Washington and Lee University School of Law

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Work from Home Week 2009

Marti McCaleb, a rising 3L from Waco, Texas, is interning at Legal Voice in Seattle, Washington.

Even in the land where Microsoft dominates the local economy, computer catastrophes can and will happen. I’m back in the office today, for the first time in over a week. To celebrate Independence Day, our server decided to make its own sort of fireworks display. Microsoft’s primary campus may be just 20 minutes away from downtown Seattle, but it took the better part of a week to get the new server online. In the meantime, we found the opportunity to celebrate “Work from Home Week 2009.” I quickly learned that I’m not the type to successfully manage flex-scheduling. To me “work from home” means things like laundry, dishes, and carpet-steaming. So, I opted for a “Work from Starbucks” model instead. There’s one on every other corner, so you can always go for a change in scenery, it’s relatively quiet, and the people-watching is second-to-none when you need a mental break. And of course, there’s a copious amount of caffeine available. 
 
In some offices, a down server would be a minor inconvenience, taking things off-line for a few hours. For a ten-person non-profit, it can be devastating. It’s taken a lot of creativity and flexibility to keep the office running when the office has been completely shut down. Without access to the server files, time-sensitive projects had to be completely recreated. I still can’t decide if it was a good week or not. In some ways the break in routine and the increased pressure helped make me super productive. At the same time, when there isn’t really a clear distinction between professional and personal time, it’s easy to feel like you should always be doing more. Ideas about work-from-home plans and flex scheduling get brought up a lot in discussions about work-life balance. It may be a great solution for some people, but I’ve definitely learned that my work-life balance is best when work is work and home is home.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Celebrating a Legal Victory

Marti McCaleb, a rising 3L from Waco, Texas, is interning at Legal Voice in Seattle, Washington.

On May 18, 2009, Washington governor Christine Gregoire signed the "Everything But Marriage" bill into law, granting same-sex registered domestic partners all the same rights and responsibilities as married spouses.  As Representative Jamie Pederson, the bill's primary house sponsor, said "This law guarantees that when I leave this assembly, I will know that I have the right to visit my partner, Eric, in the hospital, where he had minor surgery this morning.  And when he leaves the hospital, I will know that I am responsible for the bills as well."

Five minutes into my first day interning at Legal Voice (and less than one week since I arrived in Seattle, and on the West Coast, for the very first time), my supervisor invited me to join our staff attorneys at the bill signing ceremony.  And I had a very important duty to fulfill—photographer.  Jamie and Eric brought their son, Tryg.  Tryg's kindergarten class came along for a field trip and most of them brought their parents as well.  Representatives from NOW, ERW and the ACLU attended.  So did religious leaders, city officials, friends and family, advocates and allies of the thousands of GLBT families across Washington State.  I met Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer, a local hero, who is the highest ranking military officer to acknowledge her homosexuality while in the service.  Legal Voice (then known as the Northwest Women's Law Center) helped take her case to the state supreme court, which found that the military's policy banning homosexuals was unconstitutional.  Col. Cammermeyer's successful challenge to the military policy, in part, led to the adoption of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy adopted during the Clinton administration.  Glenn Close plays Cammermeyer in the 1995 movie Serving in Silence. 

Outside of work, Seattle is an incredible place to spend a summer.  The weather is unseasonably warm (mid 70s) and dry for this time of year.  My random explorations have taken me for a ride to the top of the Space Needle,  a chic little jewelry artisan in Fremont Flea Market, a crêperie in Pike Place Market, a drag bar in Capitol Hill, a silent movie at the Paramount Theater, and to the Nordstrom flagship store.  Still on the to do list are:  a ferry to Vancouver, Mt Rainier, the Experience Music Project, Bumbershoot Music Festival, Seattle PRIDE parade, scalp tickets to a Seattle Sounders game, and, of course, a weekend trip hiking in the Cascades and a visit to Forks!