special effort to mention that I was an attorney working for Firm X as opposing to just "Cee from Firm X."

I've only been an admitted attorney for one day and my head has already doubled in size.

Tomorrow I get to sign my very first pleading which will be an Answer in a small claim personal injury lawsuit. I think this is a worthy occasion to bust out my talking Napolean Dynamite pen.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Some Weekend Entertainment Starring Jacob

This is my absolute number one, favorite video of Jacob. Enjoy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Time-Flow Problem

I'm having a time-flow problem. As in time keeps flowing and I don't get nearly enough done.

When I'm in the office, I can't help but look around at all the associates without families and totally envy them. They have no problem billing their hours. They can stay until 7, or 9, or even 11pm getting all their work done. Then they can saunter home whenever they feel like and pass out cold, or whatever else their hearts desire. They always seem knee-deep in their work. They always seem focused. They have less distractions. They have the corner office next to the partners. They get handed the more complex cases. They probably even make more. They can automatically RSVP "yes" to all after hourse office functions, whether it be happy hour with the partners, conferences, marketing gimmicks to meet new clients. When the partners say "do this," they can have it done the next day.

I compare their work and lifestyle to mine and I think I need to be like them to really exceed expectations at my firm. I need to become my job. Maybe that's not true. In fact, I used to believe just the opposite. You know what though, if time was abundant, I think the career-advancing playing field would be more level between associates with families and those without. If I had as many hours as I needed to finish my work, bill my hours, attend work-social function, play with my kid, do the dishes and laundry, tuck my kid in, spend quality time with my husband, enjoy a little "me" time and sleep, I could easily be as successful as anyone out there.

Lately I feel like I've had to give up so many "me" activities. And it's making me feel rundown and blah. I don't get to work out very often. I don't get enough sleep. I barely get any chores done. I've stayed late at the office three times this week but it doesn't matter. No matter how much time and energy I sacrifice to the JOB, I feel like I'm STILL spread too thin all over the place and STILL behind at work. My sacrifices just don't feel worth it.

I'm not really that bitter though. When I look around at the associates without families, I realize that I may envy them sometimes but I'd never switch places with them. I have this amazing second life at home. This life away from work is so amazing and so rewarding. My son is literally the highlight of my life. He's the real purpose of my life- work is just something that I enjoy that keeps me busy and eating. If Jacob turns out to be the only legacy I leave behind and the only thing I really accomplish, I might just be ok with that.

That said, I wonder if how I feel would change if I was a stay at home mom. Would I look at my family life less fondly? With less amazement? Does it only seem so wondeful because I don't get enough of it? That I don't know. But I do know that I'm glad to have a reason to leave the office at 5pm. I'm ecstatic that I get to come home to cuddles and hugs and daily adventures with my son. If I have to say "no" to a work function, I'm thrilled it's because I have a date planned with my husband. When I'm distracted at work I'm glad that it's because I'm thinking and worrying about these guys:

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Definition Of "Mama"

When I was pregnant with Jacob, I couldn't get over how uncomfortable I was with the word "mom." I didn't exactly like the word and I was not at all excited for it to be associated with me. Although I loved my own mom, I wasn't ready to be considered a "mom." To me the word meant frumpy, naggy, old and the very opposite of cool (think SNL's "mom jeans" skit.)

I disliked the name so much I even considered having my own kid call me something else. But that didn't work. In my mind and for reasons I cannot explain to you now, "mama" and all the other alternatives seemed even worse than "mom." Still, I couldn't fathom what it would be like to have someone call me "mom." The thought left a strange taste in my mouth.

Now, almost 2 years later, hearing the words "mama" come out of my son's mouth is up there with my top most favorite things in the world. I swear to you, there is no sweeter sound than hearing Jacob call me "mama." Whether he walks up to me for no particular reason, cheerfully exclaiming, "Hi Mama!" Or whether he is crying my name after a fall or in protest of his bed time. I especially love when he reaches his hands up to me and says "Mama, hold you!" It melts my heart every time.

I didn't love it overnight though. I had to grow into the name about as much as I had to grow into the role. When my son was a newborn and someone would hand him to me saying, "he wants his mama," I would internally recoil. (Not at my son, just at the word). "Really? Do I look like a mama? Because I don't feel like someone who would be called a mama." It wasn't until my son started to talk and refer to me as "mama" that I started to warm to the word. The way he said it just dripped with babycheek-pinching sweetness (oh my gosh, yes, I became one of those people who pinches their kid's cheeks- help!).

