Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Fired!



From Above the Law, here comes an account of a Paul Hastings associate having to experience firsthand the misery, phoniness, artificiality, disingenuousness, and uncertainty that contract attorneys deal with on a daily basis.

"From: [Redacted]
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 10:14 AM
To: [redacted]
Subject: My departure

The circumstances surrounding my departure from Paul Hastings have been deeply disappointing. It is one thing to ignore an email sent as a colleague is waiting to have her uterus scraped after a miscarriage, but it is wholly another level of heartlessness to lay her off six days after that. [Partner X] is the only one who expressed any sympathy after my miscarriage, and I am grateful to him for that.

A business is a business, but it takes very little to convey some level of humanity to carry out even the most difficult business decisions. We are human beings first before we are partners or associates. Had you simply explained that the department is unable to sustain the number of associates in the office, I would have completely understood. Had you explained that the office had been directed to reduce the number of associates and I was chosen because of my high billable rate and low billable hours, I would have appreciated such directness, even though the consequences of blindly raising billable rates to an unsustainable degree is plainly predictable. What I do not understand is the attempt to blame the associate for not bringing in the business that should have been brought in by each of you and to hide your personal failures by attempting to tarnish my excellent performance record and looking to undermine my sense of self esteem.

The last few months have been surreal, at best. Just last year, I had celebrated my engagement and marriage with many of you. In fact, during the engagement party, the head of the department took my then-fiancée aside to express to him what a great attorney I am and what a great future I faced. Indeed, less than a week before this year's bizarre performance review, I was again told by the same partner that my work is great and that the slow business in no way reflected on my performance. A week later, I was given a mediocre performance review and told that I should worry about whether I have a future at Paul Hastings. When I asked for specific examples of my alleged deficiencies, I received no response. When I asked for an explanation as to why I had been downgraded in so many performance categories when I received absolutely no criticism throughout the year and my prior year's review was stellar, I was told that my prior year's performance assessment may have been "over-inflated." What a startling response.

After my miscarriage, I had discussed my concern with several associates that Paul Hastings may use that opportunity to lay me off quickly before I have a chance to get pregnant again. Those associates thought it unfathomable that a firm would be so callous and assured me that Paul Hastings isn't that kind of a place. What a lesson this has been for them - and for me. I would not have anticipated that a partner would tell me one thing and completely renege on his words a week later. I would not have anticipated that a female partner (whom I had looked to as a role model) with children of her own would sit stone faced as I broke into tears just days after my miscarriage. Even a few words of sympathy or concern would have made a world of difference. What kind of people squander human relationships so easily?

If this response seems particularly emotional, perhaps an associate's emotional vulnerability after a recent miscarriage is a factor you should consider the next time you fire or lay someone off. It shows startlingly poor judgment and management skills -- and cowardice -- on your parts. If you should ever have the misfortune of suddenly losing something or someone precious to you, I hope you don't find similar heartlessness as I have.

As for your request for a release, non-disclosure, and non-disparagement agreement in return for three months' pay, I reject it. Unlike you, I am not just a paid mouthpiece with no independent judgment. I will decide how and to whom to communicate how you have treated me. I find it ironic that you would try to buy the right not to be disparaged after behaving as you have. Your actions speak volumes, and you don't need much help from me in damaging your reputation.

I attach the proposed release for any associate who may be interested in reviewing its details.

[Redacted]"


http://abovethelaw.com/2008/05/paul_hastings_farewell_email_a.php/

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

sounds very familiar.....McCarter English and the Hudson drama.......merely more of the same.

Anonymous said...

Didn't hudson fire some lady because she was taking too many bathroom breaks because she was pregnant?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I have a hard time feeling sorry for this person. We endure this *every single day* on temp jobs. If the asshole associates starting getting shaft too, I won't be crying any crocodile tears. Good riddance.

It is incredibly unseemly to use a recent miscarriage as prop in your exit discussions with your firm. A law firm is about making money, we all know how they treat people like chattel, get over it.

I guess the horrid conditions and mistreatment of others was okay for this person up until it happened to her. Have fun reinventing and starting over in a non-law capacity, as no one but NARAL will ever hire you again.

Robert said...

2:53, you are such a jackass. You are assuming that she was "ok" with the way temps are treated. You make us all look bad. Did you pass the bar yet?

Anonymous said...

