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Yep. I’m still getting laid off. I think I know the exact date too. So I have nothing to do but sit here and wait to get my all-access pass to the unemployment office.
I can probably get my old seat at the unemployment office. It’s probably still warm from the first time I was there.
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I’m moving over to Law Shucks and blowing this popsicle stand. Here’s our debut post on Law Shucks about moi:
What better topic to talk about during the economic downturn than LAYOFFS? Right, well, if you’ve been following Law Shucks, you know of our nifty Layoff Tracker that presents and analyzes the data for the first time in an organized and intelligible manner.
Well, now we’re introducing the Laid Off Diary – a diary of one corporate BigLaw attorney who was laid off, given the boot, shown the door, shit canned, pink slipped, downsized, discharged, dismissed, displaced, given the ax, made redundant, etc. (Which reminds me, how many people got the line: “Your new job is to find a new job”. Well, lawyers were never known to be witty or creative. I mean, really? how long did it take you to come up with that line? The same amount of time it took to decide whom to lay off??)
Some of you might have been following the Diaries from its former home at laidoffdiary.wordpress.com, but it will now be hosted here at its new home on Law Shucks so that you can get all the juicy info you ever wanted to know at one place. All new content will be here on Law Shucks exclusively, and we’ll be selectively re-posting some of the previous gems.
Law Shucks has established itself as the clear leader in the cold, hard facts of law firm layoffs. Now we’re softening things up and giving a personal perspective to one of the more than 10,000 people who have been affected.
But it’s not just the Diary – yours truly is bringing a fresh, brash, insightful perspective and a lot of new ideas to Law Shucks.
N.B. The new series is called Laid Off Diary, not Koolaid Drinker With a Job Diary, so expect some snarky and perhaps slightly angry and possibly taboo reflections inbetween the more insightful posts.
So, stay tuned, this place is about to get a whole lot more interesting…
Ta-da! What do you think about that, homey?
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A while back, Stuff BigLaw Associates Like made a post regarding networking under their People We’d Like To Cut and Cut Deep and Go To Jail For series (tee hee), but, as promised, I really do want to circle back to this topic, especially now, when we’re all trying to network for a job.
We know why networking is important–only 5-10% of jobs are advertised, it never hurts to have someone higher up pull strings for you, and blah blah blah.
But, it’s HOW you network.
I’m just going to share my thoughts on what I thought when people tried to “schmooze” with me when I worked in BigLaw, the stuff my colleagues bitched about, and the stuff I hear from business people.
1. Relax. The stench of desperation can be smelled far and wide and we lawyers and business people are competitive people, not sympathetic people. We don’t care if you have 3 children under the age of 3 and a mortgage. That sucks, but we’re not going to pull strings for you because you’re a pathetic case.
2. Don’t reach out to colleagues in your former firm or in other firms you were NEVER friends with! Don’t email me because I went to law school with you but you’ve never had a beer with me (even though we were at the same bar and you knew I was there but couldn’t even say hi.). Yes, I’ve had people from my old law school email me and ask me to forward on their resume who never forwarded me a beer. Yes, we have a special place for alums in our heart, but our hearts are small and black so you don’t get that much from just being an alum if you were never a friend or tried to be. (Now this is different if you were too young to be there when I was there because we lawyers think we are the smartestest people on earth so we’d love to share our wisdom with you little ones…but remember, we’re mostly full of shit because we are lawyers afterall).
This is even worse if we actively disliked each other and you still thought it was cool to email me and send me your resume. This apparently happens alot because I’ve heard this same sort of thing happening with my friends and we all sit there and make fun of you. Why would you ask someone you snubbed or openly disliked for help? Are you desperate? If so, go back to #1.
3. Don’t be annoying. This is a fine line because lawyers are pretty much annoying folk when they try to come out of their introvert shell because they don’t know how to be extroverted but not in your face. Don’t email me and when I respond, treat me like your new pen pal. Don’t tell me about your day and then have self-serving requests (like, who do you know at X firm, who do you know at Y company, do you know Z partner) sprinkled throughout. And when I don’t respond, don’t call me and leave a voice mail. And if I don’t return your call, DON’T call back. I thought you people learned that you should never leave a voice mail because that means you can’t call back without necessarily being an annoying fool.