Recently, my husband shared with me how much he loves when Jacob looks at him and says, "Da-da!" And I knew exactly what he was talking about. Maybe hearing your child call you "mama" or "dada" is so pleasant because it conveys a sense of belonging, connection or attachment. Maybe it evidences that special bond that only a parent can truly have with another human being: the bond of creation or the bond of sharing the same flesh as another person (but I'm sure non-biological parents feel the same way). Maybe it has to do with an instinct, ownership or a feeling of pride. Or maybe it just has to do with the cuteness that radiates from every square milimeter of my kid's skin surface area (that's the closest I will ever come to doing math on this blog).

All I know is that whatever IT is, IT is so very strong. I could be dead set not to let my son have another cookie. I can be firmly planted in my decision not to let him watch Elmo. I could be determined not rush and pick him up and baby him each time that he falls down. But all he has to do is reach for me and cry "mama" and the game is over, I'm powerless. Clearly, I will not be the disciplinarian in this family.

More On The Billable Hour

Thanks for all your comments. I just have a couple more things to say about this topic though. First, I need to clarify that I work in insurance defense. Billable hours are hard at any firm, but when your clients are insurance companies, billable hours are an exceptional pain in the ass. You all know the reputation of insurance companies when it comes to handling claims... "deny, deny, deny." (side note: I think insurance companies might actually be hated more than attorneys, not quite sure though). Well, they have the same mentality when it comes to paying their attorneys.

Our clients are VERY strict about what bills they will pay. I have to word my billing entries just perfectly if I want them to be accepted as a legitimate billing task. It's a steep learning curve. And we get audited quite often- just think of the billable hours I lose from reviewing my time entries, correcting my audited entries and appealing their denial of my time entries.

I think you all are right that generally, associates should not be cutting their own time. In general, I don't do this unless a partner specifically tells me I can't bill more than X hours for a certain task. For example: one partner wanted me to put together a checklist and memo about how to subpoena non-parties. He told me this was not billable. When I had to put together a subpoena, he instructed me that whenever he's the partner on the case, a task like this cannot be billed at more than a .1. Yeah, that's 6 minutes for something that took me 30 minutes to do. This problem doesn't come up very often though and I know as I do more of these things I will become more efficient. (For the person who asked about stipulations: we generally will see if the other side will stipulate to provide records. If they won't, then we will subpoena the records from the party who maintains them. In my experience, plaintiffs will usually stipulate to authorize the release of medical records unless they have prior injuries and want to keep them from being discovered.)

Another billing problem is purely the result of me being at the bottom of the totem pole. When there are non-billable, non-client related marketing projects, those tasks generally will fall on me until the firm hires someone who is greener than I am.

So I know this billable hour thing will get easier when I become more experienced and when the non-billable work gets handed down to someone else. The problem is that I'm a semi-perfectionists. If there is a guideline or a bar set, I like to exceed it as much as possible. Not meetng my weekly/monthly billable hour requirement is killing me. I feel like a bad associate. I know the firm will cut me some slack for a while but it personally irks me that I can't meet the goal. I survived law school so you'd think I'd be used to being just mediocre or just passing by now. But I'm not. The inner perfectionist in me still lives.

I want to beat the billable hour. I will beat the billable hour. I just need to find the motivation. Or I need to block all access to the internet/my phone/tv/cooking magazines/my child. Yeah, that might work.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Celebrity Corner

Boyz II Men came to my town! They didn't go to Seattle. They didn't play at a fancy casino. They played at a historic venue practically in MY BACKYARD! It was the most amazing show I have ever seen.

We were three tables from the stage. That's three tables from their amazing, synchronized-pelvic-thrusting dance moves. Three tables from the source of their amazing sound. Three tables away from THEM! They sounded so amazing, they definitely did not dissapoint. The whole time I couldn't believe I was actually seeing them sing in person. I told my husband we have to name our next son Wanya....

I'm embarassed to say that when they sang their song, "mama" and dedicated it to all the moms in the audience, I was tearing up all over the place. I'm a little horrified. When did I become that person? That person who cries at everything? Can I just chalk it up to the power of their music? Let's just go with that.

