{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Hi 🐠! Class of 2017 here and found out yesterday that I’m being held back a year (as a 3rd year instead of 4th). I feel totally blindsided / actually cried on the Zoom. I’ve reached out to partner-mentor in other groups and they explained that this isn’t a demotion but an opportunity to have more time to acquire mid-level skills before being thrust into that role & failing. I GET that but I feel this is something that should have been messaged BEFORE the review. Such an erosion of trust. Advice?", "post_id": "6028334f3d348d0022799e98", "reply_count": 78, "vote_count": 15, "bowl_id": "5da60c126e5f0d001f32f497", "bowl_name": "Women in Law", "feed_type": "bowl" }

Hi 🐠! Class of 2017 here and found out yesterday that I’m being held back a year (as a 3rd year instead of 4th). I feel totally blindsided / actually cried on the Zoom. I’ve reached out to partner-mentor in other groups and they explained that this isn’t a demotion but an opportunity to have more time to acquire mid-level skills before being thrust into that role & failing. I GET that but I feel this is something that should have been messaged BEFORE the review. Such an erosion of trust. Advice?

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Mixed feelings on this. First, the fact that you were blindsided is the biggest issue in my mind. I thing being blindsided in reviews is an indicator of a trash culture. As for the level/year itself, that really is a mixed bag. If they didn’t do it now, it would probably have come up later either through not getting staffed on things or being passed over for partnership. It really is important that your skills and experience align with the rate that is being charged for your time (and, therefore, your comp). I worked with someone who, due to lateraling and practice group changes, did not have the experience to match their level. Because they had a high billing rate without the right experience, they were passed over for projects and couldn’t get enough hours, which turned into never getting the experience they needed. They ended up getting pushed out/quitting around year 7. I guess this is to say that it is possible that it is a good thing in the long run, or don’t worry about starting as a third year if you lateral. Better to over-perform low expectations than to underperform and get pushed out.

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Agreed with A12 that on everything, but I do think a key takeaway is the poor communication (assuming it was a surprise). That’s not cool, and doesn’t bode well.

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This happened to me at my first firm. I exceeded my hours greatly but was given a ton of grunt work all year because the managing partner of the office was pretty sexist. He’d give all the good work to male associates and make me do extensive doc review, discovery, etc. I actually found the document on our firm’s drive that showed all the associate hours for my office and saw I had the second highest hours. The male associates (one who didn’t even meet hours) wasn’t asked to be held back a year. When I asked about the reasoning they said I hadn’t done enough hearings, depos, and trials during the year. Funny though, they’d have me prep a case and do all the legwork and then when it was time for a hearing or depo they’d tell me to help the male associate get ready and he’d be the one defending or taking the depo or handling the hearing. I left the firm soon after and ended up at a firm where I could actually litigate my cases and ended up skipping a year level at the new firm!

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Ok I’m confused ? Firms can hold you back like you’re in elementary school or something ??

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Find a firm that will provide real-time feedback, provide mentorship, career coaching, etc. Something like this shouldn’t come as a surprise. (Plug for a good recruiter here.)

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Lateral ASAP

likefunny

This 💯

Did you ask how many others in the group also received this amazing opportunity? If it was just you, I’d start looking for other opportunities to be honest. That pay gap / disparity with your peers will haunt you in years to come.

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“Given this option”... hahahah

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I’m pretty sure my firm also held a lot of people back this year, and those people didn’t get a lot of opportunity to develop their skills and get new experiences because the group was slow in 2020. Not the associate’s fault at all. On the bright side, if you lateral to another firm, they won’t know what year you were at your current firm.

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OP here: Thank you! Oddly affirming because this is what they told me, not being in the office limited my opportunities to learn. I’m grateful that they’re willing to continue to invest in me, but wow, what a blow.

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Same thing happened to me. Was COMPLETELY blindsided (and also cried about it). Happened at my annual review after getting nothing but positive feedback during the year (also had just lateraled into the group a year before and was given no opportunities for growth). Made me super self conscious, anxious, shattered my self confidence. Lateraled to another firm (a much better firm) and it’s been the best decision Ive made. The 1st firm also ended up stealth firing a lot of associates claiming performance issues in the middle of COVID...

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Definitely leave. This is not the end of your career - I promise. This also happened to me. And I was so surprised and hurt. They gave me a cover excuse that my documents could have been proofed better so they weren’t comfortable putting me in front of clients. When asked how my substantive knowledge was and they said it was great and no issues. Pretty sure underlying causes was a junior partner threw me under the bus. I lateraled to a MUCH better firm / group of attorneys and am now a senior associate seriously considering partnership.

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An update, guys: I accepted an in-house role at my dream company! Can’t wait to give notice on Monday! A happy ending after all. Thank you all!!

likeuplifting

That was fast! Great job!

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I was in your shoes and left for a peer firm. I am very happy with my decision.

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This is more comforting than you know. Thank you!!

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Yet another way for big law equity partners to milk the slave labor model. (Or at least it sounds like a big law move - if not, find a new job ASAP.) I recommend lateraling if you are at a big law firm that pulls this crap. Go to a regional firm with decent hours requirement (or NO billable requirement), try government or look in house. Make a little less money and enjoy your life. Working for people who would blindside you with “holding you back a year” is absolute BS. They are signaling they don’t intend to promote you but want your associate level work at associate pay for longer. Opportunities abound to lateral once you are a mid level. No one will know about this “holding you back” nonsense. Godspeed.

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Thank you — solid advice here!

Leave, girl.

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Thanks! Needed this!

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Better than being stealthed but like many have said lateraling seems to be the move

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This happened to me. I lateraled to an equally prestigious firm, and am so happy now.

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Thank you!! These “life after love” stories are SO helpful!

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A coworker of mine was held back 2 years when he wanted to transfer practice groups, he just lateraled to his actual class year in the new practice area. Definitely talk to a couple recruiters in your area about what the market looks like and explore your options.

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OH HELL NO

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I didn’t even know this was a thing but I agree with other posters that it’s a way to milk the labor from their associates. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did it to associates that all Bill a ton of hours like you so they can keep you in it an extra year and continue to exploit you. At my firm (amlaw 100) they send out constant reminders to do our self -eval and evaluate staff and I am soclose every time to send an email back and say and when will the review for partners we work with happen 😂😂 it’s funny but not, right? Like, once sometime makes partner they’re not accountable to anyone? If I’m floundering a bit as an associate, maybe it’s not me, but the partner(s) i work with and they could benefit from some feedback on what they do that’s helpful/not (this rant brought to you by former teacher current big law associate)

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Totally agree that there SHOULD be some 360 degree feedback in firms but I feel as though this is one of those traditional vestiges that’ll never change.

Leave! It’s so rare.

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Leave. Make more money and take your skill set to a firm that isn’t cheap shots to save a buck.

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LEAVE!! Don’t think twice about it. You are worth more!

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happened to me too! I’m giving notice on Friday byeeee

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So sorry to hear this happened to you! Is this at a vault 50/100? Did you hit your hours last year?

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OP: my firm is looking if you want to give us a shot. DM me if you’re interested!

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