Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

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Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:29 pm

Anonymous for privacy. Junior big law associate at a top Vault firm. I received some sort of "how are things" talk a few months ago from a random partner in a random office. Never heard of that partner before. I am pretty sure I have a "how are things" part 2 talk coming up. On top of that, it seems like my regular partners are disconnecting from me. People I worked with regularly, and did good work with, do not contact me as often. Some of the others I work with have become aggressive and even insulting. I can take the undeserved heat and will not let it affect me when I think it is unjustified. I think they might hope this will make me leave on my own rather than them having to force me out and possibly offer a departure package or the like.

It is a shame because I like my job, work, and colleagues. The aggressiveness has only started recently. My practice, like a lot of others, got wrecked with COVID19, but it is taking off again. My hours overall are on the lower side. People still contact me for work, but I think that is because they just need work done and will use me while they can. My work is good, but I am probably not profitable enough. My practice can be very busy at the partner and senior associate level, but there is a lot of hoarding at those levels and only crumbs trickle down at times.

I doubted before that I would be booted, but I think it is inevitable now. I don't want to believe it still, but I would be willfully ignorant at this point if I didn't get the hint. I don't see how this can be salvaged. I want to look for new jobs and apply, but I also don't want to be the one to leave. I think they should be the one to kick me out if they want me gone. What should I do and expect?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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papermateflair

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by papermateflair » Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:59 pm

I'm sorry this is happening to you. It sounds like this is the classic big law push out - they're slowly freezing you out because they've selected you as the person to go when hours were down. I get wanting to make them actually make a decision (which is what a mature employer would do...) and in normal times, you might be able to ride this out for a while as they grow colder and colder (maybe six months or a year, at some firms maybe even two years). Because of how things have been going with the pandemic I wouldn't want to risk a hiring freeze in January if they decide to give you the talk then - I had some colleagues in a similar position and when COVID hit they were stuck unable to move but also knowing they were being frozen out. It sucks, but start looking to lateral. You don't need to quite go into desperation mode yet (since presumably they'll give you some time once you get that negative review), but definitely look and see if you can move now.

Even if somehow there's a way to "fix" it so you don't get pushed out in the next six months to a year, you deserve to be at a place that treats you with more respect, and I think that's reason enough to look around.

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:08 pm

papermateflair wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:59 pm
I'm sorry this is happening to you. It sounds like this is the classic big law push out - they're slowly freezing you out because they've selected you as the person to go when hours were down. I get wanting to make them actually make a decision (which is what a mature employer would do...) and in normal times, you might be able to ride this out for a while as they grow colder and colder (maybe six months or a year, at some firms maybe even two years). Because of how things have been going with the pandemic I wouldn't want to risk a hiring freeze in January if they decide to give you the talk then - I had some colleagues in a similar position and when COVID hit they were stuck unable to move but also knowing they were being frozen out. It sucks, but start looking to lateral. You don't need to quite go into desperation mode yet (since presumably they'll give you some time once you get that negative review), but definitely look and see if you can move now.

Even if somehow there's a way to "fix" it so you don't get pushed out in the next six months to a year, you deserve to be at a place that treats you with more respect, and I think that's reason enough to look around.
Thanks for the response. You are right that the timing could quickly make things bad. Is a few months of severance likely once I get the chat confirming all of my suspicions?

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danquayle

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by danquayle » Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:46 pm

Don't ever force an employer's hand; leave on your own terms. The optics allow you to write your own narrative. Don't let the idea of foregoing 6 months of income lock you into having the explain why you were let go by your firm for the rest of your career or - worse yet - explain a gap in employment.

Consider it a gift they've telegraphed their intent.

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tyrant_flycatcher

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by tyrant_flycatcher » Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:14 pm

It sucks but you have to play the game. I would start looking now.

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notinbiglaw

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by notinbiglaw » Thu Oct 15, 2020 6:39 pm

Start looking now.

Dahl

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by Dahl » Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:32 pm

It’s definitely easier to find a job while at a job, but don’t stress too much if you’re not able to before you’re pushed out. Especially now, future employers will assume it was a pandemic related layoff.

But yes start looking. These talks are always about pushing people out.