But we're just getting to the good part. Thanks to my husband's connections, we finagled our way to a pair of VIP meet and greet back stage passes! As we wandered the backstage corridor, I got so nervous! OMG. What will I say to them? I didn't want to sound lame but I didn't want to sound like an obsessive groupie either. It turned out to be very laid back and casual and they were so generous. We shook their hands, posed for a quick photo and got their autographs. It went by so fast, I barely remember it.

But I do remember that they smelled really, really good. And I'll never wash my hand again.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Unmotivated: The Billable Hour Is Winning

I'm so unmotivated lately, which is odd because this unmotivation comes at a time where I am finally getting a slew of my own cases and my work load is picking up.

I think my unmotivation stems from the little monster I call the Billable Hour (Bill for short).

I am obviously behind schedule when it comes to meeting my year end billable hour requirement. I know I have the entire year to make this up, (I'm hoping for a string of crazy depositions across the state, this would equate to billable hour heaven). At the end of each month, the partners circulate a table which shows how many hours each associate has billed and how far they are above or behind target. I dread this each month. Not only do I have to face how behind I am, but every other associate in the office gets to know about my daily struggle with Bill.

When I was a summer associate, I easily billed 8 hours a day. Easy Peasy. This is because people handed me assignments and all I had to do was what I was instructed to do. But now that I'm an associate, I have to spent time thinking about my cases and trying to figure out what to do next. I have to learn everything from scratch as I go. For example, no matter how new you are, it's not acceptable to bill an hour for preparing a simple stipulation for the release of medical records, even if your first one legitimately takes you that long. And I'm still trying to build my reputation in the firm so something as small as asking a partner a question takes me an unusual amount of prep time. I don't want to sound stupid, I want to know all the facts and issues and I want to rehearse what I'm going to say. I can't bill for stuff like this but it seems to suck the hours out of my day.

My first couple months were slow but I was rearing to go. Now I have a lot of work but I can't find the motivation. When I think about how far behind I am I become freakishly intimidated. It's like staring into the deep blue belly of the Puget Sound, trying to get the inspiration to jump into the cold water. I have every intention of sitting at my desk until all my hours are billed (at least for just the day) but I keep stalling or finding excuses (another cup of coffee, errand during lunch, grabbing a quick lunch, and then when I get home I think "oh I'm tired, I'll bill those hours tomorrow). And Bill keeps growing bigger and meaner. Welcome to my Catch-22.

I think I need to refocus and regroup. I mean, my upcoming tasks are actually pretty interesting. I should be excited to do them. I just need to stop worrying about the Billable hour and how far behind I am an just focus on the tasks I need to accomplish. Easier said than done. I also need to build better working habits (such as do a task right away instead of putting it on a steadily growing to-do list), work more efficiently and figure out how to cut out unnecessary distractions.

Finally, I need to find some motivation. I know it's here somewhere. Is it under my desk, nope just 5 pairs of shoes under there (including one pair of Frye boots- don't ask). Is it in my drawer, nope just three king-sized Hershey bars. Oh well, I'll find fact, I'll put that on my to-do list: "find motivation." Maybe I can get around to that next week.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Mondayest Monday

This week I had the Monday of all Mondays. And it was actually a Tuesday.

Thanks to the long Memorial Day weekend, Tuesday was my Monday. And yes, my billable hours are going to suffer for that. But let's not think about that right now.

When we got home from the coast, instead of finding a happy envelope containing my bar card waiting for me, I found a sad, wrinkled, wet and waterstained envelope containing my returned bar application. I'm not even sure why the post office returned it. It had nothing on it telling me what was wrong with it! I was so mad! This was the second time it had been returned to me (the first time, I didn't put enough postage).

So on my Tuesday-Monday I decided to hand deliver my application on my way to the office. After scouring the block where the bar association was supposed to be and walking into wrong buildings for like 10 minutes, I found the bar association across the street, marked clearly by a sign with big bold letters. Ooops. Dur.

I crossed the street and walked into the building. Then I got into the wrong set of elevators and ended up on an entirely wrong floor. I finally made my way back to the lobby where I eventually found the elevator that would take me to the correct floor. I marched proudly into the bar association office in my slacks and sneakers and then, not so proudly, handed over my still-wet and water stained bar application.

When I handed the receptionist my application, I couldn't for the life of me remember the word for "wet." I looked at her and said, "Sorry my application is..... uh.... watery." She looked across the table at the weird girl in green sneakers (that would be me) and probably mistook me for a legal messenger (but at least I didn't smell like one- man why do they all stink? And what's up with their weird bags?).

