Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Science and the person next to me

Something strange happened to me today. Well, not that strange, but at least notable.

I left for work around 45 minutes late today, after getting 3 hours of sleep last night and just dragging this morning. At either the Clinton-Washington or Lafayette stops, a girl sat next to me on the train. At some point I glanced up from my book (Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi) and did a double-take--I realized I knew this girl sitting next to me. She went to New College, and in fact, I'm pretty sure she started at the same time I did. I wanted to say her name was 'Kate.' One of the classic hippy-types that's almost extinct now.

Anyway, I kinda tried to get her attention, but she looked about as dead as I did. Later on I noticed her glancing at me in the "don't I know you" way...but I was too tired to come up with an appropriate way to address her. After all, her name might not be Kate. And holding a 20 minute conversation with her while half-asleep could very easily be brutal. So instead I just kept reading and never said anything to her. Oh well, it's not like we were friends.

This isn't the first time I've run into New College students in the middle of the City, but it is a bit weird when one unknowingly sits down next to you on a train!

In an unrelated tangent, I've been missing science. I'm not that great at science, and it can be a struggle for me to understand some concepts, but I miss spending time trying to wrap my mind around complex scientific concepts and theories. I've been reading these science articles in the New York Times. They've been making me long for my biochem book, and the computer programs used to model proteins. It was so cool learning science on that level, and now I'm reduced to reading pop science. I'm not even sure I could understand actual scientific articles now. I had a hard enough time understanding them when I was a science student.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Firm observations and the past few weeks

So, it turns out that I have nothing to do at work, for the fourth or fifth day (but not in a row). Lame. I'd write some about the interesting things I've done at my job, but...I can't. At least, not without passwording this blog. Maybe in very general topical terms, but that's it.

New York city is a different place in the summer. First of all, it's absolutely flooded with tourists, making it hard to walk. Second, there's free and cheap stuff going on all the time. Third, it just seems different to me because I'm working in a different neighborhood and not horribly stressed out. In fact, I'm not stressed at all. My grades are in, I got the schedule I wanted for next semester, and I've made a big dent on firm research. I have to narrow the 200+ firm list to 50 by the end of next week, but that's starting to feel doable. The massive spreadsheet is coming along, I tell ya.

Things I've learned since beginning my firm research:

- All big law firms have a "collegial" environment--whatever that means
- When the New York office is a branch office, it only does the most boring corporate work--think mergers and acquisitions, executive compensation, and complex financial transactions
- Most big law firms do very little plaintiff-side work because they represent so many Fortune 500 companies that it almost inevitably presents conflicts of interest
- The culture of each law firm varies by department, so reviews are useless
- Most health care work in New York involves representing the biggest pharmas around, meaning I'm well on my way to soul-selling
- "Complex product liability litigation" means defending huge product liability class actions
- "Employment law" means defending huge companies from employees that sue them and figuring out how to give massive amounts of compensation to CEOs and COOs
- Associates at all firms are unhappy about the sporadic work, unpredictable and long hours, and the bonuses (regardless of the method for rewarding them, and particularly where the method is unknown)
- Associates at all top firms think most partners are nice, most associates are friendly, and their law firm has more reasonable hours than all the other law firms

Other observations from recent weeks:

- When I'm sick and am dragging I still walk faster than the tourists
- I'm one or two science classes short of being qualified for the patent bar
- Men are more likely to be obsessive elevator button pushers. Why oh why do they feel the need to push the button for the floor when it's already lit up? I can't help but think this is something left over from the days of yelling "I want to push the button!" as little kids. Maybe they're making up for lost time.
- The Chicago El is so pleasant during the summer and so unpleasant during the winter. The Subway is so pleasant during the winter and so unpleasant during the summer. Getting stuck next to that sweaty guy just sucks.
- The guy who serves me my coffee at J&B coffee looks like Kal Penn.

Things I've done over the past few weeks:

- Go to the Met for the first time
- Tried to go to Opera in the Park
- Watched short films on the roof of a high school in the lower east side
- Went to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade
- Watched a lot of Braves games

Well, that's about it for now. I'll try to keep blogging if I'm going to keep not having work to do. Seems like a valid thing to do!