So long, and thanks for all the fish …

November 5, 2010

Jones Day, in its continuing and infinite wisdom, has once again proven just how little respect it has for the cogs in the machine. As you recall, in June, the Firm decided to let an unspecified number of legal staff go because their jobs could be done by the attorneys using ‘voice mail, e-mail, iPhones and other electronic devices.’

As a former BigLaw employee, that news made me cringe. Now the ABA Journal and Above the Law are reporting that a new insult has been levied against the very people that make the attorneys look good. Both sources cite an internal memo from administrative partner Hugh Whiting in which he thanks the staff for all their efforts on behalf of the Firm, announces that year-end bonuses will not be made to staff in December this year and that the program is being discontinued.

Additionally he writes, “As is the case with our lawyers, we think the firm is best-served when compensation for all employees is based on performance and contributions to the firm.”

Really?? All employees?!? Performance and contributions?!? It is STAFF that sits under the mushroom and has to shovel through the muck delivered by the associates  and partners on a daily basis, all while smiling and nodding … thank you Sir, may I have another? Paralegals and support staff have assumed the proverbial position for too long.

Thank you, BigLaw for reminding me that I have more value than you can ever imagine.  I will never regret my decision to go virtual and leave the machine. My clients treat me with a respect that was never shown to me while I was a part of the Firm. You too will learn the lesson one day.

(Disclaimer: the author has NEVER been employed by Jones Day)

3 Responses to “So long, and thanks for all the fish …”

  1. Tweets that mention So long, and thanks for all the fish … | Sessions With a Starr --

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  2. Gayle

    You Go Girl!!! How true your words. Rare is the law firm that truly values the dedication, loyalty and hard work of their paralegals and staff. I know that I have personally CYA-ed many an attorney, and the attorney took the credit.

    Paralegals and staff usually will leave a law firm when they realize that their value and worth are not appreciated. IMHO!

  3. Chere Estrin

    “….when compensation for all employees is based on performance and contributions to the firm.”

    This is a very interesting message to staff. “When compensation for all employees is based on performance and contributions to the firm.”

    In essence, if you are not a revenue generating or income producing cog in the wheel, your performance and contribution is not based upon merit but rather, how many $$ an you produce.” Granted, the bonus based upon longevity with the firm does not serve as a motive for increased work production. However, the bonus based upon number of hours billed has turned many firms into an ethics nightmare. Those professionals who are staff without an opportunity to bill time are left to subjective bonuses based upon quality of work, not quantity. In other words, those who can bill time i.e, contributions vs. those who cannot i.e, non-billable work may see a formula bonus based upon highest number of hours billed. Contribution to the firm is no longer considered “great attitude, excellent work product, willingness to go beyond the norm.” It’s all about quotas. Did you reach 1800 hours this year? Bingo. Bonus!

    If all subjective bonuses are wiped out and only objective bonuses remain, firms must now put higher emphasis on larger raises and better employee benefits. You can’t give someone money in their pocket, take it away and expect morale to rise. It just doesn’t work that way.