I finally made it to my office after stopping at Starbucks and spilling coffee down my pants. I plopped down in my office chair and not one second later an associate storms in and (frantically) asks, "Hey, can I see your appendix? Where's your appendix?"

What? I stared at him blankly for a second trying to process his statement. "You want to see my appendix? You mean like this one?" I point to my abdomen where I believe my appendix to be. He looks at me all crazy like then roars a horrendous laugh out of the gaping hole in his contorted face. "No wierdo. I need to see the appendix to your motion for reconsideration because I'm preparing one too and I want to see what yours looks like."

Oh yeah. THAT APPENDIX! Me = laughing stock of the 22nd floor office suite.

So that was my Non-Monday Monday. Phew.

Oh yeah, this is the icing on the cake: at one point in the day I was on a semi-important phone call with one of our experts. We started to discuss the case and the science that would support our position on a liability issue. He starts to say something really important but I can't find a pen to jot the information down. I have the phone tucked between my ear and my shoulder and I'm using two hands to surf around the top of the desk, pushing stacks of paper everywhich way to locate that DANG PEN. I give up and open my "pen" drawer where I find one blue, one red and one green CRAYON. Don't ask why I have crayons in my desk.

So yes, I took down a super important note with a flashy blue crayon. I couldn't help smiling from ear to ear each time I pressed the blue tip to my notepad. In fact, I think I should use crayon more often....I wonder what the partners would think if I handed them a note in blue crayon?

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Weekend Parent

I knew this day was coming. I dreaded it since the day my son was born. I've been anticipating it for quite some time. My wishful thinking made me believe that it was still many months away.....but no, my kid's language skills have suddenly sharpened- seemingly overnight too. And he is now able to repeat everything he hears! Someone save me!

Just how bad is it? Well, yesterday my son said "oh crap" when he tripped on a rock. Later that day he called me a "douche puddle" (the phrase my husband and I use instead of "douche bag"). BUT I'm still hanging onto my steadast yet unrealistic hope that those phrases were just a temporary blip and that they won't make it into Jacob's permanent vocabulary. We've been trying really REALLY hard to watch our language around him, but it's so difficult to break old habits!

Then one time when I was changing his diaper, Jacob pointed to his "wee wee" and said, "BONER!." Yeah, oops. How did he learn that one? I mean the kid is 21 months old! He also likes to point out everyone and everything's "butt-butt." Maybe he's gonna be an ass man? That one I'm kinda ok with. I mean it's a legitimate, anatomically correct bit of knowledge, right?

Then today Jacob was opening all our boxes of crackers and snacks and pouring them onto the floor. I looked at him and said, "No Jacob. Bad boy!" Probably not the choicest words at the moment but it's easy to judge in hindsight. He ran out of the room, laughing and saying, "No! Mama bad boy!" Touche Jacob, touche.

Aside from that drama, the weekend was great. We went down to Seaside, Oregon then to Cannon Beach to celebrate the three-day weekend, our elopment-versay and my birthday (I turned 21 for the fifth time, thank you very much). The weather was rainy and grey, but hey, I'm a Seattleite so that's nothing new to me. From having grown up in predictably drizzly weather, knowing how to have a fun day in the rain is part of my DNA. Although, I admit if the sun had come out, our "fun" trip could have been an "amazing" trip.
Anyways, since I had a baby, family vacations are less about location and more about family. We could have stayed at the local Super 8 just five miles from our house and still have had a blast. Just spending the entire weekend as a family, with minimal interruptions, is pretty much all I could ever ask for. It's so fun to take Jacob to new places or to old places that become "new" all over again. It's fun to watch him learn, to try new things and to learn new words (mostly). At a restaurant this weekend there was a poster of different types of fish. Jacob was fascinated by it. He took his little shovel and pretended to scoop up the "ishies." Then he ran over to where my husband and I were sitting and proudly fed his catch to us. He repeated this over and over for about fifteen minutes straight.
Since Jacob was born, our weekends are just so filled with love and laughter. It's almost unbearable how amazing it is to have a wonderful kid in your life. It also makes it so hard to think about going to work tomorrow. Long weekends like this make me reconsider my life as a working mom. I get so caught up in the fun that I forget about the days when I was dying to get out of the house to start work again. Today, after an amazing 64 hours with my son, I'm kind of longing to stay home with him all day, to watch him grow and to teach him new things.
The grass is always greener, perhaps. And perhaps once I step into my office tomorrow, I'll be glad to be back. When I start to miss him I'll just imagine him as he was this evening, sitting in his kid chair (which he placed on top of the couch) singing the "abc" song while doing "itsy bitsy spider" hand motions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Price Of Advice

