They called it a layoff, but I knew better. In 2005 and 2006, I worked at a Detroit-area mortgage foreclosure law firm. Business was booming. At one point, we took in more than 1,000 new files in a single month. I colorfully referred to the firm as a mortgage foreclosure mill. So when they told me I was being laid off, I knew I was being fired.
I recently met an attorney who works at an actual mill because of this economy and a similar experience. Fortunately, my stint on the unemployment line lasted only three weeks. The night I got fired, a Green Bay attorney, my next employer and mentor, granted my request for an interview.
There was probably a whole list of reasons I was let go, but the most apparent one is that I was too openly disgruntled. Looking back, I have to admit that some of my complaints were unjustified. Regardless, I did not find a way to be tactful. Instead, I handed my boss a memo ranting about my frustration and my personal financial struggle (student loans) and suggesting ways for me to fit in, which was exactly what I was not doing.
Maybe it was already coming. I wore these issues on my sleeve. But, I overplayed my hand. I had only one year of experience. My skills were not clearly transferrable. I had no need for a “book” as I had no “business.” I had no leverage.
Brandon Evans, George Mason 2005, is a shareholder in Kendricks, Bordeau, Adamini, Greenlee & Keefe P.C., Marquette, Mich.
Worrying about getting a raise, better mentorship, or my picture on the website suddenly seemed stupid. How was I going to pay my student loans? I “should have” tried to get what I knew I could and privately searched elsewhere. That would have been better for me financially. It would have given me time to realize, among other things, that my boss was paying me a market rate already.
Getting fired turned out to be a great thing for me. I learned from it and found a better fitting job. I regret the way I acted, and I apologize to my prior boss for not being appreciative of the job and the opportunities he gave me. But, things happen for a reason. I have two kids now, a 3½-year-old son, Clayton, and a newborn daughter, Daphne. They are amazing, and they would not be here if I did not meet my lovely wife, Amie, in Green Bay after moving there for work. Life goes on. We live and learn. I have been out of law school nearly 10 years and, in that time, I have met many good lawyers who have lost a job, failed a bar exam, or had other setbacks.
Law is a vain profession because we lawyers are the product we have to sell. Don’t let pride get in the way of finding ways to gain the experience necessary to survive, and don’t let one bad experience stop you from fighting to be the lawyer you imagined.