Every two weeks since last fall, our firm (let’s just say that we’re about fifty lawyers in a boring part of the country most of your readers probably fly over) has been overrun with rumors of layoffs. Except they’ve never happened. Hate to say it, but it’s now to the point where I wish someone would just put me out of my misery and lay me off already.
Since fall of last year, not a single person has been let go. On any level. Not a secretary, paralegal, no one. We even have the usual number of file clerks and summer interns, which is only a few, but whatever.
Despite business as usual, the rumors have been going around non-stop all year. And the managing partner even admitted to thinking that they’ve actually been a good way to motivate people and kept everyone on their toes. Instead of ever once saying, “We’re doing fine, we care about you, we’ll survive this,” he’s let it feed his ego to the point has ACTUALLY walked around the office and personally told associates, “We’re taking a hard look at everybody’s performance these days.”
He seems to actually enjoy reminding us that our jobs are on the line every day. He sends out firm-wide emails and forwards news stories every time he reads about layoffs at other firms, and he adds a stupid, little note that says something like (paraphrasing), “It’s bad out there. Lucky it wasn’t anyone here.”
I can’t even decide how I feel about it anymore other than it literally makes my stomach turn. Seriously, I think I have an ulcer now, and I’ve been taking Pepto-Bismol whenever I feel like it. One day, someone saw it on my desk and made a comment about how the stress must be getting to me, and the managing partner overheard and laughed.
Well, it is, but I’m not sure that’s so funny. I’ve been a lawyer for six years and here for four. I love practicing law, and I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do. And I love working at a firm this size in market I’m in. I get great client contact, can call it a day at a decent hour, etc. But the managing partner is killing this place. He’s like a sadist.
Oh, last month, he even hand-delivered our paystubs, and people said he kept making comments like, “Things are getting pretty tight. Let’s hope this isn’t all of our last paychecks.” One woman started crying.
It’s not the fear of losing my job that makes this so awful, it’s the way the managing partner handles things. What I loved about the “big family” firm has had the atmosphere of a cancer ward. It’s like we’re all waiting on death row. And instead of being human about it, the managing partner has turned this place into a sweatshop. I don’t do as good of a job as I could because I’m always worried about protecting myself from getting axed. And I don’t know if the end is in sight.
It’s been the most hellish year of my legal career, and part of me just wants the shoe to drop. At least the wait would be over.