Thursday, January 14, 2016

News articles like one I read today about a doctor who allegedly ejaculated on a patient's face ( remind me that medicine is so much more civilized than the law. A doctor does something like that and it's news. A law firm partner does it and it wouldn't even rise to the level of elevator gossip. It's almost standard operating procedure around here. I can ejaculate on pretty much anyone and it would be a non-issue.  Except maybe the chairman of the firm.  He might have a problem with it.  Anyone else is fair game, though. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

There are moments I remember why I let New Wife talk me into letting her have a baby.  Like when the kid nestles into my arms, curls up like a little animal, and falls asleep for an hour or two and I can catch up on some reading on my phone without feeling guilty that I'm not working on something more important.  It's like bonus time, that baby-sleeping-on-you time, where the world can't expect anything of you so if you do anything at all, it's like you beat the system.  And, sure, it's annoying when you accidentally hit the kid in the head with the corner of the phone, or you realize you've been aiming the light directly into his eyes, but, hey, I read almost the entire NY Times today-- and it's been a long time since I've been able to do that (which is why I generally have an associate send me a memo summarizing all of the articles).

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

To coincide with the President's State of the Union address, I gave a couple of my own little speeches today: a State of the Firm at the office (we're good, but we can always be better, and that means more hours, more networking, and less fiber-- fewer bathroom breaks that way), and a State of the Family at home over breakfast this morning.  I woke New Wife up from her between-night-feedings nap to put something special together to make it a real event (pancakes, eggs, homemade jam) and I held court in front of the Nespresso, announcing that the state of our family is strong, but someone needs to start sleeping through the night already, and someone else needs to stop with the every-other-week $300 hair appointments, and, okay, I guess I can be a little more affectionate and try to put away my phone when I'm rocking Anonymous Baby to sleep.  Or at least I can turn off notifications.  Maybe.  Unless I'm expecting something important to happen.  I really don't know how people had babies before smartphones.  I mean, I guess I did it, but I was never home so it doesn't really count.  Just can't believe people used to use both eyes to watch their kids instead of merely peering over the screen. Crazy.  Anyway, New Wife gave her response and basically disagreed with all of the proposals in my speech, but I control every branch of government in the house (and all the bank accounts), so it's all just meaningless rhetoric.  Can't wait to present her with this year's budget.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

The older I get, the more entitled everyone else in the world seems.  Obviously, I'm entitled to feel entitled -- I'm a law firm partner after all, with almost a full head of hair, and if I can't feel entitled, who can?  But whether it's associates expecting free water bottles in the office, assistants expecting the freedom to leave their desks without a written pass, students in my course expecting me to show up every time, or ordinary people expecting special treatment just because they think people in this world should be civil to each other, it really seems like things have gotten worse and worse over the past couple of decades.

Last night, for instance, New Wife and I took our baby out to dinner with us, to a medium-fancy French place, not like the fanciest in the city but also not like a casual night out kind of place.  And of course whenever we bring our baby somewhere, we also bring the nanny just in case he cries or needs to be changed or someone looks at him funny and we think it would be better to have them wait outside until we're finished -- but next to us was this other couple, and they had a kid with them who was probably 18 months, maybe 2, maybe 6 -- it's so hard to tell how old someone else's child is -- and I hear them asking the waitress for a straw for him, so he can drink his wine, or champagne, or whatever it was they were giving him.  It was pale, so I think maybe it was a vinho verde, or maybe it was just mineral water, who knows what people are giving their kids, but hopefully if it was a vinho verde, it was a decent one because you don't want to screw up your kid's palate by giving them lousy wine before they even have a baseline sense of what a good one is like.  So, they ask for a straw, as if a nice French bistro is supposed to be able to accommodate children like that.  Sure enough, they actually gave the kid a straw, and it even seemed like they comped him a serving of foie gras after they saw him eating off his dad's plate.  I have nothing against kids eating in fancy restaurants as long as they're using the right flatware, but the entitlement that this couple must have, to ask for a straw -- a straw -- was really quite astonishing to me.  And it turns out the parents didn't even have professional degrees -- if I was overhearing accurately, he was a graphic designer and she was -- of course -- in marketing.  So what they were doing at a restaurant with tablecloths, I'm really not sure.

Anyway, we survived the night out, and, look, I have to give the other couple credit because their kid did accurately steer us away from the tarte tatin when he told us it seemed like it had been microwaved, so, kudos to them for giving him a good gastronomic grounding, and I gave him my card and told him to look me up if he ends up interested in the law, but, still, then I show up back in the office at 10:30 to finish up some late Sunday work, and one of my associates is in the conference room with his shoes off.  Even on Sunday night, come on, you have to wear shoes.  There is no excuse.  Not even the foot surgery he had on Thursday.

Friday, January 08, 2016

I was going to write about paid family leave today, but I got distracted by stuff at home.  Ha, funny, right?  I'm making a joke.  Because obviously no serious human being should ever be getting distracted from something they need to do.  I suppose I sympathize with people who believe that paid family leave should be a no-brainer for a company that values its employees -- I mean, I'd like to get money for not working, too.  We all want to get as much money as we can while doing as little as we can get away with.  I understand the impulse.  What I don't understand is how a business is supposed to justify the expense, and the kinds of incentives it creates.  I mean, in a world where everyone works for him or herself, there is no paid family leave.  If you're self-employed and you want to be home with your baby for six months, that's fine -- but no one's going to pay you, and if your clients need someone to do work for them while you're not available, then you're taking the risk that they're going to find someone better, and not be there for you whenever you decide to come back to the real world.  If you have an emergency where the nurse taking care of your demented parents jumps off a bridge, or a piano falls on your husband's head and you have to stay home to change the bandage six times a day, I feel for you -- but I'm also managing a business, and our clients don't really want to hear about your personal problems.  They just want someone to dig through 23,000 e-mails by Monday, looking for the one that gives them cover for firing the old guy so they don't lose the age discrimination suit, that's all.  And who can blame them?  If we can't do the work, they're going to find a law firm that can.  And they should.

