Associate Advice: Six Tips for Successful Work Lunches

Happy Hump Day, Law Babe!

It’s finally summer (officially not until tomorrow, but whatever).  That means that plenty of summer lunches are on tap, whether you’re a full-on associate or a summer associate.  I’ve had more than my fair share of awkward business lunches, so I thought we’d cover some ground here today and go over five tips for making these necessary (but sometimes evil) lunches at least palatable.

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1.   Napkin Etiquette.  Your napkin should go into your lap as soon as you’re seated.  If you get up at any point during lunch, your napkin should be placed on your chair, not on the table.  Don’t place your napkin back on the table until you stand to leave the restaurant.

2.   Put your phone away.  Unless you have a really good reason to keep your phone on the table (yes, waiting on a call from a partner probably does count), you’re just not that important that you need to keep your phone(s) on the table.  Don’t be that person.  If you must sneak a peek at your phone during lunch, do so quickly and under the table towards end of the meal (when the bill is being paid, for example).

3.   BMW: Bread, Middle, Water.  Your bread plate is to your left, your water cup is to your right.  That’s easy enough to remember.

4.   On appetizers. If everyone else at the table orders an appetizer, go ahead and order one too.  However, if no one in your party orders an app, you should skip it.  If you end up being the first to order first, feel free to ask around the table to see if everyone is ordering starters.

5.   No alcohol, no exceptions.  It’s a work lunch.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the summer associate and all the associates hosting you order drinks.  No alcohol.  End of story.

6.   This isn’t the time or place to be ask for a doggy bag.  Don’t ask for your leftovers unless you truly haven’t touched your meal for some reason.  Otherwise, you run the risk of coming across as a bit desperate.

There you have it!  Hopefully these tips will pave the way for a summer’s worth of successful (and un-cringeworthy) lunches.

Stay Smart and Sexy, Law Babe! xoxo.

Travel Tips: A Solo Business Trip to San Antonio

Hi again, Law Babe!

I’m writing this post from the San Antonio airport, where I am ready to head home after a quick 48 hour trip to San Antonio to give a presentation.  This was my first trip to San Antonio, and I am impressed! I’d love to come back at some point for play.

In the meantime, though, I got a bit of the lay of the land and am sharing some of my perspective and tips for San Antonio travel if you ever find yourself heading to San Antonio on a solo business trip.

First things first.  I stayed at the lovely Hotel Valencia, which is situated perfectly on San Antonio’s River Walk (which I had heard about, but never experienced firsthand!).  Hotel Valencia was elegant and felt like a far departure from the typical corporate chain hotels that I typically stay at.  And yet, the meeting I was attending was held here and the space for the meeting was great.  From a work perspective, this hotel was great for getting a few things done.  When I needed to print my PowerPoint presentation, the lobby printers worked perfectly and spared me from any last minute tech anxieties.  My room was huge by my east coast standards, and I had more than enough room to finish my presentation at the hotel desk.  My only critique would be that the second night of my stay, a Thursday, a group of girls were next door, and definitely preparing for a night out on the town around 9 or 10 pm.  I would have been upset if I had had an early meeting today and needed to sleep, but no big deal since a) I had no meetings today, and b) once they left, it was fine.  I would 100% consider staying at Hotel Valencia if I find myself coming back to San Antonio for work or for play.

Looking for a place to eat solo that won’t be too awkward?  I found two great spots right along the river walk, where I felt both welcomed and relaxed as a solo diner.

First, I loved The Iron Cactus.  The food was great, the margaritas were amazing, and there were lots of other solo people sitting outside for happy hour, which made me feel totally at ease.  The outdoor garden is beautiful, and the abundant plants provided some cooling shade.

I also enjoyed eating at Ostra.  Ostra also had a lovely outdoor patio that felt a bit more upscale than some of the other super touristy bars and restaurants along the river walk.  As a solo traveler on a work trip, I certainly wasn’t looking to go nuts!  San Antonio definitely seems like a drinking town, so I was glad to have found a spot that didn’t feel so much like that.  The staff at Ostra also made me feel very welcomed as a solo diner.  I would go back!

Do you have any solo travel experiences with San Antonio?!  Comment with your tips!

Stay smart and sexy, Law Babe!

The Elements of Legal Style: The Pencil Skirt

It’s no big secret that the legal profession is ultra conservative, but dressing for the office doesn’t need to be boring.  Welcome to The Elements of Legal Style, where The Law Babe will highlight the chicest office-appropriate style options, so that you can dress like a partner even on an associate budget. 

