December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays Big Law Firm Style

Posted in Happy Hour, Lawyer Lifestyles, Lessons Learned at 7:09 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

So, I had a big grand plan to not drink at the firm’s holiday party. A practice I have stuck by since my first party back when I was still a wee project assistant. How does the old saying go – the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In all fairness, it was a pretty bad day. Not that I drink every time I have a bad day; just some bad days. And I don’t drink to get drunk, just to unwind. Man, it is starting to sound like I might have a drinking problem. But I wonder if it means that because I can recognize that it sounds like I have a problem I obviously don’t have a problem; may need to check in with a friend of Bill W on that one.

Back to the topic at hand. I had to sit through a meeting with A-hole. Worse, when I came in he gave me a look like he knew me and so I sat there afraid that if I looked in that direction we would make eye contact and he would nod or something. Then what? Would I have to nod back? Smile? Pretend that I didn’t do a celebratory dance around my cubicle when I thought he was homeless and living in Suburban Station?

Now the meeting itself didn’t make my day bad, and maybe I should stop saying I was having a bad day. It was more like I was on edge and the meeting didn’t help. I still had a lot of shopping to do, I was wearing a skirt that was cutting into my rib cage, it was Imelda’s last week for a while and I had just written a column promising to socialize at the very holiday party that was looming.

So when Double Tall Espresso (so named for her always perked personality) asked if I wanted something from the bar, I said yes, hoping one glass of wine would help take the edge off.

And before I knew it, I had more than one glass of wine, had only met one new co-worker and had agreed to go to the after party.

Fortunately at the after party I made the switch to light beer which is really like drinking water, except without water’s hydrating qualities. Still I did manage to find myself in a conversation with a male partner about men who stare at women’s chests (while Angel stood back and laughed on the inside); a place Sober Sarah would have never gone. If she did go, she would have been better, more articulate about it.

Then there was the moment when I lost all internal dialogue when a lawyer I never met addressed me and my response (out loud) was, “that’s weird.” Yes, I find it odd that people I don’t know, know me; especially when you consider that people I have met half a dozen times don’t remember my name. Still, I would have rather kept that exclamation on the inside or at least just on my face.

Despite that I did wake up the next morning with my wallet, my cell phone and most importantly almost all of my dignity.

And the night wasn’t a complete loss; there was one Festivus miracle. Angel and I decided that we are essentially the same person but different (something I realized the day I came in wearing white wide leg pants and a black turtleneck and she was wearing black wide leg pants and a cream turtleneck) which would make her more my bizarro as opposed to my nemesis. And just like in the comic books when the hero and the bizarro team up for good (or in this case most probably evil), I think Angel and I are going to try the ally route for a while.

Now, if I could just stop thinking improper thoughts about a lawyer I really shouldn’t be thinking about at all, 2008 could turn out to be my best year yet.

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January 4, 2007

Be the First in Your Firm to Own the Amazing Law Wash

Posted in Happy Hour, Office Hijinks at 6:31 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

We lost another associate today.

Personally, I don’t think it is our firm particularly or even any one partner (cough – Mr. Scares the Pants Off of Me) specifically.  No, instead I blame television and the movies.  They make the legal industry look so suave and sophisticated and intelligent and in some cases hot.  But the cruel reality is it isn’t really any of those things; at least not litigation.

I was out with a friend for happy hour when we met this young guy.  He asked me what I did for a living and I responded, “I work with a law firm.” 

He asked what sort of law.

“Litigation,” I answered.

His reply:  “Wow, so you get to duke it out in a courtroom.  That’s hot.”

My first thought, clearly this guy is not a lawyer.  One – saying I work for a law firm is code for I am an assistant or a paralegal, but not an attorney; and two – even if I were an associate I am much too young to actually do anything in a courtroom and three – who dukes anything out anymore?  I mean, isn’t that what litigation is for? 

Suitor suffered from LA Law syndrome.  He really thought we were all young and hot, and thanks to Ally McBeal, inappropriately dressed.  That we went into courtrooms every day and always fought for the betterment of all.  He doesn’t realize that most attorneys, young and old alike, spend their days on the Internet researching, reading through discovery, or drafting highly technical and mechanical (read: boring) motions. 

