Even I couldn’t get you laid with that gigantic mole on your face.
“There are going to be some changes around here.”
I don’t like where this is going… I am way too hung over to get canned today. I wouldn’t have the energy to go down in a blaze of glory.
“I’m just gonna put it out there,” he said. “Matthew, I need your opinion about some cutbacks we’re making.”
Yes, I am the firm’s greatest asset. Don’t fire me.
“We have to rescind some offers for the incoming class, and since I based my reviews on what you told me, I need input here. We need to make sure we only hire the most competent, sharpest people.”
He handed me three files and said, “It’s your call. Tell me which summer associate to cut.”
Wow, did he just give me free reign to fire someone? Woo hoo. There’s nothing like being drunk with power to remedy a Patron-induced hangover.
But when I got back to my office, I realized “drunk with power” wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The candidates weren’t the problem. It was what they represented.
Here’s how they broke down:
Candidate #1: Jason. Georgetown Law. Conservative guy, engaged, worked on a deal with me. Made no mistakes.
Candidate # 2: Sherry. U. Penn Law. Very uptight, worked on two deals with me and her total lack of social skills and typical female chip on her shoulder rubbed me the wrong way. But she didn’t make any major mistakes on the two deals she worked on with me.
Candidate # 3: Adam. Harvard Law. Good guy. Actually, my favorite guy. If this were a personality contest, I would tell the others to get lost. However, there’s this trivial matter of competence. In the three deals we worked on together, he demonstrated a skill level somewhere between gross incompetence and my dog stepping on random computer keys.
Adam, my friend, all the best. Good luck and farewell!
Two little problems.
Adam is black.
And Sherry’s a lesbian.
I want to be clear: I am not prejudiced. I have black friends (both on Facebook and in real life) and have seen every Tyler Perry movie. And lesbians? Do I even have to justify my love for lesbians?
Race and sexual orientation cause a problem because I don’t think the firm would actually rescind either offer under any circumstance. In fact, I’m certain both of them are untouchable. They may as well be riding around in that bulletproof Popemobile because of that unwritten BigLaw policy:
Thou shall not fire any protected class lest we be faced with picketing from the ACLU, the wrath of Rev. Al Sharpton and some candy-ass jury handing out $10 million to any young associate who gets called a name.
Not that there aren’t incompetent white lawyers. There are. One of my good friends at the firm reads at a seventh-grade level. And I know a tax lawyer who has trouble with simple arithmetic. They should be canned—and they will be.
However, when the firm finally comes around to jettisoning its non-minority dead weight, it just fires them. There’s no meeting with HR or the recruiting department or the PR coordinator. A partner simply walks into the guy’s office and says something like, “Get out, and don’t forget to take that Hofstra diploma that has been desecrating our walls for two years with you.”
So, was I supposed to tell him to fire Jason, the competent white guy without a ready-made cause of action? Or maybe the senior partner really wanted my professional opinion on the merits of each candidate, now that the economy is in the toilet and we can no longer afford political correctness. Or maybe everyone on the hiring committee was relieved because they could finally fix their mistakes.
I wanted to think it was about merit, I really did. But I knew better.
The firm regularly turns a blind eye to incompetence when the person in question is a minority. And I’m not the only one who has noticed this. Associates openly discuss the fact that [NAME] would have been fired a long time ago if they weren’t [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE PROTECTED CLASS]. And by “openly discuss,” I mean in front of other white dudes while out drinking heavily.
So, I walked into the partner’s office for clarification.
“I’m just supposed to be going on merit here?”
“What else would you be going on?”
“Well, you know, I just feel like the firm might be a little leery about letting certain candidates go.”
“What are you inferring?”
You can’t fire the lesbian or the black dude!
“Um, well, you know, with the firm being worried about bad press or lawsuits…”
“Matthew, let me stop you right there. The firm has a policy of reviewing every candidate and holding everyone to the very same exacting standard. So please, strictly based on their qualifications, which candidate would you let go?”
“Okay, then even though I really like the guy, based on merit, I’d have to say Adam has no business working here because he screwed up every assignment.”
“Thanks for your input, Matthew.”
I walked out wondering whether I was being a racist or a realist. Should I join the KKK or the ABA?
* * * * *
The other day, I got a call from the partner.
“Matthew, I know I put you in a tough spot,” he said. “I just wanted to let you know, we rescinded Jason’s offer.”
“Well, I’m sure Adam will be disappointed… Wait, did you say Jason?”
“Matthew, the committee based their decision on a number of reviewers.”
“Really, who else?”
“It was a combination of your reviews and, well, mine. It was a tough call, but this decision was in the best interest of everyone involved.”
Translation: It’s easier to fire competent white dudes than it is to get rid of incompetent minorities.
Stay PC, BigLaw.