Dreaming About Quitting the Law Firm


So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.

—Peter Gibbons


One of the lawyers in my office recently gave two weeks notice and is about to move onwards and upwards in the national legal community. As this attorney was the hottest attorney in the office loved by all of us young lawyers, we took her out to celebrate the fact that she has found a great new job in a land far away (and to mourn the loss of her hotness). As the night wore on, and more alcohol coursed through our systems, we all began to discuss our future career plans.

  • One of our number is looking to start a family and leave the practice of law. And then return to work part time so she can get away from her annoying brat of a child help with the family expenses.
  • Another is thinking of sticking it out for partner. Unless he can find better work as an adult film star.
  • And I just want to find the job doing the work that I love with the end goal of making partner. Yes, I am looking to take over for Santa Claus.

After we all put our career aspirations on the table, the night got really interesting as we all began to focus on what, for at least us, the most nerve-wracking idea of moving to a new position: giving our bosses notice. All of us gathered around this table are in our first jobs as lawyers. Lame as it sounds this is all that we have ever known when it comes to professional employment (summer law school employment notwithstanding). Our partners are the only ones we have ever answered to and dealt with on an everyday basis. These are the men and women that plucked us from the ranks of our fellow classmates due to some miniscule resume entry that set us apart and gave us the chance to start learning how to be a lawyer. Telling them that they suck at life, they are not good enough and that you never want to see them again unless they are getting attacked by a garbage disposal is something that we dream about, not that we actually think we can get away with doing. It would be like telling off your dad while stabbing him in the back.

I have been casually looking for a new job for a while now, and everytime I come back from an interview I wonder how am I going to deliver this news if I decide to move. Would it be a quick delivery, like ripping off a bandaid, or would it be a long, drawn-out production with vehement emotions pouring out of me?

Trust me when I say that I dream about this frequently. Actually, it is more like I have three rotating dreams that my subconscious seems to use depending on how things are going at work:

Dream Sequence One

I’ve just gotten the job of my dreams, where I’ll be working at a boutique, high-end litigation firm that has a national practice. I walk into my partner’s office while he is meeting with the managing partner and I hand them both my letter of resignation without saying anything, I turn and I leave. Completely leave, never to return.

The perks: I think it would be pretty ballsy to walk into a place that I shouldn’t be and change the focus to me (not to mention making them fall into a brief state of disarray as they try to figure out how to appropriately reassign all of my work)

The negatives: Leaving abruptly could create quite a stir amongst those my bosses are friends with. Not to mention opening a door to a malpractice claim as I’ve not informed my successor or co-workers what’s going on with any of my 100+ cases. Also, I may need a reference at some point.

Dream Sequence Two

I get a new job that’s better but nothing special. I schedule a meeting with my partners and tell them that I am leaving. At this point, they are flabbergasted because they have no idea why I would want to leave. (“I’m sure the bad pay, bad benefits and bad treatment of the associates had nothing to do with it, sir.”) It is at this point they realize how screwed they will be without me (What? it’s a dream and I have ego) and they get on their knees to beg. It gets really theatrically obnoxious (think John Woo with the birds flying in slow motion as the partners shriek their pleas) in the dream so cutting to the chase: they accept my two weeks notice and I leave.

The perks: While some of this could happen, none of it will. Except for them maybe asking for me to stay.

The cons: When was the last good John Woo movie? Face/Off?

Dream Sequence Three

Walk into the office, punch the first person I see, grab my coffeemaker and leave.

The perks: This would for sure make it to Above the Law, right?

The cons: What cons? It’s only jailtime. And a rescinded offer.

My coworkers unanimously predicted my two weeks notice to be sent as an email with the endline of “Sent from my iPad” with me never setting foot in the office again. Maybe that is how I’ll do it. It’s a problem that I would love to have in the very near future. But enough about me, how would you give your notice?

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lauriemcgregor/3467010071/)

Read more posts on Bitter Lawyer from the Namby Pamby. Or follow his writing on thenambypambyblog.com or @thenambypamby.

8 Comments

  1. Bitter Overseas

    June 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I used to carry around in my wallet a signed resignation letter, just folded up and ready to be whipped out at any time. Only needed to fill in the date. I’d come to hate my firm and having that paper on me actually made me feel better. After like 3 months or so it was this crumpled old looking paper that seemed to age like a fine wine…sad. Never used it, I got laid off and made it in-house somewhere else, and eventually became the CEO of the company I was representing…funny how luck changes. Miss that tattered letter that reminded me I was still human.

  2. Strenuous Objector

    June 22, 2011 at 7:33 am

    I kind of envision my resignation to feel like I become the Kaiser Soze of the firm. My letter, which would insinuate some potential blackmail, is given to an associate who copies it and tapes it to every partner’s door and then the partners start looking for me and everyone responses with “You just missed him, he went there and somewhere else” and the partners search the whole building looking for me like it’s a scavenger hunt. Then, after a few days of no luck, my name is spoken of in hushed tones by the associates and secretaries whenever the managing partner walks by until it drives him insane wondering what I have on them while I’m miles away working somewhere else.

  3. LegallyNYC

    August 2, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I’ve only given notice once at my previous job. It was definitely nerve wracking to go in there but I felt such a huge relief once I left. Ironically, I had just passed my one year mark about 6 weeks before and asked my boss for a review (aka raise) the week before I gave notice. He literally just sat there and responded with “okay” and that was it. Didn’t ask why I was leaving, say he/the firm wished me well, nothing. So awkward!

    • Michelle Beth

      August 2, 2012 at 10:49 am

      Your boss was going to say “Don’t let the door hit you and don’t come crawling back”, but he looked at your sorry ass and spared you the reality check.

      • DB

        August 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm

        This dame at least has a cute name. But with my luck,..

  4. Unemployed

    August 2, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    A lawyer is leaving their job? DIBS.

    • The Dean

      August 2, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      sorry. all of their cases have already been assigned to another overworked associate, so no need to fill the position . . .

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