So far, so goodSeptember 17, 2008 at 6:56 pm | Posted in little bug, tax law is sexy, the firm | Leave a comment
Tags: first-year associate, law firm orientation, starting work, work-life balance
For posterity: First Day of Work, September 15, 2008. Note Little Buggy’s bowl cut (by moi). I have a new “lawyer” cut, too (not by moi).
Potential posts about my first few days at work have been running around my head, but frankly, I’m too tired to write anything all that eloquent. Monday and Tuesday were spent in a conference room at the Langham Hotel for firm-wide orientation: 160 eager associates freezing to death in a mirrored, windowless ballroom. Actually, the firm-wide orientation was quite well-run: lots of breaks, lots of (good!) food (for example: endless snacks and coffee, a dessert bar at 2 p.m., warm cookies and pretzels at 4 p.m., a cocktail reception each night).
As almost every speaker noted, however, it was sort of eerie to begin one’s new profession with the stock market crashing around us — none of the bankruptcy or tax partners could make it to their respective break-out lunches on Monday. Lots of speakers joked about a room full of new bankruptcy lawyers, but also that we should be thankful we didn’t just get an M.B.A. (nervous laughter…)
It was good to see friends both from law school and from last summer. I think people didn’t necessarily recognize me immediately, since the last time they saw me I was 39 weeks pregnant. The firm has made some incredible and, indeed, groundbreaking strides in their work/life balance approach and unveiled to us a new policy, effective immediately, which essentially does away with the former one-size-fits all “part-time” policy (80% time, which meant either four days in the office or five, eight-hour days, and for which one must have been at the firm for two years to qualify.) I think the firm recognizes that now, with its gender division among new associates being exactly 50-50, to invest so much time in recruiting and training, and then to have almost half of the women — or a quarter of the associates — leave within three to four years is not a good business model. The new flexibility policy is just that: flexible. If you want to take advantage of it, your situation will be considered on a case-by-case basis, with no two-year minimum, and might include anything from working one day a week at home, working reduced hours, taking time off to care for an ill family member, or taking yourself off the “partner-track” for a year. Moreover, the firm now offers 18 weeks paid maternity leave and you can go back at 50% for the first SIX MONTHS.
I have been gearing myself up mentally for full-time work for a long time, and while it has made me anxious, I also think that in the very beginning it is a necessity for training and credibility reasons. However, the fact that the firm would be, hypothetically, willing to let me work reduced hours takes away a great deal of stress. I’m actually proud to be working at a place willing to take such an innovative risk — at least in the legal world — and I look forward to seeing how this new program plays out in reality. Anyway, enough of firm minutiae — but I’m obviously quite excited.
Most associates stayed in the frigid hotel conference rooms today (and will be there for the rest of the week) for either corporate or litigation “boot camp.” I was wavering on going to the corporate one, but then received an assignment in the very field and from the very lawyers with whom I’m hoping to work the most, so I decided just to head to my office and get to work. As all first-years do, I’ll be sharing an office, but I lucked out and am sharing with another (mid) 30-something mother (not at all a coincidence, I am sure, although her daughter is 12). My office is high, high up in the sky, and my desk overlooks the harbor and the airport. And I have a secretary. And I have worn heels for the past three days. I am a grownup (!?!)
My mother has been here so far this week watching the Little Bug, which truly has helped me, mentally, with the transition. It has been wonderful (although she left this morning), and while I’ve been getting home a bit later than I hope will be the norm, the separation hasn’t yet been too awful. Talk to me in two weeks, however. I did feel some anxiety today when a partner called me into his office at 5:15 to talk about a project, and I left an hour later with a scant 15 minutes to get home to relieve Janet (and thus took the first of what I’m sure will be many $13 cab rides!)
Anyway, all the poingant things I was going to write about starting my new life, being away from Little Bug, becoming a “real” lawyer are sort of blurred by the overwhelming and unsettling feeling of being in a new professional environment (how do I get a notebook? A real pen? A security pass?) Hopefully, more eloquence to come…