Getting Fired From My Law Firm Job
The very bad thing that happened to me just a year after I left Biglaw
During the summer of 2015, I was fired from my law firm job.1 It was especially tough because I thought it was a much better job for me than my Biglaw job, which I’d just quit the year before.2 “You’ll be successful one day,” the partner said, right after he fired me. “Just not here.”
I’d never been fired before.3 I had no idea what to expect. I mean, was it normal to receive compliments during these kinds of conversations? You’ll be successful one day. I mean, it sounds pretty good, right? Almost as if he went out of his way to be kind to me. Not once did he use the word fired. Which stood in stark contrast to how he usually treated me.
I mean, I understand why he wasn’t particularly kind to me. We probably both realized shortly after I was hired that I wasn’t the right fit. On paper, I was a hotshot Biglaw associate with a federal clerkship under his belt. I probably looked like I was really good at litigation. The firm was looking for someone to take ownership of discovery for all of the class action cases the firm had filed.4
I still remember interviewing for the role, which was the first time the partner and I spoke. “I’m not sure you even want this job,” he’d said. “It’s a lot of work and it’s not for the faint of heart.” Which in retrospect was an odd way of recruiting. Usually you tell people about why they *would* want the job right? You don’t try to convince them that it’s not a great job?
Except … it worked. On me, at least. Because the best way to convince me to do something is to tell me that you think I can’t do it. The mere suggestion that I might not be able to do a certain something has that effect on me.5 Always has. So yeah, of course I took the job. I probably should have done more diligence before accepting but honestly, it was one of the only California firms I found that would hire me before being admitted to the bar.6
I mean that’s also exactly why I wasn’t a good fit for the firm. I wasn’t licensed, so every little thing I did had to be under the supervision of the partner. Which was the complete opposite of what he was looking for—someone to manage discovery and work up cases independently. Someone to own the process.