However, in fairness to Suitor, when he told me he was a doctor my mind immediately filled with thoughts of ER, Grey’s Anatomy and, gasp, General Hospital. 

But back to my theory; I wonder how many of these kids are warned in law school and choose not to listen.  I imagine they go to law school thinking they will be saving the world, when most will only get to save major corporations a couple of bucks.  Law practices are ugly and leave you with a coat of grime long after you have exited the office.  And a lot of the young and naïve get weighed down and eventually suffocate under all the dirt, becoming tired, miserable partners.  Or they leave for what they hope will be cleaner pastures. 

This is why my boss, my favorite associate and I have put into development the Law Wash (patent pending). 

One part dry cleaner, one part decontamination unit, the law wash can be installed just inside the front door of any residence.  The first small chamber would be the wash; a series on six to ten high powered showerheads that would rinse away your day, right down the drain installed in the floor.   You would then step into the next room where high powered heat lamps and blowers would dry you off completely. 

We are hoping to launch this gadget in time for the 2007 holiday season.  Also coming soon, our one room model and the fully adjustable model, with settings for “easy day at the office” where you would only be misted with an antibacterial spray to the “sold your soul” mode where, using a specialize hydrochloric acid isotope, the clothes would literally be burned right off your back while causing you no physical harm.

October 27, 2006

It’s Hard to Win the Marriage Race in Platform Heels and a Pencil Skirt

Posted in Happy Hour, Office Hijinks at 3:49 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

For the past two years my friends and I have gathered for a pub crawl themed “Dive Bar Dayload.” We dress in trashy outfits, we load up on carbohydrates and we take a tour of the city’s skuzziest bars in broad daylight (for the most part).

At bar three, wearing a t-shirt that said “I Look Better Naked” in the middle of a conversation about college football with her husband, a friend turned to me and said, “How is it you don’t have a boyfriend?”

Times like these, my instincts tell me to answer such questions with equally ridiculous responses such as, “Well, I don’t really like to talk about it, but I have a little penis and it is really hard to find a guy that is okay with it.”

However, in this instance I knew my friend’s heart was in the right place. She wasn’t some creep fishing for what is wrong with me.

The truth is it is really hard to chase down a dream, find time for family and friends, workout, keep up with current events and fashion trends all while maintaining a full time job. My schedule leaves very little time for finding and capturing Mr. Right.

Now, beyond the whole having to stay at work until after all of my friends are good and toasted on Friday nights because we only knew about this filing for 40 days now, there are other reasons why working in this law firm and finding a boyfriend is near impossible.

For instance, my boss and other male co-workers often criticize the men I date, having not even met them. From their job, to their name, they will find something that makes them not good enough.

Sure, sometimes they have a point – like maybe a twenty year old was too young for me. But, once that seed is planted, it is like ivy growing on brick — you can’t pull it down without damaging the structure.

The other problem with mixing business and pleasure is the attire. Now I know every woman’s magazine out there has suggestions on how to take your work look from day into evening but has any ever tried these recommendations? I did, and was met with a barrage of comments that left my cheeks pink most of the day. My favorite was a co-worker telling me I looked like I was on a mission to get lucky.

And, yeah, sure I was, but not in the office.

So there it is: the number one reason why I am still single. Sure there are other reasons as well. I am really picky and afraid of commitment and have a series of ridiculous and arbitrary rules that I adhere to religiously. I also hang out with friends that all have strong opinions and personalities like me. Few and far between are the guys that are willing and able to approach such a group. The ones that try, if left alone for too long, could be eaten alive if they can’t hold their own.

But it isn’t all bad, working here. Just the other Friday, Mr. Scares the Pants Off of Me bought the girls and me our first round out. This of course made me wonder if Mr. Scares the Pants Off of Me is really a decent guy, or just scared to death of my mother, who will kill if I am not married off soon.

September 21, 2006

Sarah Klem – Legal Assistant, Friend, Diplomat.