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Hi there, Law Babe!  Today we’re talking about the classic pencil skirt, one of the quintessential pieces that we all know what professional women are supposed to have in their closets.  Whether you’re new to the legal game and buying one for the first time or looking to replace one that you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a little tricky to find exactly the right fit and style in this age old staple.

First things first.  When it comes to the pencil skirt, I recommend that every Law Babe have at least one pencil skirt in either a solid black or blue suiting fabric.  After that, you can get wild.  Pencil skirts can be a simple way to implement a bit of fun and pattern into your work wardrobe.  I like to pair a patterned or colored pencil skirt with a solid shirt (like a classic white button down) and neutral heels for a polished but fun look.  Of course, consider skipping the crazy colors and patterns for important meetings in favor of your neutral suiting skirt.

When it comes to the neutral pencil skirt in suiting material, I like to purchase pencil skirts as part of a suit set, so I always have a pencil skirt on hand that matches a blazer.  When I purchase my suits, I tend to buy them in collections of 3’s: the blazer, the pants, and the pencil skirt.  However, I also think it makes sense to have a few suiting separates that are more throw and go, for the days you don’t need to wear a blazer but what to look fantastic.

Solid and neutral, or fun and colorful, when it comes to work wear essentials, there are few styles as polished and feminine as the pencil skirt.  They are put-together, professional, and still flirty enough to take you from the office to happy hour.

Here are just a few of the (million) fantastic options out there:

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T Tahari Suit Skirt ($68)

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Marks & Spencer Tailored Fit Pencil Skirt ($33)

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Dorothy Perkins Grey Spot Pencil Skirt ($45)

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Boden Modern Pencil Skirt ($95)

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Anne Taylor Ponte Pencil Skirt ($69)

Do you have any go-to pencil skirts?  What’s your favorite way to style this classic feminine piece?!

Stay Smart, Law Babe!

xoxo.

Travel Tips: The One Easy Way I’ve Learned To Make Work Travel Fun

 

Hey, Law Babe!

Today I wanted to share with you the one easy tip I’ve learned to make travel for work not only tolerable, but dare I even say… fun.  I travel for work quite a bit, particularly since I have made the transition into the in house/consulting world.  In fact, I spend up to 50% of my work time on the road, which translates into plenty of hotel stays.  I’m currently writing this from an airport.  I’ll share my top travel tips for business travel soon enough, but for now I wanted to share the easiest way that I’ve learned to make business travel feel (almost) indulgent and luxurious.

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I always, always, always travel with a little kit of my “spa” stuff that I bring with me in my luggage, and treat myself in my hotel room with a mini facial, manicure, whatever!  It’s such a simple way to feel like I’m taking care of myself even when I can’t be at home, and it always feels a little bit luxurious.  I like to pretend I’m in a five star spa, even when I’m just at the average corporate Hilton… ok, well a Law Babe can dream.

You know those sample products you get with Birch Box, or from Nordstrom, or whatever?  Yep, those little samples that end up sitting unused in your bathroom forever.  Use them!  Pack them up for your next business trip and have a blast testing them all out.  I’ve also found that those sheet masks that are everywhere these days are completely perfect for travel: they’re flat, easily packable, individually wrapped (so no plane explosions!), and aren’t “liquids” for purposes of air travel.  Bonus points for not having to subject your significant other to the terror of what you look like while wearing a sheet mask at home.  Seriously! What better way to pass some time while you might be otherwise bored in a hotel room?!  I also like to pack a little travel sized candle and pick up a half bottle of nice wine to really indulge myself in my spa time.

This is such a little tip that has truly made a big difference in my work travel experience.  I love bringing a little bit of a spa feeling into an otherwise sterile hotel environment, feeling like I’m indulging myself in a mini-facial, and coming home a little bit more refreshed than I might have otherwise!

Do you have any tips or tricks for making business travel a little bit more enjoying while you’re on the road?!  Comment and share!

Stay Smart and Sexy, Law Babe!  xoxo

 

 

The Elements of Legal Style: The Classic White Shirt

It’s no big secret that the legal profession is ultra conservative, but dressing for the office doesn’t need to be boring.  Welcome to The Elements of Legal Style, where The Law Babe will highlight the chicest office-appropriate style options, so that you can dress like a partner even on an associate budget. 

