Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Day in the Life

Hi guys!

I've been wanting to do a "day in the life" post for a while, and I finally got around to it. Score one for me doing things!

This isn't a normal day necessarily, since there's really not a "normal" day in corporate law. Some days I literally have nothing to do and will watch Netflix at my computer (this gets much rarer as you become more senior), and some days I get to the office at 7:30 AM and work till midnight. It's totally unpredictable, oftentimes even that day! I've had days where I had very little to do all day then urgent work came in and I had to work till 3:00 AM. And this does not account for mini internet breaks -- gchatting, reading an article, scanning Twitter.

So with that said, here's a "day in the life" for me, a first-year corporate lawyer [edited to add: although I'm not a lawyer yet because I haven't been admitted to the bar -- final interview/admittance process occurs in April!].

6:40 AM: Wake up and check phone. Slept terribly after having a too-rich-for-my-stupid-stomach meal the night before to celebrate Sourabh getting good grades. Yay Sourabh! Boo stomach!

7:00 AM: Meet Abby in lobby and take her up to gym where we run 4 miles together on treadmills.

7:45 AM: Shower, get ready for work, chug a glass of nuun since I sweat like some weird sweating monster.

8:15 AM: Grab a cab to work, which I almost never do, but want to be on time for call and grab food from cafeteria. Instead, traffic is insane, and I end up texting my office mate asking her to get me a breakfast sandwich (whole wheat English muffin, egg, cheddar cheese) and sprint into office, throwing boots and coat on floor and slipping on heels before racing to the partner's office. It's all very romcom "busy working girl" montage-y, if set to the right bouncy pop track, but instead I'm just panicking that I'll be late for my first in-person meeting with this partner.

9:00 AM: Miraculously get to partner's office with a minute to spare before conference call to discuss opposing counsel's edits to agreements.

9:50 AM: After somehow avoiding gnawing on my arm, I get back to my office and inhale the breakfast sandwich. Bow down to office mate as best person ever. Spend 40 minutes checking email after 10:30 meeting is pushed back an hour.

10:30 AM: Work on research assignment. Checking cases cited in a memo to make sure there is no new case law that would replace the law cited. It's a "back burner" project -- no hard timeline, just something to work on when I'm not that busy.

Throughout research, I answer a few emails to coordinate schedules for a conference call with foreign counsel on a separate matter. The foreign counsel want to talk to me about the corporate structuring issue, but I know basically nothing as a first-year, so I need the senior associate on this deal to be able to be on the call. Honestly, about 3/4 of the time I feel like I know nothing at work, so doing things like a basic cite checking research assignment can be a really nice break from feeling like an idiot.

11:30 AM: Meet with a senior associate and junior associate to discuss the new deal I'm on. I'm replacing the junior associate since she's leaving the firm so I have to be caught up on where the deal is and what the timeline is likely to be.

12:30 PM: I'm already starving so I head down to the cafeteria to get a salad. I get the same salad almost every day because I found the perfect mix (for me) and I'm not one to mess with perfection. Kale base topped with jalapenos, kidney beans, broccoli, carrots, tortilla strips, and mushrooms -- all chopped -- then a small scoop of tuna and half an avocado with about a tablespoon of the cafeteria's house-made agave lime dressing.

12:50 PM: I'm back at my desk eating my salad and reviewing all the emails I was forwarded to catch up on my new deal. Also having a discussion with my office mate about Prince William having his own apartment while he takes agriculture classes at Cambridge. She is the best because she got these incredible, melt-in-your-mouth truffles for Christmas, and she's been sharing one with me every day. I might love her.

1:30 PM: Get a call from foreign counsel explaining the law on a certain issue. I take notes so I can tell the senior associate on the deal what the foreign counsel said. A lot of law students talk about how they want to practice "international law," but in reality, working on transactions that have a lot of parts in foreign countries is incredibly complex and, at times, frustrating. Still, it's really cool to be able to interact with lawyers from all over the world. This particular counsel is also really nice and on top of his work, which is much appreciated.

1:40 PM: As a first-year, I'm in charge of doing the more basic tasks when they come up, like updating internal working group lists with the names and contact information of specialists. After reviewing some complex charts, though, this is kind of a nice mind break. (A specialist is someone who works in a very specific area -- employment, labor, environmental, tax, etc. A lot of these areas require specialized knowledge, so we bring in the specialists at our firm to "consult" on those specific issues.) This task ends up taking way longer than I anticipated.

2:20 PM: Sourabh calls and we discuss what he's making for dinner (bean enchiladas) while I skim the intake form for a pro bono client I'm assisting the next day. Normally Sourabh cooks Indian food, so I walk him through some steps over the phone.