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papermateflair

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by papermateflair » Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:08 pm
papermateflair wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:59 pm
I'm sorry this is happening to you. It sounds like this is the classic big law push out - they're slowly freezing you out because they've selected you as the person to go when hours were down. I get wanting to make them actually make a decision (which is what a mature employer would do...) and in normal times, you might be able to ride this out for a while as they grow colder and colder (maybe six months or a year, at some firms maybe even two years). Because of how things have been going with the pandemic I wouldn't want to risk a hiring freeze in January if they decide to give you the talk then - I had some colleagues in a similar position and when COVID hit they were stuck unable to move but also knowing they were being frozen out. It sucks, but start looking to lateral. You don't need to quite go into desperation mode yet (since presumably they'll give you some time once you get that negative review), but definitely look and see if you can move now.

Even if somehow there's a way to "fix" it so you don't get pushed out in the next six months to a year, you deserve to be at a place that treats you with more respect, and I think that's reason enough to look around.
Thanks for the response. You are right that the timing could quickly make things bad. Is a few months of severance likely once I get the chat confirming all of my suspicions?
In normal times, yes, you would likely get at least three months severance, and in some cases six months. You could also get a "you have 6 months to shape up" talk, and then get fired after 6 months and get 3-6 months severance after that. But right now, I wouldn't count on that, particularly if your group has been slow, because they may want to offload folks as quickly as possible so the partners can get back in the green, or increase their profits (assuming that you truly *are* losing money for the firm, which...maybe...but just because you aren't HIGHLY profitable doesn't mean you aren't profitable). Some firms have been understanding when folks couldn't land things quickly because of the pandemic, but I have seen people just given 3 months, and if they didn't have a job at the end, well, oh well. I personally wouldn't want to take the risk. But you don't have to decide today that you're going to leave. Just start looking - sending out your resume or talking to a recruiter doesn't commit you to taking a new job if you end up offered one before you get the talk (if you get the talk).

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:12 pm

Posting anon because I got stealthed. My v10 law firm didn't offer me any severance pay, just about 6 months to find a new job. Is paying severance actually standard in stealth layoffs?

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TUwave

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by TUwave » Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:12 pm
Posting anon because I got stealthed. My v10 law firm didn't offer me any severance pay, just about 6 months to find a new job. Is paying severance actually standard in stealth layoffs?
That was the severance.

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:12 pm
Posting anon because I got stealthed. My v10 law firm didn't offer me any severance pay, just about 6 months to find a new job. Is paying severance actually standard in stealth layoffs?
To be clear, you’re getting six months of full pay prior to the layoff? Or six months of website time

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Wild Card

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by Wild Card » Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:29 pm
What should I do and expect?
Lateral immediately. Don't ignore the signs. It takes a hell of a long time to lateral and to have the best options, and you need to hit the ground as soon as possible. When you're laid off, you will only remain on the website for two months or so. After you're taken off, you'll be fucked. For heaven's sake, get your ass moving.

sparty99

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by sparty99 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:12 pm
Posting anon because I got stealthed. My v10 law firm didn't offer me any severance pay, just about 6 months to find a new job. Is paying severance actually standard in stealth layoffs?
Are you the OP? And to answer your question, your 6 months to find a new job is your severance.

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sparty99

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by sparty99 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:55 pm

Wild Card wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:24 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:29 pm
What should I do and expect?
Lateral immediately. Don't ignore the signs. It takes a hell of a long time to lateral and to have the best options, and you need to hit the ground as soon as possible. When you're laid off, you will only remain on the website for two months or so. After you're taken off, you'll be fucked. For heaven's sake, get your ass moving.
You should expect to get canned, don't assume any website time, and lateral immediately. Also, in the event you are canned and no website time, I would not consider yourself fucked. You can bounce back (maybe not Big Law) and because of COVID it is easy to explain it as a COVID-layoff. I know people who bounced into even better jobs...

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 16, 2020 6:38 pm

sparty99 wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:51 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:12 pm
Posting anon because I got stealthed. My v10 law firm didn't offer me any severance pay, just about 6 months to find a new job. Is paying severance actually standard in stealth layoffs?
Are you the OP? And to answer your question, your 6 months to find a new job is your severance.
This is the OP. That anon was not me.

