My (Former) Best Friend’s Wedding

Bitter and Abused Columns, Lawyer 17 Comments

I was in the middle of a merger deal, working 80 hours a week, for about two months. For weeks, I’d been telling the partner, I was best man in an upcoming wedding and I couldn’t work Saturday the 5th.  He assured me that I’d be fine.  “For God’s sake, what kind of monster do you think I am?”

The Thursday before the actual wedding weekend, I reminded him yet again I wouldn’t be able to work Friday or Saturday night. Once again, he assured me that would not be a problem—though I did note the change in his words. It went from “of course” to “not a problem.” The next day, around 4 PM, I emailed him to say I was leaving for the weekend. His electronic response: “What do you mean “leaving?”

My head almost exploded. What do you mean, what do you mean “leaving”? We’ve been talking about this for weeks, asshole! Two minutes later, he was at my door, dropping work-bombs on my desk. Revise the lock-up agreement, tweak the merger docs, revise the S-4. So I just looked at him, like a psychiatrist might look at a sociopath talking calmly about decapitating a young boy, and reminded him that I was best man in a wedding. I wasn’t a guest, nor an usher. I was best-fucking-man!

“So you want to party all weekend, is that it?”
“No, I just want to go to my best friend’s wedding,” I said, choking back my rage.

Asshole partner took this in, nodded, and then began cross-examining me. Where is the wedding? What time is it? What time will it end?

My mind started racing. Is this the moment I quit? Should I just tell him to fuck off? Punch him in the face as hard as I can? Instead, I just stood there nodding like a cowardly bobble-head doll, agreeing to work through the night (and blow off the rehearsal dinner). He did, however, agree to let me attend the wedding. From 5 to 9 on Saturday I was a free man. But he wanted me back at the office by ten.  Because there was work to do. I agreed. Even thanked him for his compassion.

So I went to the wedding and had a miserable time. Not even a sip of wine. And like a loyal associate, I was back at the office at 9:45, in my tux, ready to work.

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Photo by DannyBen

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  • Scott

    God i wish this story i could read this story and laugh…too close to home ….convinced partners have no soul …or life outside the office

  • Jim in L.A.

    You SHOULD have quit right then.
    The fact that the partner was both (a) lying straight to your face about not knowing your plans, and (b) willing to completely and utterly sacrifice any semblance of personal life or happiness for you in order to satisfy completely arbitrary schedules, even for a weekend, shows just what f—ing scumbags you work for.
    But the only thing that will teach them better is if you walk the fuck away.  Let him find someone else to handle his shit.  Accepting it when he lies to you baldfaced and makes you cancel a personal event – you give up your own soul, and only encourage him to abuse the next associate that comes along.
    Quit, now.  Walk away – every day you spend working for people like this, you will die inside.  And consider this: what if there is no afterlife?  You only have a few years on this earth, and could be dead tomorrow, and THAT’S IT.  Do you really want to spend your time slaving away in a little fucking office for people who wouldn’t give a squirt of p–s to save your life if it didn’t earn them another $10000?  Get out now while you still can.

  • Bill

    Jim, thanks for making me laugh.  You’re right, especially about the life is short part, and I almost spit out my lunch when I read about the squirt of piss.  So true.  Still, the profession seems to have its own weird gravity that keeps people firmly in orbit!

  • Anonymous

    Why blame the partner?  Its your own ambition that made you do what he said.  You have no right to blame anyone else.
    Go get another job if you don’t want to be a douchebag and live a rich douchebag’s life.

  • T

    Anonymous below doesn’t know shit about anything.  Amazing work just being able to go to the wedding.  My only consolation for you is that that senior partner is going to burn in hell, and more than likely some derranged postal associate will send him there.

  • pluckyvixen

    hahahahaha.  i love it.  i’ve been a secretary for 23 years—5 years in New York; the remainder in Seattle working for an amazing senior partner who would NEVER and has never demanded that of his associates. 
    i love this because . . . i just don’t understand what you people think you are getting yourselves into when you go to law school and decide on a big-city firm?  so i really have no sympathy.  just stick it out until you get to treat someone below you like shit.

