pls hndle thx

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Last summer as 1L I tried out one of those quaint “secondary-markets” that I felt I’d be better suited for down the line. I really loved my work last summer in the boonies, but I’m not spending anytime this summer at my 1L employer – I’m summering at a big firm in NY. I’d like to keep up the good relations and stay on their radar in case I want to go back there. How should I do that?

Love’s Labour’s Lost

Dear Love’s Labour’s Lost,

It’s easy for summer associates (or former summer associates) to stand out to firms, but usually not in a good way. The two most memorable characters from my summer class did things such as a) buy cigars and top shelf liquor for a private poker night in an NYU dorm and then submit the $300+ receipt for reimbursement and b) ask a senior partner how he managed to score such a “hot wife.” This was in 2004, so naturally they both received offers. Making yourself desirable to your former firm is like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes trying to seduce her husband while wrapped in Saran Wrap. Difficult, but not impossible.

One way to gain attention for yourself is to Facebook friend the partners at your former firm. They’ll love clicking through your craaaazy Halloween pics when you were dressed as Mystery (SO original) and they’ll appreciate knowing when you get In a Relationship. While you’re waiting for them to confirm your friend request, why not re-gift them with whatever swag you get from your NY firm this summer? Only the most ungrateful trolls would not appreciate a Shecky’s Nightlife Guide or a JP Morgan Corporate Challenge race t-shirt in size XXL. That you should also send the firm a scented copy of your resume and an 8 x 10 glossy of yourself, signed “Best Wishes” goes without saying.

In the opening montage of America’s Next Top Model, Tyra Banks asks, “Do you want to be on top?” and then the words “Fierce beauty, fabulous strut, fresh personality” roll across the screen. I’ve found that career-wise, that mantra has taken me places I didn’t think possible. Namely, my parents’ basement. Once you harness your ferocity and freshness you will remain on your ex-firm’s radar. All you’ve got to do is open your Tyra Mail.

Your friend,


After the jump, Elie can get you a good deal on watches.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: Not Fade Away”

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I am one of many 3Ls who already missed OCI and are now trying to figure out what to do. We go to a T-50 school in a major market and have grades ranging from top 25%-15%. We’ve tried mass mailing to firms (all sizes), networking with judges and attys and nothing is paying off. Any advice on how we can find jobs? We aren’t looking to get rich, we just want a paycheck that we can live off of without having to eat nothing but noodles for the rest of our lives.

I’d also be interested in a take on our future, do we have any chance later on of securing a strong job with a large to medium size firm? Should I tell my wife to leave me so her life isn’t financially ruined as well?

Pork and Beans

Dear Pork and Beans,

Incidentally, when I’ve noted in past Pls Hndle Thxs that there aren’t very many law jobs to be had at the moment, I wasn’t joking around or hogging all the available jobs for myself. It’s just a bad economy, as my rich cousin likes to say, mere seconds before I punch him in the face. I’m sure you already know about this, but there are a bunch of law job websites (both firm and government employers) that you should monitor and contract attorney agencies with which you should register and then harass for work. Also, your school probably has separate alumni job listings, so the minute you graduate jobless, you can start checking that. In the meantime, there are other jobs – waiting tables, babysitting, working in retail. Might as well get a discount at Aeropostale while you’re waiting for a law job to strike, right?

Should your wife leave you? That depends entirely on the type of woman you married. If she’s a cosmo- swilling, Bergdorf allowance-getting, non-parody DABA girl, you won’t have to tell her to leave you, because chances are she’s already gone. If she married you because of your debonair looks and your intentions to replace the macaroni necklace you made her while a student with some legitimate ice, you still have time to make good on that promise. Hopefully your wife was not bluffing when she vowed to that “or poorer” boilerplate, so she should be ok with noodles for a time. Unless she’s on the South Beach diet, in which case the good news is that there are, evidently, no assets, equitable division should be a cinch.

