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.