Being a baby lawyer is all kinds of fun. You can (well, sometimes) rely on the fact that you are new to this whole "law" thing and people will (sometimes) cut you a little slack. Like, hypothetically, if you were to draft a proposed order to accompany one of your motions but you create a signature line for the partner where the Judge's signature line is supposed to be. And the partner signs it without double checking your work. Then the Judge uses your proposed order, which the partner has already signed for her, and the partner ends up looking like (1) a really big, careless idiot or (2) a pompous ass. Then to rub salt in the wound, opposing counsel emails all counsel on the case to make fun of the partner. Wouldn't that (hypothetically) be horrifying? At least a partner just might overlook this mistake if it was made by a newbie lawyer (please?).

But the best part about being a baby lawyer is the misadventures of asking for advice. Asking coworkers for advice is probably the thing you will do most often in your career. (The only way to avoid this is if you did NOT fall asleep every day in civil procedure, you had a really good civil procedure professor AND you are a super genius who has memorized every civil procedure case you have ever read before conveniently cataloguing it and storing it away in the file cabinet in your brain). My point is, asking for advice is unavoidable.

The first thing you will realize when you are a new lawyer is that there are BAD people to ask for advice and GOOD people to ask for advice. The second thing you will realize is that all advice, though freely given, comes at a price. On any given day, all you can do is decide what kind of price you are in the mood to pay. My firm sometimes seems like a showcase of attorneys who are too smart for their own good. When this is coupled with the fact that most lawyers generally feel underappreciated and unrecognized, a newbie seeking advice will inevitably and obliviously run headlong into the Perfect Storm.

The following people, who I somehow ALWAyS end up asking for advice, are perfect examples.

Me: "Can I ask you a quick question?"
Associate I Can't Believe You Don't Know: (looking smug and pompous) "Okay."
Me: "Under set of facts x,y,z, should I worry about the defense of improper venue?"
Associate: "Wait, really? You don't know this? I'm a little worried. Didn't you take civil procedure?"
Me: "Yes. And I know there probably isn't an issue here but since this is my first case, I just wanted to double check and run it by someone else."
Associate: "That set of facts has NOTHING to do with venue. Seriously?"
Me: "Ok thanks. I just wanted to make sure. Thanks again."
Associate: "Improper venue involves ..... goes on to provide a full civ pro lecture but strategicallly pauses his "lecture" to let me fill in the blanks aloud like I'm a five year old"

Then there's the really smart person who for sure knows the answer but never fails to go all Socratic Method on you.
Me: "Do you have a quick second?"
Associate Socrates: "Sure."
Me: "I'm working on a subpoena to a non-party in this case and I just wanted to make sure I'm doing everything I need to do. So to give notice do I need....
Associate Socrates: "What does the rule say?"
Me: "Well, from what I remember, the rule says....
Associate Socrates: "Here is my rule book. Go ahead. Recite the rule outloud."
Me: "Ok, it says to serve notice on a party according to rule 5(c). Isn't that just sending a copy to the party's attorney?"
Associate Socrates: "What does rule 5(c) say?"
Me: "I'll look it up.... but, also, how much time do you like to give the non-party to comply with the subpoena?"
Associate Socrates: "What does the rule require?"
Me: "Yeah, I'll go look it up. Thanks." (NOT!)

Then there is the overhelpful Associate.
Me: "Wow, I'm working on this tricky case involving insurance coverage in a UIM case. Have you dealt with this issue recently?"
Overhelpful: "Oh actually, 20 years ago, when I was in lawschool, I wrote a law review article on that issue. Here, I'll send you my article. Oh and also, there's this blog that gives some good advice too, I'll send you the link.
Me: "Gee, that's great. Thank you."
Overhelpful: "One time, I had a UIM case that involved a phantom vehicle. Be careful if you have a phantom vehicle, the plaintiff has to provide all kinds of special documents."
Me: "Ok. thanks. I'll remember that if I ever encounter that."
Overhelpful: "The statute requires the plaintif to ...(goes on and on). But before you even get that far, the plaintiff has some initial burdens of proof. So you want to watch out for that. Oh I jsut remembered another article I can send you. It's written by this really amazing professor.
Me: "Well, actualy I think I have all I need now..."
Overhelpful: "In my case, we had to find a special expert to... (goes on and on). Oh and make sure you look at this statute too. You'll also want to....."

