{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "I got fired recently for vague performance issue reasons (which were never detailed to me) and it has completely gutted my confidence. Has this happened to anyone and have they come back from it?", "post_id": "604ad7833bd94200280c822d", "reply_count": 37, "vote_count": 16, "bowl_id": "5da60c126e5f0d001f32f497", "bowl_name": "Women in Law" }

I got fired recently for vague performance issue reasons (which were never detailed to me) and it has completely gutted my confidence. Has this happened to anyone and have they come back from it?

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Yes: this exact situation happened to me. It will be okay but you have to leave the self-doubt behind to overcome this. Be kind to yourself and do not believe for one second that you weren’t good enough. I was summarily fired my first year. It was not a good firm for a young woman and I was already looking. I later learned that they had found out I had interviewed somewhere else and that’s why I was fired. When I applied for unemployment, they tried to claim i was terminated for performance issues. The state investigated and found that the firm could not substantiate their claims. But it took me years to stop doubting myself. I went to a small firm and built up a book of business then lateraled with my clients into big law. I reached out to the person who fired me and had coffee with them. It was perfectly civil and professional but I wanted them to know that I had thrived nonetheless. A week ago, I accepted the in house offer of my dreams and the future is so bright. Someday you will look back on this and be grateful they let you go. Really.

likeupliftinghelpful

Something similar for me. I went from being told “the sky’s the limit” my first year at my last firm to feeling like maybe I shouldn’t even be a lawyer anymore when they let me go. They told me that big law isn’t for everyone and even fewer people make partner, so I was basically a statistic. My old firm (also big law) ended up taking me back, and I’ve been *thriving* ever since, with all indications thus far being that they view me as being a partner someday. I firmly believe that it was all a matter of culture and fit, and while I liked my old firm for a while, it became clear at a certain point that I didn’t want to make my career there—apparently it became clear to them too. All of that to say that although it felt like absolute shit at the time to be told that everything I had worked so hard for was being taken away from me because I wasn’t good enough, I’m so grateful now that it happened because I never would have been as happy as I am now. I’ve learned the same thing about jobs as I have about toxic relationships: you can really want something to work, but it may really just not bring out the best in you, and once you find something that fits better, you’ll be grateful it ended up the way it did. Good luck with everything, you’ve got an opportunity now, don’t doubt yourself.

likeuplifting

I’m still salty lol

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Yes and it ended up being great. Talk to a career coach and find a place that is a better fit for you. If it was vague, they aren’t good for you. You should have specific feedback along the way and definitely know what exactly was wrong by the time you’re fired.

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Any tips on finding the right career coach? I’m in Los Angeles and think a career coach would be helpful but I’ve no clue where to begin

This happened to me about 6 months into my first job after bar results. I was actually getting positive feedback from the partner and senior associates the entire time I was there and out of the blue I was fired for performance issues that were not even explained to me. It took me a few months to find a new job but I did find another position and I’ve been here 4 years and much happier actually. I know the feeling about destroying your confidence. Once you find a new position (make sure it’s the right fit for you) and things are going well, your confidence will come back!! I found out later that the partner had done the same thing to the next 5 associates after me (fired after 3-6 months for performance without any kind of explanation). In hindsight, I’m glad things worked out the way they did. Good luck!!

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Happened to me, as well - 6 months after passing the bar. I would've never quit, so I'm glad I got out of that toxic environment sooner rather than later. I successfully started my own firm and after a few years, I joined a large firm as partner. That first experience crushed my confidence but if I hadn't been fired, I would not be where I am today. Wishing you the very best. Keep your head held high and believe in yourself.

Yes, although I had positive feedbacks. Culturally though, I wasn’t a fit so they got rid of me. Happened about two years ago and I still have nightmares about it. I found a great job and now looking for an opportunity to sit across the table of those partners and show them my capabilities.

likeuplifting

Yep! Got fired for extremely vague reasons. I was told it was because he knew I was looking for another job and he wrote on my exit papers that it was “performance related” but no additional explanation 😂. My career and life have continued to improve since then! I just laugh about it now. If they didn’t give you specifics or mention anything in your past reviews I really wouldn’t worry about it and take this ad an opportunity to go do great things!

likeuplifting

Def not the same but I didn’t get an offer from my 1L summer firm. I thought things were going great until the last two weeks I realized I hated everything about it (and had been tricking myself into believing I didn’t because I thought I had no better options) and I guess the feeling was mutual - found out three days before the end of the program I wouldn’t have a return offer. It really sucked, but I worked hard to get an offer at another firm and worked even harder to make myself a person I would be proud to be regardless of other people’s opinions. Things worked out for the best and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I know things suck right now and it’s going to hurt for a while, but it does get better. Firms always have their reasons and it’s seldom just about you - there is usually something else at play. Best of luck.

likeuplifting

Yes and yes. There was writing on the wall for me and I had weirdly already begun packing my personal effects the day they ended up letting me go so it was a weird encounter with HR. It ended up being the biggest blessing in disguise, though. In retrospect I realize just how toxic my old firm is and how under-appreciated I was. It feels horrible and of course you take it personally, we all do because we all take pride in our work, but you deserve so much more than you were given there.