  • Anon

    You let him do that to you.  You should have just walked out.  What’s he going to do, fire you?  Yeah, right, then he’d have to do ALL that work by himself.  Most likely he’d hate you for an indiscriminate amount of time after a walk out, but by the time that comes to a boil hopefully you would have found a new place of employment!

  • low on totem pole

    Today senior partner asked me to sit in on a consult with a new potential client.  I was excited to get some quality face-time with the boss.  Then she told me to “put on some make-up” and “take off that sweater.” What kills me is that I just smiled and did it.

  • Wow.

    That sounds an awful lot like sexual harassment and if you don’t act on it now, two or three years from now, after you’ve moved on without a settlement check, you’ll regret it.

  • Former Associate

    That partner is a jerk, but you are a sucker.  You have to set boundaries.  Odds are that partner is a service partner whose entire career is defined by how much work he can do for the more senior attorneys, in hopes of one day inheriting the work.  Those types get bitter if they are doing work and you aren’t, regardless of the circumstances.  If you gave the partner plenty of notice, and frequent reminders, you should feel justified in taking the entire day off – and coming in on Sunday only if you had to.  He turned the situation into a negotiation, as many hardcore M&A;guys do.  And he took you to the cleaners.  Next time, professionally tell him that you have personal obligations that you need to fulfill, and that you will work hard to not drop the ball before and after the event, but you have to be out.

  • It happened to me.

    In a nutshell, I worked for Satan and I had a major family event one weekend, which I told Satan about repeatedly and he basically told me I couldn’t go.  I politely told him that while I would make myself as available to him as I possibly could be, and would complete any assignment that he needed by Monday, I would be traveling to this family event I had been telling him about for 2 months.  I was kicked off that team when I returned to work on Monday and was fired from the firm by Wednesday for “performance” reasons.  I had stellar reviews for many years at that firm before hand, but the work had just dried up.  This was one of those often-discussed economically motivated “stealth firings.” And, like I said, I worked for Satan who wanted to screw me after I stood up to him. 

    So – to all of you people that advised the original poster to “stand up for himself” – be forewarned: Backbones are not encouraged at lawfirms.  Mindless adherence to the firm heirarchy and the subordination of your humanity is the only acceptable course of action.  Translated: the only answer to any request from a partner is “Yes!” You just have to pray that you don’t work for soulless bastards who care only about their take home profits at the end of the year. 
    May they all burn in hell.

  • YrNextBestAsst

    I just love it! As an assistant, i ASSIST my boss in knowing that my hours are 9 to 5, and short of commiting a felony anytime after that its all free game…..and have a nice weekend, cause down here on the low end of the tomem…i still get to see them

  • haha.

    and that’s why you misspelled the word totem.

  • Al Dickman

    Your situation was tough, the partner was a dick, but guess what?  This is what you get in Big law firm land.  Always the possiblitiy of weekend work.  If you didn’t have it, you’d be laid off, and then, you’d never get laid.  Yes, you missed the chance of scoring with some sorry-assed maid of honor or some other skank in the wedding party, but you’ll have future opportunities.  There’s always the cleaning lady if you get really horny.

  • wow

    Dont be discouraged.  Maybe you can get 6 hours off instead of 4 for your own wedding day.

  • No way

    It happened to me, you are the exception, not the rule – but you’re right, having any kind of a life outside the firm is certainly a risk.  The question is, is it one worth taking?  Are you really willing to give up EVERYTHING to the firm, your time on this earth, your happiness, your very soul?  The pay is just not worth it, and if you think doing it will make you a partner, think again.

  • the real question

    what i’m dying to know, is what you told your best friend? i’ve been forced to miss out on a lot of things on account of being a young associate.  but i would definitely draw the line at a best friend’s wedding.  i sympathize with the situation you were put in, but i think u dropped the ball on this one. although, i’m sure this isn’t the first time you’re hearing that.