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Seduction in the Office

Vivia Chen

February 13, 2012

OnTheMakeYou know the rules: Do not fool around in the office. It's risky. Unprofessional. Riddled with conflicts. And so Newtonian.

But dating in the office is rampant, says Career Builder. Almost 40 percent of workers say they've dated people from their office.  And almost one in five say they've dated their boss.

Let's be honest: If not at the office, where else can lawyers play the mating game? Long hours and heavy documents do not a social butterfly make. It's only natural that lawyers marry other lawyers, and beget unremarkable children with sky-high SAT scores.

Sadly, however, firms and companies—scared of potential conflicts and harassment claims—have all sorts of rules about romance in the office. One Am Law 100 firm requires its lawyers to "announce" that they are in a "relationship"—which I assume means a sexual one, though the HR head told me—somewhat coyly—that's never spelled out in the employee manual. And, of course,  almost all firms frown on (if not prohibit) relationships between partners and associates who work together.

Such romance-killers. Well, despair not, because I believe that true lust will prevail. Here's some advice to help you snag that object of desire at work while enhancing your career:

 1. Seduce the boss. Take it from Miss Piggy, swine extraordinaire and gal-about-town: Start at the top of the food chain. The rewards—personal and professional—are much bigger. Remember, though, the boss is a busy person. So get to the point. Look into his eyes and say: "Mentor me, mentor me. Right here and now!"

Too subtle? Then try murmuring some Latin: "Res ipsa loquitur!"

Boss still clueless? Well, maybe you'll just gain a mentor.

2. Sleep with the enemy. Want to get a lawyer really hot? Lock him up in a conference room with a vicious opposing counsel in a tight suit. Remember, lawyers love abuse—some are givers, some takers.

"She was brutal during the buyout negotiations," says a corporate lawyer about the adversary he eventually married. "It's as if she walked over me in her stilettos. My God, she was sexy!"

One warning: Be professional, and don't let on that you like the abuse. So give as good as you get. Be nasty in return. Call her moronic, demented, unethical. But remember, don't call her for a date until the deal is closed or the case is settled.

3. Hook up with the client. If it works out, your law firm will love you and you will advance straight to partnership. It's like marrying your son or daughter into a rich family. Think of the billing potential!

For corporate counsel, though, this could be a minefield. It might be hard to get objective legal advice from a lover. Also, how do you know your lawyer isn't running his meter during moments of passion? Those stolen kisses at $450 per hour can add up.

How to avoid sticker shock? Only date those with low billing rates--like junior associates. But the mature thing is to be up-front, and inspect his time sheets before the two of you turn in for the night.

4. Fish downstream—only if you must. Miss Piggy was never big on dating minions—but she made exceptions for hunks. Face it, the cute ones are not on the management committee.

But dating someone below your rank is tricky—especially if you supervise him. You don't want to end up with a sexual harassment claim if the relationship goes south. The solution? Get him to sign an agreement that the relationship is strictly voluntary. And do keep those forms handy for those spontaneous moments in the office.

You'll notice that one area that I did not address is dating someone from your same rank at the firm. I have only one word for that: boring! Where's the potential for abuse, the forbidden fruit? It's too easy, too cute—about as interesting as watching high schoolers at the Honor Society dance. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at [email protected].



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This article is further proof that the most romantic arrangement most nauseating to women is the one they squawk most about wanting to be in: one with an "equal."

In case you did not see this less tongue in where piece also published on Valentine's Day:

So entertaining - as always (and where do you get these pics - they're so darn campy!!) I wonder what kind of dating column advice you'd give for politicians (and people who want to date/avoid them?) Now there's some material crying out for a column!!

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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