Stealth Layoffs

One may be surprised to learn that BigLaw associates actually like stealth layoffs–especially if they aren’t laid off–for several reasons, most of wich involve the BigLaw associates over-inflated ego and ability to survive in an alternative universe.  First, stealth layoffs allow those who are laid off to suspend reality and pretend it hasn’t really happened.  I know I was laid off, and the partners know I was laid off, but if I can just keep it a secret I can pretend that I wasn’t laid off and come to work like nothing ever happened.  Sometimes this ploy works so well that a laid off attorney sticks around past the time they’re supposed to go–so long in fact that they end up keeping their job permanently and even making partner.  

 For those that aren’t laid off, stealth layoffs provide the opportunity to expose their soon to be former colleagues and tell the world how much they suck.  The BigLaw associate will tell the world that the laid off associate should have been fired long ago, that they only got a severance out of sympathy and that they don’t understand why the firm had them around so long.  The BigLaw associate will have so much information about the quality of the laidoff associate’s work that people will think they are a partner (which is something else BigLaw associates really like).  The stealth layoff also allows the BigLaw associate to assume that everyone who leaves the firm in the next 6 months to a year was asked to leave–even if they leave to do something that pays more and requires less hours of work.   This helps to inflate the  ego of the BigLaw associate because they convince themselves that everyone left because they couldn’t handle the work or perform at the high level required.  This further convinces the Biglaw associate that they are actually going to make partner and someday be rewarded for their work.  (See supra re: living in an alternative universe. )

And lastly, stealth layoffs give biglaw associates an opportunity to engage in their favorite activity of all time: gossiping and complaining about their jobs, especially on the internet (present company included).   It’s a sick combination of schadenfreude, narcissism and masochism.



Being the pompous self centered assholes that we are, there is nothing the biglaw associate enjoys more than the self-evaluation. Once a year (or twice a year if we’re lucky) law firms demand associates to look back on their performance and explain exactly why we deserve our soon to be deflated salaries (or, in recent times, why we deserve to have a job at all). This is quite possibly the only moment in a biglaw associates life that we exercise some form of humility–after all, we don’t want the partners to think that we think we’re better than them (although we already do). The biglaw associate must strike the delicate balance of reminding the partners that we kick ass and actually deserve to make twice as much and make partner in the near future, without letting the partner think that we feel like we’re already a partner. If a biglaw associate could write an evaluation and say what they really feel here’s our idea of what it would say:

Let’s face it, I don’t need to list out all my activities and achievements for the year because we all know the truth–I’m fucking awesome. I’m the most fucking awesome associate you have ever seen. I walk on water. I piss excellence. Just having me walk the hallowed halls of this institution makes people want to hire you. My briefs are so profound I’m submitting them for a Nobel Prize in Literature. The deals I draft and negotiate are so ground breaking they deserve to be profiled on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The only reason everyone in the world doesn’t know my name is because I’m holding back out of the spirit of teamwork and cooperation. Which brings me to my other skills. I’m the best fucking leader, motivator and delegator to ever walk the earth. I am so effectively leveraged I earn money in my sleep. And let’s not even get started on my business development skills because that would just be arrogant. But since you want to know, let’s just say that the CEO and GC of every Fortune 500 company has me on speed dial. When there’s bet the business litigation or an earth shattering merger I’m the first name that comes to mind. In a nutshell, you’re lucky I allow you to employ me and pay me so little. But I do it out of respect for the team and for this esteemed institution. Hopefully I w, i will grace you with my presence for another year. You’re welcome.

BigLaw Associates Like Blowing Money….Still

broke business man

I know all of you guys are pretty scared right now about your jobs but let’s not forget that we are BigLaw associates because we like to blow money big time. It’s funny because in light of the market and all the waves of lay offs, you people should be saving saving saving. But, almost as if in a willful self-destruction, you guys are spending spending spending. Is it to make yourselves feel better about having a crappy job that will eventually kick you to the curb in some shape or another (either by lay off or degenerating your mind and body into a billing slave?)? It can’t possibly be that you’re in denial, not after the NY Times did an article on White & Case basically saying that the old BigLaw firm structure is dead. So what is it?

Is it that you don’t have any self control?

You don’t understand that ordering $15 martinis is not economically savvy?

You don’t understand that a designer dress on sale for $400 is still spending $400 too much?

Or is it that that’s all we know as BigLaw associates? We conform even in our habits.


BigLaw Associates Don’t Give a Shit About Law Students

Today, we’d like to change gears a little bit and ask you guys what you like. Above The Law has degenerated into a forum of mud flinging against law firms (which we here at Stuff Big Law Associates Like wholeheartedly praise) but also babble about law students cleaning up after themselves in the cafeteria. We BigLaw Associates can’t possibly give a shit about law students. yeah, yeah, yeah, we were law students once, but we’re not anymore and we don’t give a shit about mentoring law students or even if they get their summer associate offer. We pretend to care so we can use your free Westlaw password, but we really don’t care.