4. Don’t use people as tools. I can’t stress this last one enough. People help each other out because we genuinely LIKE each other (and there are some who think they can benefit from helping someone else in a self-interested manner but this probably won’t apply to you begging for a job). I can tell when you’re just trying to add me to your rolodex. Why don’t you, while making a contact, genuinely take an interest in what a person does rather than just trying to make a contact with a person because of their mere title (and it made me laugh because my title as “associate/monkey” at BigLaw isn’t that amazing of a title but man, did law students and lawyers not in BigLaw want to schmooze with me). Don’t be a complete fake. I mean, sure, when the managing partner of a firm tells you an anecdote that makes you want to claw your eyes out from boredom, smile and laugh. But you know what I’m getting at. Don’t be a phony.
In NYC, I’ve had the opportunity to observe not just professional networkers but also social networkers. People who “know everyone” but is liked by no one. I know this guy who calls himself a “party boy” and at every party, he latches on to whoever is closest to him that he thinks is successful enough to be worthy of his presence. He drags this person around and introduces him or her to everyone else he knows. While his victim and the person he is introducing his victim to might like each other or become friends, they both mutually dislike the “party boy.” We all sort of tolerate him because he does sometimes make good introductions and also because he knows everyone and is always around that it’s just better to smile and nod than start something with him. But at the end of the day, nobody really likes him and nobody would willingly introduce him to any of their friends.
Don’t be that guy in either the professional or social sense.
5. Be Tactful, Not Stupid. Don’t post on someone’s facebook wall that you heard they got laid off and if they know anyone that’s hiring. (True story–it’s beyond me why someone would 1) post on FB and 2) ask a laid off person to help them find a job). Another true story: my friend was at a mixer and she introduced an ex-colleague at her former firm to her client who happened to be there (only because it was demanded by etiquette to introduce him). Then the guy gave the client a spiel about how he’s up for partner soon (he’s 6th year and apparently delusional) and said he needs to bring in some business and asked her what business she might have for him. I’ll let you tally up your own score of how many things he did absolutely wrong there.
Another true story: I recently was looking for a roommate. One girl was recently laid off in finance (not sure why she would tell me that since I don’t want someone jobless, other than me, living in my apartment) and her current roommate was moving out so she decided to leave too. Then she decided to stay and asked me if I knew anyone who was looking for an apartment. What?? I need someone to rent from ME–why the hell would I help her before securing a roommate for myself in the same area of NYC for around the same price? Then, of course, the other shoe fell. She asked me if I knew anyone who was hiring (and since I’m crossing over in business, we were both looking at PE/VCs, etc.) and if I could circulate her resume. Really? Why would I give up my contacts when I don’t have a job yet either??
I swear, I’m constantly surprised at how some people don’t just drown whenever it rains because they forgot to close their mouth while looking up.
Don’t be this guy:
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In response to a recent comment asking why/how I am having lunches/meetings with CEOs and managing directors and also in light of the many times I’ve tried to explain to non-lawyers (that includes you too, my little law students–you’re not lawyers yet!) that most lawyers that I know in BigLaw, including partners, were socially moronic when they were under the impression that lawyers needed to be (and were subsequently rewarded for being) social in BigLaw.
Well, here’s the deal. The best politician who is elected for office might not be the right person for the job. He might not have the brains or work ethic (or any ethic at all) to effectively carry out the positions of the office, but he was the most charismatic and social guy so he won the hearts of the voters. Well, BigLaw associates are the opposite.
We are recruited out of law school for getting good grades and to get good grades, you either needed to study really hard and not drink on Tuesdays, go to class, read all the cases, and be a good little student or you needed to have a really good outline and study for 200 hours straight the two weeks before the open book final. Even if you fell into the latter category, you still have to have the concentration and work ethic to “buckle down” before the final. In law school, we’re not taught to be good business people–we’re taught to be hard workers. We’re told that we should network, but nobody actually teaches us how and you know what, not alot of lawyers I know can network very smoothly (a post on this topic to come tomorrow).
Anyway, next, we are rewarded for, you guessed it, billing like crazy years 1-2. You aren’t really challenged intellectually and the nuances of your practice area still escape you, so does many of the other more obvious legal issues. So basically you are working and 60-70 hours a week doing work that bores you to tears and work that you don’t fully understand. Sure, you should show up to the firm parties and events and be “social”, but you treat those more like work hours rather than social hours. We show our faces for the requisite amount of time and then we split like a fat man’s pants.
Okey dokey. Now you’re a 3-5 year. What are you rewarded for? More responsibility, delegating to junior associates, but still billing billing billing…
Now, 6-8 years. What are you rewarded for? Ass kissing, billing billing billing, and some business development (you aren’t actually expected to have a huge book of business at this point).
