QI am a third year at a mid-size Midwest firm that likes to think of themselves as one of the big boys. We have a decent amount of prestige, and we seem to be weathering the current storm with only a few layoffs. The powers that run the firm are the usual mix of old, conservative, straight-laced white guys, old, socially awkward white guys, and even a few old, womanizing white guys.
So, for about a week or so, when I was working on a late-night document review, I noticed our firm’s firewall was down, leaving the Internet wide open with all of its guilty pleasures. Yes, I did the unthinkable in this economy; I took advantage of the situation and risked my job by looking at porn on a work computer. And not just once. I know. Stupid.
I know that our web history is monitored regularly, but I have no idea if my indiscretion was picked up and reported to the powers that be. No one has said anything to me. Though since then, I think I have had fewer assignments, but that could easily just be my paranoia since I have not yet sought out work.
I figure there are one of four things happening:
- It slipped through the cracks and nobody noticed;
- It was picked up and reported, but the equity partners are far worse and not about to can me over something that is regularly tolerated;
- It was picked up and reported, and they are waiting for the first slip up so they can fire me;
- It was picked up, and they are simply laying a record to fire me at review time.
So, what’s your thought? I realize it was incredibly stupid. But is this a big deal, or should I be getting ready to clean out my desk?
AUnfortunately, I don’t have much to add to your analysis. The four potential outcomes you outlined seem pretty accurate. The real question, however: Why’d you do it in the first place? If you ask me, you’re quietly hoping to get fired, which is why you starting porn-surfing on the firm’s dime in the first place.
I’m not a prude, trust me. I don’t judge a man (or woman) for indulging in a little Internet delight here and there, but I do judge an associate who checks out the freaky-deaky in the office, especially when said associate KNOWS the firm monitors employees’ Internet activity. Sounds like self-sabotage to me. Then again, you might just have an irrepressible thirst for porn, a different (but equally troubling) problem.
Look, I understand that working at a law firm is boring, stifling and depressing. I also understand that it’s easy for a man of a certain age to get horny as hell in the middle of some mind-numbing doc review. But it’s stupid. Next time, just run back to your apartment or head over to the local strip club. Because no 48-second slow-streaming sex act is worth ruining your career over.
As for your specific question. I’d wager that the firm didn’t notice your Internet indiscretion and it’s already yesterday’s news. But whatever you do, don’t broach subject with anyone at the firm. Seeking clarity will only make things worse. Just ask Living the Dream’s Nick Conley.