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Dear ATL –
I haven’t seen anybody commenting about this but I know for a fact I’m not the only one. I was recently laid off by my firm in a stealth layoff. Of course they said it was my “performance,” but that is complete bulls*** because they’ve never complained about me before and I made my hours this year. A bunch of other attorneys were also laid off at the same time – all “performance based.” I am terrified that I won’t be able to get a job anywhere, because no place is hiring and no place is going to hire an attorney who was fired for (false) reasons. What should I do?
Fired and Scared
Dear Fired and Scared,
Pack a suitcase. Walk toward the nearest window. Open the window. Jump out.
Just kidding. Don’t do that. Seriously.
Your first order of business should be to call up people at your old firm and secure professional references. If you really did good work, that shouldn’t be a problem. If a prospective firm asks you what happened, tell them the truth: that your termination was part of a bunch of allegedly performance-based layoffs, and that you cannot speak for anybody else who got fired, but that the circumstances surrounding your departure were puzzling at best and that you are happy to provide PLENTY of references and other confirmation that you did solid work and met your hours. Finally, if you’re anything like me, sob softly in the shower.
I feel your pain – yours is an unenviable situation and if in fact your firm was using a bogus review as a scapegoat to save face or be cheap, that is deplorable. Listen up, firms: IT IS NOT OK TO SABOTAGE ASSOCIATE CAREERS JUST TO CLAIM THAT YOUR FIRM DOESN’T “DO” LAYOFFS OR TO SAVE MONEY ON SEVERANCE PACKAGES. While firms might think that they can get away with it now, we’ll see what God thinks about all this, because FYI he’s watching. And so is Santa.
Good luck and have a happy Thanksgiving!
Elie solves the problems of the economy after the jump.
Well, if you’ve been fired you already know how terrible the legal market is. It’ll turn around at some point. But you can’t eat future earnings can you?
It sounds like you are going to need a few ways to get a quick infusion of cash. Just enough to get you through until the market turns. Here are some suggestions that you maybe haven’t thought of yet.
* Professional Poker Player: Poker is really easy for lawyers to learn. There are rules. You have perfect information about your own situation, but have to make logical assumptions about the other players. And a dealmaker’s demeanor can go a long way. Buy a book, go to A.C. it’s an easy grand if you stick to old ladies and drunk frat boys.
* LSAT teacher: Did you do well on the LSAT? Really well? Then you can be an LSAT instructor at various places. Sure, teaching a class doesn’t pay that well. But once you get your certification you can tutor individual rich kids, and that’s where the money starts rolling in!
* Law School (or “Pre-Law”) career counselor. Career services are always looking for people who have actually been out there in the real world to advise their students. If you’re thinking of going back to school full time as part of a larger career change, this could net you free room and board. And co-eds.
Give it a shot. You’re halfway there. You’re living on a prayer,
Jon Bon Elie
You can also try hooking. That way even if you can’t be a lawyer anymore, you can at least marry one.