Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Movin On Up

So, the news I alluded to, it is official. I'm now a litigator and by Monday my office will be relocated one floor up.

I'm very excited- excited in a way I haven't been excited in quite some time. I am also extremely busy. I billed 14 hours yesterday and got close to that number today. I've been given an increasing amount of responsibility on this case (the one I got drafted onto in December when the corporate section was slow and the litigation section was slammed) and even though I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, I feel more competent than I have since I graduated law school. For example, yesterday I was asked to draft an affidavit for a director of a certain Board Committee. My first step was to google "affidavit" just to make sure it was what I thought it was. Then I did a search for all the minutes of the Committee in our 50,000 produced documents, wrote out a clear and succinct summary of each meeting, found some affidavits written by other associates who work with this partner to copy the form, printed it out and handed it over. The partner read it and and said "great, we'll send it to the client tomorrow." WHAT?! No edits, no changes, no covering the page in red pen? I almost asked her to check it again, just in case, after all my first step in this assignment was to use google- that doesn't exactly inspire confidence. But then I just got excited- I had done something well! I had written FIVE pages of my own text- no blacklines or changing party names- actual writing. Angels sung from the heavens and I knew I'd made the right decision.

I started to realize back in November that transactional lawyering might not be for me. I loved corporate and securities law and I was interested in deals in an academic sense (I liked analyzing the ones that went to hell and landed in my casebook), but the sense of relief I felt every time I avoided being staffed on one didn't seem like a good overall career move. I'd listen to attorneys around me on speaker phone, hammering out the finer points of a deal and just think, I don't want to do that- even if I understood it, I don't want to do it. I think I liked the idea of doing deals, of being a quasi-business person, but in reality I didn't care enough about the business side of things and truly had no interest in leading negotiations or figuring out corporate structure. I understand why other people like it, and I really wanted to be one of those people, but I wasn't.

It really wasn't that I actively disliked corporate work, it was finding out how much I actively enjoyed litigation work that prompted my switch. I liked digging through discovery and finding the documents to build our case, I liked researching possible defenses in the case law, and I really liked writing. Man, I missed writing. I've had enough distance from law school to realize that what I hated about legal memos wasn't the memos themselves, it was just how difficult and time-consuming they could be. And even though I loved complaining about them, I also enjoyed the process of molding case law and my own words to create an argument. I'm also very good at it, and feeling good at something can go a long way towards job satisfaction. I look at the partners and senior associates in litigation and think, "I can do that," and much more than that, I think, "I want to do that."

So last Tuesday I asked the head of the litigation section out to lunch. Despite our 25-year age difference we're good friends and he's been trying to get me on his team since he interviewed me at OCI in 2006. He was thrilled (though oddly, not surprised) by the news and said he always knew I was a litigator at heart. He then met with the head of my section and the managing partner of the Austin office and got everything approved. I sat down with the corporate head partner this morning and had a nice chat about my switch- he was supportive, but wanted to make sure I wasn't acting in response to the slow deal flow or worries about job security. As a career-long transactional attorney he couldn't fathom why anyone would want to do litigation, but he was happy I seemed to have found a reason and wished me all the best. I will genuinely miss working for him, his assignments were my favorites- researching various corporate matters and writing summaries of the legal issues for clients- and realizing how much more I enjoyed those than any deal work actually precipitated my move.

So there it is, my first career move. I'm excited and exhausted and heading to bed. I feel a little bad that after all that talk about my writing, this post is so much less eloquent than the one I wrote out in my head over the past week, but I must get some sleep and I wanted to share the news. To distract you from any possible misspellings or grammatical errors, here is a picture of Landon, also excited about his mommy being a litigator:



Well, maybe it's the beloved Ladybug Book he's so excited about, but if he knew what a litigator was I'm sure he'd be excited about that too.

(P.S. Has anyone noticed the new header?! I slaved over it last night! Okay, maybe not slaved, but I am not naturally digitally or creatively inclined, so there was at least a tiny a bit of struggle involved.)

29 comments:

  1. Congrats! Hope you enjoy litigating as much as I do.

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  2. Congratulations -- I'm glad you've found something that you're excited about!

    And OMG, how big is Landon?! Craziness!

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  3. Congrats! Welcome to the litigation side!! It sounds like you did what I did during my 2L summer: you did both transactional and litigation work and simply figured out which one clicked for you. Litigation definitely clicked for me, but I am glad that I tried corporate work just so that I have made the right decision. Also, it's certainly not a bad idea to have an overview of what actually happens on deals!

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  4. Quotes of the day (which made my day):

    "My first step was to google "affidavit" just to make sure it was what I thought it was."

