Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We'd been trying to avoid this, but we finally had to do some layoffs today at the firm. It's a sad day for the handful of attorneys and staff... who remain employed. I'm kidding. It's actually a sad day for the people we laid off, since we didn't give them any severance, and we didn't let them go back to their offices to collect any personal belongings, not even the family photos and personally-owned electronics we had asked them to bring in today for "Family Photos and Your Personally-Owned Electronics Sharing Day." It wasn't a real event, it was just a way to get people to bring those things to their offices so we could claim they're company property and not let them take them back home once we terminated them. I think next round we might try a "Bring A Delicious Baked Good To Work Day" and then the survivors can all have a potluck celebration after the unwanted ones leave the building. There was a suggestion at the last partner meeting about combining the layoffs with "Take Your Child To Work Day" and then claiming the children belong to us now -- and in a better economy we might have run with the idea -- but there really just isn't enough clerical work to do around the firm, and so I have no idea how we'd make use of all the children. Not to mention the concerns about lice.

In any case, before a disgruntled ex-paralegal leaks it to Above The Law, I thought I'd share a copy of our internal memo about the cuts:


To: All
Re: Impending Doom

I wanted to take a moment to address the current economic situation, in the world and at this firm in particular. Over the past months, there have been many rumors of layoffs floating around our halls, and in recent weeks, as a handful of partners have been seen tumbling from the roof, those rumors have only increased in force. We on the management committee have grown more and more frustrated by these rumors, and by the distraction they have become to the actual business of this firm. More and more attorneys are spending time worrying about layoffs, talking about layoffs, and searching the Internet for news about "stealth" layoffs than actually doing their assigned client work. We have struggled to come up with an appropriate response to this problem that would put the layoff rumors to bed once and for all. To that end, the continued behavior on the part of the associates and staff of this firm have forced our hand: in order to put an end to these inaccurate rumors of layoffs, we have decided to lay off 324 staff members and 18 associates.

These layoffs, which will be done in secrecy over the course of the next sixteen days, are not IN ANY WAY motivated by the firm's finances. Our balance sheet is strong, our billables are steady, and our firm is well-prepared to compete in this or any future economic climate. Nevertheless, to put an end to the rumors, we felt we had no choice. We reiterate: YOU caused these layoffs. You are your rumor-mongering, you and your Internet-searching, you and your failure to stay sufficiently focused on our clients and on the important business of this law firm.

People being laid off: this is the fault of your friends and colleagues, not the economy, and certainly not this firm. We have done everything we could possibly do to preserve your jobs. But your friends insisted on continuing to propagate the vicious rumors of impending layoffs. We had no choice but to act. Once again, the financials of this firm are strong. We could absolutely keep you employed if your colleagues hadn't done this to you. We could absolutely pay you severance if your colleagues hadn't told us not to. We could absolutely give you back your treasured family photos if your colleagues hadn't already burned them in a bonfire in Conference Room 25-D. It's them, not us, we promise. Blame them. They stink. We're great.

I want to express our collective appreciation and respect for those individuals affected by this decision. I also want to use this opportunity to wish them well on their journeys, wherever their lives end up leading them, since I will almost certainly never speak to any of them again, ever, and if any of those who remain do continue to speak to anyone affected by these layoffs, you will be affected too, in a most unpleasant way. Let us shun the rejected ones, for we will all grow stronger by removing their poisonous influences from our lives.

Best wishes,
Anonymous Lawyer

best layoff memo ever.
"You are your rumor-mongering, you and your Internet-searching, you and your failure to stay sufficiently focused on our clients and on the important business of this law firm."

A typo, for which you will be de-equitized and escorted from the building by security. That your secretary, who drafted this for you, actually made the error is irrelevant (she will be fired, too). Your memo, your reputation, your career on the line. Best of luck at legal aid.
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