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Hey, Law Babe!  Today we are going to chat about one of my all time favorite wardrobe items.  The classic white button down shirt is an absolute staple, for work or for play.  Pair it with literally anything: suit pants, a pencil skirt, or jeans on a casual Friday and you are going to look classically chic and sophisticated.   In the winter, layer your classic white shirt under a shift dress.   With the instant ability to make you look polished and sharp, this shirt is one of the true heroes in any Law Babe’s capsule wardrobe.

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There are a lot of really pricey classic white button downs out there.  I’m certain they are all beautiful, but for my own wardrobe, I prefer to purchase my white shirts on the more inexpensive side.  First of all, it’s a big world out there, which means there are tons of options available to you… and quite frankly, I dare someone to tell me they can really tell that me the difference between my $60 button down and a $260 one.  I vote we save our money for the real big ticket items: suits, classic pumps, great highlights, a killer bag, or whatever else floats your boat.  Second, let’s be honest.  I can only speak for myself here, but white clothing inevitably does not remain white.  There’s makeup, nervous sweat, the inevitable coffee spill, the time you accidentally throw a brand new red shirt into your white laundry, and the myriad other threats to my white clothing that come as a result of me being a closeted slob.

I usually rotate through 2-3 white classic shirts at a time.  As soon as they start to look a little dingy, I bid them adieu (guilt free) and thank them for their service (thanks, Marie Kondu).   As for fit, I recommend sizing up for a comfortable, but tailored fit.

In any event, I’d be hard-pressed to think of anything quite as classic, or as necessary, as a white button down shirt.   Here’s a roundup of some of my favorite options:

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Gap New Fitted Boyfriend Oxford Shirt ($49.95)

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Everlane The Relaxed Soft Cotton Shirt ($68)

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Banana Republic Dillon Classic-Fit Oxford Pocket Shirt ($68)

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Treasure & Bond Drapey Classic Shirt ($69)

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Madewell Drapey Oversize Boyshirt ($72)

What are the staple pieces in your wardrobe?  Have you discovered any must-have classic white button downs that all of your fellow Law Babes need to know about?!

Stay Smart, Law Babe!

xoxo.

The Elements of Legal Style: Hair Accessories

It’s no big secret that the legal profession is ultra conservative, but dressing for the office doesn’t need to be boring.  Welcome to The Elements of Legal Style, where The Law Babe will highlight the chicest office-appropriate style options, so that you can dress like a partner even on an associate budget. 

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Hello, Law Babe.  Sometimes, you just need to pull your hair back.  In my case, that’s approximately 90% of the time if we’re being real.  A super easy way to add some polish to your hair while getting it out of your face (i.e. when you’re too lazy/tired/busy/whatever to actually wash it) is to add a great hair accessory.

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The one rule I have for pulled back hair?  Save the messy bun for out of the office.  It’s fine to pull your hair back as long as you don’t look like you’ve come from the gym.  That’s not the polished look we’re after.  I also tend to steer clear of headbands, as I think they have the potential to make us look a little too school-girlish.  I don’t think they’re totally off limits, but tread lightly.

I’ve rounded up some of my favorite office-appropriate accessories below:

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France Luxe Ribbon Bow Tige Boule Barrette ($32)

 

 

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L. Erickson Rectangle Barrette – Animal Instincts ($24)

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Alexandre de Paris Small Jaw Clip ($45)

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Mrs. President & Co. The Lucky Charmed Barrette ($70)

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France Luxe Elodie Cuff Ponytail Holder ($18)

Do you have any hair tips or tricks for the days you just can’t even?  Let us know!

Stay Smart, Law Babe!

xoxo.

Law School 101: Top 5 Tips for Summer Associate Success

It’s that time of year again!  Summer associates around the country are descending full throttle on large law firms, ready and excited to spend the next 10-12 weeks checking out what coveted big firm life is all about.

Top 10 Tips for SUCCESSAS A SUMMER ASSOCIATE

In order to gear up for a successful, productive and fun summer, here are my top 10 tips for success as a summer associate:

1.   Start building relationships now.  You should make it a point to work with as many attorneys (partners ans associates alike) over the course of the summer.  Begin to form individual relationships with attorneys who will be able to informally mentor you throughout the summer and may advocate for you when it’s time to make full time offers.  It will also be helpful to have friendly faces and mentors when you return to the firm as a first year associate.