    I'm sorry, but that was really, really funny. Don't feel bad, though, I'm the one who while still in law school and working for a lawyer over the summer was photocopying in the court administration office and asked the woman behind the courter what the Pro-tho-notary was. She smiled, told me that that was the man with the stamp (which meant absolutely nothing to me at the time) and never bothered to correct my pronuniciation. It wasn't until I took Civil Procedure (2nd or 3rd year?) that I went Pro-tho-notary... Prothonatry! Boy did I feel stupid.

    "It really wasn't that I actively disliked corporate work, it was finding out how much I actively enjoyed litigation work that prompted my switch. I liked digging through discovery and finding the documents to build our case, I liked researching possible defenses in the case law, and I really liked writing... I also enjoyed the process of molding case law and my own words to create an argument."

    Now that I can identify with. I feel exactly the same way and it's why I am so not fulfilled in my current work (preparing case digests and deidentifying cases for the law library). I need to get back on the other side, researching and preparing arguments. Although I must admit I can't really understand your interest in corporate and securities law at all, but each to their own, I suppose. ;-)

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  5. Glad I'm not the only one who turns to Google first in professional situations! :) Congratulations! Also, Landon is getting so big! What a cutiepie.

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  6. My first step was to google "affidavit" just to make sure it was what I thought it was

    Love this!!

    Congrats` on the move

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  7. I wouldn't be NEARLY as good at my job if it weren't for Google. ;)

    Landon is so big!!! LITTLE MAN!

    Big congratulations to you - it sounds like the perfect move.

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  8. Congrats and good luck. :)

    Too funny about googling affidavit! I had a similar experience in my first few months at my firm. I had to draft part of a motion to dismiss... except I didn't know what a motion dismiss was (beyond rule 12(b)(6)). I had no idea that there was a motion AND a memorandum in support of one, what it looked like, or what to do!

    Don't forget to look for samples of documents in the firm database, preferably by the partner you're working for. It's often my first step.

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  9. Bengali Chick2/11/09, 10:18 AM

    YAY! Congrats that you found something you love AND had the courage to make the change.

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  10. Congratulations!!
    It's been a good week.
    :)

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  11. love the header :)

    and CONGRATULATIONS!! i'm so happy for you!

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  12. Congratulations! It sounds like you're very happy about your new position and that's a great feeling. I hope you continue to be excited and fufilled!

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  13. Congrats, its been interesting to watch from a reader's perspective. Good job on the banner.

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  14. Funny, I went through the exact same process in deciding to do litigation instead of corporate. And don't worry, you can still go in-house with a litigation background. I'm glad you're excited about the move.

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  15. Congrats. In my final semester of law school, I needed a success story like this. So many people I know are struggling to find their footing and everyone else seems to be unwilling to talk about it. I love your blog! Thanks...

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  16. Congratulations on the career move! And Landon looks so grown-up! The Ladybug book - we just got it for Christmas, accompanying a table and chairs that my sister-in-law painted for us based on the illustrations in that book! She's incredibly talented - I should figure out how to send you a pic of it.

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  17. That's so exciting! Can't wait to hear all about it. (Well, as much as you can legally/ethically tell us anyway.)

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  18. Welcome to the incredibly exciting world of litigation. The affidavit thing cracks me up. I wrote a post a while ago about how I had to argue an excited utterance motion in court with about 10 minutes to prepare and SHAMELESSLY used google.

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  19. Congrats!!! This is exciting news. Definitely interesting to read about from the p.o.v. of a law student still trying to make the transactional/litigation decision.

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  20. Having recently made that decision myself, I say a big congratulations! I know where you're coming from!

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  21. It rocks that you've been able to find your niche! That you're loving billing what you're doing says worlds about your future!

    And OMG, your affidavit comment was awesome - I had a similar experience early on. I confess it was a relief that my Tier 2 law school left me equally unprepared as your Tier 1 on the basics. :) Someday, law school education will get reformed! But not soon enough for us.

    Landon is a doll - I can't believe what a big boy he looks!!

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  22. oh awesome! congratulations! I love doing litigation work! Sounds like you will do great!

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  23. I love that you googled. I have a suppression hearing in the afternoon, I've been googling my way through crim pro!

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  24. Congratulations on the big move!!

    Google is almost always my first stop. And half the time Wikipedia is second. Love it! I'm so glad I'm not alone!!

    I am also glad that someone enjoys doing all of that research... most of the time, that's NOT me. :)

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  25. Yay! Litigators rule! Congratulations on the move. (Corporate work killed me during my summer at a firm, which was a nice confirmation of what I'd always suspected about my desire to be a litigator.)

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  26. Congratulations!! Even more so that your department head is so excited to have you. Hope you get to work on some fun stuff. :) Just remember that a quality litigation legal secretary can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. If she's the latter, nip it in the bud fast. If she's the former, treasure her. Litigation is hard and you need someone on top of her game.

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  27. late to comment, but wanted to add my CONGRATULATIONS!!

    I'm so very, very excited for you!

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  28. Congratulations! I encourage everyone to become litigators. :)

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