We don’t care if you have student loans or if you don’t. We don’t care if you want more out of BigLaw than you got as a summer associate. We really don’t care what your dreams and hopes are. And we certainly don’t give a shit if you are told to clean up after yourselves. We BigLaw associates don’t clean up after ourselves. We have custodians at the firm, maids at home, and wives in the bedroom to do all that shit. I don’t ever clean up after myself or even clean myself for that matter.

Seriously, some one needs to tell Above The Law that they really should only report on the shit we BigLaw Associates Like.

PWLTCD: Koolaid drinking dumbasses

Today, let’s talk about people we’d like to cut and cut deep and go to jail for (PWLTCD). And, tada!, it’s koolaid drinking dumbasses. You know who you are. Can you really say that your gigantic firm that cannot spoon you at night or hold your hair back while you vomit from drinking too much to run away from your problems isn’t hurting, at least a little bit, in this economy. Fuck, even China is hurting. It’s only at a positive 6.5% GDP and has riots in its streets.

Stop sticking up for your firm like the stupid fat kid who can’t make friends on his own mainly because he hits and bites people. Your firm is hurting. Our firm is hurting. Quit spitting out the rawhide that they made you chew and say stupid statements like:

“We’re doing fine in this market. Other firms are hurting, but we had a good business structure.” Bullshit. How many corporate attorneys are doing document review? And if your answer is none, maybe your litigation department sucks.

“We had some lay offs but they were all performance based.” Really? If you are that stupid to believe that, then I doubt your “performance” is up to par so why the hell are you still there?

“We’re still growing.” The only thing growing is the brown stain on your mouth from all the bullshit you are eating. Nobody is growing in this market. No BigLaw firms are growing in their US offices, especially with the ridiculous $160K first year salaries and the blown up billing rates that price them not only out of the current market but also outside of reality. They might poach a few good candidates here and there, but they are also dumping a bunch of monkeys out the other side so if they are adding less than they are subtracting, they can’t be growing….

You guys are idiots. Why don’t you just face the reality. Your ass is on the line. Your firm doesn’t love you. And your friends don’t really like you. So instead of drinking the koolaid, why don’t you just drink? In the famous words of Homer Simpson: Alcohol, the source of and solution to all of life’s problems.

We here at Stuff Big Law Associates Like want to cut you and cut you deep and go to jail for it.

BigLaw Associates Like Being Greedy

We’re greedy. We know it. We have a board dedicated to our greed. We’re greedy about how much we make and our bonuses. But, we should also be greedy about our severances.

While we here at Stuff BigLaw Associates Like are still employed (for now), we are definitely thinking ahead about our severances, god willing we don’t get there though.

But we spent 3+ years studying the law in addition to the mandatory 4+ years of undergrad. That’s 7 years before we even get to the first rung of the ladder and that’s not including the grueling studying for the bar exam, taking the damn thing, and waiting for results (if I have to fill out another character and fitness application asking me everywhere I’ve lived since I was 16, I will go guerilla on someone’s ass) to just be shown the door because some idiot(s) couldn’t manage their business well enough to know how many peope to hire or how to keep client business to make sure the people they hire have enough work.

It’s not our fault for the lack of work or low billables. It’s yours. It’s yours and I hope you know this as you hand us our pink slips so that you can keep up your overindulgent lifestyle because we know it. Don’t hide behind stealth lay offs (and kudos to the BigLaw firms that have admitted to lay offs) or performance based lay offs. Law is not that difficult. If you want to work and want to learn, you should be able to perform competently. It’s the market. It’s the fact that our fearless firm leaders are bad business people and got too arrogant of their own success that they thought they were untouchable. 

We here at Stuff Big Law Associates Like feel the worse for those whom BigLaw firms hired who had offers from other places that are more stable (and less arrogant) but turned down the other offers for BigLaw only to find their overqualified butts on the street. Yes, they were probably being greedy and distracted by the glitter of BigLaw that was stuffed down our throats like most little monkeys are but as we all know, not everything that glitters is gold. Soemtimes it’s shit straight from a bull’s ass.

Don’t believe it when they tell you it’s performance based and try to screw you on your severance. Be greedy.  We became lawyers because we’ were potentially greedy. BigLaw chose us because the potential in us they saw just like Anakin. They trained us well in the ways of greed. So be greedy when it comes to your severance. Don’t leave with your tail between your legs.

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Let’s All Play Biggest Loser, BigLaw Edition
New York Lawyer
March 25, 2009
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By The Snark
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ATLANTA – Who will be next? And what determines who gets to remain an over-paid associate and who must go forth into the scary world without the protections and comforts of BigLaw? Skill? Good looks? Seniority? Connections? Random luck? Hmm.

