Attorneys Anonymous January Round-Up

Originally published by Whistler Partners on 01.27.22

We hear wild sh*t from the lawyers we work with all the time. To satisfy our curiosity, we naturally created a forum for attorneys to anonymously spill the tea from their experience in BigLaw; hence, Attorneys Anonymous was born. This month we wanted to know: Why did you leave your last position, or why did you leave BigLaw? Some of the stories we heard were expected, while others were just downright abusive. Here is our January round-up, in all its unfiltered glory.


"Left because of an internal power struggle and new boss had no idea what he was doing. He screwed up most things."


"Haven't yet ... but lack of control over work you want to do, your time, and then your compensation. Couple that with leadership that really is only concerned about self-preservation and I feel like I am in either a poorly run fraternity (or the Republican Party). Confidentially, of course."


"I was told that 'there are some days you just don't eat to get the deal done'."


"Underappreciation for constant overtime work and overall disproportion between payment and expectations."


"In the year I was up for partner, I was told to go home and tell the wife that I would not see her or the kids for the next year (exact words). I left the next week."


"Got pulled away from anniversary dinner to go to the office, print redlines, and hand them to a car service driver for delivery to a very nice house in the suburbs. Total cost to the client wound up being triple what a halfway decent printer would have cost the client."


"My boutique firm started missing paychecks. Paid me over a month late once."


"Partner yelled at me for not responding to an unexpected email at 9:30 pm. Partner stood over my desk and demanded I work on the matter immediately the next morning at 8 am. Stepped away from my desk at 4 pm to grab the first meal of the day from the closest cafe and eat it at my desk. Partner demanded I see him in his office to explain why I stopped working. I said I had to quickly get food. Partner looked confused and met me with silence and said that I took too long."


"I left Big Law after my first child was born when one of the partners asked me upon returning from paternity leave, 'when are you planning on quitting?' She was only half-joking, noting that she had seen this story before and that she thought I'd love my family too much to stay. The concept of loving my family too much to stay hit home and I started looking for in-house jobs immediately. I started my present position on my son's 10 month birthday."


"Pulled a Saturday all-nighter on an M&A deal as a junior with no guidance, no senior and no mid-level. Went to bed the next night (Sunday) at 7 pm to catch up, client emailed at 9 pm, and I woke up/responded at 4 am. Next day, Partner then proceeded to ream me out for making the client wait until 4 am."


"Uncle had terminal cancer. I told the M&A deal time (mid-level; partner) that I needed to visit him in the hospital for the weekend. Mid-level checked out because of his college reunion and Partner had me turn docs the entire time in the hospital while he flatlined."


"Partner absolutely freaked out when I asked for a few days off around Christmas. After a number of other issues, this was the final blow. I quit on the spot, three weeks before bonus went out and 4 weeks before Christmas."


"Because one partner sent me - a three-month call - an email on Friday at 4:45 pm and told me to deal. It was from the London office and they needed advice by 5:30 pm regarding a billion-dollar IPO. I drafted it and asked the head of my group to review it. He refused because he was reading the paper with his feet up."


"Last position - years ago. Misunderstood an assignment. Provided an answer the senior associate didn't like. Got cursed out by her around 10 pm on a Sunday night while sitting at my desk. Later that week, I stayed in the office working the entire time from Tuesday through Friday night to close a big deal. After we closed, I put in my notice. Life and law are better now, but that was beyond my limit back then."


"My ex-boss sexually harassed every single female employee we had and was never reported. Like, one time he literally followed one into the restroom trying to make out with her when he was drunk. Never gave raises and when he did, it was in the form of performance goals that were nearly impossible to get every month."


"I'm looking to leave an in-house position because of the culture and flatness of the organization. When the organization does not recognize accomplishments, is stingy with advancement, and consistently does the wrong thing, it's time to leave."


"Multiple overnights away from family for ... nothing. Not even a closing deal toy."


"They told me I was doing 'too much pro bono' despite billing over 2500 hours."


"I was at a small airport coming back from a securities fraud trial when my fellow associate wondered aloud if we would see the plaintiffs' attorneys (who were also from out of town) at the airport. The partner we were with laughed and said: 'oh no, those guys are flying private'."


"The firm I worked at was collapsing ... a mid-size boutique firm sinking like the Titanic. I was thrown a life preserver by a departing partner, whom I joined at another firm. It was my good fortune and I was, and am, grateful."


"The associates I worked with were supportive and my friends to my face but tried to undercut and disparage me to partners every chance they got. BigLaw brings out the worst of people."


"I was done being threatened by ethics violations by opposing counsel every week. It wasn't just mere threats, it was in the courts. Had I been violating ethics rules or the law, I could understand, but I was just trying to do my job. The harassment was constant and the only reason it was happening was because this attorney lacked the skills to do her job. I've never worked with such an unprofessional attorney in my career and the fact that my employer wasn't willing to file a complaint against her for everything she was doing to the community and to the attorneys in our office was enough. The job was already thankless, and I wasn't going to live with the harassment from an incompetent attorney on top of that."


"My boss called me on the first day of my honeymoon (that was only supposed to be 4 days) to ask me when I was coming back (to working remotely), if I could come back earlier, and if I could take a few (unimportant) calls while I was out so I wouldn't miss anything. That's when I knew I was leaving."


"The partner I worked for stalked me when I was on medical leave."


If you're unhappy in your current position, let's talk. We're in the business of helping great lawyers land their dream jobs.

Topics: Big Law, Attorneys Anonymous, firm culture, law associate