If you were friends with somebody who was laid off from Biglaw during the past 18 months, you probably tried to cheer your friend up with some sort of platitude. You probably told your friend, “It’s their loss,” or perhaps, “[The firm] will be sorry.”
You probably didn’t believe it when you said it, and neither did your friend. The sad reality is that for every associate fired, law schools produce ten more that are dying to replace them. It’s hard for individual associates to make their former employers “pay” for giving them the axe. The revenge quest becomes even harder when you take into account the fact that being laid off in this market was a career killer for most of those involuntarily kicked off the Biglaw bandwagon.
But at least one laid-off lawyer has been able to get a small measure of revenge against his former employer. The associate brings a message of hope to the fallen associates who walk the earth with cold dishes to serve their old employers…
The associate asked us to post his story as a message of hope for those that have been laid off. Here it is.
MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM A FLORIDA ASSOCIATE
I was a senior transactional associate with a mid-sized, highly profitable, politically connected regional law firm based in Florida. In December 2008, I was laid off – the week before Christmas. Bad news indeed, especially since I never received a “heads-up” warning from my born-again Christian boss, and especially since I had a baby at home and one on the way. They offered me a week of severance for each year I was there, which was 7 years.
The year before, I was on the short list for partner, but my numbers declined as the credit market reeled. I did everything they asked in my two remaining weeks, while I contacted my roster of clients, most of whom were shocked and dismayed. I sewed up my letters of recommendation from the partners as I headed into the bleak landscape, locking them into their stories and preventing convenient lies later. I told all my clients “I’ll be back.”
I joined a small firm in ’09 and went after my old clients with a vengeance. And now they’re showing up, to the dismay and surprise of my old firm. I’m starting to make inroads, and they’re panicking, slandering me at every turn (“he can’t do this/that, the new firm is too small”, etc.). I undercut them on rates. I compete with them at every turn. I get in their grill, scoring hits. I fight them every step of the way for business. I may not make it, but their losses in business exceed what they saved in firing me. It is wonderful. And I love it. And I love my new job.
When I undertook this path, I hesitated. I worried about my references, or lack thereof. My old firm is terribly connected to the FL good-old boy network. But I made the right choice. And no matter what happens, I will go down – or up, as it appears – swinging, my dignity and self-respect intact
If you really feel like your firm made a huge mistake when it laid you off, go out and prove it.