Fired Doc. Reviewer Sends Firm-Wide Email Blast, Burns Bridges

By William Peacock, Esq. on January 15, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There are many ways to handle being fired. You can discuss the termination with your contacts, hoping that someone can push for reconsideration. You can take your experience, plaster it on your resume, and mass-mail thousands of other firms. You can deface on the partners' offices.

Or, you can send an exceptionally-long, grammatical mistake-laden email to the entire BigLaw firm. As always, Above the Law has the goods, passed along from a Winston & Strawn tipster.

Lets take a look at the perfect way to burn bridges, shall we?

Criticize Firm's Procedures

"Some of us made a suggestion about changing the coding method, but until things became almost catastrophic, nothing had been done with regard to changing the system. I think that if experienced document review attorneys working at the "enviable" rate of $32.00 an hour have the audacity of make a suggestion to associate-attorneys [...] such suggestion should be accepted and thanked for."

Who knows more about doc review: the experienced "code monkey" or the junior associate?

But that's not the point, is it?

To quote the great Beyoncé, "I can have another you, by tomorrow. Don't you ever get to thinking, you're irreplaceable."

The nature of document review is that you can and will be abused, paid little, and replaced at will. They don't want to hear about how to fix their broken system. They want you to code documents, at an inhuman rate, without making mistakes.

Deflect Blame, Throw Others Under the Bus

"Unfortunately, I made the initial mistake of not making it privileged. However, it is the responsibility of the so called Quality Control associates such as [Associate C] to be the final set of eyes before it goes out.


"Yes, I made a mistake ... but I was not the only one who made that mistake. Mr. [Associate C] let the document slip, and he then panicked. So, why not fire him? ... [B]ased on the mistakes he had already seen ... he should have checked every responsive document. He had made a number of wrong decisions in the case from the beginning. In all my experience with document review, I never worked with someone whose handling of a case was as unprofessional as that [Associate C]."

She may be entirely correct. Associate C may be an incompetent oaf. If so, the firm either (a) already knows or (b) he is related to somebody important. Either way, who is easier to fire -- the contract "code monkey" or the salaried associate?

Scream From the Rooftops

In addition to the above mistakes, and the letter's consistent inflated sense of self-worth, it closes by criticizing the entire firm, rather than those directly responsible for her termination:

"Winston and Strawn as a Firm, as well as the Firm's attorneys such as [Associate C], and, probably, some of the partners, have acted shamefully, arrogantly, cruelly, unfairly and un-lawyerly when they terminated me, one the most efficient and loyal review attorneys."

More importantly, the email was reportedly sent to the entire firm before it was either filtered out by the firm or recalled by the sender.

Let's imagine what any other firm, calling for a reference, is going to hear.

She's a malcontent who criticizes firm procedures. Sort of a know-it-all. She did decent work for a time, but she let a privileged document slip, which made it to opposing counsel. And then, on the way out, she emailed the entire firm bemoaning her firing.

Even with her experience and unique skills (Russian, apparently), which would you choose -- one of the many unemployed recent grads, or the angry emailer? She may have gotten shafted, but sometimes, you just have to move on.

Care to speak up in defense of the dearly departed doc reviewer? Tweet us @FindLawLP.

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