2:30 PM: Phone call with another associate that I'm partnering with for the pro bono clinic the next day. Discuss the pro bono client and what kind of information they'll probably want. I do these clinics from time to time -- basically, you just advise people starting small businesses on basic corporate law.

2:45 PM: Back to the working group list. I also take a quick break to stretch and grab a cup of tea. I slept terribly and need more caffeine (one cup of coffee and one cup of tea are not cutting it). Enjoy one of the cafeteria's oatmeal cookies along with my tea for a late afternoon pick-me-up.

3:10 PM: My mom calls to tell me she got the all-clear from the physical therapist to start running! I'm SO excited about this news :) He's given her a 6 month walk-to-run plan! Now I just need my sister to start running and we'll be a Family on the Run. We chat for about 5 minutes before I get back to the working group list.

3:30 PM: Partner calls to ask me to turn changes on the edits that she made after the 9 AM call this morning. "Turn changes" means to input their handwritten edits (typically sent to you in a scanned version) into a new version on the system. Then you compare the new version to the old ("redlining") via a magic program and then send that over to the client. This is where a lot of the negotiating occurs on the corporate side of the legal world -- what language is okay and what isn't? I finish the list up then turn the changes.

6:15 PM: Finish inputting the edits and running blacklines. Ask senior associate to confirm some of the language I used for a couple areas. While waiting for a response, I start poking around the data room on my new deal. A data room is where a company uploads the thousands of documents that have to be reviewed by various parties when they're being sold or going public or seeking an investment by issuing debt.

6:25 PM: Send email with revised documents to client. Enter all my billable hours for the day.

6:30 PM: Head out the door to take the subway home! It's really freaking cold but thankfully I only have to walk two avenue blocks from the subway.

7:15 PM: Subways take forever so I get home later than I expected. Immediately change into comfy sweats. Sourabh cooked dinner and I get to eat right away, which is awesome because it means I don't hurt anyone by getting hangry (hungry + angry, if you aren't aware of that delightful term). Having food ready and waiting for you is amazing, which is why we often order in.

8:00 PM: Sit down to my laptop and log in to work. There's a pretty complex part of this company's capitalization on the new deal that I'm going to be responsible for knowing, so I need to understand it and update the charts with new figures that came in today. We also need all the information disclosed in what are called "schedules" -- whoever buys the company is agreeing that they know whatever is in the schedules and the company being bought isn't liable for that information -- and I'm trying to figure out how best to organize the information.

9:45 PM: I think I've found a good way to organize and lay out the information! WOOT! I email my senior with the table as a possible template (yes, she's still logged in and is probably in the office). I learned quickly that it's a terrible idea to do a bunch of work on something without making sure it's what your senior associate wants. I take a break and Sourabh turns on the last few minutes of the Knicks game.

10:00 PM: Decide to get ready for bed while I wait to hear back from the senior associate. I read a bit of I Am Malala and double check that no urgent emails have come in on either of my deals. Aiming for a 6:15 AM wake-up and 6:30 AM treadmill tempo run (Coach Jess and I texted and agreed hill repeats in "feels like -5" were a bad idea for my lungs!) so I lay out my run clothes for the next day. I download an episode of Parenthood to watch while I run tomorrow. I just started watching and love the show!

10:30 PM: I haven't heard back from the senior, so I figure she's busy with more important things and I'll touch base with her first thing when I get in tomorrow. Bedtime!

So what's a typical day like for you at your job? I love hearing about different occupations!


  1. Loved reading this. It's always interesting to hear how people's days go in other industries. My best friend in NJ is a lawyer and she works some crazy hours, which I guess is pretty much the norm!

    I'm veryyy jealous of your ~6am wake-ups!

  2. This was a really interesting post! I always wonder what different blogger's jobs are, and what a typical day is like for them since it can vary so much by industry and even company (or department!). So reading about your day as a lawyer was awesome!

  3. Super interesting! I'm going to totally steal this idea, but so interesting to see what your "real life" is about! Very very cool!

  4. I love these posts! More please. Although reading this made me really not miss the "working until 10 p.m." routine I had for a few years in there!

  5. I'm super nosy, so I love these posts! I should do one too. So jealous of your cafeteria, especially on super-cold winter days--you don't have to leave the building to get food!

  6. I love these kinds of posts. My work days are very similar to yours (I'm a real estate attorney in San Diego). I'm jealous of your firm cafeteria though! That salad looks awesome!

  7. I loved this post! I am a litigator so it's really interesting to hear about what transactional lawyers do.

  8. I loved this too! I have no idea what corporate lawyers do, so this was soooo awesome to read! :)