You’re Fired

And What Thanks Do We Get?—a rather “no punches pulled,” anonymous blog allegedly written a few law firm partners— is one of the blawgs I’ve been reading lately, as a way of getting a glimpse into the lives of law students and practicing lawyers. This one is particularly intersting as it serves as a reminder of some of the not-so-nice things that people experience in the profession.

One post spoke specifically to my experience, except from the opposite end of the experience. It was a post about having to fire someone.

I never like firing people, and I’m bad at it, and for that reason we tend to hold on to our mistakes for a lot longer than we should. We joke with each other that we have made every mistake you can in running a law firm, and even invented some, but keeping a bad employee is a mistake we have made repeatedly, and it has cost us dearly every time. We hang on for a lot of reasons: we hire people we like, for one. There is also the fact that the partners here have all endured some pretty rough handling over the time we were associates, and I think we each have in the back of our minds the promise that we made to ourselves back then that things would be different when we ran things.

I’ve never thought about what it might be like to have to terminate someone’s employment. My experience, which kind of goes along with having untreated ADD for so long, is that of usually being the one who is shown the door. And I railed against it at times. Making the experience none to pleasant for the person who had the job of telling me to hit the bricks. The last time, I remember cutting off my supervisor (who was so nervous she had to drink an entire glass of water before she could get out the words “we’ve decided to let you go”) when the HR person entered the room and telling her “OK. You can go now. I don’t need to talk to you anymore.” I think I also refused the offer to leave through the back door, choosing instead to march out the front door, escorted by the HR manager, past all the (former) co-workers of mine who’d seen me walk in that door about 15 minutes earlier.

OK. So it still smarts a little, and I’m still a little pissed about it. But honestly, until recently I hadn’t really thought that it probably amounted to a pretty unpleasant experience for the people whose job it was to get me out of there. And I know the difficulties I caused as an untreated ADD’er weren’t fun for anyone either: forgotten meetings, unreturned phone calls, abandoned tasks, lost documents, missed deadlines, etc. I suppose I should be grateful I lasted as long as I did on some jobs.

What gives me pause, when I think about the profesion I’m about to start pursuing, is that I still have ADD, just not nearly as bad as before. The thigns I mentioned above still happen. Just not to with the frequency or with the same degree of seriousness that they did before. But I wonder, in pursuing such a high pressure academic and professional course, if I might be letting myself in for a big of deja vu. After all, I can imagine that mistakes aren’t all that well tolerated in the legal profession, since they can cost clients lots of money, not to mention costing lawyers and firms their reputations.

But then a close my eyes, take a deep breath and remind myself that I’m not planning to look for employment with a major firm or anything, and that I don’t know what the experience is going to be like until I’m in it. Still, it’s something to think about.

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One Response to You’re Fired

  1. Tim Who? says:

    As a restaurant manager for 25+ years I’ve hired and fired more than my share.
    But firing someone was the very worst part of the job and if I fired you I did everything in my power to keep you. Firing was always a last resort. I always spent three days in agony leading up to a firing. Three days of pure hell.
    If I fired you, you had to want to get fired because I never fired anyone that didn’t know already that they were in trouble.

    There was those times like finding a delivery driver dealing drugs out of the store where firing was easy.I gave him two choices.

    Quit right now, pick up your stuff and walk out.
    or.
    If I fire you, it will involve the police.

    I’m not talking about those firings I’m talking about layoffs and the people that just couldn’t do restaurant work. Those firings almost killed me.

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