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A Sidley Lawyer's Odd Farewell

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What better way to kick off the new year than with a Sidley attorney's farewell e-mail:

I have realized that I cannot simultaneously meet the demands of career and family. Without criticizing those who have chosen lucre over progeny, let me just say that I am leaving the practice of law. My epiphany may have come a bit late as my youngest child-I believe his name is Erik-is 24. But as I always said after missing a filing deadline, better late than never.

I have made friendships at Sidley that I will treasure well into the first quarter of 2012. But a career based on the perception of untapped potential, rather than on actual production, has a limited shelf life. I frankly would have expected management to have caught on years ago. I trust that my longevity will serve as a beacon of hope for underperforming lawyers of all ages. No need to name names: you know who you are.

Farewell and best wishes

...That's a rather confusing way to go, and not just because the lawyer has retired his grammar skills.

A career based on the perception of untapped potential rather than actual production? What does that mean?

Maybe he works in M&A or private equity? That kinda fits. Or, does this mean aggressive bill padding? That would be a focus not on what you actually did produce, but just your "untapped potential."

We suspect it's really just some reference to how lawyers don't actually do produce anything, they're just an added cost of production. But, it's hard to say lawyers in general have a lot of untapped potential. There isn't a special little Greg Giraldo butterfly inside of everyone.

And what's the message for underperforming lawyers of all ages? That if you don't reach your potential, you can still have a very long, gainful career at Sidley?

Ooo! Pick me! I'm not using my potential!

Perhaps this whole thing was just meant as one last final troll on his coworkers. Send out a retirement e-mail that doesn't really make any sense, and laugh as thousands of billable minutes fly out the window. 1,650 attorneys, 0.25 hours lost time each, average billable hour rate of $600 (who knows, just a guess), and that's $247,500 lost. Would be a pretty nice fuck you on your way out, if that's what it is, and assuming lawyers won't just bill that untapped potential to a client anyways.


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