As for whether you’ll ever work in a firm – a dream is a wish your heart makes. Anything is possible once this economy turns around, but if you want answers now, text STAR to 4ASTRO to begin receiving your daily horoscope or LOVE to 69000 for sexy ladies who are waiting to hear from you.

Your friend,


Next up, Elie provides decent advice. Really!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: The Future is Unwritten”

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pls hndle copy 2.jpgATL –

What, the hell, am I supposed to do [as a recently laid off associate] when I am NOT looking for a job? Bottom line, getting rejected only takes up so much of my day. What kinds of things should I be doing with the rest of it. You know, when is it okay for me to start drinking (noon, two, sundown)? And what kind of cheap alcohol should I be looking at now that I can’t afford top-shelf? Any good T.V. shows I should be catching up on (I’m done with Law & Order. D-U-N!) How often should I expect my still employed friends to come out and drink with me (I know 7 days a week isn’t the right answer … what about six?)

Welcome to the Jungle

Dear Welcome to the Jungle,

Luckily you’ve come to the right source – between Elie and I, we’ve got years of unemployment under our belts. It takes some adjusting, but after those first two weeks of joblessness are over and you’re tired of cursing the day you were born, it’s time to get up off the couch, wipe off the Sour Patch Kids dust, and get moving.

Congratulations – it sounds like you’re over the self-loathing part and are already job hunting. As you correctly pointed out – this takes up very little of the day as a) there are few jobs to be had and b) you might as well be sending your resume into outer space because nobody’s getting back to you anyway. That’s why, if you don’t have a job, your job is to be in the best damn shape of your life. It’s simple survival of the fittest – if you lose your craft, you must rely on your plumage to survive. My mom once said, “if you can’t play the sport, look good on the court,” and though she was referring to a particular outfit she bought for step class in the hopes of impressing her instructor Alfonso, it does help to look good when you feel like your life is falling apart. One’s psyche is not benefited by spending days pounding Klondike bars and Bailey’s Irish Cream while watching repeats of The Amazing Race on Hulu from bed on one’s laptop. A very close friend of mine can attest to this.

In terms of what tv to watch, I strenuously recommend a strict diet of reality TV only. The Bachelor, What Not to Wear, Intervention, Sober House, The Biggest Loser, Tool Academy – these shows were designed to make you feel better about yourself. You may be unemployed, but at least you’re not groveling for roses, wearing hideous clothes, a heroin addict, a recovering heroin addict, morbidly obese or a douchebag with unsightly tribal tattoos, respectively. I draw the line at Dancing with the Stars, however. I may be unemployed but I still have my dignity.

My advice: work out, apply to jobs, be proactive, attend to your pet, learn to cook, write your book, complain to friends, clean your apartment. Make sure that your affairs are in order so that when a job or a very rich man or woman comes your way, you are in the best position to pounce. If you build it, they will come.

Your friend,


Elie sets adrift on memory bliss after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”

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pls hndle copy 2.jpgATL —

I’m a third year associate (in M&A) at one of the firms that is offering a voluntary severance package to those associates willing to take it. As you guys reported, there are layoffs in store anyway, but the firm will not divulge the amount of severance they will be paying for those who they are planning to lay off. My hours are as high as they can be given the work available and I don’t have any sense one way or another from the partners if they’re planning to can me. Do you have an opinion on whether I should take the voluntary severance?

Dead Man Walking

Dear Dead Man Walking,

For the sake of argument, I’m going to assume you’re referring to Pillsbury’s lofty-sounding Voluntary Departure Plan. Somewhere along the line it appears that Pillsbury got confused as to whether it was asking associates for their necks or running an elite Masonic Lodge, because under the terms of the program, you can’t just tell Pillsbury that you’ll take their three months offer and scram. Instead, interested attorneys must “express interest” and then “state their desire to be included,” by rapping thrice on the door to HR and uttering the phrase: “A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama.” High-ranking firm members will then confirm or nullify the applications for membership.

