Romance and Dating

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to
This week, we’re changing things up a bit here at Pls Hndle Thx. Does this have anything to do with the fact that the usual problem-response-counter response-response format is getting a bit tiresome? No! It has everything to do with this week’s salacious question:

pls hndle copy 2.jpgATL:
I have a crush on one of the ATL staff. I’m not going to give gender, and I won’t say anymore. You know me; I comment under the name “Guest.” You’ll recall that Meade, Ann Althouse’s commenter suitor, asked in her blog’s comments how he could win her affection, and Ann gave him some advice. Now I’m asking you all for your advice. How can I win this person over?
Cyrano de B.

If you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends, the Spice Girls once sang, so I took their wise advice and went straight to the sources themselves — Lat, Elie, Kash and Roxana — to ask what it takes to be their Rock of Love.
Elie: I like women who are demonstrably more intelligent than me, with large breasts. Which pretty much exactly describes my wife. Actually, it perfectly describes my wife. My wife is perfect. In every way. Are there other women? I didn’t notice. Can I go home now Marin? I have to make some space for myself on the couch.
Lat: Charmingly eccentric, boyishly appealing, well-educated professional seeks same. Enjoys reading (mostly fiction and periodicals), blogging, theater, film, going to the beach, riding in cars with boys, getting free stuff in the mail, and drinking vanilla soy milk. Quintessential Gemini, with a wide range of interests and a weakness for novelty — willing to try almost anything once. Stalk me on Facebook or Twitter.
But we’re not done yet. Find out what kills with the Ladies of ATL, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: Don’t Stand So Close to Me”

Notes from the Breadline Roxana St Thomas.jpgEd. note: Welcome to the latest installment of “Notes from the Breadline,” a column by a laid-off lawyer in New York. Prior columns are collected here. You can reach Roxana St. Thomas by email (at, follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.

Cliff does not understand why attorney layoffs — mine or anyone else’s — are, well, newsworthy. This comes to light when I show him what I think is a fairly remarkable story about a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop who, in a display of consummate indiscretion, broadcasted the firm’s layoff plans to his fellow passengers on the Washington-to-New York Acela train (via loud cell-phone conversation).

“Pretty fucked up, huh?” I say. He shrugs. Crickets chirp. “I don’t know,” he finally answers. “I don’t get it. I don’t get the whole thing.” I try to explain why I think the story is remarkable. First, there is the obvious matter of the partner’s imprudence, and the thoughtlessness of announcing personnel decisions that will affect people’s lives — people like me — to the passengers on the 2:00 train. Second, I tell him, putting aside the fact that widespread job losses are the foremost indicator of what feels like our profession’s implosion, they are often fashioned as “stealth layoffs.” Pillsbury had already engaged in some stealth layoffs, and although it is not clear that the partner’s unofficial press release (in the form of poor volume modulation) thwarted the firm’s plans for another, the possibility gives the story a “gotcha” quality.

But, it turns out, while the term “stealth layoff” may be part of every lawyer’s lexicon at the moment, it does not have universal currency. “What are ‘stealth layoffs’?” Cliff wants to know. Growing exasperated, I try to explain the pernicious “enhanced performance review,” and its insidious corollary, the “performance-based dismissal.” My indignation is not contagious: Cliff remains unmoved. “These are private companies,” he says. “I don’t see why they have an obligation to announce anything about who they choose to fire, or why.”

People get fired, he says: it sucks, but why should we expect law firms to act any differently than any other employer? Cliff has worked in advertising for the better part of two decades, where, apparently, things work differently; when he was working at big ad agencies, he tells me, people were fired all the time. In fact, firings usually coincided with payday, so if you got a paycheck you knew that you were safe for a little while longer.

Once, years ago, when he was working at one such agency, someone from management went around and put stickers on the doors of selected offices. Everyone who got a sticker assumed that they were going to be canned, so that later, when they were herded into a conference room, they were prepared for the ax to fall. Instead, they were told that they “were the future of the company,” but that everyone else was being told to pack up and leave. The chosen ones were then sequestered in the conference room until the unfortunate ones, who hadn’t made the cut, were shepherded out of the building. No one had any warning of what was about to happen, much less an expectation that they would get three months of severance.

I understand what Cliff is saying. “But,” I remind him, “you told me that the last few times you were fired, they escorted you out as you threw things down the hall and yelled obscenities.” I also recall him saying, at some point, “Wow, I can’t believe you’re still going into the office. I would be walking in with a can of gasoline.”

“I didn’t say that it doesn’t suck,” he concedes. “I just don’t understand why everyone thinks that these law firms owe them something.”

