Departure Memos

Sorry guys, but I’m gettin’ out of here. Through the window, of course. Because why not?

So, it feels a bit surreal for me to say this, but today is my last day as an assistant editor at Above the Law. I wrote my first piece for the site, as a freelancer, nearly two years ago, and it’s been quite a ride since then.

As part of the ATL team, I attended the IP trial of the century, I’ve interviewed some incredible attorneys (and several less incredible ones), and I’ve written about Biglaw lawyers turned small business owners.

I’ve enjoyed working under the watchful eye of the ATL Commentariat, as well as the readers brave enough to send us actual emails. You all have kept me honest, kept my ego in check, and kept my spell-check working hard. I’ll miss you crazed internet goblins.

But it’s time to move on; it’s time to get goin’….

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Not pictured: the Biglaw train barreling towards this family.

I’ve read this departure email three times this morning, all while a sleeping six-week-old snores up at me. It’s a departure memo where a Biglaw associate kind of admits that she can no longer juggle the demands of parenthood and the demands of being a Biglaw lawyer. In a way, it’s heartbreaking. I don’t know this woman, and I don’t know what her hopes and dreams are or might have been, but it shouldn’t be so damn hard — in the richest country on Earth — to have a big-time job and be a loving parent. The struggles highlighted by this woman make me sad as a new parent myself.

In another way, this memo is uplifting. You can’t have it all. When you finally come to accept that, it’s liberating. You don’t have to feel like a bad employee or a bad parent for not being able to do it all. As Al Pacino says in the Devil’s Advocate: “Guilt is like a bag of bricks, all you gotta do is set it down.”

So, take a look as one woman bows out of the rat race….

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Looking for an epigraph for your departure memo? This man can help.

Writing your law firm departure memo: there’s an app for that? Well, not yet. (But you can certainly download the Above the Law app and read past farewell memos for inspiration.)

For now, the closest you can get is by starting your departure memo with a quotation from the late, great Steve Jobs. Like this one: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers….”

Yes, that’s how one fairly senior associate at a top law firm began his good-bye email. We received it from a few tipsters, one of whom called it “the best departure memo ever.”

Okay, I don’t know if I’d go that far. There are a few I’d rank higher — Shinyung Oh, Tyler Coulson, and maybe the tea bagger. But this one is definitely up there….

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Saying goodbye, why is it sad, makes us remember the good times we’ve had.

We love Biglaw departure memos. It’s so much fun to take a glimpse into the mind of somebody who is on their way out of the Biglaw racket.

Sure, we like the epic ones. And we even like the quirky ones that hint at a future full of adventures.

One thing we don’t see a lot of are the unabashedly positive ones. That makes some sense. If you loved your Biglaw job that much, you wouldn’t leave. But there are people who unabashedly enjoyed their time in the trenches of Biglaw.

Today we have a guy who laid down a glowing rhetorical flourish as he exited stage right….

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Hey girl, did you like being a Biglaw associate? I know you did. But now it's time to make sweet love to a new career.

We’re taking a break from covering the “nothing to see here” capital call from Greenberg Traurig to cover people fleeing Greenberg Traurig.

I’m just kidding. We’ve got a fun departure memo from an associate who happens to be from Greenberg, but I don’t think this woman’s departure has anything to do with the firm’s financial health. Instead, she’s just pursuing new opportunities.

And it looks like she’ll be leaving with fond memories of her time at Greenberg. We know that from her choice of ’90s R&B bands that she used to herald her leaving….

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Yesterday, we broke the news of the dean of St. Louis University School of Law’s abrupt departure, and the accompanying fiery resignation letter she sent to the powers that be at the university. Ex-dean Annette Clark’s missive was more of a bitchslap than anything else, but like Phillip J. Closius before her, she made it absolutely clear that she would rather quit her job than run a law school whose sole function was to serve as the university’s cash cow.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, we’ve found out that Clark’s passionate letter may have been penned in one of those “can’t fire me, I quit” type scenarios. Clark may have purported to be going to the mattresses for her students, and she might have been doing just that. But as we all know, there are two sides to every story….

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Another law dean blows the whistle.

Law School Deans, rise.

At some point, the deans of law schools will have to stand up and stand against the way universities use law schools as cash cows. At some point, law deans are going to have to tell their bosses that university programs cannot be funded on the backs of law students who are already paying too much for tuition in a still terrible job market.

And you know what? Standing up for what’s right, and standing up against the blatant price gouging happening at so many law schools, will cost some people their jobs.

Law students who read this resignation letter should ask themselves if their law deans are going to the mattresses for them every day, or if the deans are just rolling over and submitting to university pressures while trying to hang onto their jobs….

UPDATE (7:15 PM): We’ve added a response from the president of the university in question after the jump.

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When the music stops, will your law school have a dean?

Earlier this year, we wrote about Jeremy Paul, the dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law.

UConn Law has dropped a number of spots in the U.S. News law school rankings over the past few years, and in March, Dean Paul announced that he was stepping down as dean at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year.

Paul is an interesting case. After he tried to explain UConn’s performance in the most recent U.S. News rankings, we caught an email from a law professor trying to cheer up the beleaguered dean.

But Paul doesn’t need anybody’s pity. He’s ready to blow this popsicle stand, and he’s set to do it in the middle of the summer….

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You know it’s tough times for your business when your firm is the butt of jokes throughout the legal profession. Who knows how many snide little remarks have been made about Dewey & LeBoeuf at Biglaw firms around the country? I bet there have been robust laughs at Dewey’s expense. If Austin Powers were here, he’d say, “Dewey’s like the village bicycle — everybody’s had a ride.”

We capture one of these little jokes over email. Let’s just hope nobody is making fun of your firm like this…

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Maybe a young Brando can play DeMayo in the movie.

Earlier this week, we shared an epic departure memo from the former marketing director at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo LLP. In the memo, the woman (whom we nicknamed “Peggy Olson”) blasted her boss: “Of all the THOUSANDS of people I have met over the past 38 years, you are by far the most egotistical, self-absorbed, delusional, disrespectful and narcissistic person I have ever met.”

Well, it turns out that Michael A. DeMayo has some defenders in the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo. Or, at least one defender. Or maybe he’s defending himself?

Who knows. All we can tell you is that we received a fax (yes, not only do some people still use fax machines, but apparently Above the Law actually has one that we keep right next to our beepers and mercury-infused health drinks). It’s a full-throated defense of Michael DeMayo, replete with allegations that Peggy is going through a difficult situation that precipitated her departure memo meltdown.

Fun times….

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