Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Partners and Retreats

After a whirlwind few weeks, I'm back at home, in my nearly complete home office, finishing up my prep for a CLE I'm speaking on tomorrow regarding the SEC's proposed climate disclosures. We're hosting the event in conjunction with PwC and have nearly 2,000 people signed up, so obviously I had my outfit picked out before my presentation slides were complete.

(And apparently that was all I had time to write Sunday night, so now it's Tuesday and the presentation is over and it went great and here I am being beamed to audience members near and far.)
But let's go back to where we left off. We'd just gotten back from Colorado Friday evening and on Sunday I flew to Orlando for the big SiFMA securities conference. It was great to continue connecting with former SEC colleagues and defense counsel I've worked with over the years on my investigations. I conducted over 60 witness interviews and testimonies from my bedroom corner over the last two years so it was kind of surreal to see people walk by whose face had been on my computer screen for hours but I'd never seen in 3-D.
We had some crazy storms in Texas while I was gone. I was at an outdoor cocktail reception at the Ritz on a gorgeous blue day while getting texts on Fort Worth weather updates and the canceling of all the kids' activities.
I flew back on Tuesday, unpacked and repacked, greeted my parents who also drove in that night, and then flew out (with James this time!) the next morning for the firm partner retreat in Miami! It was at The Biltmore, a very historic hotel in Coral Gables, and James made us stop and read every old picture plaque on every hallway we walked down.
We were greeted with a gifting suite, where James got to pick out a shirt and I picked out a hat and bag. Having just come from the government where I had to provide my own water, I kept waiting to be presented with the bill for my selections.
My hat got embroidered and I really do love it.
I've never been a hat person, despite my skin really needing me to get on board, but I am determined to wear this one to the occasional backyard pool party this summer.
After hearing from our guest speaker Professor Arthur Brooks of Harvard on Happiness (his podcast for The Atlantic: How to Build a Happy Life), which was very interesting, we got ready for the first night's dinner honoring the firm's retiring partners.
I dug deep into my closet for the packing- the resort chic dress code was not my usual attire for the last 2-7 years. James had an even tougher time - the last suit he bought was for our wedding in 2005, so the girls took him shopping for ALL the things he needed, from shoes to belt to socks to tie to shirt and beautiful navy suit. They were very proud of their choices and he looked smashing.
The dinner was held at the Frost Science Museum and it was beautiful.
The tributes to the retiring partners were so touching, it really made me think about the long arc of a career and all the people you work with along the way.
Thursday morning began with breakfast and meetings while James swam laps in the 70 meter pool. The afternoon was for activities- boat ride, cooking class, golf, tennis, museum tour, etc. After the nonstop craziness of our March, we went with the poolside lunch and it was lovely. I had a couple client calls in the afternoon and got about an hour of work in poolside, but it was still a very relaxing day.
Night 2 was the New Partner dinner! James wore the shirt he was gifted (as the men were encouraged to do) and I got to wear my "butterfly dress" my mom picked out for me while shopping for my birthday in February 2020. I love it so much.
My friend, mentor and rockstar statesman of Texas litigation, Harry Reasoner was there with his lovely wife and it was so nice to catch up, as it was to catch up with all the partners I knew from my first tour with the firm (many of whom were associates then too) and meet all the new ones.
The firm hasn't had a retreat in 3 years due to Covid, so the number of new partners meant that only the internally promoted partners gave speeches. They were lovely, though by the end I wished I could give one to thank my mentors and husband who have helped me so much along the way.
So I wrote up a speech online and will now toast with my tea to whatever you're drinking:

My path to partnership was different than many. I started my time with the firm as a VERY pregnant summer associate in 2007 (my son was born exactly 10 days after my internship ended), which made me both very memorable and totally unrecognizable when I actually joined a year later. I began as an associate in corporate/transactional group in September 2008. By October 2008 I was convinced I’d made a terrible mistake and was calling medical schools to see if I could still apply with my undergraduate science credits. Then the market crashed. All deals stopped and all corporate associates got staffed on litigation matters and I learned that I didn’t hate being a lawyer- I was just a litigator fish out of water in the transactional world. Once in my proper environment, I flourished, blessed with amazing mentors (Jessica Mederson, Chris Popov, Hilary Preston, David Woodcock, Tracey Davies, and Jennifer Poppe to name a few) and great work.

I went to the SEC during my 4th year at the firm and spent ten years running investigations and bringing enforcement actions, and now I am lucky enough to be back at the firm as a partner with many of my favorite people not only still here, but also now in positions of leadership.

