The Laid Off Diary: Dear Diary…this sucks.

May 5, 2009, 11:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


Dear Diary:

I had a conversation with my dad yesterday and he was trying to think of all the possible reasons for my lay off–what if I had gone to a different law school? gone with a different law firm (I had four firms I was considering)? moved to the market in the state where my parents lived? been a better little monkey? picked a different practice area?

It was an aggravating conversation since he was highlighting every mistake (or everything he considered a mistake) he thought I made since high school that might have resulted in my current situation (and the fact that I wasn’t taking my lay off as hard as him was probably the most disconcerting thing to him).

But I was unhappy in BigLaw. I will admit it. It doesn’t mean I’m stupid or not as strong or savvy as those who are happy. Many people are unhappy in their jobs in every profession. Yes, I had a good pay check, but, I felt like the person in the picture above (notice, that the people aren’t chained, only the treasure chest). Unhappy and so close to escaping the tunnel to frolic in the sunlight but I couldn’t let go of the money. But it wasn’t just the money. It was the “prestige.” It was the fact that my colleagues were a bit jealous when I told them where I worked or how much I made (well, I actually never told people how much I made because that’s tacky) but they assumed I made a shitload and a shitload I made indeed (well, relatively to other lawyers and for what I was doing. But the really rich people in NYC made me look like a pauper).

Have we become that one dimensional that our career is all that defines us and those around us? Is that how we determine not only the worth of our colleagues and peers, but ourselves as well? For those who were in BigLaw and unhappy, what a sad thing that your yard stick for whether you succeeded in life or not is something that, even if you measure up to, still brings you unhappiness.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. The people who may still have jobs at top firms, might, in 10-20 years, be unhappily married with high cholesterol and children who call them by their first name (and no one’s really sure whose kid it is because The Wife has had many male “friends” the kids call “Uncle”). They also might get the boot tomorrow. Do you think the partners that were let go thought that was going to happen to them 10-20 years ago when they were little associates? I’m sure some partners felt they were ahead of their classmates when they made partner and others didn’t now only to find their partner asses out on the street, middle aged or older, less hair, more fat, and more responsibilities. Or they may be the happiest and most content person out of all of us. Those of us who are laid off might find a profession better suited for them. Or might be depressed alcoholic who sleeps on benches in Central Park. You never know.

We gotta quit thinking that our lay offs are end points, especially young associates (and those who still have jobs need to quit thinking they are “ahead” of those who were laid off).

When the race you run is 65 years or more long, calling the result 25-35 years in makes you look like a jackass.

Some people may say to keep your chin up because this is just a set back. But what is the goal from which this is setting you back? I think most of us don’t really have an idea of what that goal is. Is it really a set back? Or just a turn in the road?

It’s so easy to have taken the path we did. Major in some bullshit liberal arts degree, whack through the LSAT for a few hours, get into a good law school, study two weeks before each final for an OPEN BOOK final, be wined and dined for two summers, wear nice suits and have the little numbers in our bank account go up and up…. but through all of this, did most of us actually stop and think about what we WANT to do? what our GOAL is?

Let’s be honest with ourselves. The path we took into BigLaw was the easiest path we could have taken without any soul searching. Yes, it was sorta hard to get there in the sense you couldn’t be a complete jackass and had to try a bit at school, get on law review and memorize those stupid markings (can someone explain to me the thought process of how “#” equals a space?), but really, did you really think about what you wanted to do with your life and about what makes you happy or content? what makes your life meaningful? How many of us lied on our law school application as to why we wanted to go to law school? How many of us didn’t really know but just put something down we thought the school wanted to hear? How many people actually meant what they wrote AND are living it?

To make things more unpredictable, everything in life is half-chance. Sure, you might have planned that you were going to go to Harvard undergrad and Yale law school and be on law review and work at Wachtell, but chance still plays a large part in your life and who you’ve become and the experiences you’ve had and where you’ll go.

