I Had a Bad Review

QJust had my review. I’m a second year associate at a Big New York Firm. Partner told me I was “performing adequately.” Also told me, I need to “think more robustly and apply more common sense and diligence to the task at hand.” Translation please?

AYou will be fired in exactly six months. No doubt. In fact, there’s a 50% chance the letter’s already been written. They’re just laying a record to avoid potential litigation. From this day forward, spend every minute of every day looking for a new job.

Photo by ViajeroJT

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.


  1. Scared Law Student

    August 11, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Is this true?!
    Is this really the subtext?! You’re kidding me right? What about performance plans for improvement or coaching throughout the year? Or is that just fluff?

  2. Senior Associate

    August 11, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    If it’s second or third subpar “read between the lines” review—you’re a dead man.  Just like Ex-Bitter says.

  3. Realist

    August 11, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Remember, we’re in a recession!

  4. Still Afloat Associate

    August 14, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Yup. Its over.  If your firm doesn’t “fire” flat out, look for other tell tale warning signs.  Do other associates work later than you? Do they look more tired? Do people comment on how jealous they are of your “work life balance” or some other remart re your free time? Alternatively, are you doing a lot of doc review/due diligence? They may be starving you out.
    Unless its just a d-bag partner who lives to make associates cry.  Then don’t worry; you should ask someone if he tends to give shitty reviews.

  5. MC

    August 17, 2008 at 5:51 am

    I disagree. I think it means you’re on thin ice, but you DO have time to turn that around.

  6. Ex-big law associate

    September 1, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Yes, this is spot on and happened to me.
    Luckily I had lined up a prestigious circuit clerkship (five months before the “bad review”). I told them to suck it right before the six month “remedial review” mark hit.
    But no bones about it, you are getting shit canned. Six months, tops.
    Find a new job asap.

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