I want to thank everyone who mentored me along the way, every litigation partner who took a chance on a confused corporate associate, and this firm that welcomed me back so warmly. But most importantly I want to thank my greatest partner, my husband James. He’s the guy who has handled every bit of our three kids, three pets, and crazy life every time I travel. When I had a tight briefing deadline many years ago and basically didn’t come home for three days, rather than complain like I *absolutely* would have while he also worked full time with a much longer commute and took care of our then-3-year-old and baby, he sent me flowers with a card that said, “Keep up the good work, we love you.” And that says pretty much everything about him as a husband and partner.

I am so blessed, with my partner at home and my partners at work, and I can’t wait for the rest of this journey. Cheers!
[I plan to be home for the entire month of April, so we'll get back to our regularly scheduled bulldog, cat, and child-based programming as soon a I catch up on about 600 emails, but everyone is doing GREAT and Maggie misses you.]

Friday, March 18, 2022

Colorado Spring Break: A Classic Vacation Blog Post

We are on our way home from Colorado!
Currently driving along the northern edge of Texas after staying the night in Trinidad, Colorado, which was overrun with people because the highway out was shutdown for ice and way too many flipped cars and trucks. Our ETA is 6 p.m. and as much as I've enjoyed being away, I can't wait to get back to the house to dump our clothes in the washer, check all the mail and packages we've missed, pet our fluffiest cat who is going to have A LOT to tell us about being gone, pick up Maggie from my friend's house where she has been enjoying doggie camp (this time without the goats, though I'm sure she misses them), and see the results of our renovations! Our contractor sent a sneak peak of the accent wall in our bedroom yesterday and I'm so in love!
Things won't be entirely done when we arrive, but they'll be close and we can definitely sleep in our own room once again. I'll also try to fit in a yoga class because I fly out to Orlando for a conference on Sunday afternoon, come back Tuesday evening, and fly back out Wednesday to Miami for the firm partner retreat with James, and my body misses exercise. So life is full as usual, making our week away all the more lovely.
We first drove to my sister's house in Boulder on Saturday, arriving just in time for dinner and a bit of cousin playtime. My kids (14,11,8) are a good bit older than my sister's (5,3,1), but they ADORE their cousins and play so happily and completely with them. It's just the best.
On Sunday we celebrated my niece Rio's 3rd birthday party. She was helping me get ready and thought her hair needed some vagina curler treatment. Whose doesn't?
The party was great- crafts (which my kids enthusiastically participated in) and a visit from Queen Elsa (which mine did not, though the birthday girl was delighted), delicious food, visits to the resident goats and chickens, and gorgeous weather.
On Monday I woke up early for a video call with a potential client and another call with a colleague, hung out with my sister and her girls, and then off we headed for the mountains!
We drove along Highway 6, even though roadwork meant it would take longer, but it's such a beautiful drive and we have a traditional rock we try to find and stop at for a picture. After missing it the last trip or two (well, last time we drove in a blizzard and the whole highway was shut down), we found it this time and scrambled up top. I never think my kids are changing that much until I look at a montage like that- chunky toddlers to lanky big kids, how time truly flies.
We also made our traditional lunch stop in Idaho Springs, James's fave Colorado mountain town, and got to my parent's beautiful home in Winter Park in the mid-afternoon. We picked up our rental skis and snowboard, Cora made friends with the shop dog, and then we headed out for some tubing.
We hadn't been in a couple years, so it was fun to fly down the tubing hill again.
The kids and I joined together for one and our combined weight took us nearly to the end of the offramp.
James did the jump, of course, and Landon followed, while the girls and I found flying down a smooth path to be just fine for us.
We got home to lasagna soup with my parents, watched part of The Alpinist (which I highly recommend), and went to bed early in preparation for a big ski day in the morning.


