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.

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.

Blame

The only thing a biglaw associate enjoys more than taking credit for another associate’s work is blame.  Biglaw associates like blame so much that they will seek out an opportunity to blame someone else when they aren’t even being accused of doing anything wrong.  The most saavy biglaw associate will anticipate a crisis and immediately find a way to blame someone or something else.  There’s also the advance blame maneuver which can be used to soften the blow of the biglaw associate’s overwhelming incompetence.  Of course there is no self-respecting biglaw associate who will assume blame.  To do so shows the partners that you do not deserve to be a biglaw associate and may get you laid off.  This is because the partner got to be partner by being a superior blame artist.
As with anything involving biglaw associates, the blame game is quite intricate.  There are hierarchies, rules, exceptions, hybridizations and contingency plans.
The first line of defense is of course to blame someone outside of their firm, and if possible, to blame an inanimate object.  Common targets of this rule are court clerks, opposing counsel, electronic equipment, and software (e.g. Word didn’t save properly or the PDF didn’t image those signatures).  If an associate is female and a firm actually cares the biglaw associate will utilize any number of working mother defenses.  Examples include sick child, nanny problems, and “my baby ate my homework.”  The best thing about the working mother defenses is that they can also be used not-so-back-handedly to elicit some praise.  So, one might receive the email at 2 a.m. from the working mother who cranked out the drafts after she put the kids to bed, which elicits resounding praise from the partners about said associates work-ethic.  Of course this ignores the fact that the fathers and female associates without children were also working until 2 a.m. without a break to bathe the kids or eat dinner with the family.
The next line of defense is the “shit rolls downhill” defense.  Like all things involving shit this one gets very messy.  The biglaw associate will blame a classmate, junior associate, paralegal, secretary, reprographics, the mail room, the receptionist, custodian…anybody with a pulse.  When done well this move can get people fired.  This move works best when the associate can give the firm an excuse to get rid of someone they never liked in the first place, e.g. a minority, working mother, or homosexual.
And of course, the absolute last line of defense is the blame the superior defense.  This is more of a Kandinsky-esque, throw paint at the wall and hope some of it sticks and you can sell it as art move.  It takes great skill to pull the move off, and often it fails.  The move works best when a junior associate can blame a senior associate (especially one about to go up for partner in this economy), but it can also work when there are known partner fueds.  Here are some examples:
  • Partner X, let’s call her the Baren Barrister,  is a feminist who gave up everything in her life to make partner in the 80s and not only hates male partners but also junior female partners who have “work-life balance.”  Biglaw associate fucks up project for  Baren Barrister, but Partner Y, let’s call her Female Partner (because she’s the poster child for female partnership as long as those clients would like to see one), was supposed to review the project before it went to Baren Barrister.   The associate sees an opportunity to deflect and says, “sorry we missed that.  Female Partner was going to handle it, but her kids had a soccer game.  I don’t know how she does it all.”  This move is known as the reverse working mother–it only works with partners because if used on a fellow associate it just makes you look like a chauvanist or a future Baren Barrister.
  • Senior associate’s practice group has been hurting since the economy took a nose dive, so he’s diversifying into new practice areas.  Most of the partners who supported senior associate for partnership have left and he’s also trying to rebuild his reputation.  Junior associate has always worked in this area and made a very obvious mistake on a project in which senior associate was involved.  When partner calls junior associate on the problem, junior associate explains how difficult is to have to explain something to someone so senior–junior associate knows that he understands the project better, but he doesn’t want to disrespect senior associate.  Senior associate’s work suddenly dries up–but that was going to happen anyway because nobody’s making partner anytime soon.  Outside of confirming that junior associate is an asshole, not much is accomplished by this one. Of course if senior associate is a golden boy (and by golden boy we mean Aryan.  You know how firms love the Aryan boys.  They have to fill their white boy quota), this can backfire horribly.  It works best if junior associate is also a golden boy with the credentials to trump senior associate (e.g. father who is a partner at a competing firm; relative who is CEO of a company and client of the firm, etc…).
Given all the blame going around these days how does one avoid becoming the target?  Well the best defense is a good offense.  Go back to your desk right now and start thinking of scenarioes that allow you to throw a co-worker under the bus.  And as a closing note, when you’re going to throw a co-worker under the bus, it’s a great style move to say “I’m not trying to throw anybody under the bus or anything….”  The partner will know you’re throwing them under the bus, but it will alert them that they are supposed to supsend reality and believe your lie.

