The Laid Off Diary: Dear Diary…this sucks.

Never Failed
June 7, 2009, 11:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Dear Diary:

Today, the NY Times had a very interesting (buy not at all surprising) article about White and Case and the structure of BigLaw in general.

Two things really stuck out besides the obvious notion that the BigLaw structure, at the very least, needs an “adjustment”. One of the things is that Verrier (managing partner of WC) said he was faced with three options in response to the economic crisis: 1) do nothing and risk the firm’s livlihood, 2) couch lay offs as based on performace, or 3) own up to the fact that lay offs were economic based.

I still do not, to this day understand why firms are shooting themselves in the foot by laying off attorneys and blaming them for being poor attorneys. How can a firm betray its associates who chose it, probably above other gems that were courting him or her, in such a despicable manner? And how can it then not understand why law students or remaining associates who haven’t drank the koolaid have no loyalty to the firm? Furthermore, the legal world is so small and now with attorneys taking nontraditional careers such as in government or companies, how can such a poor business and ethical decision not come back and bite the firm in one way or another. So even if the firm doesn’t care about doing the right thing on a personal or ethical level, on a business level, they shouldn’t burn the bridges with its associates, especially with the blog world being so active, the smoke from the fires will be seen far and wide and for a very long time.

By parting ways in a gentleman’s manner and owning up the fact that the firm is hurting and cannot keep it’s associates will still sting, true, but is much a better way to handle things on a business level and a personal level.

The second thing that struck me was that the article addressed how difficult it was to lay off associates because of how we would take it- we are a group that has never failed. But I have to stress again that being laid off isn’t necessarily a set back or a failure. It needs to be defined in relation to our goal. Many associates don’t want to become partner but were just on the path because they didn’t know what else to do. Some people think they want biglaw because that’s what we were programmed to think in law school. We are competitive people. We want to go to the best law school, get the best grades, get into the best law firm… and what was cobsidered the best law frm was defined by starting salaries and PPPs, not necessarily what satisfies us or gives us meaningful work.

I think we have used the wrong measuring stick to define what is the “best” and this is skewing our idea of our goal. So until we re-examine these things, can we really say we have failed?

And it is likely you are the type of person who has never failed and if this is still considered a failure after you examine your goal, well, failing once in your life is pretty damn good stats and the game isn’t over yet.

-haven’t failed


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