Robert,
I don't remember seeing ANY associates complain about the way we are treated. Maybe she didn't approve of it, but I don't remember seeing her oppose it either. And FYI (even though I'm not 2:53), I have passed the bar.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm the jackass for not swooning over this idiot that gave up her severance and sent her private, employment related communication out onto the Internet and into public view. Wait until the firm fires back with legal action. Oh yeah, tell everyone not to work at this law firm, good luck in this economy. I say it's about time some of the associates get a taste of what we temporary attorneys experience on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

It's not just the contract attorney. What about the paralegals, secretaries, mail room clerks, and custodians that get the shaft and are probably treated worse than dog crap? Where is their 3 month severance and their chance to scream victimization in the media?

Robert said...

what, we must make every associate give an affirmative statement disapproving of the way we are treated? Yeah, seeing associates getting treated this way will really help us. You are living in a dream world.

Anonymous said...

4:19 PM, I think that associates do face this sort of treatment on a daily basis. I've talked to enough exbiglaw associates to know that they are practically as easy to dispose of as contractors. The difference is they get paid more and usually get severence.

I found this interesting writeup on small firm hell: http://wickedwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/it-was-all-supposed-to-be-going-so-well.html

Anonymous said...

That last link: Link

Anonymous said...

Right, ultimately they are replaced usually within 2-3 years, but sometimes much later. The PH attorney discussed here was supposedly a 10th year, making in excess of $300k per year. Now we downtrodden temps are supposed to shake our fists in solidarity for this woman's ludicrous behavior? Forget it, we get treated like garbage (far worse than she ever was)on nearly every job and never, ever get severance or any of the wonderful perks for their associates, not to mention the fat salaries.

No it's a phone call at night after work (after the second day of a supposed two month project) saying, your services are no longer needed and by the way, I don't care if you can pay rent. Severance, what a laugh, click.

Sorry, no support here from the clubbed down contract attorney for the snotty associate. Keep your agenda to yourself.

9:46, I appreciate your sentiment, but you've obviously not temped in NYC. There is no sense of collegiality between the gilded biglaw associates and the unclean temps. They treat us like animals, and they seem to enjoy doing so.

Anonymous said...

Well, one sign that you are an animal is where you can't have empathy for someone else's situation. I am also a temp. I still felt for this woman. Not because I am not suffering, but because I understand suffering. When you get to the point where you are nothing more than dog-eat-dog, it's time for you to move and find another way of living. That you are this callous over a woman who lost a baby and her job in the same week- well, like I said- it makes you about up there with those animals we see on the nature channel. Congrats.

Anonymous said...

I have no pity for this bitch. Who gives a f@ck if she had a miscarriage? Like she said, it had no bearing on their decision to let her go. Her billable rate was high, her billable hours low.

I might be wrong but I suspect she is probably some blond Barbie who expects the whole world to stop turning for her just because she was pregnant -- the key word being WAS. Get over yourself, bitch, and stop using your miscarriage as a way to get pity and make the partners look bad.

She got her chance. She got to work at BigLaw for quite some time. Some of us will never get that chance, and if we did, I'm sure we wouldn't be balling our eyes out because of unfortunate circumstances. Yes, it's too bad she had a miscarriage, but to accuse them of getting rid of her before she could get prego again is ridiculous. This bitch strikes me as one of those lazy women who want -- and receive -- all the perks that come with BigLaw but then make everyone else pick up all the slack when they go off on "maternity" leave. And yes, I am a woman and not a lesbian, either. I just know what I want and because of women like this, I am held back. When will Big Law ever learn its lesson and not hire bitches like her? There are plenty of women -- plenty of TEMPS -- who want to work and DO NOT have babies on their mind 24/7.

Boo hoo. You were an associate at Big Law, had a miscarriage, and got fired because your billables were too high and you didn't bill enough. Try living as a temp, paycheck to paycheck, in debt 120 grand and then you'll have something to cry about. In fact, then you won't even want to get pregnant because you can't afford to take care of yourself, let alone a kid.

Anonymous said...

I do agree there is a double standard, but it sux what they did to this woman. Firing her six days after a miscarriage and clothing the layoff under the guise of a negative performance review is pretty cowardly IMHO. This is what happens when you turn law schools into educational diploma mills and glut the market with an excess of JDs. The whole profession suffers from top (biglaw) to bottom (shitlaw).

Anonymous said...

Didn't they fire other people, too? So why should it be OK to fire them but not the miscarriage associate? The miscarriage had nothing to do with the lay off. She is a whiner. I don't understand why people feel sorry for her. Would they feel sorry for her if she was a minority who got laid off because of race?

NO.

