Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A response to: Too Legit to Quit from Ms. JD

Too Legit to Quit.  I read this article the other day on one of the blogs that I read often: Ms. JD.  It struck me as a little irrelevant so I just had to comment on it.  The main crux of the article is that women haven't been able to achieve work/life balance and thus reach positions of power in the legal world because of the billable hour model of law firms.

I am an attorney in a large, global law firm (aka "Big Law").  So is my husband.  We are young (still in our 20s) and we do not have children (though we want them).  Like Ms. Villanueva, I went into Big Law thinking we would be different.  My husband totally supported my lofty goals of making partner.  I was smart and driven.  How could we NOT both succeed at having successful legal careers in Big Law?, I remember thinking.  Now that I have a few years under my belt, I laugh at my younger self and at Ms. Villanueva.  A mean-spirited part of me wants to leave an anonymous comment: "just you wait!"  The nicer part of me, though, really wants her, and other women, to succeed at making partner in Big Law. Just not me, though.  Get me out.  But for me, the reason I will one day quit my Big Law job is not at all because of the billable hour but because of the Big Law mentality.  The billable hour requirement is not my enemy.  My enemy is two sided:

(1) The pyramid model:  Big Law is based off of the pyramid scheme.  50 first year associates, 43 second years, 35 third years, etc. etc.  Bring in a lot of young attorneys, pay them a lot, and when (not IF) they quit, maybe replace them but probably not. 

As an associate, especially a junior associate, you are expected to live for your job and you get dumped on by the partners.  I understand that everyone has to put in his/her time and work his/her way up.  But in Big Law, the expectation for nearly every associate is that it will be so miserable that you will inevitably quit.  That is not the expectation at most companies (except investment banks).  Most companies want to keep their "home grown" employees and not spend all of the money/time to train them just to have them quit.  Not Big Law. Partners don't live off of Queens Road West because all of us have successful, enjoyable careers and make partner.  No, they profit from the sweat equity of their subordinates.  They profit if associates work a lot of hours.   1800 billable hours?  HAH.  I wish.  That would be a GREAT year for me.  More like 2300, 2400, 2500. You see, it's not the actual billable hour that is to blame, it's the mentality that associates are cash cows.

(2) Clients.  Clients can be merciless when it comes to their expectations of deadlines and work.  "When do you need this?" "Oh, we need to get this out tonight." [Glance at watch, noting with a sigh that time is already 6:00 pm].  I could deal with this if they kept their demands to mainly business hours, you know, the hours when THEY are mostly working.  But no - weekends, evenings, holidays - those are all fair game.  I have stayed up until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning because a client said that he wanted to post a document that night.  Do you think anyone else was reading that document at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning?  Absolutely not.  Their (often arbitrary) deadlines are frequently brutal.  But will partners ever speak up and say "I don't know if we can get to that this evening, but will tomorrow work?"  No way.  That client is the grass feed for the cash cow, so they are going to get exactly what they want.  And then you create your own monster.  They become very accustomed to speedy, "yes sir"-type service.  The next deal you do with them, they expect the exact same thing.

Maybe I'll do a post later on the blackberry/mobile devices and how that horrific invention has taken all of these issues and completely exacerbated them.  I'd do it now, but I just saw my red light flashing . . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

IUD Update

It's been about two months since I've had the IUD in and I wanted to post an update on my status:

(1) Acne:  The acne situation got pretty bad so I went to a dermatologist.  I was prescribed two things:  minocycline (an oral antibiotic) and adapalene (a topical cream).  My face has really cleared up.  I went to the dermatologist for a follow up visit about two weeks ago and he was pleased with the progress.  I'm supposed to stay on the oral antibiotic for two more months.  I have redness/small bumps on my chin and forehead now but nothing like the massive zits that were there before the dermatologist visit.

(2) Cramps:  I had zero cramps with the first period but have not had my second period yet.

(3) Bleeding:  The bleeding with the first period was pretty heavy, much heavier than on the pill. Nothing you couldn't deal with if you're just a regulary office worker, though.

