July 10, 2018

The “Nina Flax” Files: Things About My Job That Exhaust Me

Here’s the second “list” installment from Nina Flax of Mayer Brown (here’s the first one):

1. Email – With three subparts to this item on my list:

a. The VOLUME is exhausting.

b. Because responses are expected near instantaneously, I can never find quiet time during the waking hours to get deep thinking tasks done.

c. Part of the VOLUME is the deleting/filing/etc. I have flushed away hours of my life organizing emails and trying to dwindle down my inbox (in my personal system, getting below 1000 is a serious accomplishment).

2. Travel – Now, part of this is my own doing, admittedly. But when I have to travel to the east coast, I prefer to take red eyes so that I can put my son to sleep the night I am leaving. I similarly plan all outbound flights to all other locations to maximize awake hours with my son. Depending on why I am traveling, and where I am traveling, I usually turn right back around which means that I am gone for 24-28 hrs. Yes, even on trips to the east coast. One time I landed, got in my car, got on the highway, was going the speed limit (or under) and saw police lights behind me. Apparently in my trudge I had forgotten to turn on my headlights. I know, they should be on automatic – my husband always tells me that.

3. Time Entry – Being in private practice I should revere time entry. I don’t. I have debated with friends and colleagues over the most efficient way to track time, and everyone certainly seems to have their own system. Mine is entering everything myself. Others make chicken scratch notes that their assistants enter, but then they have (in my mind) the extra step of reviewing the entries to make sure everything got it. I don’t think timers within entry systems are all that useful – you still have to enter the descriptions, etc.

4. There Is No Break; It Never Ends – But seriously, my favorite vacation from a true break perspective that I have taken since starting at the firm was to North Korea – because they confiscated all electronic items at the border. It was bliss. I read books, talked to my dad (my travel companion) and slept. By contrast, on my husband’s first trip to Europe (to Italy), we landed, went and dropped off our bags, walked to the Spanish Steps, and he promptly fell asleep as I sat there on a two hour call. I know I am not alone on never really having a vacation.

One of my good friends has a husband who is also still in Big Law. She has a series of pictures of him working from their various vacations at all times in all random places. There are so many, and it is so hilarious, friends on Facebook asked for a custom calendar. I made one for myself. I love it. To center at the end of this one, I know I am blessed to even be able to “take” a vacation to begin with, but this is still my life! How I wish I were still in school. But really, can I go back?

Note to self: Should likely stop mentioning North Korea. Suspect I am already on one or more government watch lists even though my life really isn’t that interesting.

Top Ten Human Capital Topics of Interest to Investors

Davis Polk’s Ning Chiu has taken a page from Nina’s book & created her own list in this blog – this one about what investors are looking for when it comes to “human capital”…

CTRs: Changes to the SEC’s FOIA Rules

Recently, the SEC finalized an overhaul of its FOIA rules that impacts confidential treatment requests. Here’s an excerpt from this Cooley blog:

Most of the rules describe the procedures and fees for requesting documents. For those seeking to protect the confidentiality of documents, Section 200.80(c) of the new rules provides that a “request for records may be denied to the extent the exemptions in 5 U.S.C. 552(b) apply to the requested records”—that would include Exemption 4 contained in 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4) for “[t]rade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential,” on which Confidential Treatment Requests commonly rely—and the “(A) Commission staff reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by the applicable exemption; or (B) The disclosure of the requested records is prohibited by law or is exempt from disclosure under 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3)” As a technical matter, note that the revisions eliminate certain provisions in the SEC’s current FOIA regs that were considered unnecessary because they simply repeated information contained in the FOIA statute.

Among the provisions eliminated were the nine categories, previously set forth in Section 200.80(b) of the superseded regs, that are exempt from disclosure under 5 U.S.C. 552(b). One of these eliminated categories is the oft-cited 200.80(b)(4), which repeated the statutory Exemption 4. (The statute remains—it’s only the repetitive regs that are being eliminated, so no substantive change there.) Accordingly, those preparing CTR requests will need to update legends and other references in CTRs to delete citations to the soon-to-be-defunct 200.80(b)(4) (and review any other references to the FOIA rules) and consider instead whether another reference is appropriate, such as to the statute itself or to 200.80(c).

Broc Romanek