Ten minutes later, I'm back in my office when I suddenly get a call from....Mr. Overhelpful. Guess what? He has even more irrelevant advice!

While dealing with overhelpful and underhelpful advice givers may be a pain in the butt, it's usually unavoidable when you're a first year associate (and perhaps for the rest of your legal career). So be cautious before you decide who you are going to approach. It depends.... Do you want to feel like a five year old, do you want to feel like you're back in lawschool being walked through the nuances of the law by a tiresome professor or do you want your ears to melt off the sdie of your face from an overabundance of irrelevant information?

Whatever you do, CHOOSE WISELY.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Welcome To Family Time On Steroids

I live and breath for the weekends to come. I know everyone else in their right mind does the same so this doesn't make me unique in any way. But STILL. I'll say it again. I LIVE for the weekends. Weekends at my house are so completely wonderful and a major contrast to the stressful work week.

During the week, I only get to be with my family in passing. And when I'm with them, I'm usually pre-occupied with other stuff. You know, IMPORTANT THINGS- like whether I can get away with wearing my favorite shirt to the office twice in one week. Or whether we have enough diapers to get through the week without resorting to turning them inside out (don't worry, I'm not that gross- I only turn the wet ones inside out). By the time the weekend comes, I totally miss my guys and I'm starving for family time. Considering how little we hang out during the week, by the timd Friday afternoon hits, we have a lot of catching up to do. So that's why I love weekends. Weekends are 48+ straight hours of family time on steroids. It's unadulteratedly awesome.

Today we couldn't decide whether to take Jacob to the children's museum or to the aquarium. At the last minute, we settled on the museum- I thought he would like something more hands on. But 2 minutes after we walking through the doors, we knew we made the wrong choice. Within our first 2 minutes there, Jacob was already flipping HIS LID in excitement over a lame-ass 4 foot long fish tank. Seriously Jacob? A handfull of goldfish swimming around in muddy water is really that amazing to you? But it must have been because there he was screeching, "Mama! Fishy! Two Fishy! Fishy, MaMa, FISHY!"

He was totally freaked out by some of the exhibits at first. Like the big whale mouths you could climb into... I wasn't afraid though, I had to show Jacob how it was done (please ignore my freakishly flat ass, thank you- oh and the dark blob at the bottom, that's the shadow of the monster that hunts and feeds off the souls of the flat of ass).

He also didn't like the replicated forest exhibit complete with bat-sounds and, gulp, bugs. EW. You can see how excited he was about this exhibit:

But eventually, we did find some things that were right up his alley.

I think this kid has some serious potential to be a bus driver.

But not a fireman. He refused to wear the flame resistant gear. Not a police biker, he can't reach the peddles. Not a produce manager, he kept trying to eat all the produce. Oh and he wasn't in love with the hard hat either.

So, bus driver it is then?

The museum was a little more lame than I had remembered. But, thankfully, Jacob had no prior memories to compare it to. And, in the end, he got what he truly wanted.

Also, we couldn't resist leaving the Seattle Center without letting Jacob go on a few rides. Last summer we took him to the state fair and the ride people wouldn't let him go on the carousel. I had a melt down and literally started bawling all over the place in the middle of the sidewalk, "My baby just wants to ride the carousel! They won't let him ride the carousel! WAAAH!!"

Yeah, it was one of those mommy-weakness moments when you feel your kid's pain. Except my kid was only 11 months old and he was completely oblivious to the fact that he couldn't ride the carousel. But don't even try to explain logic to a mother who is standing up for her baby. So, this time around, watching Jacob finally enjoy some carnival rides was like a major accomplishment for me. At first, I was worried he would be afraid. But he LOVED the rides!

We totally wore him out. And, of course, he wore us out too.

You have no idea how hard it is to return to work after a family time on steroids weekend. I may start to convulse, foam at the mouth and sweat wildly as I experience Jacob withdrawl over my morning post-commute coffee.