December 13, 2019

The (Very) Part-Time Securities Lawyer

Our own Susan Reilly notes: Before she gave birth to her second son, Liz blogged about her experience balancing pregnancy, parenthood & lawyering. In that vein, I thought I’d share a little about my life as a part-time, work-from-home securities lawyer and mom of three boisterous little boys. I’ve had this job for nearly 6 years now – and here are 5 things I’ve learned:

1. Set deadlines for yourself – The work I do now is dangerously flexible – most of my writing projects don’t have concrete deadlines, which is both a blessing (not having partners or clients breathing down my neck is amazingly liberating!) and a curse (it’s easy to let something that should take just a few hours drag on in drips and drabs for weeks).

While I’m grateful for the flexibility, I need a little structure in order to flourish, and setting deadlines for myself helps. Sometimes going a step further and communicating those expectations to your boss or client will really light a fire – that nagging law firm associate in me still cowers in fear of missing a deadline.

2. Establish office hours – A flexible job schedule has a sneaky way of making you think you can get your work done anytime. But there are always other tasks that jump to the top of the list if you let them – errands to run, appointments to schedule, laundry to fold – the list is endless. Scheduling specific working hours during the day, and being disciplined in keeping them, can keep that other non-urgent “life” stuff from chipping away at your productivity.

3. Enlist help – When my older two children made it to school age, I convinced myself that I didn’t need help with the baby – because I would just get my work done while he napped or after everyone was in bed (ha! – see #2). But I was completely at the mercy of this tiny human who demanded my full attention during his waking hours, whose sleeping hours were far too few.

Eventually I realized that I needed help, and my little guy now spends some time with a sitter a few days a week. When he’s there, I’m able to fully focus on the task at hand without constant interruptions. And when he’s home, I’m able to be a more attentive and less distracted parent.

4. It’s normal to feel disconnected – Because I only work part-time and from home, I can sometimes feel disconnected from my peers. It’s hard to fully relate to the stay-at-home moms or the full-time working moms – because I don’t fit neatly into either category. It’s a weird feeling, having one foot in each camp, but it’s one I’m slowly getting used to.

5. Never take it for granted – When Broc suggested I write a blog post about working part-time, I was both really excited to share my experience – but also a little nervous. I realize that I’m in a somewhat rare position of being able to continue pursuing my legal career while also having the flexibility to be home with my young children.

It’s not lost on me that the challenges I’ve faced with working part-time are ones I would have given my right arm for when I was working brutal hours at a firm – always on call, all the while learning how to be a new parent. Every once in a while, it’s important to take a step back and appreciate that meaningful and rewarding part-time work isn’t easy to come by – and to know a good thing when it comes your way.

Direct Listings: NYSE Files Revised Proposal!

That was fast. Earlier this week, I blogged that the SEC had rejected the NYSE’s proposed rule change to permit companies to sell newly issued primary shares via a direct listing – only 10 days after the exchange had submitted it. The SEC hasn’t made any public statements about why it rejected the proposal, so we still don’t know for sure whether it was because the Commission is fundamentally opposed to direct listings, believes that rulemaking is required, or if there was just something it wanted the NYSE to tweak. But the NYSE signaled that it would continue working on this initiative, and it’s now submitted this revised proposal. As this Davis Polk memo explains, it’s pretty similar to the original:

The new rule change proposal is substantially similar to the proposal the NYSE filed in November, except that issuers can meet the NYSE’s market value requirement by selling $100 million of shares (rather than $250 million under the initial proposal). Consistent with the initial proposal, the revised rule change proposal would provide the same flexibility for an issuer to sell newly issued primary shares into the opening auction in a direct listing, and would also delay the requirement that an issuer have 400 round lot holders at the time of listing until 90 trading days after the direct listing (subject to meeting certain conditions).

Stay tuned as to whether this revision addresses the SEC’s concerns. As Broc blogged when the original proposal was submitted, some are worried about investor protection issues for listings that occur outside of the traditional IPO process – but others note that there are a number of misconceptions about direct listings, including that a direct listing is even a “capital-raising” activity (see more from this Fenwick & West piece). We’re continuing to post memos in our “Direct Listings” Practice Area.

How to Attract & Retain New Lawyers

Law firms lose about $1 billion annually because of attrition, according to Thomson West. Being a young lawyer is marginally better than being a young investment banker (I have only landed in the hospital 2 or 3 times for overworking – I assume it’s a much more regular occurrence with bankers). But practicing law is still a tough gig.

And while my eyes usually glaze over whenever I see anything with “Millennial” in the title, this article connects some dots for scenarios that I’ve seen play out repeatedly. In the span of a couple years, our firm lost a cadre of young lawyers – not to other firms or companies – but to become distillery owners, grant-writers, ultimate Frisbee managers, MFA students… the list goes on.

Here are some pointers worth thinking about:

– A Millennial lawyer will leave a job, not just when he or she is unhappy, but when he or she is not happy enough.

– Give associates time & space to integrate their personal & professional lives (“work-life balance” is so Gen-X).

– Figure out a real way to mentor new lawyers.

– Empower associates to contribute immediately.

– Focus on “doing well by doing good.” The days of asking an associate, “If you can use the hours, I could really use your help on a new deal,” are over. Instead, try this approach: “If you’re interested in helping an interesting client, I’ve got a great deal for us.”

That last one made me laugh because that quote is specifically mentioned in Broc & John’s “101 Pro Tips – Career Advice for the Ages” (but not quite in the way that you’d think). One of the most empowering things you can do for these new lawyers is to help them take control of their own careers – and recognize the benefits of sticking with it. “Pro Tips” delves into the topics above and is a great resource for young lawyers – order it today. Here’s the “Table of Contents” so you can see what’s covered.

Programming Note: Lynn Jokela’s Blogging Debut!

Last month, I announced that Lynn Jokela has joined us as an Associate Editor for our sites. She brings a wealth of experience – here’s her bio. I’m now excited to share that Lynn will be making her blogging debut next week. Lynn’s email uses the domain from our parent company – it’s – so keep an eye out for that in your inbox!

Liz Dunshee