Posted in Happy Hour, Lessons Learned at 7:27 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Once, back when having multiple key rings for just one key was cool, I had one that read “Diplomacy:  the ability to tell a person to go to hell so that they look forward to making the trip.” 

 

At the time, I couldn’t say for sure I even knew what this meant.  I just liked the idea of telling people to go to hell.  And as I grew older, I certainly didn’t grow more diplomatic.  I was raised in a family that didn’t really mince words.

 

One day, after piano lessons I was crying and told my father that I thought I was awful.  A typical Dad would have taken the child into his arms, smoothed the child’s hair and told her that she was being silly; that she was a terrific piano player. 

My father took me into his arms, smoothed my hair and told me I was a great piano player for a five-year-old. 

I was seven, and he knew that.

Unfortunately for my boss, he doesn’t get to be so blunt when dealing with attorneys, assistants and  even partners.  He has to smooth over, misdirect, coddle and yes sometimes lie to get things done and make people happy.  Watching him over the past few years has made me better at handling sticky situations both in and out of the office. 

For instance, we were out at a bar, K2, L, Lauren and I, watching the Eagles blow it all against Eli and his boys when a gentleman approached and asked if he could join us. 

Before I go any further, I have to say, I give the Suitor major kudos for approaching four girls at a bar. I don’t know many guys that would be so brave. But he did, grabbed a barstool and started talking to K2 and L. 

When the Suitor got up to use the restroom, K2 and L filled Lauren and I in on what was going on; it seems the Suitor was well on his way to asking K2 out.  K2 used this time to inform us that she was not interested and that she needed our help.  L and Lauren looked at me.

As a side note, a lot of guys blame “the friends” for interfering when they are trying to make a play for some girl.  Wise up boys. If her friends keep butting in and pulling her away into other conversations, it is because she asked them to. 

But back to my point, Suitor returned and Lauren pretended she really needed to talk to L. L and I switched seats and I prepared an embargo on communication with K2.

I immediately engaged K2 and her Suitor in a conversation guaranteed to bore the crap out of him – fashion.  He turned his attention back to the game and K2 thanked me with her eyes.

For the rest of the fourth quarter, every time the Suitor turned to talk to K2, I started another group conversation.  We discussed schools, jobs, travel plans, how we all knew each other, which Manning brother was hotter, anything and everything to keep him from pulling K2 into a private conversation. 

Now, somewhere between the Giants scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter and them scoring a touchdown in overtime, the Suitor got it in his head that I was interested in him.  I saw it happen and was weighing my possible exit strategies just as he was preparing his pitch.  “Well since your friend isn’t interested, maybe I can get your number?”

We were shaking hands.  I blinked a couple of times and bit my lip.

Here I was almost feeling bad for this guy and then he drops that line. 

I smiled a tight smile and told him that just how cold in hell it would be before that happened.

I may have mastered the art of diplomacy but I am still my father’s daughter.

August 14, 2006

Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy

Posted in Happy Hour at 3:52 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

At breakfast one day, Cursey-girl, referred to as such for her ability to work the F-word into just about every sentence without sounding as vulgar as that sounds, hypothesized that we are all whores and that everyone has a price.

I immediately agreed with this statement thinking we were just talking in black and white terms. I have always been annoyed by people who say, “not for a million dollars.” Really? Someone showed you a million dollars and said, do that and you would really say no? I don’t think I would, but then again, I just admitted that I agree to the statement, “we are all whores.”

However, this is not the sort of thing Cursey-girl was talking about. C-g was much smarter or deeper or something and she was talking more about the price of your soul; the price of your dream.

See, a few years prior, C-g’s parents started to pressure her about her future. C-g just wanted to be a world-recognized women’s lightweight rower. Her parents wanted her to have a career. So she did what a shockingly large number of professional rowers do; she went to law school.

C-g’s dream was to win a gold medal at the Olympics, but the pressure from her parents and the enticement of money that a career in law had to offer was just getting too great. Suddenly Cursey was wondering if all the practice and sacrifice was the worth it.