Except that's not exactly what happened. Claire started complaining of a stomach ache when we left the tubing hill. She has a more sensitive stomach than the other two, so we assumed it was the car snacks or just being out of her routine. She picked at her dinner but seemed mostly okay. Then she came in our room crying about 9 pm and instead of getting better, things got considerably worse until 11 pm when she violently threw up everything we didn't even know was in her stomach and her stomach cramps were so bad she said it hurt to breathe. We googled the nearest open medical center and found an emergency room 10 miles away. So off we went- ski coats over pajamas, me wondering what the name of my new medical insurance was since I'd switched only the day before we left.
The medical team was great, taking her back right away, and getting her settled with a vomit bag (immediately used) and ice chips. After a blood draw and a few other tests, altitude sickness was confirmed and she got a big back of fluids and some anti-nausea meds. Two hours later she could keep down her test cracker and we were sent home about 3 a.m. with instructions to keep her hydrated and come back if any symptoms returned. After twenty-plus trips to Colorado, this was our first real brush with it, and man is it rough.
We stumbled to bed and hoped she'd be able to sleep until morning. And she did! The doctor had cleared her for skiing if she felt up to it, but she didn't quite yet, so she stayed home with my parents who planned to join us a little later in the day, while James and I packed up and headed to Winter Park with Landon and Cora.
At the top of the gondola Cora decided she had forgotten everything about skiing- had perhaps not ever skiied- and should just go home and play Gigi's piano.
The boys split off to go do the bowls while I gently coaxed Cora down a long green run. By the end she was flying through a tunnel, her excited "woooooo!" echoing behind her.
Our whole group met up for lunch, including a slightly pale Claire who still refused food but did drink a lot of water. She was beautifully controlled on her skis and loved following my mom and dad down the runs.
Cora was also doing great until we went up to Parsenn's Bowl and took her down a lovely blue she decided she hated.
She eventually agreed to do a couple greens with my parents while we took Landon and Claire on a few more blues.
Landon, who refused my offers of sunscreen, popped in and out of trees and had a fabulous time until he decided he was tired and laid down at the base of a lift.
Claire was enjoying herself and making her usual carefully controlled turns while James wished we all liked blacks more than blues.
We met up again at the base, my parents heading home, and our crew wandering the shops. I treated myself to a frozen margarita- the perfect apres spring skiing beverage and everyone else got ice cream. We finished The Alpinist that night and then everyone crashed until morning, including Claire, thank goodness.
Day 2 started out well - all 5 of us piled in the car to head back to the slopes! Claire was feeling good! The weather was gorgeous and a snow dump was expected at lunch! And at 25 degrees- it wasn't even very cold out! Except Cora decided it was actually very cold- so cold she couldn't put on her ski boots and flatly refused to exit the car in the parking garage.
Now Cora is usually the MOST agreeable and fun #thirdbaby, but if she decides she's not doing something, she IS. NOT. DOING. IT. and the combined forces of heaven and hell cannot convince her.
Luckily, the foot and hand warmers I bought for $4 in the village did and she eventually emerged from the car to her totally annoyed big brother who just wanted to go skiing. And skiing, we did!
We met my parents at lunch again and then skiied with them for a while. The snow started coming down harder which made James happy and the kids less so.
We stayed a couple more hours, until everyone was tired and only maybe wanted to do one more run, which we have learned is the best time to stop. We returned our skis, got back to Papa and Gigi's for another tasty dinner, and then all watched The Adam Project, which everyone enjoyed. On Thursday we originally planned to sled, but everyone seemed so happy indoors we just hung out and packed. James went to the local rec center to work out and I watched my parents do the yoga workout I recorded for them while thinking I should really do daily yoga too. I've been making my mom new videos each month and she has faithfully done hers every day which has done amazing things for her back. Recently my dad joined in too and I'm so proud of them both!
All packed and yoga'd up, we headed out for brunch, and then started our drive home. We had a wonderful time with Papa and Gigi and it was so great to have another set of adults on the mountain to help split up our group as needed. Hopefully next time we can all ski together all day!
And now, after a few legs of the ride without cell service, we are 2.5 hours from home and I have a work call in 4 minutes. Hooray for travel blogging- we spent our dinner last night planning our trips for the rest of the year and can't wait to do more!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

