Welcome to the real world

September 29, 2008 at 10:12 am | Posted in Starbucks, tax law is sexy, the firm, wine | 1 Comment
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Note: I meant to post this yesterday, but was in bed all day with vertigo. Yes, vertigo — room spinning, nausea-inducing dizziness that went away only after I called my doctor and got a prescription for some sort of antihistamine, downed it with two Gatorades, and then slept all afternoon. Both my doctor and my aunt, who also has suffered from this, told me that your body can get so dehydrated over a period of time (think: coffee for breakfast, ridiculously air-conditioned office, low but persistent job-related anxiety, not enough water, nightly glass of vin), your electrolytes so out of whack, that the sediments on your inner ear (something like that?) get messed up and you can be susceptible to vertigo. Anyway, perhaps now especially in light of #10, below, I am going to have to revamp my approach to full-time-working-motherhood: more water, more sleep, less coffee, less wine.  (Thank God for Tim who took care of Little Buggy all day yesterday…)

A few things I have learned in my mere two weeks as a real lawyer:

(1) Actually, you cannot call yourself a lawyer yet. Your email signature and business cards bear the slightly unnerving disclaimer, “Law Clerk,” below your name. When you pass the bar, it gets removed. If you don’t pass the bar, everyone obviously will know by the glaring “Law Clerk” still at the bottom of your emails.

(2) If you actually eat all the free food they throw at you, your clothes will start to feel a bit snug. Very quickly. Seriously, though, there has not been a day in the past two weeks when there has not been a breakfast (juice, coffee, pastries, fresh fruit and, of course, bagels), lunch (catered sandwiches, soup, soggy Caesar salad, juices, dessert), and/or an afternoon treat (any afternoon training session will have coffee and sodas and “fresh cookies”; there have also been office-wide ice cream socials and several post-work cocktail parties).

(3) Tax lawyers are smart, normal, and fun. Our department is significantly smaller than the huge corporate and litigation departments, so I have been able to meet and get to know a bit every tax associate in the Boston office. We’ve also had fun things such as associate lunches with pizza and cupcakes, as well as a semi-regular cocktail event called, “De-Tax” (clever, no?!) where we meet after work at a bar. These sound like small things to be psyched about, but I know that a little bit of camaraderie goes a long way when things get really busy and stressful.

(4) I have never ever been in an office building that wasn’t freezing. I am the woman constantly wrapped in a shawl/pashmina.

(5) An afternoon soy hot chocolate from Starbucks is heavenly (especially considering (4), above!)

(6) Sending off a memo to a partner is highly unnerving. Like I’m qualified to opine on a behemoth regulation such as, say, ERISA — something that, truly, I recognized only because one of my good friends in law school thought for awhile she wanted to be a labor lawyer and mentioned it in passing (in the context of, “I don’t want to be a labor lawyer anymore because all you do is ERISA stuff”). I had to do about eight hours of background reading just to start researching the issue. And, also, when a partner asks you to look into something, obviously it’s because the issue is tricky.  Otherwise, he or she — after many, many years of practice — would already know the answer, right?

(7) Don’t talk politics with your officemate. 

(8) Pro bono assignments are a wonderful way to work several levels “up.” For example, earlier this week I accepted a pro bono project and immediately was able to attend the client’s board meeting — as the “tax expert,” no less (which either underscores or undermines the firm’s commitment to pro bono (ha!)). It was incredibly invigorating. I was up until 11:30 the evening before brushing up on (OK, learning about) tax-exempt organizations. I attended with a second-year corporate associate who was spearheading the project and had wanted some tax backup. There were actually some questions I could answer and not too many where I had to say, “That’s a very interesting question. Let me research how it applies to your organization specifically…” or something along those lines.

(9) If you do your grocery shopping for the week on Sunday and do something highly organized like chop all your veggies that evening, it’s not too too difficult to make dinner during the week. We made it through last week without ordering in once — well, except for Friday, which doesn’t count.

(10) There’s something about having a real job that makes you want to come home and drink wine. Our “no drinking on weeknights” policy has gone utterly out the window in the past two weeks (to the point where a second bottle was cracked open on Thursday night — stop the madness!) I’ll try to get back on the wagon next week.

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  1. I had low-level vertigo last year for like 4 weeks straight. Every time I stood up from my desk or the couch I felt like I was falling backwards. It was really spooky. I’m glad to know it runs in the family and I don’t have some strange neurological condition – that’s just my hypochondria acting up – which also runs in the family.


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