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:25 am

What is "website time" and what does it refer to?? New here.

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4LTsPointingNorth

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by 4LTsPointingNorth » Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:25 am
What is "website time" and what does it refer to?? New here.
It's when a law firm agrees to leave your bio page up on their website for some period of time after they fire you. It helps you find another job because potential employers will see it when they google you (allowing you to avoid gap in employment questions and to control the narrative of why you want to leave your law firm during your interviews).

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MarkmanPapers

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by MarkmanPapers » Sat Oct 17, 2020 12:39 pm

4LTsPointingNorth wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:51 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:25 am
What is "website time" and what does it refer to?? New here.
It's when a law firm agrees to leave your bio page up on their website for some period of time after they fire you. It helps you find another job because potential employers will see it when they google you (allowing you to avoid gap in employment questions and to control the narrative of why you want to leave your law firm during your interviews).
Why does this work for the prospective lateral so frequently when this website time thing is a well-understood practice in the industry?

nixy

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by nixy » Sat Oct 17, 2020 1:02 pm

Probably because plenty of people do lateral voluntarily and are genuinely on the website as currently working at (wherever), so you can’t say which one it is in any given situation.

plantcoveredbuilding

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by plantcoveredbuilding » Sat Oct 17, 2020 1:30 pm

I agree you should leave ASAP. Keep your eye on the drop-dead date after which you legally accrue a bonus by virtue of your class year and hours. I know of situations where the firm fired the associate right before that date, to avoid paying the bonus.

Also, this website time thing is pure fraud, at least in spirit. It's meant to deceive others into thinking you work at a place where you do not work. I'm not saying don't do this. Just pointing out another odd aspect of biglaw. I don't know of any other industry that does something like this.

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by RaceJudicata » Sat Oct 17, 2020 4:26 pm

plantcoveredbuilding wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 1:30 pm
I agree you should leave ASAP. Keep your eye on the drop-dead date after which you legally accrue a bonus by virtue of your class year and hours. I know of situations where the firm fired the associate right before that date, to avoid paying the bonus.

Also, this website time thing is pure fraud, at least in spirit. It's meant to deceive others into thinking you work at a place where you do not work. I'm not saying don't do this. Just pointing out another odd aspect of biglaw. I don't know of any other industry that does something like this.
Usually the “drop dead date” is the day the firm pays bonus. Unless some odd state law applies, you likely only “accrue” a bonus by being on the payroll the date the bonus is paid (because that is the firm’s policy). .. it’s not like a mandatory commission that is accrued after you complete X or Y act. If you aren’t employed on the date bonuses are paid, then you almost certainly aren’t getting it.

Better off trying to negotiate for a sign on bonus at new firm, explaining that you are forgoing large bonus by lateraling. I know my firm has done this in the past.

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s1m4

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by s1m4 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:09 pm

I don't want to say that OP will or will not get let go for sure, but I do feel like I've had periods like this multiple times throughout my (biglaw) career as a corporate lawyer - a few months very very slow, sub 100 hours, random partners calling me to touch base, OK reviews from some partners, etc., but in the long term things always ended up picking up and I'm in good standing - I feel like sometimes these periods do come and go and you may be totally fine, just to give another perspective here, OP.

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:55 pm

s1m4 wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:09 pm
I don't want to say that OP will or will not get let go for sure, but I do feel like I've had periods like this multiple times throughout my (biglaw) career as a corporate lawyer - a few months very very slow, sub 100 hours, random partners calling me to touch base, OK reviews from some partners, etc., but in the long term things always ended up picking up and I'm in good standing - I feel like sometimes these periods do come and go and you may be totally fine, just to give another perspective here, OP.
This is OP. Thanks. I guess that is possible, but the signs are not good. I'll take it if it is just a warning. I know that firings don't usually happen overnight either, so at least it will take a few months (hopefully) before I am actually not employed there anymore.

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Re: Well, Looks Like My Time is Up

Post by YA_Tittle » Sun Oct 18, 2020 11:37 pm

Start looking! Even if you're reading the signs wrong somehow, it doesn't sound like an environment you're happy in.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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