2.    Lunch etiquette.  Expect to receive a lot of invitations to lunch through the summer, and take full advantage.  Lunch dates are an excellent way to meet different attorneys in the firm and to make a personal impression (see tip #1).  Take your cues from your dining partner, but bear in mind a few rules.  You should order modestly, but in line with what your host orders (in other words, don’t order the lobster if your host is ordering the chicken fingers, but if your host orders the lobster, feel free to do the same).  I tend to avoid foods that are messy and difficult to eat politely (tacos, for example).  Under no circumstances should you order alcohol, even if your host orders a drink.  If you have been invited to lunch by an attorney at the firm, it is safe to assume that the firm is hosting and will pay the bill.  If, however, there is any doubt once the check is placed on the table, it’s fine to help offer to pay.  If your host declines your offer to split the tab, just accept graciously and offer thanks.

3.    Request feedback on your assignments.  The only way you will know how you’re doing as a summer associate and how your work is perceived by the associates and partners at your summer firm is to simply ask.  Requesting candid feedback after you’ve turned in an assignment will help you address and improve any weaknesses and concerns.  Within a few days of completing an assignment (if you wait too long, your evaluator won’t remember), ask the assigning partner if he or she was pleased with your work and what suggestions he or she has for improvement.  Your follow up will not go unnoticed, and your interest in improvement will be impressive to the assigning partner.  If you have any questions or concerns after receiving feedback, be sure to speak with your mentor, the assigning partner, the summer associate coordinator, or even an associate whose opinion you trust.

4.    Proofread, proofread, proofread.  Every single piece of work you turn in, including even the most mundane emails, should be the absolute highest quality work you’re capable of.  You should be triple checking every word.  Period.  No exceptions here.

5.    Treat support staff well.  This should go without saying, because you’re a Law Babe and you treat everyone with kindness and dignity.  Treat support staff well, not only because it’s just the right thing to do, but also because they can also be an invaluable resource to you.  Never boss them around, and never act like an entitled know-it-all.  At this point, the support staff knows a heck of a lot more than you.  They know the lay of the land and can be an invaluable source of information and assistance.

6.    Keep a file with copies of all of your assignments.  Keep copies of your work.  Having a file with everything you’ve done at the work will help you provide specific examples of what you’ve worked on in future interviews and on your resume.  You might also be able to use your summer assignments as future writing samples, provided that you should always receive permission and appropriately redact the document before using it as a writing sample.

7.    Remember that you are always being evaluated.  I do not care how drunk the associates get at the summer finale party.  I don’t care how great the gossip is about the nightmarish partner that no one wants to work for.  You are not to follow suit or join in, and you are always to keep your wits about you.  It doesn’t matter how cool you are with any of the associates.  They are not your friends.  You must always assume that you’re being evaluated and that anything you say or do will get back to the firm.  I’m being serious on this one.  I don’t like to say “trust no one,” but trust no one.

8.    Maintain a constant work flow and ask for more work if you need it.  You should never be sitting around without an assignment to work on.  You should have a consistent stream of work throughout the summer in order to build relationships, stay productive, and be learning.  If you are slow on work or anticipate that your current assignment will be ending, approach your mentor or the summer program coordinator and speak up.  If you’re not busy and someone discovers that you haven’t asked for more work, the firm will not be impressed with your work ethic.

9.    Keep your doubts private.  If you’re having doubts about the firm, its people, or your desire to even practice law at all, save them for your close friends and family.  Don’t share any reluctance with colleagues at the firm, including other summer associates.  Again, I don’t care how friendly you are with anyone.  You can safely assume that anything you say during the summer will make its way back to the hiring committee.  If they catch wind that you’re anything but enthusiastic about joining the firm, you can kiss your offer goodbye.

10.    Just be cool.  Don’t take this personally, but no one expects much from your work as  a summer associate (however, remember tip #4).  You’re being evaluated on your potential for success at the firm, which includes how you would fit in with the firm’s culture.  Keep your positive attitude going all summer, be courteous and friendly, and let everyone know you’re happy for the opportunity that you’ve been presented.  Don’t complain about anything.  Last, but definitely not least, remember that you’re also being evaluated by the firm’s associates who would be training you as a baby lawyer at the firm.  They want to know that you’re normal, fun, friendly, and would be easy to work with.  Don’t get too comfortable, but maintaining a great rapport with them will go a long way in securing an offer at the end of the summer.

Do you have any pieces of advice for summer associates?  Share them in the comments!

Stay Smart and Sexy, Law Babe!

xoxo.