Unfortunately luck plays a huge role in the process—making us all feel powerless to the whims of fate and leading to an environment of paranoia. Is there a way to avoid this?

Freak out!

Many of us who have not yet received our pink slips from BigLaw are freaking out. Our hands shake as we try to right-click our mice. Beads of sweat accumulate as we pass partners in the halls. We carry loads of papers home at night to appear busy and valuable. If we weren’t afraid to use the computer for anything other than billable work, our status updates on Facebook would read “Associate is compulsively checking e-mail for news of his fate.”

We fear that any second we will get a knock at the door, a tap on the shoulder or a mass e-mail giving us the news that we too must pack up our custom-framed diplomas, inspirational paper weights and ferns and get out of Big Law Land because the carnival ride is over …

But why? Shouldn’t we feel confident that BigLaw has set itself straight by now? Rid itself of all the dead-weight, low-performing, excess associates in order to spare those of us with a bright future? Nope. Those of us who remain are not yet running out to purchase our “I Survived the Purge” T-shirts.

Well, I shouldn’t say that. I am sure some associates are feeling that way, telling themselves that their continued employment is a sign of their superiority to those who were fired and that life is great because now the competition for partner has been significantly reduced!

Lucky duck

If you are one of thoseassociates, it is time to wake up to the reality that at least 60 percent of the reason you have survived as long as you have in the BigLaw machine is attributable to nothing but pure, dumb luck. I know—luck is not as sexy as crediting your skill, wit or brown-nosing abilities.

But luck plays a roll from the earliest phases of the BigLaw journey, beginning with whether or not the random Big Law representatives sent to conduct your on-campus interview share your fondness for acid jazz. Luck continues to intervene at every stage.

• Will you work primarily for a partner who seeks to cultivate your career or the one who seeks to boost his own by throwing you under the bus?

• Will the privilege document you accidentally produced go undetected because the case settles, or will you be the poster child for over-paid, inexperienced associates making case-losing errors when that document is used to sink your firm’s biggest client in a high-stakes lawsuit?

Sure, skill plays a role. But all things being equal, luck determines whether you sink or swim in Big Law.

Those poor associates who randomly selected to pursue a career in something like, oh say, real estate finance, probably chose that path before they even had a clue what it entailed. They could not be expected to predict the future job security implications of such a path. And now they are being laid off in droves.

But the layoffs are not confined to those poor associates who selected, or were chosen, to practice in certain areas. It is widespread and somewhat random. Which makes most of us paranoid. … “Aaahh Freak out! Le Freak, C’est Chic!”

Associate Ax 2009

Maybe some of this rampant paranoia and fear could be quelled if we felt we had some control of our fate? Maybe we should combine BigLaw’s need to trim the ranks with an exercise that would give employees back some sense of control of their own destiny?

I say we institute some reality television mechanisms for reducing the number of people on the island. Let’s reduce the role of luck in the process with some old-fashioned challenges to see who stays and who goes.

Work is slow, and no one can get anything done because they are obsessing over the potential loss of employment. So rather than prolong the pain and anxiety, there should be one 24-hour marathon Associate Ax.

Associate Ax should test a variety of skills essential to BigLaw survival such as legal skill, work ethic, over-confidence and, of course, popularity (in reverse order of importance).

Popularity should be used as a first-level filter—all associates and partners should text or call 1-(800)-ASS-4567 to vote for their favorite associates — as many as they want as often as they want to vote — for the first two hours of Associate Ax 2009. This initial vote will cull a significant number of nameless and forgettable associates who are destined to be weeded out of BigLaw regardless of the economy.

Harsh? Not as harsh as telling them they are being fired for some reason other than their lack of popularity. These associates were headed for the door eventually anyway—at least this way they get out and start finding new paths before incurring more debt by relying on a job that was never going to last.

This popularity vote can also evaluate over-confidence by monitoring the number of people who vote for themselves. They must be retained. It may seem unfair to reward such behavior, but self-love and over-confidence are essential for future success at BigLaw. If you are not willing to frequently praise yourself and demonstrate blatant over-confidence in your own worth, you can’t expect to survive long in BigLaw Land.

Finally, for those who still remain, the last 22 hours must test legal skill and work ethic through a marathon document review. This will help weed out those associates who have been surviving on self-confidence and popularity alone.

All associates will be placed in front of a computer loaded with millions of pages of client documents. Partners will yell at them and demand to know why they haven’t finished and why they can’t keep the issues straight. The associates’ blood pressure and heart rate as well as review pace will be carefully monitored. Anyone who falls asleep or requires food is out.

At the end of 20 straight hours of staring at a computer screen, reading tiny fonts and getting reamed by partners, the associates will be given the final test — who found the one privileged document out of the 10,000 documents reviewed? Those who find it stay and everyone else goes.

Oh well, maybe it is impossible to remove paranoia and luck from the equation. Good luck!