Akin Gump, Biglaw, Email Scandals, Pranks

Departing with Flair

Akin Gump logo.JPGHave you had the privilege of voluntarily leaving your Biglaw job? I have, and let me tell you, the last day is a special kind of awesome. You kind of walk around, taking a survey of things you no longer have to deal with. Many of your friends and colleagues look at you with envy in their eyes. Friends of mine outside of the law have told me that leaving a job is bittersweet; but most associates who have left Biglaw on their own terms describe the sensation as “delicious.”

Now, when I left, I said all the right things, said goodbye to all the appropriate people, and wrote a standard, passionless departure memo. No gloating from me, I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as I could. But looking back on it, I wish I had done something notable. Nothing outrageous: boiling the managing partner’s pet rabbit sounds appropriate but is ultimately unsatisfying. I just wish I had taken advantage of my last day in some mildly humorous way.

An associate who left Akin Gump last week will have no such longstanding regrets. Here’s the “seeking contacts” email that was sent to the entire firm once the associate had both feet out of the door:

Sent: Friday, February 26, 2010 11:59 AM
Subject: Seeking contacts

Pardon the interruption. Please respond to sender only if you can recommend a reasonably priced plaintiffs’ attorney in Costa Rica. A friend of the firm has a handful of potential plaintiffs who believe there is a connection between their testicle cancer and a chemical used to make tea bags. They are looking for an attorney in Costa Rica to advise and represent them in this matter.


You know, the lives of Biglaw attorneys are such that on first blush one might think that this message was intended seriously.

But we spoke with the associate who sent out the message. Thankfully, the message was a product of a last day dare.

The associate, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed that the contacts request was a departure day joke. The associate told Above the Law:

If you work for one of these firms, you see all of these kinds of crazy “seeking contacts” messages. My friends dared me, they said I had to do something on my last day.

The associate left Akin Gump of their own accord, they have another job lined up. In the meantime, the associate is taking some time off in … Costa Rica. The other part of the joke also came from friends.

We had “jeans day” in order to raise awareness for breast cancer. That night I was out with friends, and one of them expressed concern that there was no jeans day for testicular cancer awareness. [The friend] used my BlackBerry to announce jean day for testicular cancer to the whole litigation department … but the BlackBerry corrected “testicular” cancer to “testicle” cancer, so that was another inside joke.

Apparently, some Akin Gump attorneys wouldn’t understand humor if it kicked them in the scrotum:

All day [Monday] my secretary was taking calls from people offering actual advice … and some people were angry when they found out it was a joke. I don’t see how you don’t get it when you put “testicle” and “tea bags” in the same sentence.

A few Akin Gump associates also didn’t think the seeking contacts emails was that funny:

Testicular cancer is a serious issue. I don’t see why a person would joke about that.

Well, the associate wasn’t joking about testicular cancer, instead the joke was about finding a lawyer to teabag. Do I really need to explain this to people?

Come on Elie, you know that if this were about breast cancer, the femi-nazis would be all over you. … The male agenda doesn’t get any respect.

For the love of God, are you people serious? First of all, don’t tell me teabagging is part of the male agenda.

But to your point, I’m sure that if the message read: “In need of an attorney to help my friend who has breast cancer purchase a quality motorboat in Costa Rica,” people would have gotten the joke too.

Whether such humor is appropriate for firmwide emails is, well, something this particular associate no longer has to worry about.

(hidden for your protection)

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