I met Becky Sharp in a bar. My roommate is convinced that crazy people can just sense that she is a therapist. I sometimes wonder if drunk people can somehow sense that I use to be a bartender; because I certainly don’t have a face that says, “open up to me.” Still, Becky Sharp did. She told me all about how she was worried about finding a permanent job in the legal field and just how cutthroat the competition is out there and how she knows law firms operate as an all-boys club which only makes it harder for her.

Now, as luck would have it, seated on the other side of me at the bar was a partner of a center city law firm. Remember how I told you sometimes when I am bored I pretend I am Tina Yothers just for laughs. Well other times, when I am equally as bored, I stir the pot a bit; just to see what turns up. So I introduced Mr. Partner to Ms. Sharp with several thoughtful details that could easily turn into conversation topics.

Enough, with your judgment out there readers; if god didn’t want me to do these things, he wouldn’t leave me alone for very long.

The rest of the evening I sat back and smiled, enjoying what I had created. If the conversation slowed, I would pick it back up, he would start a story and I would sip my wine.

At some point, I excused myself to use the ladies room. When I returned, Ms. Sharp had slid into my seat. As I got closer I could hear her telling him stories about her experiences attending an all girl’s college. I grimaced and not just because I lost my seat.

If we are all whores, and the cost of Becky Sharp’s dream of a permanent position with a prestigious law firm was an evening spent flirting with a dirty old man, who am I to judge? But, if she was the prostitute, was I a pimp? Did I sell this girl’s hopes and dreams for my own entertainment?

She was an adult, I reasoned. I wasn’t forcing her to laugh at all his stupid jokes, or grab his thigh as she did so. I was just providing topics of conversations. I didn’t tell her to use her feminine wiles to help secure a position with his firm.

But it wasn’t fair that she had to flirt her way into a position. Male associate candidates certainly don’t have to. Then again, male candidates didn’t have that option available to them, which also doesn’t seem fair. However, Ms. Sharp, if she did secure a position, would never be invited to the boys’ nights out that her male counterparts most certainly would. So maybe it was okay that she used her good looks and laugh to win a partner’s heart.

I wonder where Susan Faludi and Gloria Steinen stand on this topic. Susan, Gloria, I imagine you both read my blog religiously, so please feel free to offer me some guidance here. Until then, I just don’t know if I will be able to feel good about the role I played.

August 4, 2006

They Shoot Non-Attorneys Here, Don’t They?

Posted in Happy Hour at 8:28 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Last week I got a chance to meet my public at the YL Happy Hour Event at Davio’s, and I must admit I was a bit nervous leading up to the event.  As the day drew closer and more and more people joked with me about my celebrity status at this event, I started to choke on the fear that I was going to be found out.  See, readers, dear readers, I have a confession to make.  Something most of you may find quite shocking – I am not very funny in person.

In person, I am nervous and anxious and borderline neurotic because I am so afraid of saying the wrong thing or being perceived as bitchy or unprofessional or worse.  In the flesh, when I tell a story, it often goes on and on with lots of twists and turns and ” back to my point” to the point where I completely lose focus and the anecdote ends with “you probably had to be there.”

Sometimes I think I actually invented that phrase.

Friends often remark once I have finished telling a story, “that probably would have been really funny if you wrote it down.”

So the idea of meeting people that presumably find my writing funny and the knowledge that I am not that funny in person was enough to make me question whether or not I really wanted to attend this event.

Worse, these individuals that find me funny are attorneys.  I mostly make fun of attorneys and attorneys notoriously don’t like outsiders.

I got in the elevator to the penthouse with four male attorneys.  I stood in the back with my head down, but I could see the sideways glances.  Others, with a surer sense of self may think that these guys recognized my photo, but not me.  I knew that they knew.  They could sense it.  I was not one of them.  I did not belong at the happy hour for young lawyers because I was not a young lawyer. But all of that was forgotten when we stepped off the elevator and they were left to write their names on a sticker while I retrieved my pre-fabricated badge.

I entered the room and surveyed the situation.  I wasn’t scoping the room for myself; remember, I don’t date attorneys. But I am considering starting a sideline business as a matchmaker and thus was looking for potential guys to hook up with my fantastic friends.

