Am I being fired?

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Am I being fired?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:46 pm

Hello all,

I am afraid I'm going to be fired soon. I am a first year, but I started in September of 2017. I won't be an official second year until my review in February. I'm at a V100. I have never reached the level of billable hours I am supposed to reach. As of year end in December, I had 950 hours. The firm is looking for 1800 hours. Therefore, I am woefully behind. This month hasn't been better. I have had no work since I came back from Christmas break. I am afraid I am being frozen out from work, and my practice leaders are getting ready to fire me during review time in February. What should I be doing now? I've already started applying to other jobs and have some interviews coming up. Should I attempt to stay here? Or, just throw in the towel and move on?

Thanks.

SFSpartan

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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby SFSpartan » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:54 pm

You need to start looking to lateral immediately. Practice area and geography switches are going to be the easiest sells. I'm sure you get hit up on the daily with recruiter emails, so if one looks interesting, reach out.

I wouldn't say that you're definitely being cut out (as you haven't mentioned how busy others are). But, regardless of whether you are being cut out or not, being under 1,000 hours is cause for concern.

QContinuum

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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby QContinuum » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hello all,

I am afraid I'm going to be fired soon. I am a first year, but I started in September of 2017. I won't be an official second year until my review in February. I'm at a V100. I have never reached the level of billable hours I am supposed to reach. As of year end in December, I had 950 hours. The firm is looking for 1800 hours. Therefore, I am woefully behind. This month hasn't been better. I have had no work since I came back from Christmas break. I am afraid I am being frozen out from work, and my practice leaders are getting ready to fire me during review time in February. What should I be doing now? I've already started applying to other jobs and have some interviews coming up. Should I attempt to stay here? Or, just throw in the towel and move on?

Thanks.

Certainly make every effort to stay until you land something else - don't tell anyone at your firm that you're looking to leave! But try to score a lateral offer yesterday. I would say your gut instinct is on the money and you will likely receive unwelcome news at your review next month. Even if you don't get "the talk" (and hopefully you don't!), I can't forecast things getting much better in the future given that you've already been at the firm for well over a year and you're still below 1000 billables. It's only a matter of time, and best to leave under your own steam.

Best wishes.

Anonymous User
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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:28 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hello all,

I am afraid I'm going to be fired soon. I am a first year, but I started in September of 2017. I won't be an official second year until my review in February. I'm at a V100. I have never reached the level of billable hours I am supposed to reach. As of year end in December, I had 950 hours. The firm is looking for 1800 hours. Therefore, I am woefully behind. This month hasn't been better. I have had no work since I came back from Christmas break. I am afraid I am being frozen out from work, and my practice leaders are getting ready to fire me during review time in February. What should I be doing now? I've already started applying to other jobs and have some interviews coming up. Should I attempt to stay here? Or, just throw in the towel and move on?

Thanks.

Certainly make every effort to stay until you land something else - don't tell anyone at your firm that you're looking to leave! But try to score a lateral offer yesterday. I would say your gut instinct is on the money and you will likely receive unwelcome news at your review next month. Even if you don't get "the talk" (and hopefully you don't!), I can't forecast things getting much better in the future given that you've already been at the firm for well over a year and you're still below 1000 billables. It's only a matter of time, and best to leave under your own steam.

Best wishes.


OP here. Would you recommend my talking to someone whom I trust? He's a non-equity partner, and I feel he's my friend. I just want to find out what's going on.

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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:36 pm

^Yes, can't hurt to reach out to a trusted mentor and explain your situation. To be honest, regardless of his answer I would still look anyway just to have some peace of mind. You may want to lateral anyway because if you're only billing 900 for all of 2018, chances are you're not getting much experience and will fall behind your class year.

I'm in the same situation as you except I had about 1600 hours (and the average for juniors at my firm was 2000 hours). I haven't had my review yet but definitely feel nervous and January hasn't been better as I've only billed about 12 hours this month. I'm thinking i might get a pass this time around but I'm pretty sure if I billed disparately slow again in 2019, I'd certainly get the boot. I'd be terrified if I only had 900 tbh.

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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:44 pm

I had similar hours my first year. I think it was a combo of the group being a little slow and poor integration of first years.

When I was a second year, I was among the highest billers. That was a strange 180.

But, even though I was concerned, the partners never made it sound like my fault and they knew I needed work and admitted they weren’t great at getting me involved. So, in that respect, I never really thought I’d get fired. For you, I’d say it depends on how they’ve communicated with you.