The underlying point is that what gets you up for partner is the uncanny ability to do tearfully boring work and doing it 60-70 hours a week without complaining and without a social life. And once you’re up for partner, yes, you then need to have some social graces in order to stay partner and bring in business.
But, LaidOff, if most lawyers are socially confused, how do they get clients, you ask. Well, when all partners are working at a 60% capacity at what a normal socially adept person is at and all lawyers are pretty much at the same socially awkward level, you just need to be slightly less socially stupid than the partner you’re trying to compete with. Of course, you’d lose to the average frat boy or business guy on a social level, but you’re not competing with them.
And after talking to numerous business people–they all think lawyers are boring and socially inept–so even when you’re trying to woo business people, you’re still not rewarded for how social you are (or even how normal you are) on an absolute level, only on a relative level. You just can’t be as moronic as that other partner over there. And business people aren’t looking for social lawyers that they get along with–they’re looking for some boring ass work horse who can give them good work and good rates who isn’t offensively socially backwards.
Next, to address the first question last (because I do that to keep you on your toes), how am I getting all these CEOs and managing directors and founders to meet with me or invite me to lunch (and more than once) or coffee or to their offices or call me or give me a standing invite to lunch if I’m ever in their city?
I can’t teach you. Either you’re social or you’re not. Either your extroverted or you’re not. Either you can sell yourself as someone interesting enough that someone will want to talk to you or you can’t. Either you’re creative on how to reach out to these people and get in front of them or you’re not. But I can say that it gets easier as your Rolodex expands because then people start introducing you to their network.
But I have to say, unfortunately, having “lawyer” attached to me was a hurdle I had to overcome because the truth is, lawyers are seen as incredibly boring people to their business counterpart/clients. Sorry. I had some business people admit (after they meet me) that they were worried about meeting with me because most lawyers are socially awkward which is why they agreed to a coffee instead of a lunch. Who knew that all the years I’ve spent in school and trying to fit into BigLaw, that business people would compliment me by saying “you don’t seem like a lawyer!”.
But good thing for you, my dear colleagues. You don’t need all the social charm in the world. You just need to have a little bit more than that socially backwards partner you’re competing with. And being a BigLaw attorney locked away in an office as a workhorse is the perfect job for someone who doesn’t like to be social or who is an introvert. You’re getting paid six figures–don’t complain!
And I’m having these meetings because I’m through with the traditional practice of law. I’m going onto the entrepreneurial/creative side of things where you are rewarded for being social, extroverted, and charismatic because I’m not an introvert and couldn’t see myself in a BigLaw firm anymore.
Now, I’m also not saying being extroverted is better than being introverted. That’s not the point at all. It’s just that if you’re a BigLaw lawyer, or even midsize, when you don’t need to be a mover or a shaker as an associate but a billing machine, being an introvert isn’t that bad. And once you’re a partner at a big named law firm, you have a lot of street cred with clients you’re trying to woo even if you’re not the most socially graceful person out there. This kind of explains why lawyers can afford to be socially awkward and you guys are and take it to an art form. Admit it. Embrace it.
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Since being laid off, I’ve of course become more money conscious. Before, I would just grab the name brand instead of wasting the extra 3.8 second comparing the brand name’s price with the generic’s price and determining whether the generic’s quality was good enough.
Now, I’m checking prices and comparing the generic with the brand name and, most likely that not, buying generics to save a couple of extra bucks.
But GOD, I swear, the generic is just really not as good. Take cotton balls for example. It’s a fluff of freaking cotton–how much worse can the generic be? Well, apparently, alot worse. I had some cotton balls that completely fell apart and white whispies were everywhere.
I’m also not convinced that generic drugs are the same as name brands. I know, I know, the doctors say they’re the same but I just don’t have as much fun on Duane Reade’s blue cold syrup or “Nycare” as I do when taking shots of Nyquil. And Dayquil is the closest thing that actually tastes like the color neon orange and is the only thing that can make you feel like a glowing orange orb (on crack).
And from what I hear from my overstressed and overly anxious colleagues, alprazolam just doesn’t get you there like Xanax.
