I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

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I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:16 pm

I am still somewhat in shock and feeling like a pretty big loser. I have about 3 years experience working as an attorney. I was working at this firm with 5-10 attorneys doing mainly collections litigation for the past 10 months.

The issue was that there was just too much work for me to manage. I was the only attorney, other than my managing partner, that was barred in my particular state. So everything that need to be done for that state, from drafting filings, negotiating settlements, returning client calls and emails, putting out whatever ever fire that needed to be put out that day, etc. etc. all was expected to be handled by me. I was working 8:30 am to 6:30 pm with no lunch break, and until about 8 pm at least one night a week. I also often took work home or went in on the weekend for a few hours. But I still could not get the work done. Everyday the work just kept poring in and, though I got a lot accomplished, I fell a little farther and farther behind each day. Meanwhile, the partners and the other attorneys typically worked from 9/9:30 to 5/5:30.

The fact that I was constantly overwhelmed meant that most deadlines were often being met by the skin of my teeth. As soon as I finished one reply motion and filed it the day it was due, I would spend an hour trying to catch up on emails and returning phone calls and then I had to start something else due in the next day or two, and so on and so on. Also, I was at hearings 2- 4 days per week all over the state, which typically took up half the day.

The only reason I was given as to why I was let go was that I needed to "manage the work flow better" and "prioritize deadlines," but nothing more in the way of specifics. I had two or three similar conversations with my managing partner about 8 months ago. I expressed that I believed that the issue was the sheer volume of work, but I would work on it. Since those conversations, I had not talked to anyone at the firm about issues with my performance and I was given no formal notice that I was on thin ice. I knew I was drowning in work that need to get done, but I naively hoped that the partner would look at the hours I was logging and the work I was churning out and see that I was working really hard and that perhaps the firm needed to shift some work around or hire another attorney. Now I wish I that I had brought up my concerns about the amount of work I was expected to do months ago.

I really don't know if I was expected to manage too much work or if I just can't hack it as an attorney. I would say I just need to work more, but no one else at the firm was working longer hours than me and I wasn’t exactly getting paid a biglaw salary. My managing partner actually said today that he would give me a good reference. How does that work?

Is it typical to be overwhelmed all the time as an attorney? Has anyone had any similar stories to commiserate? Am I totally screwed now?


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Re: I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:15 pm

It's impossible to say for sure whether you couldn't have done something better, but it sounds like the problem is you had a shitty job. If you're doing the work of two or three people, there's no good way to keep up with that. Sorry you got let go, that sucks no matter what, but hopefully you can find something better.


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Re: I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

Postby jhett » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:25 am

Wait... they have too much work and they decide to fire the only person doing that work instead of hiring an additional person? Something tells me this is not a well-managed firm.

What they were asking of you is totally unfair. The only way you would have kept up with the workload was to start turning in shoddy work. Unfortunately, you should have vocalized your desires to reduce your work load and/or hire more help instead of silently hoping that the partners would realize that on their own. And you should have been looking for another job since that talk 8 months ago.

Sorry to hear about this. At least they said they'll give you a good reference. I'm sure your next job will be better than this one - you now know what negatives to look for.

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Re: I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

Postby deepseapartners » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:12 am

I'm sorry to hear you lost your job OP. I have a family member who is an attorney at a firm that sounds very similar to your former employer. They manage their work quite differently (rely heavily on an automated motion-drafting system and paralegal data-entry), and I agree with jhett that the firm doesn't sound like it was well-managed. It also might be worth informally checking back in with someone else at that firm in a year or so to see how they managed your absence - I feel like this will likely be the only way to get a really clear picture about whether or not the issue was your relative youth/skills development, their management style, or something else entirely.

In the future, it may be useful to speak up louder and earlier about how underwater you felt and either get help or get a pay raise in order to compensate you spending a few extra nights in the office a week. Unless you work for an attorney who either has a direct supervisory role over your day-to-day work, or has taken a mentor/mentee interest in you, I would find it extremely unlikely that they really pay much attention to exactly how much time you are putting into your work. Keeping the other attorneys you work with apprised of your workload will at least put them on notice of your ability to make deadlines or take on other work.


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Re: I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

Postby silenttimer » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:13 am

Sounds like you were in a really shitty situation OP. Although it probably doesn't feel like it currently, but getting away from that place might work out for the best in the long run! Good luck!


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Re: I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

Postby TheSpecialist » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:42 am

I agree with all of the above. I'm sure being let go isn't pleasant, but it really sounds like you should have gotten out of there a while ago and that this could be a blessing in disguise. Also, if you're like me, you're probably going to dwell on why they fired you and try to make sense of it. Don't be like me and just move on. It sounds like you are a hard worker and I'd be shocked if you weren't able to find another comparable position, hopefully in a better environment, before you know it. Good luck!

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Re: I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:11 am

OP here. Thanks everyone for weighing in and the kind words. I should have had a sit down with my boss about the workload. I was afraid that my boss would just say I wasn't cutting it. I did mention in passing that things were piling up on my desk or that I was really behind on emails. But I got the vibe back that I was just supposed to handle it.

I don't think anyone at the firm really knew all the things I was handling on my own. If the court or opposing counsel needed something, they would always call me because my name was on most of the filings. I would just handle whatever the issue was and there was no real visabilty on what I was doing unless someone reviewed the hours I logged. Since most of our cases were contigency based, I don't think my boss was looking too closely at my hours.

I'm definatley interested to see how my replacement handles things. Hopefully I can land something better.


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Re: I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

Postby lolwat » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:56 pm

Agree with mostly what everyone above already said. Poor management sucks. You were basically on track to bill what, 2.5k+ a year, while everybody else worked a 9-5 job? Fuck that, especially since you weren't getting paid a biglaw salary.

The only thing is, also what others have said, it's on you to keep pounding the table for more help (or even for the firm to take fewer cases until they can hire more people barred in your jx). Partners who are not actually hands on with the firm but manage at a million-foot level don't know what's affecting the associates so it's up to you to speak up.

As for your last comments -- given the info you gave, you seemed to be doing just fine as an attorney. You were literally managing piles of cases and doing everything on those cases as a 3rd year associate. And if my very rough estimate is correct, you were probably putting in 50+ hours of billable hours in a week.

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Re: I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:34 pm

I was in a similar position; I was frequently getting entire dockets or new client work transferred to me at some point when I was working on a reduced schedule for personal reasons, to the point where I still had significantly more matters for which I was responsible than people who were not on reduced schedules (effectively negating the fact that I reduced my schedule). I spoke up frequently about having too much work, and nothing was ever done about it; they would just move the goalposts in terms of how I was supposed to ask for work to get transferred (each time obviously making it harder and harder for me to ask to transfer work). I ended up quitting. I've been in contact with colleagues from the firm and my docket was apparently distributed between two new people.

I definitely think the takeaway is to speak up early, often, and assertively when you're swamped. That said, it's hard to say that speaking up really would have helped; it sounds like things aren't managed very tightly at your firm and you may have still gotten fired even if you were actively transparent about your concerns. I was really vocal and even gave hard numbers comparing my workload to that of my colleague's, and I don't think my partner "got it" until I left and he was dealing with the matters himself until the new people came in. This sounds like a blessing in disguise to me; good luck in your next opportunity.

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Roy McAvoy

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Re: I Got Let Go From My Firm Today

Postby Roy McAvoy » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote: This sounds like a blessing in disguise to me; good luck in your next opportunity.

Agreed, but I would argue it's not disguised.

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