‘Twas thirteen days before Christmas, when all through the firm, Not an associate was stirring—because we got laid off.
Less than two weeks before Christmas, my large firm laid off its associates. But the proximity to the holidays is not the most frustrating part. The most frustrating part is the expectation that we will all find new jobs before our official January 31st termination date. An expectation from men who have never had to find a job. They graduated from law school, and the firm found them. Much as it found me. In a normal market, my job search would include multiple solid options, but in the worst market in decades, not so much.
So why am I bitter this holiday season? Here’s my bitter list for Santa:
1. The firm’s decision-making process was as follows: Option 1—Partners earn 0.2% more next year. Option 2—Associate A avoids foreclosure. They chose Option 1.
2. I was a finalist for the Bitter Lawyer Holiday Giveaway, but I couldn’t generate enough votes to win. Why? After the layoffs, my still-employed coworkers were too scared to visit to a website called “Bitter Lawyer” on Firm-issued computers.
3. The partners with whom I most worked did not know—nor have any input—about my layoff.
4. Immediately after firing me, my boss tells me about how his son (top 10% 1L) can’t find a clerkship. And this is supposed to make me feel better?
5. The Firm hired associates—dumb ones—in September, but canned the people hired immediately prior.
6. A partner suggested that I might qualify for Obama’s mortgage bailout plan. Seriously!?! That’s like punching me in the face and handing me a band-aid. Wait, that’s too generous—it’s like punching me in the face and telling me where to find a band-aid.
7. The Firm still employs stupid people.
8. Those stupid people are calling the shots.
9. One of those shots was aimed at me.
But even after the above, I’m surprisingly less bitter than I was two weeks ago. I have always questioned if practicing at a big firm was for me. And now I no longer have to question it. For now, strangely, I feel as if a weight has lifted. Whether it is the constant concern of the billable hour or the decision to leave the firm, I now breathe a bit easier.
Some attorneys thrive on the headaches and bullshit of Big Firms. I think other avenues fit me best, which makes this “opportunity” revitalizing.
On that note, happy holidays . . . and may God have mercy on your souls.