Being Label Whores

BigLaw Associates like to be label whores.  This goes hand in hand with our rankings post; however, it is slightly different. Yes, the firm we work at, the law school we went to, and the size of our dick are all great things that we like to talk about ad nauseum to compete with our fellow bonobos. But, labels, my friend, are what sets us apart immediately. We don’t wear our law school’s ranking on our sleeve (though some of you pompous jackasses where school rings or pins or have your stupid coffee cups scattered all in your office) but we can do that with rankings.

But with labels, any proletariat will automatically know we are royalty without having to memorize the top ranked schools on US News.

Whether it be the Ferragamo business card holder, the gucci cuff links, the prada sunglasses, the dolce shoes, we love them all. It doesn’t matter that Cadwaladar put 96 attorneys on the chopping block and we could be next. We gotta roll like we got ’em and to do that, we have to blow money on labels. You might even call them lawbels. They come with the territory. You can’t just sling a Coach purse. You need a Chloe. You can’t just wear Gap frenches, you need Armani.

This keeps the law students and the summer associates awing and ooing and kissin gour feet and willing to do all sorts of sexual favors. It keeps hostesses at chain restaurants throw themselves at us when we walk in (only to walk out because we can’t be seen at a chain restaurant).

Yes, these lawbels are what sets us apart from the civilians. and believe me, just like the lady buying a stairway to heaven, we believe everything that glitters is gold that hangs from us because we just dropped a shit load of cold hard cash on it. And there is nothing that says “I have money and you don’t” from across the room than gucci, ferragamo, chloe, miu miu, and all those lawbels we, BigLaw Associates, whore about with.

Giving (Figurative) Head

After having most of their creativity crushed by law school, and after being (figuratively) raped in the mouth, anus and ear by the bar exam, Biglaw associates like to continue the trend of (figuratively) demeaning self-flatuation by giving (figurative) head at their law firms. Like stripping and developing a nasty drug habit, law school and the bar exam are the gateway to a (figurative) lifetime on your knees. Some people clean up, get out and marry well. But others just end up giving blow jobs in the alley for drugs, or in the case of the Biglaw associate, an inflated salary and a future addled by actual drug addiction (and we’re not talking about a blowberry either).
The first day at [Insert name of big law firm here] is when you’ve officially (figuratively) swallowed. You (figuratively) assumed the position by going through the interview process and/or being a summer associate. Perhaps you (figuratively) dabbled in the blow jobs for money practice as a summer when you agreed that without corporations there would be no good in America, or by convincing yourself that you would donate a big portion of your inflated salary to charity. But on the first day when you sat through orientation, realized that the summer associate niceness was all bullshit, that you’d spend your life checking line spacing and commas, yet you still sat your ass there and took it–you (figuratively) swallowed for the first time and became a dirty biglaw whore. The first family function or other important event you miss due to work is when you’ve (figuratively) taken your index finger and run it along the figurative vein in the bottom of [Law firm]’s dick–base to head–until every last drop is down your throat. Each bonus is a (figurative) slap of their dick on your cheek. Cause you know you’re worth more, but you’ve convinced yourself that the firm is being good to you. You “figurative” fucking whore!  A blow job is still a job, but a job that requires you to take an occassional shot in the eye is not a job you want to keep.