No doubt your firm believes that giving associates a illusory “choice” is a glorious act of munificence, but the choice they’re posing is really no different than those posed by the Inquisitors to the Cathars or by the English to William Wallace: convert or be killed, confess or die, quit or be fired. If you take the buyout, you might not have been fired otherwise. If you don’t take the buyout, you may be fired anyway and get less severance. And the worst possible scenario: you may apply for the buyout, GET REJECTED, and then have to explain to colleagues that that you were fired from being fired.

Based on the limited facts, I would take the money and run. Third-years in corporate are like lambs for the slaughter. Plus, this whole ridiculous “program” sounds like a convenient excuse to provide garbage severance to laid off associates under the guise of “but we offered you a buyout!”

Only you know all the factors: your work quality, your hours, your horoscope. In the words of Anton Chigurh, “You need to call it. I can’t call it for you. It wouldn’t be fair.”

Good luck.

Your friend,


Elie plays the role of Marius Pontmercy in tonight’s performance, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: No Country for Old Associates”

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I was an associate at Morgan & Finnegan and got laid off. It looks like I will not be getting my WARN Act payments, and I don’t know if I want to join a suit trying to claim those payments. I was thinking about suing the firm, but my concern is hurting my reputation in the legal community by suing a former employer. Could you please give me some advice on this?

Check’s In The Mail

Dear Check’s In The Mail –

For those of you just joining us, during the first hour of I Love Money 2, Morgan & Finnegan dissolved, laid off all its attorneys and allegedly cut them bad checks for severance/WARN payments (perhaps from a frozen account). If it’s a class action and you’re not the named plaintiff — sue until your heart’s content. But I’d be wary of filing suit if it’s just you, Dave, Dave from floor 17 and real estate Mike banding together to sue.

Let’s tackle the legal argument first in this latter scenario, seeing as this is a law blog. Are employees of bankrupt organization senior creditors? I have no idea; they told me not to bother studying commercial credit because it rarely appears on the bar exam. But practically speaking, nobody ever gets their money when places go bankrupt. Any episode of 20/20 featuring John Stossel could tell you that.

Are you prepared to sink a ton of time and money into pursuing this claim? If not, abandon ship now. There was a reason M & F billed you out at $300+, and that’s because their rates were intended to scare away all but those who had giant bags of money to spare. And apparently M&F scared them away, too.

Finally, if you, Dave, Dave and Mike sue, your complaint will inevitably appear on Above the Law. We’ll analyze it, we’ll criticize it, we’ll link to the PDF. But the collective scrutiny of Elie, Lat, Kash and myself is child’s play compared to the wrath of guest. Are you ready for the commenters?

Since Elie’s not here, after the jump I play the role of Elie and argue with myself for several paragraphs. Immediately thereafter, I check into Bellevue.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: Get Rich or Die Tryin’”

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pls hndle copy 2.jpgATL –

I’m a corporate attorney, dealing with an unhappy circumstance. I’ve worked in corporate law for ~2 yrs. Due to the slowdown in corporate, I was shifted to do banking litigation. It keeps me busy, a little more job security, etc., billing 200 hrs/mo, but I want to do corporate. Should I accept another position with another firm doing banking/bankruptcy because it’s a job – even though I hate it? Try to hope that corporate picks up? How easy would it be to switch back from banking/bankruptcy law to corporate when the economy recovers again?


Dear Switcheroo,

Sometimes in life we have do things we hate because it’s good for us. You’ve got a job – a JOB – in bankruptcy, but you’d prefer to do corporate. Great, well I’d rather work on my tan than work at all but I have to suck it up until I marry rich the economy picks up. And you need to suck it up too and do the work you’re given without a peep. Also, I have no idea why you’d consider switching firms to do the same bankruptcy work you’re doing now. That’s redundant.

