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.

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