Some like to think that taking a lower paying job for the government or a smaller law firm is better. They think they’re the high class “Pretty Woman” type whores who have been saved by Richard Gere. But you’re wrong. It’s the worst because they treat you like shit AND you don’t get paid. The splashback at the government is worse than at firms because your boss is some disgruntled underpaid asshole as opposed to the overpaid assholes biglaw associates work for. Working for the governmen is (figuratively) taking it in the ass . . . bareback: some people like it, more people hate it, only a select few “assholes” love it, but it’s basically just shitty for everyone.

 

PWLTCD: Undeserving Midlevels

Today, we like to talk about people we’d like to cut and cut deep and go to jail for: undeserving midlevels.

Yeah, there aren’t that many midlevels relatively because each year firms hire huge junior associate classes because they know that 1/3 of them drop out after finding out that biglaw isn’t all about teddy bears and pretty embroirdered pillow cases and hugs-o h my. No, they are full of assholes. Another 1/3 drops out to go inhouse at the beginning of their midlevel career for better hours to spend with their loved ones.

So congrats, you’ve stuckit through because you are probably one of those assholes and has no one who loves you.  Or maybe you’re too stupid to get a job anywhere else.  Wow. Good job.  Congratulations. 

The sad truth is many midlevels aren’t even the ones that are deserving of being in charge of juniors or delegating work to them.  They aren’t the ones who had the best pedigree. In their case the last
man standing isn’t the best man standing. Its just the schmuck.

Therefore, these midlevels refer to form rather than substance. They are the ones who yell at you for not being able to read their minds or their chicken scratching on how to format the exhibit titles or the section heads even though you slaved over the contract for days and made a brillant masterpiece. They can’t teach you anything because stupid people rarely can, so they revert to nitpicking about how you send out emails or file documents. They become controlling to exert their power that is undeservedly theirs.

Like the practice of law, theres really no winner in this competition.

Like the practice of law, there's really no winner in this competition.

 

And this is why we’d like to cut the undeserving midlevels deep.  We’d cut them deep where they
stand. We’d cut them deep while they are bitching about double spacing versus single spacing in the table of contents. We’d cut them and we’d like it.

Partners

Because every biglaw associate is a masochist, there is no one they love more than partners.  The biglaw associate’s love of partner often begins over a summer.  The unknowing law student enters a law firm for a clerkship, some thinking they would never sell out and work for the man when it happens–they meet THE partner–the one who is “just like them” only richer.  THE partner has stuck to their roots.  They still vote democrat, spend time with their children, live in big awesome house, has a spouse that they love, etc….  But what this summer associate doesn’t realize is that THE partner is probably hated by the partners that are really in charge and will be fired (or will jump off the building in frustration) before they ever start their first day.

But after becoming enamored with biglaw (or better yet, after getting in hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt and experiencing a ridiculously large pay check), the associate transfers their love for THE partner to all partners in general.  The biglaw associate thinks that in every transaction or case they work on with partners at their firm they are clearly better lawyers than the lawyers at the other firm.  The biglaw associate is mistaken because: (1) the partners that stay at biglaw firms often aren’t that bright and are usually just white and male; and (2) if they are facing a midsized or small law firm on the other side, the lawyers on the other side are probably just associates because the partners at those firms actually have real work to do.   This is of no consequence to the biglaw associate.  They have bought into the system and believe that if they worship the partner then someday they too can become a partner.  They will do anything to receive the love of the partner.  They will work 350 hours a month, they will lose all their friends, they will join every committee and bar association the partner adores. They will sell out their co-workers and betray their heritage.  All for the false adoration from someone who only cares how many hours they bill and how those hours affect their points or sharing ratio.

All the while, the biglaw associate is too clueless to realize that a very few will ever attain the coveted partner status–and when they achieve their goal most will be as miserable as they were as associates.  Some biglaw associates get a clue and realize that to the partner they are only a well trained comma checking document reviewing monkey and they get out before it’s too late.  But most merely evolve into self-loathing yet self-aggrandizing assholes, i.e. they become lawyers.