Many large law firms realize the importance of maintaining good ties with their alumni. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s also the smart thing to do. Biglaw alums often end up in places where they can be helpful to their former employers — e.g., in-house, government, and the media (cough cough).
Alumni of Chadbourne & Parke recently received this email:
They were also invited to a cocktail party. This didn’t go over so well with those who became alumni involuntarily, i.e., the laid-off:
Are they f**king kidding me? Oh man I want to go to their Spring Fling. Cocktails in the boardroom. Do you think if we get really drunk we’ll be escorted out by security? Because I enjoyed it the first time.
Wait a sec — did the firm really have laid-off lawyers accompanied out by security?
On Wall Street, it’s not uncommon for terminated employees to be removed from the premises by security. At a law firm, though, usually you’re allowed to pack up your own belongings.
Not at Chadbourne, according to one source:
Oh yeah, escorted out by security. Their personal belongings (and even one attorney’s jacket) were sent to their mailing addresses by the firm.
There were unfinished, urgent assignments outstanding that another laid-off attorney was completing. She had to call the partner from her cell phone and explain how to find the assignment in her office.
Unreturned library books, etc. It was a crazy time.
Well, at least they got to work at the firm for some period of time. Back in March, the firm told 11 deferred associates not to show up.
We can understand why some Chadbourne layoff victims aren’t thrilled by the invitation to join the alumni network. It’s also pretty rich for the firm to send its laid-off lawyers an email that closes with the line “We Look Forward to Seeing More of You!”
But, in fairness to the firm, laid-off lawyers are alumni too. If the firm simply pretended they didn’t exist, by excluding layoff victims from alumni events, it could get attacked for that too.
This situation reminds us of Morgan Lewis inviting laid-off lawyers to its holiday party. Some viewed the invitation as a “nice gesture,” as well as a potential networking opportunity. Others saw it as “douchery,” or rubbing salt in the wound.
In our post about the MLB holiday party, we included a poll that asked whether laid-off associates should go back for the firm festivities. The winning option, with 60 percent of the vote: “No. I didn’t want to hang out with these people even when they were paying me.”