The four attorneys I rode up with in the elevator were out, as they clearly had a problem with all non-attorney types and thus were not good enough for any of my friends, even my attorney friends.  However, the room showed a lot of promise.

Of course there were exceptions.  And as my life would have it, I only got around to talking to the exceptions.  Standing with my friends from the oldest law firm in the city, Tom Wolfe, with his big glasses and his scotch on the rocks, approached and in the middle of my sentence interrupted me to ask. “Are you an attorney?”

I could see what he was thinking even before he asked the question.  I responded honestly, shaking my head.

He raised his eyebrow and turned his attention to my attorney friends.

Now, see unedited Sarah would have gone on to point out that he was not young and walked away. Instead I stood there holding back laughter as Mr. Wolfe complimented my two friends and then insisted on having his picture taken with them.  See, sometimes it pays to not have gone to law school.

I was disappointed that I only seemed to have one uber-fan.  An older gentleman, who wasn’t an attorney either, approached me when I first walked in and told me he looked forward to the comic relief my blog brought him every week.

Still, I count the event as a resounding success.  I only had to skirt a couple of questions about the where I work and the true identity of the individuals in my blog.  I didn’t do anything to embarrass myself, my friends or my family and the food was freaking’ phenomenal.  You have not lived until you have had a cheesteak spring roll.

June 22, 2006

It’s No Coincidence That Totti Rhymes with Hottie

Posted in Happy Hour, Lessons Learned at 5:11 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

The first time I faked it I was out with my first boss for a "get to know you" drink after work.  I was worried about ordering a cool, sophisticated, impressive drink and doing so while looking over 21, which I wouldn't be until August of that year.

My prior drinking experience was limited to whatever could be lifted from my friends parent's liquor cabinets without being missed, jungle juice straight from the bathtub at TKE and of course Milwaukee's Best, aptly called "The Beast," at crew parties.  I didn't know what sort of wine I liked, I didn't see jungle juice on the menu and I wasn't about to order a beer.

I continued to review the bar menu as my boss ordered a gimlet up. I looked at him and then the bartender, put on an air of indifference and said, "You know what, I'll have the same thing."

The gimlet would go on to become my signature cocktail; however that day I was shocked when it was served to me in a martini glass.

Since discovering the gimlet, I have faked my way through Super Bowl parties, only after a run down with my father as to what to yell when; Art Gallery openings, where I would spend the first fifteen minutes or so next to a guy who looked like he knew what he was talking about, then pass his comments off as my own; Phillies home openers, spent staring at Pat Burrell; several Olympic Games, after a lot of internet research and Today specials; and a rock concert, hint when lip synching to a song whose words you don't know watermelon fits in perfectly almost every time.  Faking it has become my most marketable quality, and yet I can't figure out how to add it to my resume.

So the other day when my lawyer friends L., Em and K2 invited me out to watch the USA and Italy in the World Cup, I replied in the affirmative with a huge amount of enthusiasm, despite having never had any interest in professional soccer.  Still, I knew the afternoon would be spent at an Irish pub surrounded by soccer fans, drinking beer and screaming at a TV; I was not going to let a little thing like not being a fan of the sport get in the way of my good time.

The key to faking it is to know at least a little bit going into the event.  I knew these girls were fans, so I checked out some websites, talked to some other soccer fans, even read a little bit about the World Cup in the newspaper.  By the time I arrived at the bar, I knew that the U.S. needed to win, not tie, to secure future play in this tournament, Brazil was expected to win the whole thing and that it was taking place in Germany.

However, no amount of research could have prepared me for the hotness that is the Italian team. The first close up of Francesco Totti, at about five minutes into play, and my knees went weak. A slight moan escaped from my lips and my cover was blown.  L. turned to me, looked at my face and just laughed.

As she yelled things like "corner" and "come on" waving her arms frantically and turning away in disgust, I just stood there, awestruck by the beautiful men on the field.  As the Italians near me screamed about the red card given to Daniele DeRossi for the elbow he threw at Brian McBride's face, I uttered a single, low "oh" when the camera cut to McBride shirtless on the sideline.

However, the crowning moment in my failure this weekend was at the end of the game, a close up of Fabio Cannavaro.

