Legal Tease

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Deal Goggles

sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. note: The following piece was authored by The Legal Tease, of Sweet Hot Justice fame. Check out her other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]
I should’ve seen this one coming, I know. I’ve had enough experience by now with sexual humiliation at the hands of Big Law to have known better. But no matter how seasoned, how street smart you may think you are, this one sneaks up on you without warning. One minute, you’re cruising along on a string of all-nighters for a fire-drill deal with a senior associate you know only well enough to find mildly repulsive; the next minute, you’re pinning him up against the wall of a file room with your Prada pencil skirt hiked up around your waist, clawing at each other like starved lunatics. The culprit: Deal Goggles. And let me assure you from recent personal experience, by the time you realize you’re wearing them, it’s way too late.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Right, ha, Deal Goggles…Beer Goggles. Whatever. I’m a professional–I have enough self-control to resist hooking up with some beast at the firm just because we happen to be working on a deal together.
Well, congratulations. You’re a better person than I am. You’re also apparently not a Big Firm lawyer and/or anyone who’s ever worked on a real Big Law deal. See, friends, when you’re on a real Big Law deal–which is to say, when you’ve been at the office for 96 hours straight, are undershowered, overstimulated, and surrounded only by empty Wok ‘n’ Roll containers and second lien intercreditor agreements–whatever shred of self-control you thought you had left has long, long since abandoned you. You’re lucky if you don’t wind up trying to drown yourself in the handicap toilet down the hall, much less trying to avoid an unexpected, comprising sexual situation with the nearest warm body. In other words, when you’re in the heat of a deal, all bets are off–and the Deal Goggles are on. So, please, if you want to circumvent the extra slice of hell I all-too-recently served myself, listen up and consider the following:
Save yourself, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Deal Goggles”

sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. note: The following piece was authored by The Legal Tease, of Sweet Hot Justice fame. Check out her other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]
I may not be a doctor, but I can spot a good epidemic when I see one. No, I’m not talking swine flu. Or Mad Cow. I’m talking about a bug that’s more contagious, more debilitating. A bug that seems to be tearing through scores of Big Law associates faster than you can say “stealth layoffs.” As much as I’ve tried to find one, there’s just no immunization you can get to ward this one off-and it looks like my fellow Big Law drones haven’t found one, either. The plague in question? Young female associates getting themselves embroiled in ridiculous sexual situations with vile, insane partners. And as far I can tell, a cure is still a long way off.
If you’ve spent any time clicking through the annals of humiliation catalogued on this site, you’ve probably noticed that I’m no stranger to this particular epidemic. The latest episode, though, focuses on my friend, Kirsten, a Big Law mid-level employment litigator trapped in the body of a hot stripper. You may remember Kirsten from her recent and unfortunate dip into married territory-as a visitor, not a local, alas. After that inevitably disastrous affair wrapped itself up, Kirsten did what any heart-bruised, if not quite heart-broken, Big Law associate would do: She planted herself at the office 24-7 and figured, hey, if I can’t get laid, I might as well get hours.
And she did. As luck would have it, she also got the attention of a new lateral employment partner to her firm, Martin. Now, let’s paint a quick picture here: When I say Kirsten is hot, I don’t mean lawyer-hot; I mean fantasy-league, blonde bombshell, silicone-enhanced hot-hot. Martin, on the other hand, could pass for Ben Stiller’s pudgy older cousin-on a good day. Still, when he began stopping by Kirsten’s office every night to chat, some combo of charm, partnership units and daddy issues sparked a crush in her. More than anything, though, after dating a string of unemployed aspiring man-whores, she cherished the attention. And when she found out that Martin had recently been handed divorce papers by his starter wife, she was smitten.
After a couple of weeks, the office pop-ins turned into weekly after-work cocktails. This was more than just flirtation, she told me; this was a real connection. They would have long, soulful talks about everything from firm politics to past relationships to the devastation of rejection. The only problem, though, she said, was that Martin was a supervising partner in her small department, and she felt he was holding back on making a move because he was, well, her boss…and an employment litigator. But when he asked if she wanted to accompany him to a black-tie fundraising event that the firm was co-sponsoring, she knew that they’d reached a turning point. This was his way of testing the waters, of stepping out with her in a formal, open setting. This was big.
Think you already know where this is going? Well, you don’t. Unless “meat” and “blood” are part of your prediction. Grab a napkin and keep reading, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Prelude to a Kiss”

sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. note: The following piece was authored by The Legal Tease, of Sweet Hot Justice fame. Check out her other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]
There are a few moments in any young lawyer’s life guaranteed to perk up the day. Closing a deal after a marathon of strained, sleepless nights. Winning a case after three years of document review and trial prep. Finding out you haven’t been included in the firm’s latest slaughter. But none comes close to the thrill of witnessing your opposing counsel have a public, full-out mental breakdown. Call me a sucker for schadenfreude, but there’s just a greasy comfort that sets in when you realize that there’s someone–anyone–outside of your own tortured corner of Big Law who’s closer to losing his mind than you are. Only thing is, that comfort comes with strings–and if you’re not careful, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll double back and take a nice, firm chokehold right around your own neck.
Don’t believe me? Imagine, if you will, the scene that played out in my office a few weeks back: I’d been working on a nightmare bond deal with the most repulsive type of cretin partner imaginable, a deal made all the more ridiculous by the incessant, obnoxious demands from the monumentally horrid senior associate first-chairing for the other side, a 6th-year I’ll call Mitch Haklafti. After a couple of weeks of his tirades, all it took was seeing “Haklafti, Mitch” in my Outlook inbox to set off a fresh round of stomach cramps.
So, around 2 a.m. the night before the deal was set to sign, after a string of all-nighters and increasingly hostile emails from all sides, when I saw a new message arrive from Haklafti, I took another swig of Diet Dr. Pepper and braced myself for what I assumed would be another dose of pain. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was this–including the 16-point, lavender script font:

“Assorted buddies, daddies and babies: please review and let me know if you have any nits by 4.45 a.m. e.s.t., at which time I will send to the totality of working group. Client hasn’t seen. Usual caveats.

-M.H., The WalruS. goo goo gjoob

Break out your straitjacket and keep on reading, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Losing Your Mind: A Primer”

sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. note: The following piece was authored by The Legal Tease, of Sweet Hot Justice fame. Check out her other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]
It’s happened–after a few years and a few thousand billable hours, I’ve finally found him. Sure, there have been loads of false starts along the way, but I think this time it’s for real: I’ve finally met the worst partner in the entire firm. At first, I thought the winner might be Russ, the firm’s resident stone-faced robot and reigning Big Firm Savant. But no. Then, for obvious reasons involving hidden harnesses and coconut-flavored lube, I thought it could possibly be Ian, our favorite slave-driving Pervert, Esq. Wrong again. No, in the past few weeks, the true winner has revealed himself to be a creature far more insidious, more vile: the Cool Partner. And I’m here to warn you–he’s a type more dangerous than you’ve ever imagined.
As any Big Law victim can tell you, the Cool Partner, like any true predator, takes time to attract and distract his prey before he bares his polished little fangs and goes in for the kill. He may seduce you at first with hints of an actual personality, an apparent respect for your time, and possibly even a sense of humor. You’ll marvel at how comfortable you are around him, how energized you feel. You’ll smile and shake your head in disbelief as you sing his praises to fellow associates who ask why you look sunnier than usual. You might even find yourself–even just for one brief, indulgent little moment–wondering if you might’ve been wrong all those times you thought this job was nothing but a festering sewer of misery where dreams go to die at the hands of lunatic, unit-holding nerd sadists. Hell, you might even start waking up happy.
And then reality comes crashing back down.
Witness the carnage first-hand, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Myth of the Cool Partner”

sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. note: The following piece was authored by The Legal Tease, of Sweet Hot Justice fame. Check out her other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]
Quick question: When you think of the average married, middle-aged guy slogging his way up the Big Law partner track, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A pasty, bloated puppet? A bald head? An over-worked, under-stimulated robot, bunking in at the office while the wife lies safely, if not securely, back at home? Well, if the state of affairs in and around my firm is any indication, you’d be off the mark — way off the mark. Because as far as I can tell lately, when it comes to Big Law romance, a wedding ring is the new corporate aphrodisiac.
Just last Thursday, I was at a happy hour with a few guys from work when one, a married finance associate named Carson, suddenly came back from the bar, flushed and jittery. He claimed that a woman had just sidled up next to him, put her hand next to his, fingered his wedding ring and cooed out of the blue, “I think married men are sexy.” Carson, a sweet, former engineer and admitted card-carrying nerd, was so flustered that he took off without even taking the drink he’d just bought. So, obviously, the woman was a hooker… right? Who else would come up to a skinny, bling-free dork at a bar and lay down a line like that? Why not target the group of buzzed, Brioni-bearing bankers two feet down? Or could it be that this woman actually just had… a thing for nerdy married lawyers? A niche fetish, if you will? Sort of like those women who only date death-row inmates and convicted arsonists?
I chalked it up to a random anecdote and put it out of my mind. But then, just a couple of days later, at dinner with my friend, Kirsten, a single, fourth-year Big Law employment litigator with a lawyer’s brain and a stripper’s body, I started to wonder. I was telling her about my latest experiment in humiliation — one that found me crushing on (and then promptly crushed by) a charming, flirtatious client who turned out to be covertly engaged — and she actually put down her watermelon mojito mid-sip, shot me a look and told me I should’ve just “gone for it.” When I asked what exactly there was to “go for” in this situation, she shrugged and looked down.
“I don’t know. It’s just easier.” She then told me that she was in the middle of a “successful” affair with a married associate at her old firm. She explained that she wasn’t particularly head-over-heels, but the arrangement worked just fine because, after working insane hours week after week, she was able to get what she wanted and knew where she stood. And in case I was wondering, yes, she was the one who targeted him. My thoughts shot back to Carson and his fingered wedding ring. It was my turn to put down the drink.
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Respect the Ring?”

sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. Note: The following piece was authored by "The Legal Tease" of Sweet Hot Justice fame. You can check out all of Legal Tease's other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]

I’ll admit, this is probably a bad idea. But I’m sorry, I can’t help it any longer. I’ve had one in every other job I’ve ever had and it’s about time I had one at the firm. I’m not going to be particularly picky about it. I just want one–I need one. Because it occurred to me last week, sitting in my giant bed in the middle of the night, alone, watching an old Law & Order marathon, if I don’t get the juices flowing soon, I’m going to dry up, die of boredom, and go the way of every leading lady lawyer the Dick Wolf gang has ever offered up–which is to say nowhere at best and crumpled in the trunk of a car at worst. In other words, it’s time: I need a work crush. Stat.

One small issue, though: There’s no one to crush on at my firm–hell, within a mile of my firm, it seems. After you weed out the lawyers who aren’t indisputably trollish or creepy or latent pervs, only a handful of possibilities are left.

I guess there’s always Pete, my immediate supervisor and work buddy. He’s a great guy, cute in a sort-of asexual hipster way, and has good hair and a mellow, easy-going personality that’s a nice foil to my more manic vibe. But he’s happily married and just had a kid–very look but don’t touch, which kind of kills the point of having a crush. Part of the thrill is the possibility that something actually could happen, isn’t it? OK, forget Pete. The only other candidate, then, might be Alex, a newly minted partner who’s genuinely lawyer-hot, just dickish enough to make him that much hotter, and definitely single. Only problem is, he’s one of the most socially awkward lawyers in the building, notoriously avoids eye contact with women, and last I heard, lives in a two-story house with his parents.

So. That’s it: a married, asexual dad and a socially retarded powder keg who may or may not live with his mom. This is depressing even me. The upshot is becoming painfully clear: If I want a work crush, I need to move on to my clients.

