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How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 7:41 pm
by Anonymous User
My supervising partner just told me that if it wasn't for my personality, I would've been fired by now. My writing sucks and my analysis sucks. I work at a mid-size firm in a small market, and I get 99% of my work from my supervising partner. It's hard to know if I suck or not when I only work with one partner who is known to be overly critical. I did work with another partner when I first started, and didn't to the assignment up to her standards and she has decided to stop giving me work. I've been at this firm for a year now. There are only 3-5 other partners I could potentially get work from who never have given me work.

I really like this firm and don't want to get fired. I want to improve but my supervising partner says my writing and analysis sucks, and he doesn't know what he can do to help me improve in these areas. He is also super busy and rarely has time to walk things through with me. I shouldn't expect things to be walked through, but its hard to always know what his expectations are.

I would like to know what things I can do to improve. I know the advice would be for me to lateral, but I've only been a year in my practice area, and assume most other firms are looking for someone with at least 2-3 years of experience.

I feel like I keep spinning my wheels, trying my best, but just keep getting my work ripped apart.

Re: How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:07 pm
by RaceJudicata
Assuming you are lit. If so, spend as much time as possible reviewing the partners work/changes to your work and then try and mimic those changes. Also, get your hands on other firms work product (since you are at a small firm, prob don’t have an institutional stash of work product). For instance, if filing a discovery motion, find a recent case involving a reputable firm and find the underlying briefing. Model your work off that. (Of course, that isn’t fool proof and even the best firms turn out crap work... it’s at least a bit better than continuing on your current unguided path).

There are probably other suggestions, but this is one approach. Also did your boss actually say that? Or are you reading between the lines? Sorta a crappy thing to say... even if true.

Also, start looking for other jobs ASAP.

...that’s the end of my stream of consciousness

Re: How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:31 pm
by worklifewhat
Anonymous User wrote:My supervising partner just told me that if it wasn't for my personality, I would've been fired by now. My writing sucks and my analysis sucks. I work at a mid-size firm in a small market, and I get 99% of my work from my supervising partner. It's hard to know if I suck or not when I only work with one partner who is known to be overly critical. I did work with another partner when I first started, and didn't to the assignment up to her standards and she has decided to stop giving me work. I've been at this firm for a year now. There are only 3-5 other partners I could potentially get work from who never have given me work.

I really like this firm and don't want to get fired. I want to improve but my supervising partner says my writing and analysis sucks, and he doesn't know what he can do to help me improve in these areas. He is also super busy and rarely has time to walk things through with me. I shouldn't expect things to be walked through, but its hard to always know what his expectations are.

I would like to know what things I can do to improve. I know the advice would be for me to lateral, but I've only been a year in my practice area, and assume most other firms are looking for someone with at least 2-3 years of experience.

I feel like I keep spinning my wheels, trying my best, but just keep getting my work ripped apart.


Did you graduate in 2017? If so, it seems shitty for your supervising partner to be so critical given how junior oh are and the NEED for someone to train you. Most people don’t leave law school with great analytical skills but develop them over time. I would definitely be looking to lateral as I can’t see how this environment is conducive to your professional growth.

Re: How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:46 pm
by Anonymous User
RaceJudicata wrote:Assuming you are lit. If so, spend as much time as possible reviewing the partners work/changes to your work and then try and mimic those changes. Also, get your hands on other firms work product (since you are at a small firm, prob don’t have an institutional stash of work product). For instance, if filing a discovery motion, find a recent case involving a reputable firm and find the underlying briefing. Model your work off that. (Of course, that isn’t fool proof and even the best firms turn out crap work... it’s at least a bit better than continuing on your current unguided path).

There are probably other suggestions, but this is one approach. Also did your boss actually say that? Or are you reading between the lines? Sorta a crappy thing to say... even if true.

Also, start looking for other jobs ASAP.

...that’s the end of my stream of consciousness



OP here -

Yeah I am lit. That's great advice. Would I find that underlying briefing though Lexis? Or is there some other resource where you can easily access briefings? I know for Lexis, it is usually outside of the plan for my firm.

Regarding looking for other jobs, would you recommend using a recruiter? I sent a couple of a resume's and cover letters to big law openings in my practice area, but never heard back, as was expected. I am assuming I should broaden my scope to a nearby large market at other midsize firms instead of biglaw.

And yeah, he said that verbatim.

Re: How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:48 pm
by Anonymous User
worklifewhat wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My supervising partner just told me that if it wasn't for my personality, I would've been fired by now. My writing sucks and my analysis sucks. I work at a mid-size firm in a small market, and I get 99% of my work from my supervising partner. It's hard to know if I suck or not when I only work with one partner who is known to be overly critical. I did work with another partner when I first started, and didn't to the assignment up to her standards and she has decided to stop giving me work. I've been at this firm for a year now. There are only 3-5 other partners I could potentially get work from who never have given me work.

I really like this firm and don't want to get fired. I want to improve but my supervising partner says my writing and analysis sucks, and he doesn't know what he can do to help me improve in these areas. He is also super busy and rarely has time to walk things through with me. I shouldn't expect things to be walked through, but its hard to always know what his expectations are.

I would like to know what things I can do to improve. I know the advice would be for me to lateral, but I've only been a year in my practice area, and assume most other firms are looking for someone with at least 2-3 years of experience.

I feel like I keep spinning my wheels, trying my best, but just keep getting my work ripped apart.


