My Bitter Christmas List


‘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.

Read more anonymous tales of Associate Abuse. Or consider contributing your own.

17 Comments

  1. notalawyerbutbitteranyway

    December 24, 2008 at 9:59 am

    There’s a big world out there my friend, with Small Firms that treat people well. You will find one, and look on the good side – you found out the truth before selling your soul even further.

  2. amanda

    December 24, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Working in a firm totally blows.  It sucks out your life force.  If you’re qualified enough to get an interview at a big firm, you should have no problem getting a job in a state’s attorneys office, public defender (maybe federal), or other government gig.  Government rocks!  No overtime because you don’t get paid for overtime.  Raises twice a year.  Alternate work schedules.  Flex benefits.  They just move at a snail’s pace when hiring.  Find one of those contract positions in the meantime.

  3. Bill Dugan

    December 24, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Yo, life is not great these days.  But maybe Obama will fix everything by taxing the S*** out of those partners to pay for the unemployment and welfare benefits he will be giving out, as well as the refinancing of all the mortgages to people who should probabley not ever bought a home in the first place.  Then there are all the old ladies that invested all their money with Madoff, who made-off with all of their money; then there are the poor slobs in the army losing their lives in Iraq and Afganistan to “protect our freedom; “ then there are those with serious and incurable diseases dropping off daily.  So….. at the end of the day, being a bitter lawyer who now has to leave a big firm for the real world doesn’t sound that bad after all, does it?  So Quit-cher-bitchin’ and welcome to the real world.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  Let’s hope and pray to GAWD that 2009 is better for all of us, OK.  Stop whining and go out and find other work.  It sounds like you’re a fairly smart guy, and there is a shortage of them.  Make the most of it, dude.

  4. BL1Y

    December 24, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I thought this was funny, especially the BandAid line.  Bill apparently can’t tell the difference in a serious rant and a comical one.  I guess one of the benefits of still being a first year is that I can remember what having a sense of humor used to be like.

  5. Anonymous

    December 25, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Bill – good perspective, except you forgot the owing $150,000 in student loans.  Gotta factor that payment in every month…..

  6. Peter Meter

    December 26, 2008 at 7:50 am

    What about me.? I “laid out” a lot of money for a great gift for a girl, then got no action WHAT-SO-FRIGGIN’ EVER.  Bitter lawyers, move over and make room for a real dip-stick!  I will learn my lesson for next time.  Twat before gift.

  7. Alex Hump

    December 26, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Peter, I don’t know if you are all that dumb.  Women have to know for themselves that you deserve an entry ticket.  Just giving a nice gift is not an automatic, and wont cause their legs to part (unless of couse the gift you give is a crow-bar).  It’s best to wine and dine the chick, with the heavy focus on wine.  After a bottle (or two), even a dipshit like you will begin to look good to her.  But there’s no guarantees, dude.  Don’t hold out a gift as a condition to sex.  Now that would be just dumb.  If there are any ladies out there, they can comment.

    • A Johnson

      November 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      Peter sounds like the original inspiration for the joke,
      Q: “What do Lawyers use for birth control?”
      A: “Their personalities.”

  8. john

    December 26, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    You think you have problems, a-hole.  Try taking a quarter-mill cut in pay.  This economy is going to kill the small-firm lawyer just like it’s going to kill the big-firm associate.  Hang your own shingle.  At least you can be happy while you go broke.  On a different note –Ass Hump, you know nothing about scoring leg.  Peter Meter, be a freaking man.  You don’t give a nice gift and then wait for her to offer up the honey hole.  Be assertive, you puss.  I’m not saying “take it”, but there should be no doubt what you expect.  Man up!

  9. A Wipe

    December 27, 2008 at 8:14 am

    I wonder if John is going to pull a Ted Kosinski?  He may be hurting (as we all are) economically, but this should not be an excuse for civility with the ladies.  Only a honey bee can make a true bee-line for the “honey hole”–the rest of us must zig and zag our way to the crotch.  Moreover, the hole rarely tastes like honey–we do not want to give men the wrong impression.  Know what youre getting into–it’s more like “dumpster diving”.  John, relax.  Things will get better for you.

  10. CorporateGrrl

    December 27, 2008 at 10:17 am

    It’s obvious that you all know nothing about women. The key is to stop being an asshole and show her some kindness, respect, and consideration. Do you really want to be with a woman so materialistic that she would do you because you got her an expensive gift? Gifts are nice, but more important is your attitude toward her.
    On top of the suggestion below of trying to find a Government job, I would also try in-house corporate work. Depending on what your experience was at the Big Firm, you may have a lot of skills that a corporation would be looking for.

  11. Anonymous

    December 27, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Nice guys finish last, Corporate Grrl, believe me, I’ve been there.  It’s now just a question of how materialistic a beeotch I have to put up with for how good a relationship I will have with her for the materialistic things she gets happy over.  I’ve learned that being nice gets you no where.  John, the mad dog below, knows that he has to assert himself to get what he wants, and that comes just short of whipping it out and saying—bite me!  The other guys have the right idea.  Wine and Dine–that’s fine, but she’ll be drunk and farting all nite.  Wimpyness wont get you crotch, but maybe a sympathy peck on the cheek.  I get that from my dog, thank you.  No I will stick to my tried and true methods.

  12. BL1Y

    December 28, 2008 at 7:44 am

    CorporateGrrl: It’s obvious you know nothing about women.

  13. Anonymous

    December 29, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Yes.  Women are meant to be seen, and not heard.

  14. www.gardencourtobserver.blogspot.com

    January 1, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    I got the “you could have cancer” and “you’re a good writer, you’d be surprised the crap people get published” line from my boss who had nothing to do with *my* layoff.
    There is some freedom, is there not, in not buying stuff anymore because you *can’t*.  You opt out of the game because you don’t have a choice.  you don’t have to sweat the guilt and pressure anymore.  It’s great!

  15. Anonymous

    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    yes obvious that guy below knows NOTHING about women—at all!

  16. Fellow Laid-Off Lawyer

    June 3, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I was laid off from a Big Firm two weeks ago, right before Memorial Day.  No, it shouldn’t be any problem at all finding a new job during the summer and a recession, or a position that pays enough to cover my mortgage and law school loans.  The fabulous take-it-or-leave-it three months’ severance won’t even get me through the end of the summer.  Like you, the partners for whom I worked had no idea that I was being axed until it was a done-deal.  That being said, I am also experiencing the same sense of relief.  Now, if only I can figure out a way to avoid foreclosure….

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