Tag Archives: Dechert

Getting Laid Off After Eight Years of Misery

Trolling does not have the same hold on me now because I have made progress with shame.  To make progress I first had to hit rock bottom, which occurred between 2009 and 2013. In 2009 my marriage was horrible.  My wife and I did not get along at all.  I was stressed out of my mind from my job and my home life.  I remember thinking at the time the best part of my day was the time I spent commuting on from my house to work.  I smoked a cigarette on the way to the bus.  I spent a large part of my workday trolling Sistertrek.  I drank at least five alcoholic drinks practically every night.  I was a mess.

At the time I was working this pharmaceutical document review in a building near Logan Circle in Philadelphia.  This was considered to be a high-end document review with a million different rules that I never fully learned and I do not think most people really understood. I could tell my supervisor thought I did not know what I was doing which made me depressed and anxious.  Looking back on it I could tell I was self-sabotaging.

The building I worked in was near the basilica in Logan Circle.  I went to the basilica during my lunch hour and prayed a novena to St. Jude the patron saint of lost causes that something would happen to change my career and my life.

 St. Jude, glorious apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor has caused you to be forgotten by many. But the Church honors and invokes you universally as the patron of hopeless cases, and of things despaired of. Pray for me who am so distressed. Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege accorded you to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly, to bring change and progress to my career and my life and that I may bless God with you and all the elect throughout eternity. St. Jude, apostle, martyr, and relative of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Mary, and of Joseph, intercede for us!

On the ninth day of the novena I received a call from human resources to come to the main office building of the firm which at this time was in the Cira Center next to 30th Street Station. I knew why they called me.  People had been laid off in waves for months.  I feared the day but thought I was safe because I actually had work to do and real billable hours.  I figured the people they were letting go could not bill enough to justify their salaries.  At the time Dechert was all about streamlining expenses and cutting perks that made life less miserable for the employees.  After receiving the call I deleted all the personal files on my laptop and walked down JFK Boulevard to the Cira Center.

When I got there I was ushered into a conference room with two human resources people.  They had empathy plastered on their faces.  They seemed surprised when they asked me if I had any questions and I said no.  I am sure they were used to people blowing up at them.  On some basic level I felt relieved.  I had spent eight miserable years working at Dechert and this day would be my last.  Although there was brightness associated with closing this miserable chapter of my life I was about to begin a hellish, four-year period of being unemployed and underemployed.  Everything was about to get worse before it could get better.

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Moving to Philadelphia and More Interviews

My wife and I drove down from Scranton to Philadelphia to find an apartment.  We found a place in a yellow brick, art deco, high rise across from the famous art museum where Sylvester Stallone ran up the steps in the movie Rocky.  The weekend before my wife started her job we rented a Uhaul, packed up our stuff and drove it down.  Hughey, our dog, was young at the time. I remember the day we moved in and were in the process of unpacking, my wife and I went out to dinner.  When we returned to our new apartment we found Hughey nested in the clothes in our open suitcase.

My wife left for work Monday morning.  I spent my days sending out resumes, listening to Howard Stern in the morning, walking Hughey and playing Civilization on my computer.  I started to get worried that I was not bringing in any income.  Our bills continued to rise and I began to sink into depression because I felt I had no options.  But then suddenly I received a call from a law firm called Dechert.  I had never heard of this firm.  I did not even remember sending a resume to them.  My wife (being in the recruiting business) recognized them as one of the most prestigious firms in Philadelphia.

I interviewed first with a partner on the 54th floor of the Bell Atlantic Tower.  This partner ran the document archive the firm maintained as part of the legal defense for a prominent tobacco company.  At the time I interviewed (the year 2000) the tobacco litigation had been going on for some time and was in the final stages before it wound down.

The partner who interviewed me was a Harvard graduate.  Most of the attorneys who worked at Dechert graduated from Ivy League or equivalent law schools.  They were all very proud of their pedigree.  I felt insufficient having graduated from a third tier law school in Louisiana.  This partner, however, seemed interested in me precisely because I had gone to law school in Louisiana.  It was like he thought I was an exotic species.  During the interview he told me that the position was not a regular associate position but rather a Staff Attorney position where I would perform work that was below the Associates and that I would never be eligible for a promotion. What I did not totally understand was that I would also not receive the experience I would need to fully become an attorney. But at this time I was more interested in earning money than gaining work experience.

At the same time I interviewed with Dechert I also interviewed with another smaller firm.  This firm was on a lower level than Dechert and seemed ashamed of itself in relation to Dechert and impressed that Dechert was interested in me.  It was clear that this firm would have given me trial experience and put me on the partnership track (something that I would not be offered at Dechert).  On the other hand I would have been paid half as much as what Dechert offered me.  At the time, both my wife and I had student loans we were paying off and the money Dechert offered me was too much to pass up.  I remember talking to my friend Tim who lived in Washington, DC at the time.  I told him I could take the difficult job with the firm nobody heard of that paid less or the easy job with the prestigious firm that paid more.  At the time it seemed like a no-brainer.  I would later learn that I had made a mistake.

I remember my father congratulated me and told me he was proud of me for getting a job with such a prestigious firm.  I should have known that was an indicator that I had made a wrong decision.

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