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Victoria Mole
16 October, 2008  
The departed

According to Ms Mole, it pays dividends for senior partners to be nice about the Firm’s departing low life. Yet the insensitivity of these Boxster driving corner men never ceases to amaze

imageHe’s gone. The spunky P&E lawyer has left the building.

Gone to “pursue other opportunities”, according to the Monday morning email from HR that details the Firm’s fresh and departing blood for the week.

Two weeks before I rotate to his department.

Not a bang but a whimper indeed.

Trish from the mailroom reckons he’s gone to London. I think not.

In my head, he’s somewhere more exotic. Edinburgh perhaps, waxing lyrical in a courtroom about norms of international environmental law, wearing nothing but a kilt …

Of course, I can believe it. None of the eccentrics stick around long.

This is not disproving the argument of my previous post, by the way.

The Firm has an equally high turnover of bores, except they tend to flit down Collins St to scale new frontiers of superannuation deed drafting, rather than lecturing, film-making or roving commando around the Scottish highlands.

We’re Generation Y, bringing free love to an employment market near you.

You’d think the Firm’s management would have come to grips with this phenomenon.

If a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members, then partners’ competence as managers and business developers can surely be reflected by how well they manage the departure of those lower down the production chain.

The more adult, gracious and sensible will recognise the concentrated symbolic power of good exit management.

It assists in recouping some training costs should a departee decide to return, it encourages nice things to be said about the place to potential clients or recruits, and it builds morale among those who stay put.

Some partners have this down pat (usually when the employee is going in-house to a high-delegating client).

They will chuck in for a decent farewell present, and gather the troops to remind them of the employee’s many happy working memories and the Firm’s waiting embrace should the leaver ever return.

Even if the lawyer had been a bad egg, they get an exit interview, allow the airing of grievances to a poor sod in HR rather than the general legal throng, and perhaps even extract some insights into grassroots life at the Firm.

One tale that takes my fancy is that of the fellow who defected from a top-tier to the VGSO who, when asked of his favourite memory of the firm, answered: “The sunrises and sunsets from level 50.”

Yet common are the reports of partners who contribute loose change to the leaving gifts of senior associates who have devoted 38 weekends straight to paying off the corner man’s new Boxster.

Or partners who overlook telling an employee their contract will not be renewed until two weeks before its expiry.

Or partners who openly complain about, or attempt to wrongly shift blame onto, departed employees in the presence of people who still see them socially.

Power isn’t linear. The departing keep a nice handful of the stuff when they hand back their security pass.

Why do firms bother pouring funds into expensive client entertainment and glossy recruitment brochures of identical smiley graduates when they allow kamikaze partners like this to scatter reputational poison pills around the city?

The mind boggles.

And the heart sighs.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye (for now).



Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: October 18, 2008, 3:45 am

trust me, it is the same everywhere...