If Newton can conjure up the idea of gravity because an apple fell on his head (as the story goes) because he chanced to be there, then maybe an apple or two will fall for me and you and provide inspiration for the next stage of our lives.

–time to take the path less taken

p.s. sorry if this post is sorta warm and fuzzy but don’t be disappointed, I still harbor a certain hate for the wide spread douchery that is found in BigLaw.


9 Comments so far
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“Newton got beaned by the apple good. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah”
— R.E.M. “Man in the Moon”

Don’t wait on the apple — make your own future.

Comment by Son of Dolemite

very good point.

Comment by laidoffdiary

I went to law school cause I tried hard to figure out what I really wanted to do, what would bring me happiness, etc, and couldn’t think of anything else — and was sick of working retail and waiting tables. Worked at Biglaw for a few years (loved the paychecks), knew it wasn’t for me, and moved to ‘tiny law’ in a ski town — not bad — still the law — not my calling. I need a trust fund.

Comment by johnnRlaw

I was laid off earlier this year and also thought about moving to a ski town. I’m still in NYC though, mainly because I don’t want to take another bar exam and all the ski towns in NY aren’t worth moving to.

When I went snowboarding at a large ski resort over winter, one of the locals (around my age) told me he had moved there when he was younger and, in his own words, “was living the life” of snowboarding all the time and working in a bar. But then again, he had just gotten a tattoo that afternoon that said “A dollar short” on the inside of his left arm and “A day late” on the inside of his right arm… so…you know…can’t be all the great.

Comment by laidoffdiary


You wrote two weeks ago that you applied for unemployment benefits. Looking at the unemployment website, it looks like the maximum weekly payment is $405. Is that right? I have an option to take a part time paralegal (Yes, this is the job that 3 years of BIGLAW has prepared me for!!!) job at about twice that, but I’m trying to figure it that’s worth it. Moneywise. Dignity-wise, yeah, its crap.

Comment by Nasrin

Yeah, that’s a hard one. I applied to temp agencies. I believe after the temp job ends, you can reapply for unemployment benefits. I believe you can still get unemployment if you have a part time job IF you earn less than half of your unemployment. If you earn more, then it’s reduced dollar by dollar but not for what you’re going to get. Part time for about twice as unemployment isn’t bad–you don’t have to deal with b.s. 40 hours a week, five days a week.

Personally, I’m fine with temp jobs because I’m coasting on severance and it gives me a breather in between temp jobs (theoretically since I actually haven’t even gotten a temp position) to find out what I want to do and honestly, just hang out. I needed a break from BigLaw! Yes, call me irresponsible but I have the next 30 years of my life (probably more now that my 401K bit the dust) to work full time.

But I think if I were strapped for cash, I’d take the part time paralegal job mainly because $405/wk in NYC doesn’t go very far at all and you still have free time to do other things or find another job. For now, I’m doing other things to make my severance stretch as far as I can like get a roommate, lay off my dog walker, eat only at home, stop drinking in bars, etc. Trust me, it does kind of suck dignity-wise when I decline to buy a $10 drink and have to explain why when everyone asks you why you aren’t drinking. Maybe I should tell people I don’t drink because I was a raging alcoholic and beat up a bum and was court ordered to go to AA.

Comment by laidoffdiary

Actually, now that I think about it, a part time job isn’t bad because you can ride out the market crash, get some extra cash, but also have some weekdays and weekends off to hang out and relax and try to overcome the PTS that BigLaw has inflicted on us. I still sometimes get the feeling I have something due soon or that I forgot something. Ah BigLaw, what other mental wounds have you inflicted upon us little monkeys?

Comment by laidoffdiary

[…] like I said in a previous post, life is a marathon, not a sprint and this race (hopefully) will take 65+ years so calling it in the first 25-35 years is just plain […]

Pingback by Clowning Around « The Laid Off Diary: Dear Diary…this sucks.

Nice blog, very reflective.

Comment by Mod 2

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