Did you graduate in 2017? If so, it seems shitty for your supervising partner to be so critical given how junior oh are and the NEED for someone to train you. Most people don’t leave law school with great analytical skills but develop them over time. I would definitely be looking to lateral as I can’t see how this environment is conducive to your professional growth.


OP here -

No I graduated in 2015, but worked government for the first year. This is my first year in a civil law firm. I did more court appearances than writing in government.

I think you are right that I need to lateral, I just wonder if I am too junior to go anywhere reputable. My current firm is the big fish in a small pond.

Re: How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:03 pm
by worklifewhat
Anonymous User wrote:
worklifewhat wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My supervising partner just told me that if it wasn't for my personality, I would've been fired by now. My writing sucks and my analysis sucks. I work at a mid-size firm in a small market, and I get 99% of my work from my supervising partner. It's hard to know if I suck or not when I only work with one partner who is known to be overly critical. I did work with another partner when I first started, and didn't to the assignment up to her standards and she has decided to stop giving me work. I've been at this firm for a year now. There are only 3-5 other partners I could potentially get work from who never have given me work.

I really like this firm and don't want to get fired. I want to improve but my supervising partner says my writing and analysis sucks, and he doesn't know what he can do to help me improve in these areas. He is also super busy and rarely has time to walk things through with me. I shouldn't expect things to be walked through, but its hard to always know what his expectations are.

I would like to know what things I can do to improve. I know the advice would be for me to lateral, but I've only been a year in my practice area, and assume most other firms are looking for someone with at least 2-3 years of experience.

I feel like I keep spinning my wheels, trying my best, but just keep getting my work ripped apart.


Did you graduate in 2017? If so, it seems shitty for your supervising partner to be so critical given how junior oh are and the NEED for someone to train you. Most people don’t leave law school with great analytical skills but develop them over time. I would definitely be looking to lateral as I can’t see how this environment is conducive to your professional growth.


OP here -

No I graduated in 2015, but worked government for the first year. This is my first year in a civil law firm. I did more court appearances than writing in government.

I think you are right that I need to lateral, I just wonder if I am too junior to go anywhere reputable. My current firm is the big fish in a small pond.


I definitely don’t think you’re too junior to lateral but, given that you’ve only been at your firm for a year, it could be difficult. The best way to find out whether you have a shot is to apply. There’s not much downside unless the market is so small where you are that you think everyone at your current firm would find out and life would be worse as a result.

Re: How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:17 am
by gregfootball2001
You could try reading some books on writing. The Bryan Garner books (and lecture series, if there's one in your city) are pretty good. Take extra time with every assignment and make sure it's the absolute best writing you can produce. Finish things early and proofread/edit.

Re: How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:11 am
by Anonymous User
gregfootball2001 wrote:You could try reading some books on writing. The Bryan Garner books (and lecture series, if there's one in your city) are pretty good. Take extra time with every assignment and make sure it's the absolute best writing you can produce. Finish things early and proofread/edit.


OP here -

I didn’t know about Bryan Garner, thanks for sharing. He looks like the premier author on legal writing. I’ll get his book on the winning brief.

Re: How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:55 pm
by albanach
Anonymous User wrote:OP here -

Yeah I am lit. That's great advice. Would I find that underlying briefing though Lexis? Or is there some other resource where you can easily access briefings? I know for Lexis, it is usually outside of the plan for my firm.


Surely you understand how to follow court dockets online?

You can find a relevant opinion through Lexis, then find the docket and all the filings on the court website. If it's federal court, you could try to find motions through RECAP (free access to some of PACER) or set up your own PACER account and eat some of the cost (assuming you can't bill to your employer/client).

Re: How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:17 pm
by Anonymous User
Anonymous User wrote:
RaceJudicata wrote:Assuming you are lit. If so, spend as much time as possible reviewing the partners work/changes to your work and then try and mimic those changes. Also, get your hands on other firms work product (since you are at a small firm, prob don’t have an institutional stash of work product). For instance, if filing a discovery motion, find a recent case involving a reputable firm and find the underlying briefing. Model your work off that. (Of course, that isn’t fool proof and even the best firms turn out crap work... it’s at least a bit better than continuing on your current unguided path).

There are probably other suggestions, but this is one approach. Also did your boss actually say that? Or are you reading between the lines? Sorta a crappy thing to say... even if true.

Also, start looking for other jobs ASAP.

...that’s the end of my stream of consciousness



OP here -

Yeah I am lit. That's great advice. Would I find that underlying briefing though Lexis? Or is there some other resource where you can easily access briefings? I know for Lexis, it is usually outside of the plan for my firm.

Regarding looking for other jobs, would you recommend using a recruiter? I sent a couple of a resume's and cover letters to big law openings in my practice area, but never heard back, as was expected. I am assuming I should broaden my scope to a nearby large market at other midsize firms instead of biglaw.

And yeah, he said that verbatim.


Sorry to hear that. Who you work under is probably the single most important factor affecting QoL in BigLaw, and it sounds like you were unlucky on that front. If you aren't opposed to relocating, I think this is a serious enough issue to warrant moving to a new city, if necessary.

In terms of where you can find good models, try Practical Law in WestLaw. It has good sample docs and checklists for typical BigLaw work products.

Re: How can I improve before I get fired?

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:13 pm
by Anonymous User
that sucks. All the suggestions above are good but the most immediate and what will make the biggest difference for the amount of work that it will take is to start looking up westlaw/lexis model briefs from analogous cases before writing any future motions. Model your writing after those.