Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Utter Contentment

I realized something as I was driving back from a hearing in Fort Worth yesterday- I love my job. Love it. I'm not sure I've ever felt this happy or satisfied with everything in my life. It's a marvelous feeling and one I barely know what to do with.

I love the two main cases I'm staffed on - they are interested and complex corporate and securities matters and I find the facts, law and strategy involved in each to be fascinating. Both are very large $100 million - $1 billion cases, but are staffed leanly so I am very involved in managing the discovery, drafting the motions and briefs, and just sitting in the various partners' offices hashing out aspects of our arguments and if/when we should make them. I love the strategy and the absolute legal nerdiness of it all- what arguments could apply, how can we make the case law work for us. It's fun and mentally challenging and I cannot believe there was a time when I didn't think I was a litigator. I'm drafting a section of a motion to dismiss right now and I love crafting legal opinions into arguments to prove that damnit, we are right and they are wrong and we should win right now.

Even the doc review and discovery, an aspect most people don't like, is something I enjoy (at least for now). I like taking ownership of an area of the case - these 100,000 documents are my universe and I rule it completely. I may have an enormous amount to learn about procedure and tactics, but I know where X document is and I can find it for you. In a day filled with new tasks and challenges, sometimes it's nice to know what you're doing (and nice to know you know it). I wrote an article last week that was published on the firm website and an outside securities litigation website. I enjoyed writing something free-form without case law or certain styles to work around. And I enjoyed even more the emails of praise I received from various partners about the article - in a world without report cards an email with "great job" is a wonderful thing.

There are difficulties in my job, of course, but truthfully they're so small I have to pause for a moment to think of them. I work hard, but I always leave at 5:30 to get Landon and we are always home by 6. I frequently work afer Landon goes to bed, but I don't mind that as (1) I like what I'm doing and (2) that enables me to take off, no questions asked, from 5:30-8:00 and I happily accept the trade-off in my late night TV time. I rarely work weekends, though I do sometimes work very late on weeknights to avoid that. I've found I'm happier working until 1 a.m. Friday morning and then enjoying a solid two days off- I don't need much sleep and it's worth feeling totally refreshed when I come into the office on Monday. I'm tied to my blackberry, but I understood when I accepted the job and its accompanying salary that there were commitments outside of a regular 9-5 and I'm okay with that.

Working with good people makes an enormous difference. When we were driving back from the hearing, the partner I was chauffeuring (who does not have kids) asked when Landon went to bed. I told her 8 and she said, oh then let's just grab something quick for dinner so you can get home to see him. We ate at a Dairy Queen in Waco and I made it home in plenty of time to read him stories, hear about his day ("Blue playdos mama, BLUE PLAYDOS!") and tuck him in to bed. Another partner I work with has four children and in his words, "there is never a time, short of preparing for a trial that is days away, when you cannot be home for dinner and a few hours with your family in the evening." He lives that truth and so do I. I frequently get emails from him late into the night, but he is always out of the office by 6.

Every firm is different, every section within a firm is different, and every partner is different, and I know part of my situation is luck in all of those coming together. But after hearing all the horror stories of BigLaw life and spending hours worrying about my life as a lawyer-mom, I'm happy to say that I'm happy. Really happy. So is my little family, and I don't know how it gets any better than that.

10 comments:

  1. I'm just getting ready to start my "grown-up" job, and you give me hope that I will still be able to balance mom and wife while developing my identity as a professional. Thank you.

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  2. I want to work at YOUR firm! When I've worked at Biglaw you never mentioned your kids, unless you were male and had to leave early to coach soccer. That was cute and OK. And you have soooo many days off! I haven't worked anywhere, public or private, big or small, where you could take off two weeks without serious grief and describing exactly why you couldn't do it in two one-week vacations,months apart (um, going to Europe; doesn't work that way.) When I was in public law and wanted three weeks off (in a time period where I would only miss one Council meeting, and hadn't taken a vacation in TWO years) I had to be interviewed by the Biggest Cheese, and reminded that I had better plan on no more days off until the end of the year. Needless to say that Biggest Cheese was male and had been completely uninvolved in his kids' lives. I spent many evenings at work but was reminded, if I had been an hour late because it was Moms Muffin Morning at school, that I needed to make up the time before the end of the pay period.

    Your firm sounds like Fantasyland to me. You are soooo lucky! Enjoy it. I'm not jealous. Not really. No. ;0

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  3. Good for you. I'm so glad you have found something that works so well for you. That is what is most important.

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  4. so nice to hear something positive about working in the legal community as well as having a family. you are someone to look up to!

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  5. So, uh, is YOUR firm hiring 3Ls?

    *sigh*

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  6. You will never be sorry you made your family a priority. I always have, and as the kids are starting to move out on their own, I am so glad I made that choice.

    I always meant to go to law school after college, but I never quite got around to it. I migrated into taxes instead. As I read your posts, I realize that a lot of the same things I love about my job, you love about yours. You just make about ten times what I do. SIGH. Maybe I should revisit that law school thing. Heh.

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  7. Bengali Chick10/1/09, 9:51 AM

    I know you said your situation is "part of my situation is luck in all of those coming together" but I think the huge part is YOU.

    You made the choice that you will be home for dinner and that your family is a priority. And most lawyers don't seem to do that in BigLaw.

    I have so much more to say but I'll keep it short. You're awesome.

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  8. I, too, love strategy sessions (although I may not refer to it as "absolute legal nerdiness" :) In fact, it's one of the things I really miss in my current work. Although being responsible for 10,000 (or even 1,000) documents, I could do without. In fact, I could do without anything even vaguely related to corporate and securities work!

    BTW I do think Bengali Chick is right when she says part of it may be Luck but part of it is definitely You and the choices you've made. Looks good on ya!

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  9. You are very lucky in finding a firm that is that kind to your schedule. I'm so glad to hear it!

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  10. Good post, Thanks for share!

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