(4) Other side effects: Generally feel better than when on the pill.  I really do love the absence of hormones.  I can't really pinpoint it, but I feel better.  I hope that these symptoms improve over time and my hormones regulate.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Paraguard IUD

A few weeks ago I got an IUD.  An IUD is an acronym for a intrauterine device that's inserted into the uterus for long-term contraception.  The brand of the IUD that I got was Paraguard, a copper IUD.  There is also another IUD that releases a hormone, but I decided that I did not want any hormones anymore.  I have been on the birth control pill (ortho-lo) for about 7 years now and I wanted to make a change away from hormones.  My husband and I told plan on having children for at least another 4 years, so a long-term birth control method was ideal for us.  

So here's the deal with an IUD.  It has to get put in.  As in, inside of your uterus.  This was not fun.  People told me "oh take tylenol beforehand it will be fine."  But let me tell you it was not.  It was incredibly painful. Allegedly this is a much less painful endeavor if you've had children before because your uterus is already expanded.  I have not had children yet.  Therefore, my uterus is only 4 inches.  I know this because I had an ultrasound earlier this week to have it measured (most doctors require that).

The cramps were very strong for about a day and a half after the procedure.  I worked from home the day of the procedure and was glad that I did.  By a few days after, I felt fine.  One  side effect that I have noticed, though, has been BREAKOUTS.  I broke out like crazy on my chin about two to three weeks after I got the IUD.  But the thing is that the IUD isn't what caused the breakouts - it was going off of the birth control.  Apparently your body is used to a steady supply of estrogen and testosterone from the pill and isn't used to making it on its own.  It can take several months after going off of the pill for the body's hormones to regulate.  I did go to the dermatologist to get something for the acne because I couldn't take it.

The Ob/Gyn told me that periods with a Paraguard IUD are supposed to be heavier and more crampy, so I was prepared for that.  The first period was not crampy at all but definitely heavier.  Probably twice as heavy.  It lasted from Tuesday to Sunday, though, which is more or less how long the periods on the pill lasted.  Hopefully they continue to get lighter as time goes on.

I'll continue to post updates!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Weekend Cookout

Last night we had about 25 friends over for a cookout in the backyard.  It was a blast.  We had neighbors, family, old friends, new friends.  And great food, if I do say so myself.

We started out with some appetizers:

Spinach artichoke dip (I used frozen spinach)
carrots and Trader Joe's garlic hummus
Sweet potato chips from Trader Joes

Main course:

Hamburgers (pre-made patties from Harris Teeter)
Hot Dogs (Ballpark brand Angus franks) - These are sooo delicious
Black bean burgers

Sweet potato casserole
Tracey's baked beans (recipe below)

1 LB bacon- chopped
2 large onion- chopped
½ c white vinegar
1 c packed brown sugar
1 t garlic powder
3 (18 oz) cans baked beans- I use bush’s flavored with bacon and brown sugar
2 (17 oz) cans lima beans
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans
1 (15 oz) butter beans- I use 2 cans of butter beans because I like them, no need to adjust anything else if you do.

Cook bacon in skillet till crisp, drain on paper towel. In bacon fat, cook onions till soft.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl including beans, onion, bacon, vinegar, sugar, spice- mix well.  Put in large casserole dish (lightly greased) and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. 

Salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, chopped up bell pepper, cranberries and blue cheese


Cherry pie (I used pre-made crust and pre made filling I bought at the Fresh Market and it turned out great! Let's be honest people, we can't do it all!)

Everyone ate a lot and had a great time. We hung out in the backyard well into the evening.  Great times with good friends.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to eat out during a business dinner and not blow your diet

We all know that desks jobs are killing us. And making us fat. So what is one to do when you have a business lunch or dinner scheduled . . . at a steakhouse?  In the legal/finance field, we have what are called "closing dinners".  A big deal closes, the lawyers and bankers get all of their fees, and the lawyers take the bankers out to a big, long dinner to celebrate.  We have one tonight at Del Friscos in Charlotte.

Work dinners can be delicate.  You don't want to be the loser that orders a salad, dressing on the side and that's it.  You'll look silly to both your co-workers and clients and that type of order will inevitably cause you to be the center of attention/conversation for at least a moment.  And you don't want that, especially if you're on the bottom of the proverbial totem pole. But you don't want one night out for WORK (i.e. not with your man) to contribute to weight gain.  I mean, a romantic dinner out with your husband or your girlfriends is one thing.  Work is another.