Trying to go from bankruptcy back to corporate is called a “re-tool” in recruiter parlance, because you’d be going from being a Bankruptcy Tool to a Corporate Tool. And if Tool Academy has taught us anything, it’s that there are specific breeds of Tools with very little crossover (See supra, “Cold-Hearted Tool,” “Party Tool,” and “Greek Tool“). My lawyer dad (and probably your lawyer dad) said that a law degree would “opens doors “and would qualify me (or you) to do “anything.” While that may have been true during the glorious reign of the Medici, these days the terrifying truth is that a law degree qualifies you to work in law exclusively, and then only in the area of your primary practice: i.e., bankruptcy litigation.

When I’ve mentioned to recruiters that I would be open to “re-tooling” myself from ERISA Tool to Party Tool Bankruptcy Tool, they hung up on me quicker than I’d hang up on a telemarketer calling during The Bachelor. So yes – switching back to corporate may prove difficult. But lack of complete control over your career and elimination ceremonies are par for the course at a law firm.

Your friend,


Elie accepts his Tool Badge after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: Get Back to Where You Once Belonged”

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Dear ATL,

I have a soft addiction to Facebook, Gmail and online dating sites. My firm doesn’t block the sites and I can’t help spending hours a day procrastinating on them. I wanted to ask the IT department to block these sites, but I’m afraid of being the girl who blocked J-date. Do you think I should do it?


Dear Unplugged,

We all learned about the “tragedy of the commons” in property class: the phenomenon whereby people acting selfishly destroys a common resource, like a public park or the ATL comment threads.

In asking IT to block Facebook, Gmail and Jdate, you’re inherently being selfish. In doing so, you alert IT and ultimately the partnership to the notion that other associates may also be wasting time on the internet. The firm may then block these sites on a firm-wide basis, essentially punishing those associates who check their online dating profile no more than twice an hour and who dutifully set their Gchat status to “busy/you may be interrupting.” The catastrophe that would ensue from complete blockage would likely be on par with the cursed day that Friendster accidentally revealed whose profiles people had been checking. Not pretty.

Firms may not realize until it’s too late that they’re cutting too wide a swath by getting rid of social networking sites. Take away Facebook, and how will people know if someone from middle school is now In a Relationship or ate Thai food for lunch? We won’t. Without this critical information, lawyers simply cannot do their jobs effectively. Might as well cancel Lexis and look for the latest legal developments in the crusty Pacific Reporter 2d. In fact, while we’re at it, why not toss computers altogether and go back to drafting motions through cave paintings.

So before you run down to IT and tell them to shut off the internet, why don’t you stop thinking about yourself for once and consider your co-workers. They use the internet too.

Your friend,


double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: World Wide Web of Addiction”

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pls hndle copy 2.jpgATL –

I’ve just been staffed on a relatively long term project with another associate. She and I went on one date a few months ago and hooked up, but that was it because she is batsh*t crazy. Since then she’s sent me a bunch of “let’s get lunch” emails and has “coincidentally” appeared at happy hour drinks when I’m out with people from the firm. I think this person is unstable and I don’t want to put myself in a position to be sabotaged by her. But I don’t want to appear like I’m rejecting work or that I’m not a “team player.” I also don’t want to make it known that I dated a co-worker. Any advice?

Every Step You Take

Dear Every Step You Take,

Let me get this straight. You still have a job in a law firm. Precious work is being offered to you. You are considering rejecting this precious work because you fear your colleague may be trying to destroy you. Seems reasonable.

Perhaps it’s time to throw caution to the wind and ramp up the auditing sessions, because if you’re actually considering nixing the project, you’re the one who’s “batsh*t crazy.” I’ve crunched the numbers and there is a 100% chance that the partners will hear about it if you reject this assignment. There is a 5% chance that she’ll “sabotage” you at some distant and nebulous time in the future. There is also an 80% chance that you’re describing the plot of Disclosure.