Anonymous said...

Because she is a symbol. She is a Joan of Arc of everything that is fucked up with this profession.

Anonymous said...

I can understand why her situation may not result in sympathy. You were kicked so many times that you come to think "why should I care that this other person is being kicked?" No reason at all. Just like there is no reason why those kicking you should care. Thus guaranting the system remains what it is.

Anonymous said...

Too bad somebody just didn't kick her in the uterus. Then she wouldn't have had to take time off to have her uterus scraped and never would have lost her job...well...at least, according to her.

If she was making $300,000 a year, you'd think she would have saved some of it in case a lay off occurred. I'm just a temp, but even I know big law firm associates are NEVER safe. They are disposable, just like we are. Heck, nowdays, even the partners are disposable. You are never safe at any law firm. If she's so smart, she should know better.

Like all arrogant asshole associates, she just wants to make herself feel better.

Anonymous said...

Simply b/c she was an associate, she can now sue them. We get treated far worse every single day and have zero recourse. I probably won't make 300K for the rest of my "career" as a temp attorney. Sorry toots but I am not feeling the pity.

selling my jd said...

CLOSE THE LAW SCHOOLS ALREADY.... let everybody catch up.... this particular woman will land on her feet .... hang in ... the sun always shines the next day...

Anonymous said...

A miscarriage is tragic, but guess what having an abortion because you can't afford your baby feels like?

Robert said...

10:39, obviously you are the one here with the agenda. Try and pass the bar first.

Anonymous said...

I hate to inform you, but this blog is for licensed contract attorneys, so yes I have passed the bar. Return to your idiotic clicking if you even have a job.

Robert said...

really? you are licensed? really? I guess the State of Insanity is letting everyone in.

Kris said...

Bloody hell, give the bird a break; and try to remember: Misogyny's Optional.

And while we're all at it - fuck these firms. I want to answer to one person only - and that's me.

Anonymous said...

Misogyny? Questioning why some lady deserves special treatment just because she had a miscarriage and was a highly pampered and compensated 10th year associate isn't misogyny. Shitty and unfair things happen everyday to people in this profession. It's ashame that she is only taking notice now since it happened to her.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to contract lawyering, a common theme with the P.R. people is that even though there are no benefits, you are treated like crap, and the work is mind-numbingly boring with no future, it is at least flexible. If you consider being unemployed in between projects flexible that is one thing, but it is quite another to suggest that you can have any sort of adequate life/work balance on any of these jobs. Take too long of a bathroom break, take an afternoon off to go to the doctor or to see your child's recital, and you might very well be on the receiving end of that Friday night phone call. It's a hell of a way to live when you literally have to check your voicemail every morning to see if you still have a job. It's not that we don't feel sorry for this woman, it's that she has enjoyed years of job stability that we can only dream of.

Anonymous said...

I do feel bad for her..but she should realize that the legal profession is like that..no one is guaranteed a job. the profession sucks

Anonymous said...

Good for this woman. They should take their severance agreement and shove it where the sun don't shine. As Patrick Swayze used to say, "nobody puts baby in a corner"!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, can someone come back to earth and let me know how this situation is remotely comparable to a temp job ending?

Anonymous said...

Every job in biglaw is a temp job. Even the junior partners are nothing more than long term temps.

Anonymous said...

tell it like it is 3:46... everybody is really a temp !!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

You can say "we're all temps" but to those of us slugging it out in the trenches on these document review proejcts, it doesn't ring true. The associates are permanent, direct hires of the law firm. Could they lose their jobs at any time? Sure, but the odds are remote. The partners pay them too much and invest too much in them beginning with the Summer Associateship. As perm, they generally get severance and (unless they are totally clueless) can see that their run is ending far in advance. They can interview for their next job, roll over their IRA's and slack off for a few months while making $200k salary. This is just not even the same universe as working temp.

Temps are just brought as warm bodies for overflowing projects. They exist only at the whim of the firm, be it staff atty, associate or often paralegal or lit support clown. No legit benefits to speak of, shuffling from project to project like a day laborer.

To draw these comparision as if we temps are given even a shred of the benefits of being an associate, is incredibly insulting to the temps. If you've ever worked as temp in nyc biglaw doing document review, you would know what we're talking about. Clearly you haven't.

Anonymous said...

The alleged behaviour of Paul Hastings is TTT.

Anonymous said...

All I want to know is this:

Now that men can get pregnant, will they be eligible for maternity leave, too?

And uterus scrapings?

Anonymous said...