And she does, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bring On That Client Contact”

sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. Note: The following piece was authored by "The Legal Tease" of Sweet Hot Justice fame. You can check out all of Legal Tease's other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]

A few things are bound to happen when you spend 76 straight hours closing a bond offering in a windowless office the size of a handicap toilet stall, eating nothing but stale candy corn from a nearby vending machine and fantasizing about unconsciousness. First, you make peace with the fact that showers are for people far luckier than you. Second, you start obsessively calculating what your hourly salary might be compared to, say, a teenage babysitter or a shoe-shine guy. Maybe you start to hallucinate a bit. Or wonder if it’s possible to slit your wrists with a stack of post-its. And then, finally, you catch sight of your pale, desperate reflection in the desktop monitor and you realize the pathetic, obvious, predictable truth: You’re wildly jealous of the people your firm recently laid off.

Don’t get me wrong, when it became obvious that my firm was conducting another round of layoffs, I wasn’t hoping to be axed. My day-to-day may indeed be a perverse merry-go-round of corporate inanity, bruising ego slams, romantic nonstarters, and bleak yearnings for my pre-BigLaw life, but when the time comes to end this cycle of misery, I want to do it on my own terms. Preferably with health insurance. So, when I found out that I wasn’t one of the Laid Off, I wasn’t disappointed–but I wasn’t exactly pleased, either. More than anything, I was just relieved that the waiting was over.

But now, in the aftermath of the layoffs, I can’t help but wonder if that relief was misplaced. If morale at my firm was low before the latest slaughter, the atmosphere now is pretty much unbearable. Within a matter of days, most of us went from billing a few hours a day, tops, to not being at the office for a few hours a day, tops. And yes, I get it, it’s BigLaw–it’s not supposed to be a day-spa experience, in any economy–but now, now, we’re supposed to be extra-super grateful for the sadistic pace. We’re supposed to bend over cheerily and smile while the firm’s powers-that-be alternately punish us, and then expect gratitude for, the very fact that we still have jobs. In the past few weeks, even the most docile partners I work with have had a taunting, lupine shine in their eyes every time they’ve doled out work on a Friday at 6 p.m., or announced an absurdly artificial deadline, or passed me in the hall at 5 p.m. as they were heading home and I was rounding midday. Just yesterday, one asked me if I was free to help on a new matter–and when I responded that 100% of my time was already committed, I could hear his smirk through the phone as he asked me to “define 100%.” (Note: you’re screwed no matter how you answer this one.) Now, regardless of how ridiculous, how unreasonable, how idiotic the demands of some prick partner may be, the subtext is the same: “Don’t like it? What are you gonna do–leave?”

More taunting, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Deadliest Sin?”

sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. Note: The following piece was authored by "The Legal Tease" of Sweet Hot Justice fame. You can check out all of Legal Tease's other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]

There have only been a handful of moments in my legal career–nay, in my life–when I’ve felt there was a decent possibility that all the people surrounding me in a particular space were about to collectively crouch down, bare fangs, and storm forward in a sweeping, feral frenzy of rage, ripping out the throat of whichever poor bastard happened to be in charge. Typically, this feeling has only kicked in while, say, waiting on the tarmac at O’Hare during a blizzard, or sitting in my 1L Property Law class on the day my professor announced that she didn’t believe in teaching black letter law. But last Thursday, it happened in a 6th floor conference room in my tense, hungry little corner of BigLaw.

You see, the powers that be at my firm had called a meeting that day. Not just a meeting, but the meeting–the one to address the recent, escalating fear crippling the associate ranks. True, BigLaw can hardly be described as an oasis of calm in any economy, but the paranoia around my firm lately has been palpable. In the past few weeks, each time I’ve heard a knock on my office door before 9 a.m., or received a call from an extension I didn’t recognize, or opened an email addressed to “All Associates-USA,” I’ve felt my body click into a fleeting state of stomach-sinking paralysis, wondering whether I’m about to be told that I’m officially being relieved of my obligation to show up for work on a daily basis. Call me neurotic, but the massive stealth layoffs ripping through my firm lately–paired nicely with radio silence from the firm’s management–can make a girl a little jumpy.

