Stealth layoff right after salary raise

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Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:40 pm

Figure I'd share what has recently happened to me if others can learn from this, but no way I'm going to out the firm. After our firm matched the salary rise, I was suddenly told to meet with a HR person and head of my group in the same week. I was told that my performance has not been on par in very vague terms, and given 4 months to find something new. My last review was less than 3 months ago, and I had good reviews. I even remember asking the partner if there would be any interim evaluation and s/he said no, that my next annual evaluation would be next spring. I had came back to the firm less than a year ago from clerking. I had been slow the whole time since I've been back, and heard from others that the firm had been slow in 2017 as well. Now, I'm wondering if I should ask the firm to extend the 4 month to 6 months. I know the typically practice is to do a 6 months check-in, after which you are given 3 months time to find a position. I also know that this tends to happen in the spring of the sixth year (at least before the salary hike). The reason they are skipping that is likely because the firm is really slow (we only got 1 litigation case come in this past month), the recent salary hike, and letting me stay 6 months means I would get end of the year bonus. Although I wasn't that surprised (I thought it might be coming after the recent salary hike), offering 4 months so they get to skip the bonus seems really dishonorable, especially when there was not even any warning or a heads-up before hand.

Any thoughts on negotiating?

In the meantime, here are some of the lessons I've learned that I want to share with you. Hopefully it will help other naive souls out there.

1. If you are clerking and have a standing offer to return to your old firm, make sure that you grab lunch with at least several associates and partners and find out about how busy the firm truly is before you accept the offer. And definitely interview with as many boutiques as you can (clerking is the best time to jump to a litigation boutique afterwards). Know that the partners you worked with before who protected and loved you may not be able to take you back under their wings after the clerkship because a year has passed and people have short term memories, even if you had been working 200+ hour/month for them consistently. It's better to go to a litigation boutique that only takes laterals or post-clerkship associates, so you'll always been seen as home-grown talent. If you have no other option but to go back, consider offering to go back a class year below your graduating year, so you'll be cheaper. Not going to disclose my class year (disclosed enough identifying info already), but it definitely matters at a slow firm.

2. At the very first hint of the firm being slow, send out your resume to recruiters or other positions that interest you (even if you have been at the firm for less than a month). There was a perfect in-house position that popped up my first month back, that would have been a great gig, but I didn't apply because I was concerned it would look bad on my resume being back at the firm for just a month. Now it looks like it will be just as hard to explain away being back for only 6 months.

3. Even if you got good reviews, and there was no hint that you are being evaluated, you can get the boot at any time if your firm is slow, there has been a recent salary hike, and your hours have dipped 100h in the past month. Send out your resume at the first sign of the firm being slow. It's always good to have back up options before you get shot in the head like me.

4. When you do get the call that you suspect to be that shot, be prepared to go in and ask for more time to find a job. Always ask for 6 months. It would be even better if you cried and have reasons to justify that argument. It's easier to ask for 6 months when they just delivered the kiss of death and you seem much more sympathetic. When they arranged the meeting (an hour before), they refused to tell me what the meeting was about (though I had my suspicions). But I was still too unprepared at the meeting itself to try to negotiate on the spot. What I should have done was to cry and ask for 6 months with bonus - tell them I skipped a family member's funeral to get the work done, didn't tell the partners, and didn't take bereavement leave just to get the work done. And tell them that I had received good feedback from partners, that my last evaluation gave no hint of something like this happening, that I turned down other opportunities (clerkship receptions, etc.) to come back to the firm, and that because I had been back for less than a year, it would be much harder lateraling to find something else.

That's it for now. I'm sure I'll post more lessons I've learned (or not) once this whole process is over and I've secured positions elsewhere. That is, depending on whether I'll actually be able to secure good positions or become jobless. A part of me is depressed and ashamed, but a part of me is also much more motivated to be a kick-ass and politically savvy litigator one day. I keep imagining a future where I open up my own shop, establish a stellar reputation, become a rainmaker, and take away clients from this firm/become GC and fires or refuses to hire the firm/become a judge and bench slap the partners that did this to me. But hey, at this point, the best revenge is landing something awesome and living a good life.

Tips and encouragements would be greatly appreciated.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Jun 16, 2018 2:18 pm, edited 7 times in total.

worklifewhat

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby worklifewhat » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:03 pm

I have no advice. Just want to say that this is really shitty but it sounds like you’ll land on your feet (you’re clearly a hard worker). Hopefully this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:13 am

One of the ironies of the situation is that it sounds like one of the firms getting credit for the immediate match is using stealth moves to mistreat its current associates.