Given these stats, your best bet is to take the assignment and preserve your job now, and worry about Demi Moore stealing your promotion at Digicom later. Email trails are like Kryptonite to jerks, so transact all your business with her via email and you’ll be fine, work-wise. On an unrelated noted, if you want to ensure she gets your “not interested” message, I understand that herpes is an effective deterrent.

Your friend,


double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: She’s Trying to Destroy Me”

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Dear ATL,

I’m a 2L, and the firm I’m working for next summer sent me fairly nice and useful Christmas present. Should I write the recruiting team a thank-you note? I’m from the South, where we write thank you notes for anything and everything, but I don’t know what the New York/DC norm is and don’t want to look stupid. The firm is DC-based, and I’m splitting with their DC and NY offices.

Eternally Grateful

Dear Eternally Grateful,

Once upon a time, I was on the phone with my mom, sobbing uncontrollably over a guy who dumped me. My mother’s a no-nonsense lady, and while I blathered on and on about how I should just throw in the towel now and move to a nunnery because I’d never find anyone as amazing, she cut me off and told me, verbatim: “I didn’t want to have to tell you this, but remember how we got him that Tempur-Pedic pillow for his birthday? He never sent us a thank you card. Let that sink in.” Her words stung. What kind of person doesn’t send a thank you note to his girlfriend’s parents? A monster, that’s who.

The point is, there is a time and a place for thank you notes. If your significant other’s parents get you a birthday present, send one ASAP. But if your firm’s recruiting team sends you and everyone else in your summer class and/or firm engraved paperweights, you look ludicrous if you send a thank you back.

I’m not saying that thank you notes are never appropriate in the law firm context. On the contrary, if someone referred business to you, it’s entirely appropriate to break out the heavy stock paper with the understated paisley envelope and thank away. But cards that say “thanks for interviewing me” or a “thanks for sending me this tote bag which you sent to everybody else in the firm” is just too much thanks. Nobody should be that thankful for anything, ever.

No matter how insanely useful the stainless steel pen inscribed with the firm’s name, no matter how much you cherish that firm-emblazoned mug, you need to show yourself (and the firm) some respect by reeling in the gratitude, except when it’s appropriate.

Your friend,


Elie thanks his lucky stars after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx:
Thank You For Being A Firm”

pls hndle copy 2.jpg[Ed Note: Do you have a question for next week? Send it in to]

This week we received several requests for advice pertaining to that associate albatross, the firm holiday party. What should I wear? How much can I drink? Should I upgrade to Platinum membership at Equinox? In order to accommodate your overwhelming neediness, this week we’re abandoning our typical Pls Hndle Thx format in favor of a short etiquette guide to holiday parties. Hop on board – the Straight Talk Express is about to roll.

Casino Themes. Casino-themed parties are landmines. People lose all reason when they hear that a “Dinner for Two at Rosa Mexicano” or an iPod Nano is at stake, and I’ve personally seen the power of fake money in unmasking serious gambling problems. I urge those who are likely to get, er “intense” at the fake craps table to calm down, step away and immediately get a life.

Dress Code. The safest bet is to show up wearing exactly what you wore to work. Don’t pull a secretary and get changed in the handicapped bathroom into some Dorothy Zbornak sequined tunic. Don’t premiere your new Diesel jeans and ridiculous Express bolero-inspired button down.

Drinking Level. The worst feeling in the world is waking up and trying to figure out what the hell happened the night before. While it is perfectly acceptable to get drunk and “do things” outside the office or on weekends at random bars, I strenuously, STRENUOUSLY advise no more than two drinks at holiday parties, unless one of those drinks involves Patron, in which case a drink limit of one drink should be imposed in conjunction with a mandatory party exit time of 10pm. Trust me on this.

After-Parties. DO NOT ATTEND AFTER-PARTIES. The only thing that comes of them is that you will see things involving your coworkers that you never wanted to see and be forever bound to your fellow partygoers with this secret and terrifying knowledge. There is a bloodline.

Happy Holidays!

Your friend,


double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx:
Party On, Wayne”

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