–still not convinced
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Things just seem to get bleaker and here are new signs that we haven’t hit bottom or things that likely signify that associates are still going to get laid off and just some random fun facts that are happening in our legal world:
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I’m reposting this column from Stuff BigLaw Associates Like because after getting calls from former colleagues still in BigLaw and from laid off colleagues and friends, it seems like a lot of us need to be reminded about not settling on our careers:
BigLaw Associates like to acquiese. We like to settle. We’re like those couples that you see that live together and are boring and bored of each other. They’ve been with each other for a year or two, they might have moved in with each other to save on rent, and are now in a cycle. They both deep down inside know that there is no spark, that the other isn’t who they want to spend the rest of their lives with but there is free sex, free somewhat regular sex, and someone to watch television with and eat microwave dinner or chinese take out with. There’s no reason to break up, pack up all your shit, shell out money on movers, deposits, and first and last month’s rent. Fuck, you might even marry this person. And have a fat baby. And spend your Saturday’s at Bed Bath & Beyond and Home Depot (if either are still around after this recession). You might then day dream about that hot chick in the coffee shop while you are stuffing your face with 1000 calorie doughnuts. You might day dream about having married a rich man who would whisk you away to some random ass tropical island. and through it all, you spent the better part of your time cutting coupons you never used or could find when you just happened to need to buy that item. But then you die of a series of small heart attacks. Not one is significant so not even your death will be tragic or memorable.
However, if the other person in the relationship cheats on you. Well, that’s the catalyst to action. You break up, maybe throw a few things, craddle your ego, shit talk the other person to all your friends, maybe do some libel as well on a blog (like this one–feel free to comment here!), and move your shit out. You’re lonely for six months, you’re edgy because you haven’t had sex in a while, and maybe you’ve gained a bit of weight and more hair than you should have on places that’s not your head. But then eventually, let’s hope, you pick yourself up, realize the other person was a boring sack of shit, and that you’re glad you’re out. Maybe you’ve found someone else (probably not if you’re a lawyer because you’re probably unattractive and short) that makes you more happy than you ever thought possible.
And such is the way with BigLaw. You are a midlevel bored out of your mind but you’ve gotta be crazy to leave a job that pays six figures when you don’t even know what else you would do with your life. You’ve been a monkey for so long, cranking out sheets of paper with little black words on them, meticulously measuring the margins of your pleadings, having no sex life or a really bad one, getting fat and miserable that you don’t even know what will make you happy. You’ve gotta be crazy to leave a cushy job when the average family of three makes $45,000 and you started at $160,000. But before you know it, you’re a seventh or eighth year. You’re fat. You’ve started guffawing because that’s what all the old white men do around you. You no longer think it is unethical to pad hours. You no longer think it is unethical to steal supplies even though you make a bizillion bucks. If you’re a minority, you’re confused as to why you aren’t the same color as all the white people because you feel white inside. But then you get fired for not making partner and you wonder where your youth went and your individuality and identity. And then you too, die of a series of small heart attacks on a pile of paper at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon.
Or you make partner and find yourself laid off or de-equitized after your second divorce resulting from the fact that you are always at work or at networking events and never at home with your wife/husband and kids/dogs/pet gold fish. Or you find yourself close to retirement after screwing over countless associates and married to your homely looking third wife (when your second wife left you for your brother who “followed his dreams” and actually has time for her) instead of a trophy wife in hopes that she will stick around to wipe the drool from your mouth after you suffer a heart attack or stroke from being an overweight stressed out fat bastard from neglecting your health for the sake of your “career”. Good job. Pat yourself on the back. That was a life well lived.
However, if the other person in the relationship cheats on you, and in this case, it would be BigLaw laying your ass off, that is the catalyst to action. You are forced to find something that actually, *gasp* makes you happy! you are allowed to take a year off and travel and learn portuguese because brazilian women are hot. Even if you go back to law after that year, it’s like a year you were able to relax and be happy. Yes, there are bills to pay but nobody but people who are still employed are paying their bills and guess what? you’re not employed! fuck your credit score. You and Madoff’s mom have shitty credit scores. Yeah, it will suck not having money but you’ve got that severance package and it’s time to re-establish your love with rice-a-roni and ramen and msg. Go ahead, throw things, cradle your hurt ego, and talk shit about your law firm on a blog (like this one–feel free to comment here!). But you’ll soon realize that it might have been the best thing for you. Not all of us were meant to be monkeys or tools. Not all of us, just because we’re smart and did well in law school, are meant to ignore parts of ourselves and waste our talent checking for commas and getting yelled at by short men with large heads. Hopefully soon you will find something else that will make you more happy than you ever thought possible.
Until then, screw the man!