An article in Law.com from Olivia Chen caught our eye for no reason other than its insensitivity to both the lawyers working with Big Law partners, but also to the curren coronavirus crisis situation occurring in workplaces.
The need to pump out billables may continue even in times of crisis but some sensitivity to the current situation would be expected from those in a position to do so, which is why the email written by a so-called “muckety-muck partner” at Kirland & Ellis attracted attention.
Just hung up with some of the restructuring SPs [senior partners]. There are some huge cases coming in and they have no staffing. Thanks to everyone for stepping up so far on cases.
For those that aren’t fully occupied right now, and are not on a single restructuring matter because they have been hiding, let me spell out reality for you real quick. I am seeing a ton of money being left on the table on the matters coming in and I have seen all of your hours today (from most junior associate through SP). Am pretty shocked and the math is not going to work out well for you at the end of the year.
[Names redacted] will continue to staff folks below SP over the coming days/weeks, I will be calling SPs personally. Given the market you should feel extremely lucky to be in an institution with too much work. That doesn’t mean you have an annuity here. If you get a call or don’t have enough to do, I suggest you grab a restructuring assignment ASAP and roll up your sleeves. If it was me in 2008 I would be pre-emptively calling [names redacted] after you read through the end of this note. This isn’t a gravy train where you can just chill and be along for the ride.
As Ms Chen notes, “If anything will reinforce the stereotype of lawyers as greedy and emotionally deficient, this memo, sent to me by a source, hits the nail. Despite all you hear about the profound impact of the coronavirus and how it’s making people more caring and compassionate, the tone and content of this memo suggest the opposite.”
The author is suggested an Kirland’s Houston energy partner Andy Calder and was evidently sent in early April to associates in Houston.
When the content of the email were related to Calder he acknowledged that some seemed genuine but some not – suggesting the legal news network was being “played”.
“Someone is “playing” us? What exactly does that mean? Is there a conspiracy at work? Who would bother to play this game? And to what end?”, Chen writes.
She notes that it is troubling that partners can behave like “bullies and jerks” in order to keep the fees flowing. There is, she notes, a new urgency to reject abusive behavior in the current climate.
As Chen writes – “Wouldn’t it be refreshing if someone would just level with us and say, it was an inappropriate, insensitive memo and we disavow it? Is that so hard?”
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