So when someone comes into my office and asks about paid family leave, I just wonder if they really understand the nature of the work we do, or the nature of the work anyone does, and why they think they should get special treatment just because they happen to have chosen family members who aren't self-sufficient, or decided to prioritize their child or their spouse or their parents over their job.  You can always have more children, I tell people -- but there isn't always going to be an associate position open for you.  You can take time off -- we can't legally restrain you.  But we might find someone better to fill your spot, and that person might not be saddled with dependents.  That's just the risk you take.

All of that said, though -- I am proud to say that I did stand up at a partner's meeting and fight for equality for moms and dads.  I thought it was totally unfair that we didn't offer paternity leave, especially when we give women four months of paid leave after they give birth.  I said that in this day and age, it's shameful to treat men and women so differently -- and not to give fathers any time off at all.  And so we changed our policy.  Men get two weeks now.  And so do women.  I mean, not two actual weeks off -- it's three days off and then you can work from home for a week and a half, just until you can sleep-train the kid and wean her onto formula, and go to a couple of doctor's appointments, and get the kid a Social Security number, or whatever it is you have to do in the first couple of weeks of life so the government doesn't take the baby away.  I don't really know how it works.  New Wife let me go back to work right from the hospital anyway.  Her mom was in town, and she knows I can't be in the same room with her, so she just told me to get back to the office.  That's why we're a good match.

And entitlement is starting earlier and earlier these days.  A kid in the class I'm teaching e-mailed me the other day and said he needed an extension on the doc review project I assigned, because his aunt died.  Is an aunt even a real relative?  And you can't bring a laptop to a funeral?  If students are already thinking about time off for family situations, then no wonder it's an even bigger issue once they're adults in the workplace and have actual problems.  My mom's nursing home burned down last year.  I made a couple of phone calls, got an Uber car to pick her up and move her to another facility without me even having to leave the deposition I was in, and that was it.  Her burns were totally superficial, and she was just as happy to talk to the taxi driver about the fire as she would have been to tell me, so what did I need to be there for?  And now she's wherever it is I sent her, I think I have the address in my e-mail somewhere, and she's probably doing fine.  I didn't need paid family leave, unpaid family leave, or any leave at all.  When you're forced to solve your problems, you find a way.  You find a way.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it... can I still make an associate go clean up whatever mess it made?  Hey, I know it's been like six years since I last posted on this thing, but surely I'm important enough that you've all been checking it daily.  So I can just jump right back in, yeah?  Hopefully people still read blogs.  I'm not actually sure what people do anymore.  Man, I remember when I was just a "people," before I became too powerful to do much of anything that I'm not billing for.  Worrying about life and stuff like that, ha, what a crazy time that was.  It is really great to be able to pay people to do things for me that I don't want to do, and to use work as an excuse for avoiding anything else I don't feel like dealing with.

But I should catch you up on what you've missed these past six years.  First of all, I'm at a different firm.  Smaller, but just as indifferent to the needs of the people who work for us.  You know, I used to wonder if smaller firms really were selling something different to prospective associates, the whole work-life balance thing, more access to clients, more interesting work, personal attention, all of that junk.  But now I realize all those purported advantages were just trumped-up ways to paper over the truth.  There isn't a smaller firm out there that wouldn't love to be a big firm, if they could manage to procure enough work.  Smaller just means they aren't good enough to be big, that's all.  Anything else is just a story we're telling to try to convince you -- or ourselves -- of something else.  No one makes a deliberate decision to stay small.  No one.

The other update for now is that Anonymous Wife made a wonderful miscalculation about how easy it would be to get around the antenuptial agreement I made her sign before our wedding, and she now lives with a VP of marketing -- ha, marketing, the idea of that being a respectable career always makes me laugh -- in an ungentrified neighborhood that I'm almost scared to be driven through when I pick up our kids for a visit every fifth weekend.  I, of course, found someone better, almost instantly, and she was even able to convince me to let her have a child.  So we have a baby, who is some number of months old, and his half-siblings hate him, of course, because I get to do everything over again and make time for him the way I never did for them, blah, blah, blah.  Anyway, he is a demon around bedtime, so I've started teaching a class as an adjunct at a terrible law school around here just so I don't have to be home when my wife is dealing with that.  I thought I knew terrible law schools from the years I've spent recruiting mindless drones to come be my slaves -- but I never really thought about the fact that there was a whole tier of law schools far beneath even the ones we thought were far beneath our targets.  It's one thing to con people into taking a job that'll kill their souls.  At least we pay them.  It's quite another thing to con people into spending $200K to get a "degree" that is completely and utterly valueless.  So those are the people I'm screaming at a few nights a week, about whatever comes to mind, since, honestly, they are not paying me enough to prepare material, they're really not.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about all of that, especially since I told New Wife that this blog is what I "need" to be working on during bedtime the rest of the nights of the week.  She thinks it's a law review article that I'm working on.  Yeah, I married someone who thinks that someone like me would have to write law review articles in order to justify his professional standing.  I didn't say she was a genius.  So, there we are.  My return.  For real this time.

Oh-- I'm just putting this here as a placeholder for my next post-- I need to remember to write about the funniest thing that's happened to me in a while.  An associate popped her head into my office the other day and asked me about our paid family leave policy.  I don't even know which of those words is the funniest-- paid, family, or leave.  Probably leave, because I think that's what she's going to do.  Wow, I've missed having this outlet, I really have.  Talk to you again soon.

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