Is Roxana’s significant other being insufficiently understanding? Read her reflections on lawyers’ love lives, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Notes from the Breadline: It Ain’t No Use to Sit and Wonder Why, Babe”

is-wurkin-hird-lukin-4-luv.jpgLast January, we did an ATL / Lateral Link survey on how often you cancelled your social plans because of work.

Notably, we found that “[a]round forty percent of associates missed dates,” usually because a partner asked them to finish something at the last minute.

But now that the economy has collapsed slowed down, some employees are beginning to get their lives back. Yesterday, even as Kash was updating us on an avalanche of salary freezes in Big Law, Gizmodo was praising at least one company that’s trying to heat things up overseas:

This just in: Canon is the world’s greatest camera manufacturer. And it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with their actual cameras.

In response to Japan’s aging population and Japanese couples’ propensity to have too few children to maintain the country’s population, Canon called off the traditional 12-hour workday twice a week, encouraging their employees to go home early and make mini Canon employees of their own.

CNN chimed in that, even though this (pro)creative office perk meant missing out on overtime twice a week, employees were psyched:

“It’s great that we can go home early and not feel ashamed,” said employee Miwa Iwasaki.

To my knowledge, Big Law has not yet adopted a go-home-and-make-babies policy (although parental leave policies have certainly improved). But Lateral Link CEO Michael Allen tells me that “several firms encourage interoffice dating, and wrt marriage actually give a bonus, i.e., like $10,000 if you marry within the firm.”

If that’s true, then it definitely adds a different flavor to some of the questions Marin’s been taking lately on inter-office romance, like this one last fall:

I’ve just been staffed on a relatively long term project with another associate. She and I went on one date a few months ago and hooked up, but that was it because she is batsh*t crazy. Since then she’s sent me a bunch of “let’s get lunch” emails and has “coincidentally” appeared at happy hour drinks when I’m out with people from the firm. I think this person is unstable and I don’t want to put myself in a position to be sabotaged by her. But I don’t want to appear like I’m rejecting work or that I’m not a “team player.” I also don’t want to make it known that I dated a co-worker. Any advice?

So, today let’s update last January’s survey to ask not only whether you were able to be social and be a lawyer at the same time, but also find out whether your firms (or you) support inter-office productivity, as it were.

Take the survey after the jump.

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[Ed Note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to]

Dear ATL-pls hndle copy 2.jpg

About a week ago I was out for happy hour drinks with some people from my firm. I really hit it off with a young-ish junior partner who I hadn’t really spoken to before. He asked me out for drinks and I said yes, but I’m wondering if this entire situation isn’t a disaster in the making.

Do you think I should cancel? By the way, I’m a corporate associate and he’s in litigation, if that changes anything for you.


The Other Wendy Savage

Dear The Other Wendy Savage,

JACKPOT. If all goes well, you’re only two years away from quitting that crappy job of yours and spending your days sitting on a couch watching Guiding Light and eating gummy worms. But before you can live the dream, you’ve got to navigate the rocky terrain of dating both a boss and a co-worker.

If things go badly on the first date, no harm no foul. You’ve scored free drinks, he won’t mention it to his fellow partners for fear of Megan’s Law, and you’ll probably never have to work together. Even if there are no sparks, non-billable time with a partner at your firm may come in handy anyway. I once went on a date with a partner from another firm and I asked about that year’s bonus and whether partnership meetings resemble Priory of Sion rituals.

The problems creep in if you continue dating and then things go south. At that point any attempts to hide your relationship from co-workers will be laughable, and, depending on whether you work in a corny firm, once you’ve gotten to third base you may have to report it to human resources and sign a sexual harassment release. Partners and associates may talk about it behind your back or look down on you, but people have been drinking haterade since time immemorial. If it doesn’t work out between you two, you can always move your desk, lateral out, or date another partner at the firm.

Look, is it risky to go on date with the partner? Sure, but it’s a far greater gamble to date an M.F.A. student (future poverty), a bartender (adulterer), or someone in finance (future poverty). As humble servant of Christ Joel Osteen implied in his Portfolio magazine profile, “God wants you to be rich.” And so do I. So do I.

Your friend,


What does Elie think about all this? Find out after the jump.

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Hot for Partner”

randy yellow hat.jpg[Ed Note: This is the third and final installment in the Curious Case of Randy, a rather eccentric law firm partner. You can read Part 1 over here and Part 2 over here.]

Weeks pass, and Randy continues to be randy. Stopping by my office no less than three times a day. Gawking at the summer associates as they get their lunches downstairs. I kind of just check out.

