Thursday, May 24, 2012

You've been waiting for it -- first week of work!

Bonsoir mes amis,

Sorry for the delay in posting -- it's been quite a busy week! I started at the firm on Monday and my dad and step-ma were in town Sunday through Tuesday evening, so I had dinner with them each night after work. Today I had dinner with a law school friend, her partner, and their son! It's been a much more socially active week than I had imagined it would be. I pictured myself all alone this first week and how hard it was going to be to transition to living by myself again and not having Husband around. But, although I miss Mr. H. like crazy, I've been pretty blessed to feel like I have a "normal" life here with friends and family. It's kind of just like home but people smoke more (even more than in Pittsburgh, which seems impossible to me) and I speak a different language at work. You know, little differences.

So, work. Which I know you are all dying to hear about. It's very cool and there are several things about which I am DORKILY excited. For instance, I have my own email address with the firm, and my own phone line, and my own key and badge, and there is pretty much all you can drink tea, coffee, Evian, and Badoit (like Perrier).

The environment is so collegial -- some staff and attorneys all go out to find food at like 1:30 and bring it back and we all eat what we've bought in the conference room. Everyone has made a real effort to include me in things, inviting me to go "chercher un manger" (look for food) with them, explaining legal concepts to me, etc.

That's probably been the biggest and most obvious difference -- I'm doing some work in French law but I have a very introductory background in it, so essentially I am starting from a very basic level. But again, people take the time to explain things to me and usually, there's at least some corollary in the US system that I can kind of compare a given concept to, and then things start to click. Mostly I have been working on non-billable business development things, but I have gotten to help on one big lawsuit, so baby steps, I say.

Speaking of business development, the firm is hosting a breakfast mini-conference in June sometime, and for the invitations we wanted to include a picture at the heading to give the e-cite a classier touch. We had some photos done, but the coffee cup with coffee (it's breakfast, get it? We had a croissant too) wasn't on a saucer and the photographer didn't have enough time to re-do because she's was going away for Memorial Day (US based photographer, obviously). The lead attorney on the project was...dismayed to say the least by the lack of saucer. Efforts were made to convince him that it kinda sorta looked like a mug so a saucer is optional, but to no avail.

So, we have a photo shoot the next morning. I am dispatched to find a pretty looking croissant. I complete my mission and we start cleaning the table we've decided to stage the shoot on. None of us have a good actual camera so we bust out our iPhones. After two little shoots, some cropping and some resizing, I can proudly say that I, avocat and budding photographer, took the photo that will be featured in the invitation. Not what I expected to be doing for part of my first week, but we'll just call it resourceful. We worked some fresh peonies into the shot, too. It came out quite well for 2 lawyers and one lawyer-to-be putzing around with their phones. All in the name of business development, I suppose.

But honestly, the biggest "little" problem has been my computer keyboard at work. In case you didn't know, the French do not use the "standard" QWERTY style keyboard that we have in the US.

Instead, it's AZERTY.

Just pause, and think about it.

All of a sudden apple becomes "qpple" and Aztec becomes "Qwtec." Also, the enter key is in a weird spot so I keep hitting the *. That's not a frequently used thing, so why is it there!!!!! Like why wouldn't you have to shift to get an asterisk? Having it be a basic keystroke is ridiculous. Anyhoo.

I am determined not to ask for a QWERTY. This is my hero quest, my Everest, my wilderness journey: become an AZERTY-proficient typist. I am getting better already, and it is quite handy for French because the commonly used accented letters are there already. So that's nice.

Well, I'll update more with some of the sight-seeing stuff later. Just thought it would be better to share some of this first week of work stuff while it is in fact still my first week of work.

Ciao ciao,


PS Everyone says ciao ciao and all I picture is the dog, chow chow. I have to stop from laughing every time. I have a feeling that breed has a different name in French...


  1. Keys in different places?! Definitely an Everest. That would be so, so hard to adjust to. I'm so glad that's your biggest problem, though! It sounds wonderful, so far. I admire you for stepping right into French law, and handling learning the differences on the go. You rock! It's great to hear about your first week :)

  2. So are you typing the word 'aztec' often, would you say? :p What a fun post, sis! Keep 'em coming, or I'll turn you into guacamole. <3