Sorry that this happened to you OP. It sounds like you're an accomplished individual, and to echo the above poster I hope you end up at a better firm.

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:11 am

That's awful but not unexpected.

Did you hope for the raises? If so watch the monkey paw Simpsons episode to laugh at yourself.
Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sImvm5zJtLY
Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS5NkTR-JNU

If you're still upset enjoy Loyola 2L's anti-biglaw blog
http://brian-boyle-omelveny-torture-att ... gspot.com/

Oh, and start sending out your resume!

Anonymous User
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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:31 am

Out the firm.

Anonymous User
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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:Out the firm.



Seriously. Why not. What's the point of anonymity if you can't? The fact that you're getting let go isn't even confidential, is it? It's not like anyone who matters in your career is scouring these forums anyway.

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 2:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:Out the firm.

Anonymous User
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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 2:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Out the firm.



Seriously. Why not. What's the point of anonymity if you can't? The fact that you're getting let go isn't even confidential, is it? It's not like anyone who matters in your career is scouring these forums anyway.


You absolutely need to out the firm. Other people on this board need to know which firms to avoid

RedPurpleBlue

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby RedPurpleBlue » Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:24 am

Oh the irony of 4 consecutive users who posted nothing identifying deciding to post anonymously to ask OP who already posted a ton of info that could be identifying to out their firm and become even more identifiable.

Npret

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Npret » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:33 am

I read the OP and your firm is treating you badly. Firms will never say its for financial reasons, they will always blame the associate, even when it’s clearly not true.

It sounds like at least you have credentials to get out of there as fast as possible. Put all your energy into finding another job and work as little as possible. Make sure you have good partners you can give a reference.

Be very careful how you answer the question of why you are leaving. Maybe say that you realized after you clerked you wanted a different place for X reason. Firms won’t hire people who say negative things about their old firm.

Good luck, I think you have the credentials to find something.
Last edited by Npret on Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

Npret

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Npret » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:34 am

RedPurpleBlue wrote:Oh the irony of 4 consecutive users who posted nothing identifying deciding to post anonymously to ask OP who already posted a ton of info that could be identifying to out their firm and become even more identifiable.

They don’t even bother to offer advice. Just don’t want to bid them at OCI, I’m guessing.
They have no clue this could happen anywhere.

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:00 am

OP, don’t out the firm. That could only hurt you. It would be to your benefit to have a couple of trusted partners that will vouch for you. Something that would be less likely if they’re pissed with you.

To the above posters, if you’re worried about bidding on a firm that does this, then only bid on wachtell.

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP, don’t out the firm. That could only hurt you. It would be to your benefit to have a couple of trusted partners that will vouch for you. Something that would be less likely if they’re pissed with you.

To the above posters, if you’re worried about bidding on a firm that does this, then only bid on wachtell.


You think? Man, I didn't realize stealth layoffs were that common.

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP, don’t out the firm. That could only hurt you. It would be to your benefit to have a couple of trusted partners that will vouch for you. Something that would be less likely if they’re pissed with you.

To the above posters, if you’re worried about bidding on a firm that does this, then only bid on wachtell.


You think? Man, I didn't realize stealth layoffs were that common.



To clarify, that's more referring to what can happen in an economic downturn. The point still stands that it's to OP's benefit to stay under the radar right now.

Anonymous User
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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP, don’t out the firm. That could only hurt you. It would be to your benefit to have a couple of trusted partners that will vouch for you. Something that would be less likely if they’re pissed with you.

To the above posters, if you’re worried about bidding on a firm that does this, then only bid on wachtell.


You think? Man, I didn't realize stealth layoffs were that common.


After the publicity backlash from the 2008 layoffs (e.g. "Lathaming"), firms learned they need to push out the unwanted at short intervals instead of letting them pile up for one noticeable public layoff. This is the biggest surprise law students will face when they work at firms. It might not be a stable job.

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Toni V

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Toni V » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:53 pm

Outing the firm = piling on additional bad karma.

Anonymous User
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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 2:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:That's awful but not unexpected.

Did you hope for the raises? If so watch the monkey paw Simpsons episode to laugh at yourself.
Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sImvm5zJtLY
Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS5NkTR-JNU

If you're still upset enjoy Loyola 2L's anti-biglaw blog
http://brian-boyle-omelveny-torture-att ... gspot.com/

Oh, and start sending out your resume!


Haha, I had anticipated this happening after the salary raise, just not this soon. I anticipated this to happen about 6 months from now at my next annual evaluation, not the same month of the salary raise.