Thank God my mother was a wonderful, maternal, somewhat-traditional woman and not a lawyer. I can imagine having a 'driven' lawyer-mom is a fail-safe formula for all sorts of psychopathologies. It comes with mama's milk!

Anonymous said...

For professionals, those who might one day represent persons who have been harmed, be it men or women, this series of comments is strikingly repulsive. Stand back and re-read your comments. Revisit if you individually should have any responsibility over outcomes that affect the lives of other human beings. Somehow, smart hiring partners or HR might be able to vet this during your interview or find references who would. Shocking.

Anonymous said...

Oh yah right 8:04. LMAO

Anonymous said...

Gotta love how someone always pops up who's 'outraged' and/or 'shocked' by the facetious, ludicrous, ridiculous, hyperbolic comments that are sometimes posted here for entertainment purposes.

I suppose you also get red when you hear a swear word, 8:04?

Get a life! Or at least a sense of humor..... Being so serious will lead to a Cardiovascular Event, and we know how shitty temp health insurance is.....

Anonymous said...

Ms. Manners is "shocked" by comments included on a tabloid blog? If you don't like it, why are you reading it?

Anonymous said...

Guess, I expect something better any time have a spare minute to check on it.....guess I am wrong, aren't I?

Anonymous said...

Guess, I expect something better any time have a spare minute to check on it.....guess I am wrong, aren't I?

Anonymous said...

We added something to this month's sales contest. As you know first prize is a brand new Cadillac Eldorado. Second prize is a set of steak prize. Third prize is you're fired.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that separates some of you from the partners/agency/firms that you like to bitch about is that you aren't in their position, not how you would be different than them, if you were in their position. You ask for empathy through your whining, but then can't muster any. So, the question is- why should anyone care about you when you whine? The golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated or stop bitching.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that separates some of you from the partners/agency/firms that you like to bitch about is that you aren't in their position, not how you would be different than them, if you were in their position. You ask for empathy through your whining, but then can't muster any. So, the question is- why should anyone care about you when you whine? The golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated or stop bitching.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentleman, may I introduce the ONE, the ONLY:

JESUS OF NAZARETH!

Anonymous said...

Mitch and Murray sent me on a mission of mercy....put the coffee down! That coffee is for closers only!

Anonymous said...

I am truly sorry for the way that this woman was treated. We don't need to act like the partners. Show her some sympathy.

But, I have to tell her after doing preformance reviews her comments, "... In fact, during the engagement party, the head of the department took my then-fiancée aside to express to him what a great attorney I am and what a great future I faced. Indeed, less than a week before this year's bizarre performance review, I was again told by the same partner that my work is great and that the slow business in no way reflected on my performance. A week later, I was given a mediocre performance review and told that I should worry about whether I have a future at Paul Hastings...." are misguided.
1st Preformance reviews are not about preformance.
2d Most partners don't know your work unless you are very bad or very good.
3d Most preformance reviews are written the day or week before the review.
4th The employment trend is high TURNOVER. If you spend more than 3 years at a job you are there too long! Expect to be pushed out.

Anonymous said...

She should have pulled a Unibomber-esque stunt with the partner and UPSed him her uterus scrapings. That would have gotten his attention.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't that make her The Utebomber?

Anonymous said...

You people are all a bunch are weirdo whack jobs...look up the definition of temporary....

Anonymous said...

find your nex legal job at www.joboholics.com.
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Anonymous said...

I'm not a lawyer, but just the fact she brought up her miscarriage for a pity party sickens me. Very unprofessional, to say the least. I can't stand when women bring up reproductive issues in the workplace.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about her miscarriage and I certainly agree most co-worker attorneys are assholes. My partners don't ever care to ask and don't even know I'm getting married in 3 weeks (and we have worked as a team for 3 years). Not trying to sound harsh - but getting fired after a week after your miscarriage sounds like they've been planning it for a while. Any chance (and be honest) that its not based on job performance? I'm not a contract employee, but at my firm (full of assholes) they don't let good employees go (even contract). I just suspect you may not be as great as you thought (or they thought when they first hired you). Happens often. We have to look at that honestly sometimes.

Anonymous said...

99% of the attorneys in these firms had the shit knocked out of them when they were kids by the other kids in school. This is the only way these bitter nerds can get revenge on humanity. Its truly "Revenge of the Nerds." I hope that the letter writer, in her time off, has a chance to realize that you only get one life, and to use it up in the presence of these bitter, foul subhumans is a waste.