So, we've got to go in with a battle plan, folks:

(1) Step 1: Look at the restaurant's online menu and analyze your choices.  I'm going to have to order a cocktail, an appetizer, an entree, a side (it's one of those steakhouses that serve sides family style, a la Capital Grille) and possibly a dessert if everyone is ordering one.  Those are none negotiable.  So, we have to evaluate our choices and make the healthiest decisions.  My plan:

App: Oysters on the half shell
Entree: 8oz filet mignon
Side: Asparagus (probably has butter but it's the least harmful of all of the side choices)
Drink:  Club soda/sparkling water and MAYBE a glass of wine.

Dessert: Wild card (not sure if anyone will order and the dessert menu is not online)

(2) Step 2:  Avoid the bread plate.  This will be tough.  I crave the carbs.

(3) Step 3: Execute battle plan.  Don't get swayed by what other people are ordering.  For me, this will also be tough.  I'm one of those "Oooo, that sounds delicious, I'll have that instead" people.  I can also be swayed by specialty cocktails that taste like they don't have alcohol but really do.

I've laid out the plan.  Let's see how it goes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Early Morning Workouts

Given my busy schedule, I've had to give my self over to the dreaded early morning workout.  Since I often have to work late into the evening, I never know when I'm going to get off work and when I do get out of work at a reasonable time, I just want to go home.  Therefore, I'm forced into the early morning workout routine.

I used to hate, I mean hate, morning workouts.  I moved slower in the mornings, I never felt motivated, it was too cold, etc. Terrible.  But now I've sort of grown to like them.  There are several benefits to an early morning workout:

(1) Guaranteed - Unless you oversleep or talk yourself out of what seemed like a great idea at 10:00 pm the night before, you're going to get your workout in.

(2) One shower - If you workout in the morning and then shower, then you only need to shower once for the day.  Plus, everyone looks better with a morning shower!

(3) Classes - I've found that the breadth of classes offered at gyms in the morning tends to be wide.  At my smaller gym, there are morning bootcamp, spin, yoga and pilates classes.   There are always lots of classes in the evening, but you certainly are no worse off choosing to go to a group exercise class in the morning.

(4) Traffic - My gym is located in the building next to the one in which I work.  Therefore, when I drive to the gym, I am essentially driving to work. At 6:30 in the morning, the commute is markedly faster than the commute at 9:00. Granted, I am only traveling 1.8 miles but still... it makes a difference.

(5) Time saved.  By choosing to work out in the morning, you are, many times, packing a bag the night before with an entire day's worth of outfits, makeup, shoes, jewelry and hair products to take the following morning.  While this is a pain at 11:00 at night, it makes for an efficient morning.  You have no choice but to wear the outfit you brought to the gym, so there's no staring longingly into your closet thinking "I have NOTHING to wear.  I need to go shopping ASAP."

I've noticed that I've adjusted pretty well to the morning workout routine.  It's not so bad and you definitely have more energy to "tackle your day."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

Top 5 Great Things About Today

(1) Opposing counsel on the West Coast emailed yesterday asking to schedule a call FOR TODAY to go over the legal issues in his Credit Agreement markup.  ON SUNDAY.  Yes, Sunday.  Not a quick, "What's the status on blank" call.  A 150-page Credit Agreement markup call. (Those take HOURS).  I had a panic attack reading the email and feared that the partners I work for might agree to it.  Fortunately, they did not.  No call!  The lonely asshole who clearly has no life will have to wait until tomorrow to talk to us.  Not like I'm not working today anyway ... But, at least I can watch the Heels play.  More on that below.

(2) My husband and I bought an iMac today.  Exciting!  I'm a Mac convert. Love them.

(3) My husband and I both got to have lunch with our dads today.  We ate at George's Brasserie.  Way overly salted.  I'm only now coming down from the head rush.  Disappointing.

(4) Luis is doing the grocery shopping by himself AS WE SPEAK.  Wow.

(5) TAR HEELS IN THE ELITE 8 - They play today at 5:00 pm EST against Kentucky! Go HEELS!