I decide to ignore him, figuring that eventually he’ll go away. I do, however, find myself staring at his chest each time he comes in and interrupts me. I’m looking for milk. Or the emergence of breasts. But I don’t recall seeing anything. I think the pills must have gotten that problem under control — but not the other thing. He’s so antsy and manic — sometimes I thought he might start touching himself in my office. Anyway, here it comes, and I’m not lying.

Several weeks later, as February approached — the month that I have always contended is the cruelest month (not April, as T.S. Eliot alleges) — Valentine’s season begins. I tend to ignore all this heart/love crap because I think it’s stupid. I was never one to send out Valentine’s Day cards, even in elementary school. I rejected it. I mean, I can barely say I love you to my parents or my boyfriend; I’m certainly not going to say it to some random person. And I doubt my meatball (non-lawyer, a big plus) boyfriend will do anything anyway.

So I walk into my office at 9:00 a.m., maybe 9:30 actually, on February 14th. There is a large, blood orange, inter-office envelope on top of my desk. I figure it’s my expense report or the report of my billable hours, which I haven’t met for two months. As I open it, however, a pink something falls out. I turn it over. It is a homemade Valentine, constructed out of pale pink construction paper, topped with an old-school white doily, and on it, there is a poem written by a dark purple crayon. My first thought is, how cute; it must be from my partner’s daughter, Rose.

Find out what the poem is about, after the jump.

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All By Myself single alone lonely National Singles Week.jpgAre you still stuck at the office, settling in for a long evening of work, and thinking about what to order from SeamlessWeb? Maybe you goofed off all day because you have nobody to go home to at night.
(We know what that’s like. It’s why we’ve been covering the ATL night shift lately.)
Fellow single people, we wish you a Happy National Singles Week (September 21-28). From the San Francisco Chronicle:

There are 92 million unmarried Americans, and this is their week.

Since the 1980s, the third full week of September has been National Singles Week. Started by Ohio’s Buckeye Singles Council as a way to recognize the role singles play in society, it is now known as National Unmarried and Single Americans Week. According to the U.S. census, the adjusted name acknowledges that many unmarried Americans do not identify with the word “single” because they have partners or are widowed.

Many of them are also rejecting the stereotyped notion that they’re living in hope of the perfect spouse appearing, a Disneylike vision in a reality-show world. They’re creating a grassroots effort to obtain equal rights in health care access, taxation and other areas while demanding that they be seen as living their lives in full.

And equal rights in law offices, too. Single lawyers: How many times have you had to pick up the slack or hold down the fort for a colleague who left work early for an anniversary dinner, daughter’s ballet recital, or Valentine’s Day celebration?
Read more — plus take a reader poll, concerning whether single people or married people make better Biglaw employees — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Happy National Singles Week!
(And: Do single people or married people make better law firm employees?)”

randy yellow hat.jpg[Ed Note: Yesterday we learned that Hope's partner pal, Randy, was taking testosterone pills to treat his "lactating man-boobs." Today we learn about the downside of hormonal supplements.]

“Testosterone pills? Like, how many do you have to take?”

“Well, right now three. One with every meal.”

I wanted to end this conversation and finish the bloody filing so I could go out and get wasted.

“Well, I hope it helps and you feel better soon!” I gathered my papers and stared at my laptop.

“Well, my chest isn’t hurting as much, but there’s this other problem.”

Good Lord.


“Well…” Randy leaned forward and whispered, “I can’t stop thinking about sex. I’m like obsessed with it. I can’t do my work. It’s all I think about — I feel like I’ve turned into a teenage boy again.”

Okay, this is weird. Really weird. And, weird is what I sought to escape. I found myself longing for the hairy armpits, unbuckled trousers, and pool parties back at Pants Down.

“I mean… I can’t even go to lunch in public without staring at every girl that walks by.”

This proved to be true. I later witnessed this at a lunch with some summer associates. Each time a remotely attractive girl walked by, his neck moved more rapidly than the ducks I fed stale bread to at our lake house. Clearly he was hungry — and not shy.

“Well, I really think you need to talk to your doctor about this. Maybe they can lower the medication.”

“Well, he has lowered it. Still. All I think about its sex! Even my wife is sick of me — I want it like three times a day.” My mind flashed back to the photo of the blond trophy wife on his desk. Please. She probably doesn’t even want to do it with him three times a year.

“I’m really sorry about your problem. But, I do have to get this filing done in an hour.”

I get him out of my office — and fast. I mean, what does he want me to do here? Service him? Well, he can try the self-service island. I wanted to tell him to go whack off and leave me alone.

