June 4, 2004

The (Fun) Rat Race

Man, the efficiency of the real world can sure make ya tired. I've had quite a week.

The Good News:

Hey all you people looking for legal jobs or concerned about the economy in the valley: in the 9 months that I've been gone, things have REALLY picked up. I don't think I'll be posting about the illusion of work this summer (but of course, there's no accounting for cycling). I've got 6 projects on my desk as of today and I'm definitely carrying the second lightest load in the place, second only to the summer associate who hasn't worked in this area of the law before. The office halls are full of speedwalking overworked associates and partners who are happy to have interesting work again. When you ask anyone how they are doing, the consistent answer is "busy." Nine months ago, it was, "relaxed" or "planning a vacation since things are slow," or worse, "trying to drum up some work/business." When I left there were 4 empty offices. Now there are none and they've added cubicles for additional support staff. When IP law offices are busy, valley companies are doing technology development, and deals that bring about the need for the legal work. This is a very good sign for the economy.

The Firm:

They're mellow, low-profile and more interested in training summer associates than spending money on perks to lure them back. Sure, crazy perks would be nice (although I did get a new flatscreen and some of the associates don't have them yet...), but the upside of that conservatism is that they didn't over-hire in the boom nor did they take a lot of work on stock options. This meant the bust didn't hit 'em too hard. They weathered the downturn by allowing normal attrition to do its job and pushing back the start dates of the new hires. Their billing requirement is lower than most firms of comparable prestige and quality in the area and they're very clear that you do get two chances at the bar. The competitive edge that grates on me from school is noticeably absent from this group of people. Apparently the quality of life approach is attractive since everyone who got an offer from the summer class last year accepted and they all seem happy with their decision. I am surprised to find that I'm much happier to be back here than I expected. This, too, is a good thing.

The Spoiled Brat:

Today, I realized that I haven't had to pay for my own lunch since Thursday, May 27th. Wow. Of course, E's parents get credit for 5/27-5/31. But every day this week food was provided for me by someone at the firm. This is particularly impressive because my firm isn't fast and loose with cash. In fairness, I should point out that it was a 4-day week and my first week back, so hitting every day was easier than it normally would be. In keeping with the firm's low-profile, I only had one partner-sponsored, gut-growing, multi-course lunch. Additionally, I had two catered lunches at firm events, and one of my old co-workers took me out to our favorite burrito joint on his own dime to welcome me back (I'll get him back next week, since I hope we'll be going at least once a week, just like last year).

The Summer Social Butterfly:

All but two or three summer weekends are already booked with travel, parties, camping, and fun. This week, in addition to starting work and getting settled, I went out for drinks with a coworker one night, out for the full treatment of cocktails and a 4 course dinner on a partner another, attended a barbeque, had a friend stay the night on his way back from the airport, and went to see Prince in concert. This weekend promises a barbeque, a housewarming party, and a trip to visit a friend who lives on the beach. Tonight? I'm staying in and watching movies with E. I need to recuperate.


I've still got to get through the books on my reading list to the left, particularly Volokh's. I also need to email my supervising professor about the schedule of work for this project. Most importantly, I need to do enough research to be able to discuss the problem cogently with the friend who needs my help by Sunday. Of course, this discussion is planned for sandwiches on a beach. Can't complain about that. Also, I volunteered to be a mock juror at a training trial for a firm in San Francisco. So tomorrow, on what would have been my first Saturday of relaxation in over two months, I'll be in a courtroom by 9 AM. Remind me again why I thought this would be a good idea.

So, it's official. It's that time of year again. There's sun, good food, friends, fun, and activities galore. I'm ecstatic and exhausted because it's too hard to say no to all the fun. So, I'm gloriously content that I managed to turn down an invitation to celebrate a friend's last final of the year in order to spend tonight on the couch with E.

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