Friday, May 14, 2010

Honesty: never the best policy

Just had a talk with Attorney 2 about  the possibility of me taking Attorney 4's job when she leaves in July.  Essentially, I was told to think about my "commitment level" to this firm and whether this is something I actually want to do.  Spoiler alert - it's not.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "But, Nick, if you're the awesome worker you hold yourself out to be, why wouldn't they hire you immediately?"  Simple - I've been honest with my boss about my career goals.

Does he know I don't want to do this kind of law?  You bet.  I've been working here for three years - it's come up.  We've actually had lengthy discussions about the fact that I don't think law is right for me, particularly not the law that we practice.*  He actually seems to like me more, based on the fact that I have vastly different interests than your average lawyer.  Did I anticipate this biting me in the ass?  Nope.  But, admittedly, I probably should have.

So, I find myself with a bit of a moral dilemma.  On one hand, I can try to bullshit my boss by telling him that I see myself spending the next several years of my life at this firm.  It would probably land me a job I desperately need (if my boss doesn't see through it), but at what cost?  I'd have to lie to Attorney 2 and assuredly piss him off when I quit to take the first better offer I can find.

On the other hand, I could take a somewhat 'in between' option he suggested; where, I wouldn't be an official attorney, but I would get a raise and could, perhaps, handle some things on a contract basis.  This option would be crushing for my mental health, as, I assume, I would still be spending a good portion of my day standing in line while some random gets the job that should, rightfully, be mine.  However, I wouldn't have to lie to my boss and wouldn't risk burning any bridges if I do happen to find other employment.**

Like I said, I've got a dilemma.  Good thing I've got a weekend and a full bottle of Beam to help sort things out.

*I'm actually interested in health law, in case anyone was curious.
**I have a weird thing against lying to people.  I blame focusing on ethics with my phil major.  I actually wanted to go into medical ethics, at the time.


  1. Take the job, if it's offered. I appreciate where you are coming from about being honest with your boss and not wanting to practice in that area of law (which sounds like collections). But, you need to do what is best for yourself and your career, regardless if you hurt someone's feelings.

    If you ever want to practice as an attorney, you need to get real experience, and soon. You've said you have been at the job for 3 years. I don't know if that includes law school or not, but regardless, I am going to be frank. Your window is quickly closing. The LAST place you want to be is an attorney who is a few years out of law school with no post-law school experience as a real attorney. You won't be qualified for jobs that require experience, and employers will hire more recent graduates for entry level positions. In other words, you'll be fucked.

    This whole notion of "loyalty" to an employer is bullshit. Be loyal to yourself. I'm not suggesting you commit fraud or anything like that. But what I am saying is don't feel bad about taking a job and then leaving 6 months later if better opportunity arises. It's called business, and that's the way the world works.

    And to give you some background, I am a practicing attorney in Chicago, so I know a little about the legal market here.

  2. I agree with the first post. I am a horrible lier, as you know, and hate hurting people's feelings, but i think you should also take the job. It give's you experience and more money.

    You unfortunately don't know when that better job is going to come, so you might be with this firm for a while. If you are going to be there, you might as well get more experience.

    I would have never thought i would be living 5 plus years in champaign!!!! I felt a little guilty taking my first job here, since i didn't plan to say that long. Not feeling as bad about it now since i ended up staying for 5 years with them and they laid me off. Take the job.

  3. I once e-mailed you that if you were to take a job at this firm, it would not be a long term solution because the job would not make you happy. I still think that (and you agreed) but I want to amend my comments.

    You should lie to them through your teeth and take the job. Morally, I disagree with lying, but please rely upon my years of experience in biglaw and big-inhousecounsel - it is sometimes necessary if only for your own protection. They're not interested in your long-term career goals and nor should you let them in on it.

    If it suited them, they would fire you this morning without severance. They aren't obligated to tell you anything. This is how the game is played.

  4. I appreciate the comments. With any luck, I'll be having the conversation with my boss today. Either way, it'll give me something new to blog about.

    Lori, you actually read my blog! It's a good day already. I figured you were just following me out of pity.