Sunday, November 28, 2010

Small Stuff

Welcome back to work everybody!  It's been a while since I truly took a long weekend, what a blessing it is to really disengage from practice for 4 days!  I should do this more often. It certainly helps with perspective.

Before checking out last week I was chatting with a colleague about some pretty ordinary frustrations about the practice.  It's nice to have a sympathetic ear.  Rather than fomenting her righteous indignation and letting her get her panties in a twist, I reminded her not to sweat the small stuff.  And she knows as well as I do that it's all small stuff.

Well, not all.  There are some non negotiable things:  professional ethics and personal integrity are at the top of my list.  But most all of the rest of the annoyances really are just small things in the grand scheme of things.  Yes, we need to vent occasionally.  But venting to a trusted colleague who won't use the venting against you at a later date is much better than lashing out at the source(s) of all those little (and sometime not so little) things our partners, colleagues, and even clients, do that we wish they would not.  They're all human, too.

Easy to say on a mellow Sunday evening after a lovely holiday weekend.  Let's see if I can follow my own advice this week.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hastings Leadership Academy 2011

July 20-23, 2011--

Reserve your space now! The Leadership Academy is limited to a small group of women law firm partners and for one full day of the program, senior women in-house counsel. The small size of the class ensures an intimate learning environment and the chance to interact closely with a distinguished faculty comprised of law firm leaders, experts, law and business school professors, and general counsel.
To reserve a space at the 2011 Leadership Academy, or for more information,
call 415-565-4640, go to
or send an email to
University of California,
Hastings College of the Law
San Francisco

Although the program is designed for women,
it is open to all law firm partners and senior in-house counsel. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Back Up Plans

I think it's a habit developed mostly from 26+ years of parenting while also working full time, but however I acquired it, I have this neurotic need to have a back up plan for as many contingencies as I can imagine so that I can get my tasks done each day.  Many of these back up plans are just basic mechanics for getting through the day: if the power at home goes out my back up alarm will wake me;  if the car doesn't start I'll take the truck; if there's no parking at my preferred BART train station, I go to station #2; if the trains aren't running I can work from home using my laptop; if the laptop crashes I can work from the Droid; if the home network isn't connecting I'll use the verizon card to connect; if the VPN isn't connecting I'll use Citrix; if Citrix isn't working I'll call the office and ask my IT buddies what I've done to mess things up; if the power is out in the office so none of the networks are working...

I'll take the rest of the day off.

Have a great weekend.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Haiku #23

The final descent
Heaven:: earth; peace:: chaos.  Run-
way lights show the way

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Things I Love and Things I Hate

I hate:

Spring Forward and Fall Back

Sick pets.


Not being able to access Outlook off line.

Sitting in windowless hotel conference rooms for 18 hours of legislative drafting.

I love:

Sleeping in.

Kitties that purr when they feel better.


Accessing email through my verizon card.

Making a difference by being part of the legislative process.

For more on legislative drafting projects, see the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dirty Jobs

This post first ran a couple of years ago in October of 2008. Tonight I watched another fun episode of Dirty Jobs and was reminded how one person's dirty job (cleaning up frozen poo and urine for sled dogs in Alaska) is another's dream job. I suppose the same can be said about certain tasks that keep a law firm running.

Mike Rowe's hit show on Discovery Channel, "Dirty Jobs," absolutely fascinates me. The show follows Mike Rowe as he "visits with unsung heroes who do these ucky, mucky, yucky jobs so you don't have to." Spend some time at and watch a few clips. When I feel particularly discouraged by my professional life I switch to Dirty Jobs and immediately count my blessings. Milking poisonous snakes, caring for large and dangerous animals, exterminating insects (the termite show was particularly distressing to me), and generally doing everything in either filthy, smelly, dangerous, noisy or wet conditions is real work and something for which people should be handsomely rewarded.

So it is with real humility that I post these musings: there are also ucky, mucky, yucky jobs in law firms that don't seem to be particularly appreciated. I'm not talking about the Art Committee, the Entertainment Committee or the Recruiting Committee, although I recognize that for some people those committees would be pure torture. ("Should we buy that horrible, massive red piece and hang it in the lobby so all our clients can see our bad taste, or this one?" just might drive an educated art critic nuts. But I digress.)

Ucky, yucky, mucky jobs in law firms tend to be those that require time consuming non-billable work(meaning economically unseen for nearly all law firm compensation committees) and that provide little opportunity for fun, good food, or professional or personal development. The library committee, pension committee, client intake committee, risk management or ethics committee, and insurance committee come to mind. Then there are the day-to-day things we do in our own practices that are personally yucky: some lawyers find marketing, public speaking, client billing or collection work, staff management, subordinate review, or recruiting to be their equivalent of getting down in the poo and mud.

All of these are necessary jobs that someone has to do to make the machine work, so I'm not dissing their importance. Back to my balance theme, though, I do think it is important that the ucky, mucky, yucky jobs get spread around fairly. There should be term limits and rotations on and off the primo and the ucky, mucky, yucky committees. Fortunately, the same things don't float everyone's boat, so with a little attention to the details of personal satisfaction and skill sets the good and the not-so-good jobs can be spread around a bit to provide everyone with a fair share of the opportunities for professional advancement, fun, and muck.

What's the uckiest, muckiest, yuckiest job you've seen a lawyer do? I think we should stick to legal activities here and stay away from the illegal and unethical. Do share.