Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Why DL Is Going To Come Back As A Cockroach (No Offense Roaches)

The evil Dragon Lady has struck again. I had my review today, and suffice it to say it was not exactly stellar. Which is incredibly aggravating because I'm actually quite stellar. My review included a single-spaced dissertation written by DL where she, somewhat incomprehensibly detailed all of my alleged faults, including that I am a picker and a chooser. I was told that everyone thinks I'm exceptionally talented, smart, creative, and an excellent writer and communicator, etc., but that I appear to have a lack of dedication and interest in the firm and that I'm not dependable.

Ouch. Other that the "exceptionally talented, smart, and creative," and "excellent writer and communicator" parts, I disagree with pretty much all of their other characterizations.

By "not dependable," they mean that I don't ask "how high," when they tell me to jump. Instead, I explain what else I'm jumping over and why I can't jump at that precise moment for them too, but that I would be happy to jump for them as soon as my current project is over. A dependable associate, on the other hand, always says yes, never turns down an assignment, is always willing to stay late and work weekends, and has no problem cheerfully and repeatedly sacrificing his life to the demands of the firm. They don't like when associates talk back to them.

By "lack of interest and dedication," they mean that I don't enthusiastically agree to take on every assignment they want to give me, that I push back when I feel that my plate is full enough, and that I don't kiss ass while I'm saying no. They have never cared how full I think my plate is. They only care about whether I'm saying yes, showing proper enthusiasm, and how many hours I'm churning out. I'm sorry, but if someone gives me an assignment and tells me I have to work the whole weekend, I'm not going to be enthusiastic about it. An interested and dedicated associate, on the other hand, would enthusiastically say yes every time, even while fried from lack of sleep, fighting with his girlfriend because he had to break another dinner date, and gaunt and pasty white from lack of fresh air, a healthy diet, and exercise. I'm not that associate.

The "picker-chooser" allegation - for which DL is the source - really pisses me off, but it's also kind of hilarious given the circumstances. If I was a picker and a chooser, about the last thing I would have done was to be assigned to a single, highly leveraged case that would take up over 2 years of my life. I also most certainly would never have picked to work with DL. Again, this is also a veiled way of saying that I should say "yes" all the time. Their view is that when I say "no," I'm trying to manage my caseload so that I only get choice assignments. The thing they don't quite understand is that I haven't been on any choice assignments!

Despite the inevitable rejoinder, "life isn't fair," I still feel that this review was not fair. It's not fair that I got put on one gigantic case at this firm, it's not fair that I was forced to work almost exclusively with DL for the last year, it's not fair that I had to fight my firm to allow me to represent pro bono clients that they had encouraged me to take on (that had no one else to fight for them), and it's not fair that I gave so much of myself to this place for so little in return.

But where does saying it's not fair get me? Not very far. Though I'm livid at my firm and at least a little bit resentful about the injustice of it all (especially the fact that DL sold me down the river despite all of the hours of my life that she made utterly miserable), had I the opportunity to do it all over, I don't think I would have done it differently. In the past two and a half years, I learned invaluable lessons about myself, and I was given the opportunity to profoundly affect six people's lives for the better. Maybe my pro bono clients would have found other representation and maybe their cases would have been successful without me? It's possible, but I don't know that. All I know is that for some reason I came to this firm, lasted far longer than I ever thought I would have lasted, made the absolute best out of an incredibly difficult situation, and in the course of doing so, despite my firm, I did good work.

If they want to call me a picker and a chooser and cast aspersions on my sense of dedication, interest, and dependability because of my commitment to do good work, both for my paying and pro bono clients, fine. There are worse things in life, and what they don't know yet is that I'm soon going to be out of here. It took an enormous amount of self-restraint not to quit during my review. It may happen on Friday, it may happen next week, but it's going to happen soon.

And when it does, I've decided that I'm not going to tell DL in person that I'm leaving. She doesn't deserve one more ounce of my time, energy, or respect. I shudder to imagine what her next life is going to be like.


Prue said...

That was my favorite post yet.

Buttercup said...

Prue - You are so lucky you got away from that effing beast. I CAN NOT WAIT. What do you think about me not giving her the time of day when I give my notice. Good plan, right? Effing bitch.

Starshine said...

Wow. I'm so glad that you're getting out of there and going to a firm that will remember that, oh yeah, you're a human being!

When you give notice, will the news filter down to DL from the higher-ups? Will you be given an exit interview? I personally hope that you will be able to discuss with someone the abuse that DL has continually slung at you.

Here's to moving on, my friend!

Buttercup said...

Starshine - The minute I give notice and leave that partner's office, he'll most likely let others know. There's a lightening speed phone chain around these parts. I'm thinking seriously about telling someone at my exit interview that I thought DL was abusive and that she's a big reason I'm leaving... Not sure b/c there's this big concern about not wanting to burn bridges.

InterstellarLass said...

I think it's perfectly permissible to talk about your experience with her in context of your employment. As long as it's professional, and not vindictive, and balanced with positive experiences. Otherwise they have no way or idea that they need to improve their culture in order to retain talent.

gravelly said...

Buttercup!! Decide between Bachelor #1 and Bachelor #5 and then give your notice!!! You need to get out of there!! I agree with interstellarlass that you should tell, in a professional manner, about your experience with DL...someone needs to know what is going on.
And I completely agree, you are quite stellar.

Prue said...

Buttercup - I think you're right - there's no reason to tell her you're leaving. As you say, she'll find out in five seconds anyway. It would be sooooo hard to resist saying something nasty to her, which, though temporarily satisfying, probably wouldn't be a good move in the long run.

Karianne said...

I do not heart DL!

Buttercup said...

In the first year that I joined the firm, I watched approximately 9 people leave the firm mainly because of DL. When each of them would leave, I would ask them plaintively "did you tell them about DL?" and many of them said that they had not said anything about DL so as not to burn bridges - which disgusted me. I don't think I would feel right if I left without saying something, but I will take your advice to heart and try to be as professional as possible. Thanks for all the support. Y'all rock!

wordnerd said...

Buttercup, I think you've heard it quite a few times now, but I don't think you owe her any advance warning or even a second more of your mental energy. I am with the others in saying that I wish you a speedy decision making process.

I would also encourage you to give the precise reasons why you are leaving the firm. Sure, you don't owe anything to anyone...and it's not your personal responsibility to make things better either....HOWEVER....I think there's an opportunity for growth (on the firm's part) and for closure (on your part) if you are able to effectively and honestly communicate what's been going on, what you've experienced and why you're choosing to leave despite huge paycheques and all sorts of frilly benefits.

Just my three cents worth!

Buttercup said...

Wordnerd, Though I am basically 99% certain that the firm will not seek to grow culturally in the way you suggest, if I say anything it will be for the 1% chance that it might make a difference, and also for the sense of closure you mention. I'm still letting that percolate, but don't worry I'm not spending too much mental energy on it. :)

Sparky Duck said...

so your not a lemming yet whose drank the firms kool aid? Sounds good to me