QContinuum

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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby QContinuum » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I had similar hours my first year. I think it was a combo of the group being a little slow and poor integration of first years.

When I was a second year, I was among the highest billers. That was a strange 180.

But, even though I was concerned, the partners never made it sound like my fault and they knew I needed work and admitted they weren’t great at getting me involved. So, in that respect, I never really thought I’d get fired. For you, I’d say it depends on how they’ve communicated with you.

I think it depends on the firm as well. Traditionally, firms have been good about giving first- and second-years more leeway, recognizing that they shouldn't really be held responsible for the firm's overall performance/work allocation practices. But in more recent times, there have been firms that have let second-years and even first-years go for not billing enough. This doesn't strictly track Vault ranking, but speaking very crudely (and there are notable exceptions), the V50 are a bit less likely to lay off juniors than firms outside the V50.

Maybe OP should try to (discreetly) sound out his peers to see if there have been any rumors of first/second-years being let go for hours? I feel like this is generally something that would be "known" within the firm (even if the rumors aren't entirely reliable).

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Would you recommend my talking to someone whom I trust? He's a non-equity partner, and I feel he's my friend. I just want to find out what's going on.

I wouldn't tell the partner you're looking to leave, but I think it's certainly a good idea to get his advice on what's going on (and what he would recommend re turning things around). If he's truly your friend he should be able to give you much more accurate advice re: the likelihood of you being let go in the near future given your hours.

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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I had similar hours my first year. I think it was a combo of the group being a little slow and poor integration of first years.

When I was a second year, I was among the highest billers. That was a strange 180.

But, even though I was concerned, the partners never made it sound like my fault and they knew I needed work and admitted they weren’t great at getting me involved. So, in that respect, I never really thought I’d get fired. For you, I’d say it depends on how they’ve communicated with you.


This.

I only billed 1350 my first year and at my annual review, the reviewer was discussing my low hours, but the partner whom I work for interjected and said that it was not my fault for the low hours. I’m sure that it will be a little different next year, but it was nice to know iI wasn’t solely being blamed for low hours.

Npret

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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby Npret » Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:37 pm

OP - how long has it been that you have had zero work?

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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:00 pm

Npret wrote:OP - how long has it been that you have had zero work?


OP here. We just finished a big litigation right before Christmas. I went on Christmas vacation and came back on the 30th. I have had no work since the 30th.

After summoning up the courage, I have also talked to the non-equity partner, my mentor. He told me not to worry. He says there is no concerted or coordinated effort against me to fire me. While it made me feel good, I don't know how correct he is. At any rate, I do have interviews with agencies in the federal government coming up. Some of them had to be postponed due to the government shutdown. But, I feel good about them.

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Guchster

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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby Guchster » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hello all,

I am afraid I'm going to be fired soon. I am a first year, but I started in September of 2017. I won't be an official second year until my review in February. I'm at a V100. I have never reached the level of billable hours I am supposed to reach. As of year end in December, I had 950 hours. The firm is looking for 1800 hours. Therefore, I am woefully behind. This month hasn't been better. I have had no work since I came back from Christmas break. I am afraid I am being frozen out from work, and my practice leaders are getting ready to fire me during review time in February. What should I be doing now? I've already started applying to other jobs and have some interviews coming up. Should I attempt to stay here? Or, just throw in the towel and move on?

Thanks.


Are others in your group busy? Do you have a sense from mid-levels and seniors why you are sub 1000 hours for your first year (is there a reputation issue, are you just falling through the cracks, is the whole group slow)?

Unless there is a path forward where you are going to be able to significantly bill more hours in the next year, I would be looking at other firms (even if you get decent reviews in February). Sometimes groups are slow for long periods (and then pick up at an almost unbearable speed), but the issue is that you are losing out on valuable experience, which matters for someone junior. Plus, at this point, even if they love you and your work product, if you're only bringing in 950 hours (even at a 100% realization rate), you are probably costing the firm serious dough.

Anonymous User
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Re: Am I being fired?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:08 pm

Maybe OP should try to (discreetly) sound out his peers to see if there have been any rumors of first/second-years being let go for hours? I feel like this is generally something that would be "known" within the firm (even if the rumors aren't entirely reliable).


OP here. I already know one person who was "let go" because of low hours. But he was Of Counsel. He called me and told me the news last week. The firm just told him they simply could not keep him around because they didn't have the work to give him. They gave him three months, and he is now comfortable at a federal agency.



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