You did it! You’re a lawyer, and you’ve got a job! Whether you have your own office or a cube, you hopefully have at least one drawer for your personal belongings. Assuming that your place of employment has been kind enough to supply you with office supplies (not necessarily a given, but most legal jobs are at least good for some pens and paper), here are a few suggestions of items to fill that special drawer and make your life slightly more tolerable:
• Advil (or other painkiller of your choice). Useful for: hangovers, caffeine headaches, and that strange throbbing in your brain that comes as a consequence of not sleeping for two straight days.
• Kleenex. There will be tears. Have something to catch them with.
• Phone charger. Sometimes your phone is the only thing really connecting you with people on the outside, especially if your office has gone the newly prevalent route of cutting off access to Gmail and Gchat from your work computer. You don’t want it to die on you, and your meager social life with it.
• Hand sanitizer. Shared spaces are disgusting and you need to keep those hands clean. Especially considering how often you will likely be facepalming.
• Lysol wipes. Similarly, you might want to wipe your desk down from time to time, especially if you eat at it, and you will eat at your desk. If you don’t believe me, try shaking your keyboard upside down some time. You’ll find food particles from sandwiches you had long forgotten.
• Pepto bismol/Tums. You’ll think about ordering a salad, but when you’re ordering dinner at 9:30 and your night at the office is just beginning, you’ll probably order a Styrofoam box full of heartburn instead.
• Deodorant. Both in case you forget, and because you may from time to time be held prisoner at your desk for days on end.
• Foot deodorizer. Feet can get super stinky, especially in the summer (and especially if you don’t wear socks with your shoes, because you are a woman or a man with no regard for the nostrils of others).
• Lip balm or chapstick. Office environments are often dry as a bone, especially during the winter when the heat is running all the time - and chapped lips never look professional. Nor does the “freshly bitten” look.
• Safety pins. Wardrobe malfunctions can and do happen! Another option is the suit you’ve probably been told to keep in the office, and/or an extra plain shirt and pair of pants. Don Draper always kept a stack of fresh shirts in his desk drawer, although his reasons were admittedly more dubious. If you wear tights, keep an extra set around.
• Floss. Did you eat lunch today? You probably have something stuck in your teeth.
• Mirror. How else can you see the thing that is stuck in your teeth?
• Mints or gum. Now that you’ve removed the giant thing in your teeth, it’s time to make your breath less heinous. Especially if you are the type to drink loads of coffee. Gum can also act as a stress reliever and a distraction from wanting to snack.
• Nail file. Your nails are going to be ruined by everything from constant typing to poor nutrition. Keep a nail file around to fix obvious issues.
• Vitamins. Unless you are actually good at remembering to take these at home, I find that I’m more much likely to take my vitamins if they are in my office drawer, where I see them constantly.
• Sweater/scarf. Even if you don’t get cold that easy, office temperatures vary wildly. Many offices crank the A/C so high in the summer and the heat so high in the winter that you have to reverse your wardrobe as soon as you get to the office. Also, I once worked in an office where they turned the heat off at 6 pm in the winter, which as any lawyer knows is often nowhere near quitting time.
What do you find handy to have in your personal belongings drawer?
Faith Livermore is a lawyer and writer based in New York. After two years in BigLaw and four years at a midsize firm doing mostly M&A work, Faith decided to throw caution to the wind and quit her job to travel. She currently spends her winters working at the midsize firm as a temp attorney, and the rest of the time exploring the world. She has a JD from Georgetown Law and a BS in Psychology from the University of Florida.
Gibson Dunn associate Casey Lee caught up with several New York partners in Gibson Dunn’s litigation and appellate practice groups to discuss various topics related to New York litigation.
Top row: Randy Mastro, Caitlin Halligan, Lawrence Zweifach
Bottom row: Mylan Denerstein, Orin Snyder, Casey Lee
What law firm qualities should law students focus on during the hiring process?
Randy Mastro (Co-Chair, Litigation Practice Group): Excellence, teamwork, and collegiality.
Blake Edwards is a self-proclaimed "recovering lawyer covering law"—a legal journalist for Bloomberg BNA who was previously a Circuit Court clerk, covering the business of BigLaw. I interviewed Blake about his legal and writing careers and how he ended up covering the law instead of practicing it.
As we reviewed earlier, many attorneys are behind technologically and reticent to adopt new tech tools, despite (1) ABA recommendations to stay abreast of relevant technology, (2) sophisticated clients who expect tech proficiency in their attorneys, and (3) competitors like alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) using technology to provide legal support work at lower costs. The bottom line is that law firms and lawyers need to keep current with technology because being deficient means losing business—or going out of business.