"Oh my god" were the words that escaped my lips.  L., laughing yelled "Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner."  The Italian gentleman, who was raised in England, whispered to me, "You should have seen him before he cut off all his hair."

I shrugged my shoulders, smiled and said, "You have your reasons for watching, I have mine."

L. just shook her head at me.  What was I to do?  I was a girly, silly disappointment and much like our soccer team, powerless against Italians

May 22, 2006

Get Ready for Your Close-up

Posted in Happy Hour, Office Hijinks at 3:44 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

So a lot of things change when you become a World-Wide-Web-famous columnist.  There is certainly a marked difference to how the attorneys are interacting with me.  They seem more calculated, very aware of their words and actions. Other assistants have approached me with their stories, some have even offered suggestions for their code names. My personal favorite is “Lolita.”  No real rhyme or reason for it, she just wanted to be called Lolita. 

Even my boss seems acutely aware, suddenly, of how much I suffer.  Every time I am exposed to what could be deemed inappropriate behavior, instead of turning a blind eye and a deaf ear, he looks me square in the face and says, “I had better not see that in the column.”

And since reading her debut in May’s column, Chatty Cathy has been giving me dirty looks.

As a writer I am use to some of this.  My roommate, we’ll call her Lauren, constantly complains that sometimes when she finishes telling me a story she can see a look in my eye and she just knows that the events she just finished relating are going to end up in a novel. 

A guy I was seeing told me he had a girlfriend. I guess my face expressed displeasure at this news because his response was, “You’re going to write about this aren’t you?”  His shoulders dropped and he added “Just don’t make me recognizable.” I guess he hadn’t planned on telling his girlfriend about me.

I imagine most professionals have these sorts of experiences.  L, explained it to me that there are only three types of responses she can expect after she tells someone for the first time that she is an attorney:  a request for legal advice, criticism of the legal system in America, or a tasteless lawyer joke. 

Of course sometimes the side effects are good.  Lauren is a therapist and for the most part when she tells people this, they start in on all their personal mommy issues.  However, once when we were in Block Island vacationing, Lauren told this guy what it is she did and his response had us laughing for the next couple of hours. 

He explained to Lauren that, for whatever reason, the girls he’s dated have all ended up crazy.  He wanted to hire Lauren as a consultant. She would meet his potential love interests and give him the diagnosis. We went on to determine that really Lauren should quit her day job so she could better spend her time issuing “Wicked Normal Cards” to people who met that standard. This particular gentleman was from Boston. 

Personally, I wonder why attorneys don’t lie about their profession. I use to do this all the time. I once convinced a very inebriated boy that I was former child star Tina Yothers.  Sure I felt bad as I was leaving a message on one of his friend’s voicemail, but it was certainly more fun than listening to this guy’s idea for a screenplay.

The key to lying about your profession is to say something so crazy and out of the ordinary that a) the person you are telling couldn’t possibly share the profession and b) they won’t know anything about said profession. Try telling people you are a trapeze artist, or if you happen to look similar to someone famous, a stunt double. Stunt double also works great if you have a lot of cool scars that you like to show off. 

A word of warning, do not try faking your profession in a situation where you will end up seeing these individuals again.  There is nothing worse than three weeks into a budding relationship having to explain that you aren’t really a neurosurgeon.  Trust me, I’ve been there.

However, if you find yourself at a bar full of people you can’t stand, bored out of your mind and faced with the dreaded question, “What do you do for a living?”  Lie.  Make something up.  Have fun at someone else’s expense and spend your happy hour blessedly free of tacky lawyer jokes. 

April 11, 2006

Mr. Backside

Posted in Happy Hour at 8:49 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

There we are, at happy hour, sipping cocktails, looking cute, waiting for the cute boys to approach us when out of the corner of my eye, I spot him – the hottest backside in the office, as I had affectionately come to call an attorney that use to work at our office. 

I grabbed my friend’s arm, “do you remember me talking about hottest backside in the office?”  See, I wasn’t kidding; I really did refer to him as that. 

“Yeah,’ my friend slowly responded and turned to follow my gaze. “He’s here.” 

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