Hope tries to finish the task at hand, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Curious Case Of Randy (Part 2)”

randy yellow hat.jpgFirst of all, never ever shoot your cerebellum up with botulism two days before a deadline. God. My head hurts. Yet, I rise …

Here we go.

“Listen, go work somewhere where people like you… I mean, really like you. Then, you can screw up, and it doesn’t even matter. Hope, just go somewhere where people like you, and you’ll be in. Nothing else matters.”

Sage advice given to me from a senior associate at the Pants Down law firm. I mean, he was forced to eat white buns at his desk, the only staple stashed in desk drawer, because he never, ever left his office — not even to get lunch. But he was brilliant, the golden child of Litigation. And he knew this firm was pure evil. He wanted me to escape while I was still young enough.

So, after putting in a few years at Pants Down, I decided to leave. In addition to fending off the advances of creepy middle-aged male partners, I had become increasingly fed up with the partners there, in general.

Plus, at the end of every single day, I was so completely drained. Had I been a mother required to feed a child, my breast would have just dried up. I just had nothing left to give. Anyone.

I was ready to jump.

So, I decided to go to a firm that was less prestigious and international, but that was fine by me. I liked it better anyway when the world was round, not flat. And I was really sick of reading The Economist. There are just way too many countries. More importantly, I was excited to go to a place where the partners actually cared about me and what I wanted to do with my life. And my friend Molly, who had recently left the firm, was really happy now.

She e-mailed me from her new firm: “Listen, Hope. I came to Pants Down because I thought the people were kind of eccentric, interesting — not the super stuffy lawyers you usually find. Now, actually, after seeing all their erratic crazy behavior, I want boring, dull, bland. That’s fine by me.”

I e-mailed her back: “I know. These people are nuts. I mean, who goes to a ‘pool party’ and jumps in the pool in a bikini in front of their colleagues – especially with unshaved armpits? So gross.”

Query: What woman doesn’t shave her armpits? And, if you opt not to shave your pits because you fancy yourself some Nicaraguan rebel leader, then please, keep your arms down. The summer associate pool party was my breaking point — I had to get the hell out of here. These people were just too weird. And the partner for whom I worked was mean as hell and had an old school mustache. That also was weird.

Well, the new firm proved to be everything I expected. They cared about me. Too much.

Read more, after the jump.

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blackberry mana.JPGBuzzing around the internet today is a ridiculous study from the Chicago Sun Times:

A new survey found that about 35 percent of professionals would pick their PDAs over their spouses if they had to choose.

A surprising 87 percent take their personal digital assistants into their bedrooms, and 84 percent check them just before going to bed and as soon as they wake up, according to a work-life survey from Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. Another 85 percent say they look at their PDAs in the middle of the night.

Sounds to me like 35 percent of professionals do not fully understand the ramifications of losing half their stuff.

But what’s worse is that many readers have emailed the story to ATL contending that the numbers for professionals “in the law” would be much, much higher.

Let’s settle this after the jump.

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Hamptons mansion shingle style cottage.jpg[Ed. note: This is a continuation of the story started in this post by ATL guest columnist Hope Winters, which you should read first if you haven't done so already. It's about Hope's friend Anna, a young Wall Street lawyer and self-described "summer wife."]
It’s the first week of August. At around five o’clock, Anna’s BlackBerry begins buzzing with invitations to fancy restaurants like Amaranth or Cipriani, courtesy of the much older partners looking for summer wives. Anna likes to network and she likes to eat, so she’s game.
You’d never guess it by her lithe frame and recessed chest exposing clavicle bones, but Anna can eat and drink … a lot. And like all girls, she just likes attention — attention best demonstrated at lavish restaurants, and hotel bars where cucumber Martinis are served all night long. Anna is into the glam. She wears conservative charcoal gray Diane von Furstenberg dresses, but accessorizes sexy — strappy black sandals that crisscross at the ankles, dangling gold earrings, and a black lace camisole ever-so-subtly revealed. So if a much older, frumpy partner wants to be seen with her, he better be taking her somewhere gorgeous.
In any event, as the summer goes by and the dinners multiply (followed always by an invitation for a “nightcap” at the partner’s apartment), Anna grows increasingly fond of one of her suitors, Abraham. She realizes that it’s time for her to grow up, settle down, and take a summer husband. He has been courting her for a long time now. Calling her. Wining and dining her. Complimenting her. Texting her. Even sending her a car and driver.
He wants her. She is everything right that is wrong in his wife.
Finally, Anna capitulates. Very well — I’ll be your summer wife.
Read more, after the jump.

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