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Paul, Hastings Associate Tells Firm to Stuff Severance, Writes Nasty E-mail

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Paul, Hastings Associate Tells Firm to Stuff Severance, Writes Nasty E-mail

Old 05-06-08, 11:21 AM
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Paul, Hastings Associate Tells Firm to Stuff Severance, Writes Nasty E-mail

She chose not selling out for 3 mos. severance (at a firm like PH in SF, and she sounds like a third year, that was probably about $45k before taxes) and decided her ability to speak her mind was worth more.

http://abovethelaw.com/2008/05/paul_...ll_email_a.php

From: [Redacted]
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 10:14 AM
To: [redacted]
Subject: My departure

The circumstances surrounding my departure from Paul Hastings have been deeply disappointing. It is one thing to ignore an email sent as a colleague is waiting to have her uterus scraped after a miscarriage, but it is wholly another level of heartlessness to lay her off six days after that. [Partner X] is the only one who expressed any sympathy after my miscarriage, and I am grateful to him for that.

A business is a business, but it takes very little to convey some level of humanity to carry out even the most difficult business decisions. We are human beings first before we are partners or associates. Had you simply explained that the department is unable to sustain the number of associates in the office, I would have completely understood. Had you explained that the office had been directed to reduce the number of associates and I was chosen because of my high billable rate and low billable hours, I would have appreciated such directness, even though the consequences of blindly raising billable rates to an unsustainable degree is plainly predictable. What I do not understand is the attempt to blame the associate for not bringing in the business that should have been brought in by each of you and to hide your personal failures by attempting to tarnish my excellent performance record and looking to undermine my sense of self esteem.

The last few months have been surreal, at best. Just last year, I had celebrated my engagement and marriage with many of you. In fact, during the engagement party, the head of the department took my then-fiancée aside to express to him what a great attorney I am and what a great future I faced. Indeed, less than a week before this year's bizarre performance review, I was again told by the same partner that my work is great and that the slow business in no way reflected on my performance. A week later, I was given a mediocre performance review and told that I should worry about whether I have a future at Paul Hastings. When I asked for specific examples of my alleged deficiencies, I received no response. When I asked for an explanation as to why I had been downgraded in so many performance categories when I received absolutely no criticism throughout the year and my prior year's review was stellar, I was told that my prior year's performance assessment may have been "over-inflated." What a startling response.

After my miscarriage, I had discussed my concern with several associates that Paul Hastings may use that opportunity to lay me off quickly before I have a chance to get pregnant again. Those associates thought it unfathomable that a firm would be so callous and assured me that Paul Hastings isn't that kind of a place. What a lesson this has been for them - and for me. I would not have anticipated that a partner would tell me one thing and completely renege on his words a week later. I would not have anticipated that a female partner (whom I had looked to as a role model) with children of her own would sit stone faced as I broke into tears just days after my miscarriage. Even a few words of sympathy or concern would have made a world of difference. What kind of people squander human relationships so easily?

If this response seems particularly emotional, perhaps an associate's emotional vulnerability after a recent miscarriage is a factor you should consider the next time you fire or lay someone off. It shows startlingly poor judgment and management skills -- and cowardice -- on your parts. If you should ever have the misfortune of suddenly losing something or someone precious to you, I hope you don't find similar heartlessness as I have.

As for your request for a release, non-disclosure, and non-disparagement agreement in return for three months' pay, I reject it. Unlike you, I am not just a paid mouthpiece with no independent judgment. I will decide how and to whom to communicate how you have treated me. I find it ironic that you would try to buy the right not to be disparaged after behaving as you have. Your actions speak volumes, and you don't need much help from me in damaging your reputation.

I attach the proposed release for any associate who may be interested in reviewing its details.

[Redacted]
Old 05-06-08, 11:26 AM
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I just skimmed over it, but the gist seems to be that the company should avoid laying anybody off who has just incurred a personal hardship?
Old 05-06-08, 11:27 AM
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Good for her....can I have the money instead?
Old 05-06-08, 11:32 AM
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Yay lawyers!
Old 05-06-08, 11:36 AM
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i just skimmed over it too, but it seemed like she didn't give up $45k to speak her voice, she gave up $45k to maintain the right to sue.

Originally Posted by Bandoman
Yay lawyers!
Old 05-06-08, 11:37 AM
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We had a guy a few years ago send an e-mail to the entire company, after he got laid off, skewering his boss. Kinda sucked for the laid off employee's brother, who not only still worked there, but also had the same boss.
Old 05-06-08, 11:44 AM
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A 3rd year lawyer at a large firm makes around $45k? You're shitting me.
Old 05-06-08, 11:48 AM
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45k in three months.
Old 05-06-08, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
A 3rd year lawyer at a large firm makes around $45k? You're shitting me.
45k in three months.
Old 05-06-08, 11:54 AM
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In your face, Groucho.
Old 05-06-08, 11:55 AM
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Did anyone mention that the $45k was for three months? Because Dave doesn't seem to understand that.

Maybe I should translate for him: Dave, if she worked where you live, that would equal three chickens when she would collect twelve per year.
Old 05-06-08, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by spainlinx0
In your face, Groucho.
Mine was quoted. Without context, yours makes no sense. Ha!
Old 05-06-08, 11:57 AM
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Yes. she will be suing, I'd wager.
Old 05-06-08, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by grrrah
i just skimmed over it too, but it seemed like she didn't give up $45k to speak her voice, she gave up $45k to maintain the right to sue.
That is what I figure. What's the big deal?
Old 05-06-08, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by spainlinx0
In your face, Groucho.
Hey, hey, none of that. We're family friendly now.
Old 05-06-08, 11:58 AM
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She misspelled fiancé. I would have fired her too!
Old 05-06-08, 12:14 PM
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I just read the thing. She seems to expect lawyers to give a shit about her personal life.
Old 05-06-08, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I just read the thing. She seems to expect lawyers to give a shit about her personal life.
Yup. I thought the same thing.
Old 05-06-08, 12:31 PM
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Big Law firms are notorious for this. For some reason, honesty is just not in the playbook.
Old 05-06-08, 12:31 PM
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"If this response seems particularly emotional, perhaps an associate's emotional vulnerability after a recent miscarriage is a factor you should consider the next time you fire or lay someone off."

Wasn't it lawyers who started the whole "Sue the company if they ask you a personal question!" And if "Are you married?" is personal, then I'm damn sure "How do you feel after having a brutal miscarriage?" is too.

Of course I have nothing but sympathy for the miscarriage part of it. But the other side of me says, Yay, one lawyer down, nine jillion to go.

I do see a lawsuit coming.
Old 05-06-08, 12:36 PM
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I thought this thread was being addressed to someone named Paul.
Old 05-06-08, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
She misspelled fiancé. I would have fired her too!
Well, she spelled it right, she just misused it. Fiancée applies to the woman.
Old 05-06-08, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Salty
Well, she spelled it right, she just misused it. Fiancée applies to the woman.
Maybe they fired her because she's a lesbian.

(Wait - the people of Lesbos will sue me if I don't change that)

Maybe she's a Carpetmunching-American.
Old 05-06-08, 05:14 PM
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So the 45 was for 3 months, she will sue, and she munches carpet......gotcha!
Old 05-06-08, 06:01 PM
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For a firm as big as Paul Hastings, especially in the San Francisco market, 3 months is likely more in the $60-$70k range.

That being said, their timing was awful, and they should probably just settle before this gets worse. But then again I'm not an employment lawyer.

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