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 2:14 pm

Toni V wrote:Outing the firm = piling on additional bad karma.


Agree 100%, thanks for all the advice!

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP, don’t out the firm. That could only hurt you. It would be to your benefit to have a couple of trusted partners that will vouch for you. Something that would be less likely if they’re pissed with you.

To the above posters, if you’re worried about bidding on a firm that does this, then only bid on wachtell.


You think? Man, I didn't realize stealth layoffs were that common.


What happened to OP happens in every biglaw firm all the time. Whether you want to consider that a “stealth layoff” is a matter of definition - originally that referred to when firms fired people en masse but did it quietly (vs how Latham and some other firms did it publicly). But now the meaning has basically changed to how OP used it, in reference to a single event.

Npret

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Npret » Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP, don’t out the firm. That could only hurt you. It would be to your benefit to have a couple of trusted partners that will vouch for you. Something that would be less likely if they’re pissed with you.

To the above posters, if you’re worried about bidding on a firm that does this, then only bid on wachtell.


You think? Man, I didn't realize stealth layoffs were that common.


What happened to OP happens in every biglaw firm all the time. Whether you want to consider that a “stealth layoff” is a matter of definition - originally that referred to when firms fired people en masse but did it quietly (vs how Latham and some other firms did it publicly). But now the meaning has basically changed to how OP used it, in reference to a single event.

Stealth was always about getting fired but no one else is supposed to know. It’s not relevant to the number of people really. I can see how it started from the mass layoffs 10 years ago and now firms want to be very careful word of possible financial problems don’t leak.

If they fire you and tell you to leave, get your check for the next few months, but not to come back, I suppose that’s not stealth. Whatever is the opposite of stealth in this case.

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP, don’t out the firm. That could only hurt you. It would be to your benefit to have a couple of trusted partners that will vouch for you. Something that would be less likely if they’re pissed with you.

To the above posters, if you’re worried about bidding on a firm that does this, then only bid on wachtell.


You think? Man, I didn't realize stealth layoffs were that common.



To clarify, that's more referring to what can happen in an economic downturn. The point still stands that it's to OP's benefit to stay under the radar right now.


It wasn’t really the definition—I moreso meant layoffs in general. They seem to always be pretty stealthy nowadays. I just didn’t think people were fired all that often.

Npret

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Npret » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP, don’t out the firm. That could only hurt you. It would be to your benefit to have a couple of trusted partners that will vouch for you. Something that would be less likely if they’re pissed with you.

To the above posters, if you’re worried about bidding on a firm that does this, then only bid on wachtell.


You think? Man, I didn't realize stealth layoffs were that common.



To clarify, that's more referring to what can happen in an economic downturn. The point still stands that it's to OP's benefit to stay under the radar right now.


It wasn’t really the definition—I moreso meant layoffs in general. They seem to always be pretty stealthy nowadays. I just didn’t think people were fired all that often.

Yes, people get fired. Why do you think they don’t? OP got fired after getting good reviews. It’s about money.
@OP it’s not you and you have no reason to feel ashamed. Find another job and don’t look back.

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:03 am

Npret wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP, don’t out the firm. That could only hurt you. It would be to your benefit to have a couple of trusted partners that will vouch for you. Something that would be less likely if they’re pissed with you.

To the above posters, if you’re worried about bidding on a firm that does this, then only bid on wachtell.


You think? Man, I didn't realize stealth layoffs were that common.



To clarify, that's more referring to what can happen in an economic downturn. The point still stands that it's to OP's benefit to stay under the radar right now.


It wasn’t really the definition—I moreso meant layoffs in general. They seem to always be pretty stealthy nowadays. I just didn’t think people were fired all that often.

Yes, people get fired. Why do you think they don’t? OP got fired after getting good reviews. It’s about money.
@OP it’s not you and you have no reason to feel ashamed. Find another job and don’t look back.


I guess since people keep quiet about it when it happens, you never really know whether it’s happening at your firm (or any firm). So it’s shocking/unsettling when you actually hear about it. I’ve always been pretty paranoid that it would happen to me notwithstanding having good reviews and then I tell myself “noooo don’t be crazy. You’re doing good work.” This just shows that that doesn’t actually matter.

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Re: Stealth layoff right after salary raise

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:46 am

The number of associates in biglaw has been flat for about two decades, yet the hire thousands every year. They have to make room somehow. Instead of insulting Associates by claiming it's "performance" or whatever, Biglaw should just be honest and make Associateship a 2-year contractual job.



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