Turns out, though, my fears were totally unfounded. Because, you see, last Thursday, the firm finally stepped up and started talking. They held the meeting–a self-styled Q&A forum for all associates where the firm’s associate management committee promised to address several “topics of interest.” And oh, how they did. They cut through the typical administrative nonsense and dove right into the big topic. The topic that’s undoubtedly been clouding their minds in the past few weeks. The topic that apparently dwarfs any and all other possible topics that might be of interest to any associate. Anywhere. The topic so relevant, so timely, that it merited a good 25-minute discussion. That’s right, friends, my firm finally opened up and addressed this, the Most Important Topic Facing BigLaw Today: whether the firm should adopt a Casual Fridays dress code.

Things get worse after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Life, Death, and Halter Tops”

sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. Note: The following piece was authored by "The Legal Tease" of Sweet Hot Justice fame. You can check out all of Legal Tease's other evocative musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]

You know this guy, you do. Every Big Firm has at least one. You started hearing the lore about him your first week at the firm and you admit that you were part intrigued, part terrified. You’ve seen him in passing in the halls, usually after most of the firm has emptied out after dark. Perhaps you’ve even tried to speak to him, only to be met with a distinct lack of eye contact and a half-snort as he scuttled away. He’s more socially awkward than any mental patient, not fit for human–no less client–interaction. But, word on the street–and that word’s always mentioned in hushed, reverential tones–is that he’s brilllliant. Like, crazy genius smart. That’s why the firm keeps him around. The brilliance. He’s the resident Big Firm Savant. And I’m here to tell you first-hand, the whole “genius” thing is a complete and total fraud.

How do I know this? Because I’ve spent the last two weeks holed up on an idiot fire drill deal that’s never going to materialize with not one, but two of my firm’s rumored Big Firm Savants.

One, of course, is our old friend, Glenn, who has the twin distinctions of having billed more hours than any other associate four years running and not having made eye contact since 1993. The other is Russ. Russ, a corporate equity partner whose book of business is rivaled in magnitude only by his lack of a personality. Or emotional range. Or ability to speak in a voice that doesn’t sound like he was recently plugged back into the Matrix.

Still, when I found out I’d be working with Russ, I figured it wasn’t necessarily all bad. Sure, I’d have to spend part of the holidays working on a dead-end deal led by a robot with lip chap the size of glaciers and a leadership style that rivals Ted Kaczynski’s. But on the upside, I’d finally get an inside look at how true legal genius works. I’d be working side-by-side two infamous Big Firm Savants. I’d experience the brilliance.

And most intriguing of all, I’d witness firsthand the rumored way that Russ supposedly “comes alive” in front of clients–because that’s part of the legend of Russ, of all Big Firm Savants: They’re corporate mole people around the office, but stick ‘em in front of a client and bam, they “come alive.” They shed their awkwardness and stun anyone within billing distance with artfully delivered soliloquies of razor-sharp legal analysis worthy of the whitest shoe. They shine. They must, right?


Read more about Big Russ and Glen after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Genius Like No Other”

James Cook Turnbull Asser.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by guest writer LIAM HILL (no relation to Kashmir), who will be writing a series of posts about fashion and style. Fashion is a popular topic these days. See, e.g., the undershirts post (200 comments).
Perhaps it's because Fashion Week is about to get under way in New York. You can follow goings-on over at our sister site, Fashionista, which will be covering the collections live from Bryant Park.]
With the economic downturn, lawyer layoffs, and pushed-back start dates, I’ve been wondering about the influence that such turmoil has had on — what else? — office fashion. I tend to agree with Mark Twain, who said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” (Well, unless you’re in the middle of Times Square, with a guitar and a cowboy hat.)
Leaner times tend to bring out the Brooks Brothers aesthetic, and business casual once again goes where it belongs — away. Ties and coats return, flip-flops and “commuter shoes” stay home, and “white shoe” again can once mean white shoe (but only on Fridays). Although many will resist the siren song of a more formal workplace, the trend is inevitable. I know you won’t believe me, but apparently those who want to take your job already do. At least according to Turnbull & Asser.
Read my interview with James Cook (pictured), Bespoke Manager of Turnbull & Asser, and share your thoughts on the current state of men’s fashion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The State of the Union Office (Or: How is the downturn affecting lawyer dress?)”

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