Monday, March 30, 2009


I came very close to being on a jury. I was summoned, and when I checked online, my group had to report. This is the third time in as many years that I've been summoned - the other end of California's massive prison system, I suppose. But I never had to show up before!

It was actually pretty fascinating, even aside from the legal angle that would naturally interest me. There were about 40 of us in the jury room, with 24 in the hot seats - the jury box. It's odd to hear people answer really personal questions in front of 40 strangers. We heard the stories about being assaulted, being threatened by a boyfriend (a few), getting DUIs and possession charges in the 1970s (several), having their car broken into (many). Hearing things that these people's friends probably don't know, like that their brother has been arrested twice. It really humanized everyone, knowing what they were walking around with inside their memories.

It truly was diverse, people just out of college and people in their 70s, African American, Asian, Indian, Scandinavian (?). There was a woman who worked at Jack-and-the-Box, a Deputy District Attorney (excused by the defendant), a writer from Mother Jones.

While I wasn't looking forward to taking the time off from work, I was a little disappointed when they got their 12 before I was questioned.

The New TLA (Three Letter Acronym)

It was a little surreal: I was about one mile into my commute to work two weeks ago, listening to NPR the way I do every morning. "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that IBM may be in talks to acquire Sun Microsystems." I managed to maintain control of my vehicle, but it was extraordinarily shocking. With a company as big as Sun, it's not exactly an anticipated possibility.

Naturally everything at work was airtight - no superior was making any comment - except for the chatter around the water cooler, of course, which was bubbling. In the kitchen, the 4 daily newspapers were carefully fanned out, all turned to the IBM news. I slipped into the offices of the Corporate Law folks across the hall from me, but they were sealed up too. All they could do was tell me that in their experience, the merger of two enormous companies could take anywhere from 9-12 months. (There are plenty of antitrust issues too.)

But it's been about 2 weeks, and things have quieted. We were told to keep our heads down, and mostly we are, because what else can you do? I feel a great sense of equanimity. I'm a contractor, after all, so my job security isn't established. And I've been laid off once, and survived it. What more can they do to me? Meanwhile, I couldn't help but wonder how many times in my career I could experience such a mega-merger firsthand. I feel calm enough to be interested in watching it unfold.

Friday, March 06, 2009


At the firm, I was repping tiny startup companies and clutching at the skirt of BigCo, pleading for provisions. Now I am BigCo. (Might as well come out with it: Sun Microsystems.) It's taken some getting used to; I'm still learning to say No in negotiations, and that sometimes it's okay to have residuals in an NDA.

Some other things I've had to adjust to:

* The lawyers I work with have time. They use this time to explain things to me, such as two hour training sessions on drafting software license agreements.
* Dressing casually to work really means casual, not business casual. Tie-dyed shirts, light-colored jeans, etc.
* Communicating with your clients is tricky when they're in India, or South Africa, or Europe. At first I found it unsettling, but then I adjusted to the 18 hour delay in emails.
* 1 in 4 Sun employees works from home on a given day (or so I've heard). This meant getting used to calling people rather than dropping in to their office. That's actually something I miss a lot about the firm.
* Staff meetings have 50% of the people calling in, many of them from outside the country. This translates to some time wasted on technical difficulties - yes, even at an technology company.
*On many nights, at around 6 PM, the strangest thing happens: everyone goes home.

PS: I was kindly cited as an entertaining law blog on this site for paralegals.