3 Weeks: A Check-In from the Road

We are two hours into our drive to Colorado to visit my family and ski for Spring Break and I figured if I can't manage a blog post on this 12 hours drive then I really have no hope of ever posting again. So here we are, in the northeastern quadrant of Texas, speeding along the flat open roads, hoping the wifi will last. The Harry Potter book 4 audio book is playing over the car speakers, the kids are on their mandatory hour without electronics (we alternate one hour on/one hour off), and I'm hoping very much that all our necessary ski stuff is in the back. We started packing last night at 8 pm, so I honestly can't vouch for anything back there. The preparation timeline was not ideal, but up until last night my bedroom looked like this:
And most of our clothes were trapped in the dressers under the tarps - trapped without warning I might add, for me to find when I got home from work on Wednesday night. Luckily we had a small load of clothes in the dryer that provided some necessary items, like a pair of fresh socks and underwear for me to wear on Thursday (and then wash again to wear on Friday).
As always with home renovaton projects, I just keep trying to ignore the dust and tell myself it'll be worth it. (And it will- we're re-floating the non-straight/non-smooth walls of our TV room-turned-office and bedroom, replacing mismatched baseboards, adding a feature wall in our bedroom, repainting everything, and do a few other small fixes to two rooms we've mostly ignored in our other renos.) It helps to look at this absolutely gorgeous art piece I ordered from a lovely female artist in Spain and just got back from the framers. It's going to go behind my desk and I love it so much.
The TV room was completely blocked off for a few days, so to enter our bedroom we had to leave the house and reenter through one of our exterior bedroom doors. Then our room was blocked off so I got to sleep in Landon's cozy full size bed with my 6'3" husband and all of Landon's animal pictures staring at me.
My first three weeks at the firm have been an exciting and wonderful whirlwind. Week 1 was in the office, learning all the systems and meeting all the people. Week 2 was spent in San Francisco at the ABA White Collar conference. I got to meet several of our white collar partners who traveled in from our other offices, visit with our San Francisco associates, listen to some great panels (and I got two shout outs from former government side colleagues!), reconnect with some defense counsel and outside experts I met through my past investigations, attend an absurd number of happy hours in four days, and eat breakfast in the beautiful Palace hotel.
And enjoy these beautiful views out of my 47th floor hotel window on the bay.
(Some times of day were nicer than others.)
I also got to wear the stunning new trench coat James got me for Valentine's Day. He remembered the time 8 years ago when I tried on the most beautiful Burberry trench coat in their Michigan Avenue store in Chicago. We couldn't possibly afford it at the time, so I put it back and talked about it for months instead. And now, many years, he surprised me with it in a big box on my placemat Valentine's morning. I absolutely adore it.
Meanwhile James and the kids carried on at home and sent me pictures and updates.
I got back in DFW on Friday, enjoyed the weekend from which I have almost no memories but I'm sure was great. Then this past week was spent back in the office for my usual 3 days a week. And it was BUSY in the best and most exciting ways. Like getting my new beautiful chair for this little window nook behind my desk. I love it, and the side table I got at Homegoods, and hope to use it as a secondary reading spot when I have something particularly tricky or particularly dull to review and need a fresh spot to sit.
I'm still working on the rest of my decor - my new art is being framed (bought from the same artist as the piece above!) and I can't wait to show you the final product. In them meantime, my shelves are also coming along.
I'm honestly really enjoying wearing work clothes again and being around my fellow attorneys. Our office is pretty casual (for a BigLaw office anyway) and it's pretty much jeans + top + fun blazer each day. I've expanded my Rothy's collection and wonder if and when I'll ever wear heels again.
I got to open TWO new matters this week that are mine! It is so nerdily thrilling to staff and run my own case and take calls from my own client. I've now staffed out six cases I'm running and I love getting to tap associates who have reached out and told me they're interested in SEC work. In my first week every female junior associate stopped by my office to say how excited they were that I was there. Corporate partners have reached out with client SEC questions. There's so much referring and recommending and "we're so glad you're here'ing" that I barely mind how many emails I get an hour. I'm also doing several CLE's and other business development events, in additio, to a few more interviews that resulted in a few more articles over the last week (like this fun one, and two publications from the conference.

The biggest downside so far to my new life is that I have been to yoga twice in the last 3 weeks. I've gone from someone who exercises everyday to someone who sits in the car 90 minutes a day instead. Eventually I hope to weave in yoga a bit more often- or at least start doing a short flow after I wake up when my floor isn't covered in drywall dust, but for now, the occasional walk with Maggie after I get home is all I can manage.
She is less enthusiastic about this than I am trying to be.
We'll being in Colorado for the week ahead, visiting my sister and her sweet family to celebrate my nieces' first and third birthdays and then seeing my parents in the mountains to ski Winter Park with them. I have some video calls Monday morning and a few check-in calls scheduled for Thursday, but hope and plan to fully block out our ski days on Tuesday and Wednesday. We'll drive back on Friday and then I leave on Sunday for a securities conference in Orlando. I fly back to DFW Tuesday night and then fly back out Wednesday for the firm partner retreat in Miami. James gets to go to that one (and we need to somehow buy him some fancy event appropriate clothing before then! I don't think the Lulu pants and workout shirt will work), so my parents are stopping at our house on their way home from the mountains to watch the kids. We get back on Friday and then I will finally be back in the office on March 29th.

We're about to hit the part of Texas where cell signals go to die, so this is the perfect time to sign off. I look forward to sharing more about how we're making this new substantially busier life work (spoiler alert: it involves a new fulltime W-2 family employee, a payroll account, and a lot of thinking about what the infrastructure on which our life is built, what is important to me (FAMILY DINNERS), what isn't, and what I can delegate (almost everything that isn't wife'ing and mothering and yoga), but it IS working and I feel so lucky and happy and excited about it all. Happy Spring Break to everyone and I hope to share ski pictures soon!