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That stinks. But you’ll land better. This actually happened to me, but I found out it was actually a stealth lay-off. The firm fired several other associates and staff at the same time, and less than a year later, it was going under and got bought out by another firm. They lied about it being performance related, essentially. It hurt my confidence for a while, but once I found out the facts (instead of the BS they told me), it was easy to bounce back. Sounds like you’re in a somewhat similar situation, if they keep firing people, it’s probably because they don’t have enough work.

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Similar thing happened to me! I was fired from my first job practicing for basically making a rookie error. By that point I had realized I was highly undervalued at the firm and was looking, but being let go still stung and my confidence was shot. It definitely takes a while to feel like you’re not drowning in a pit of self doubt, but the good news is that you will most definitely come through the other side. Like pretty much everyone else on this thread, I found a new job where my skills/attorney style are valued, and in the world’s BEST form of karma, found out my old firm disbanded mere weeks after my firing. Good riddance—you’re going to flourish without them!

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This is happening to me right now. They previously cited vague performance issues, many of which were not accurate, and now they are saying my work is good but they’re finding it “difficult to staff” me because I developed a “reputation” for my work at this point. It is infuriating because I’ve received positive feedback from almost all my supervisors. I have been looking for a new job but it is taking a while. It’s really demotivating and it feels like such a random attack because all my previous employers from law school and after undergrad have loved me and still vouch for my work. Any tips on the job hunt process or otherwise?

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If you have ever seen the movie "Up in the Air" with George Clooney, who plays a corporate downsizer in 2008, he has a line that is very apropos - "Anybody who has ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And it's because they sat there they were able to do so." That job was only a stepping stone to greatness! Go get 'em!

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Yes!! This happened to me last year in the midst of the pandemic - I got a call from HR out of the blue as soon as a major case I worked on settled. It was awful - there were no reasons given other than vague assertions about my ability to “continue doing the work.” I was gutted, and it deeply wounded my confidence. But six months later, I’m in a new position where I’m working better hours, making more money, and learning from people who are invested in my growth. Reach out to your network - you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help get you back on your feet.

likeuplifting

Wow I’m so sorry! What type of employer? Was it a complete shock or were there any hints?

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Going through this now. During evaluations, I was told I was performing at level or beyond expectations and then all of a sudden was told that I was fired. I had been passively looking for a new job anyways, but now I’m scrambling and panicking - I’m so worried about interviewing and being asked why am I not on the firm website anymore.

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This is what’s called a “stealth layoff” and it happens a lot. It’s not about you.

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Yes. You have to understand , law firms and yes I generalize, are dysfunctional spaces rife with misogyny and racism. The old boys club exists and they will retain the worst human beings because they make the firm lots of money. They pay lip service to diversity and inclusion but in reality the privileged few rarely want to make room for others at the table. So it is not you. Consider yourself fortunate. I know you will find a work environment in which you will thrive and be respected. Big big hugs Law Firm Survivor.

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Trial and error. I was let go during the economic downturn of 2008. I ended up doing contract work and through that opportunity was fortunate to get an in-house position. I encourage you to continue to network and talk to people who are doing the work that you would like to do.

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When I worked at the district attorney’s office we had a change in DA and I was let got or “not asked back.” They walked you to a room with a police investigator (with a gun), handed you a envelope and the investigator walked you out. They never gave a single reason why. It was such a public display and everyone else knew immediately. That was the job I always wanted and I felt absolutely lost. Yet, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me and I have had a lot of success in my career since then. It just took a minute to put myself back together and find a new job.

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Yup. Just happened to me. I came back from maternity leave, and they hired a new associate. My husband was like wow. Watch your back. They didn’t give me any new cases, and for the few cases I had, they started bullying me and picking on me for the stupidest stuff. Like the partner would ask me to draft some kind of motion that he had never done before, but wouldn’t offer any help or feedback, and then rip me apart if I asked questions. Next, I took a deposition where he kept texting me during the deposition to ask certain questions (why wouldn’t he just take the depo?!?). When I told him afterward it was very distracting for me, he said “oh, it was just so you would see follow up stuff during the break”. It was absurd. He offered no feedback afterwards, but later said I did a horrible job at the depo during my termination meeting. I think I did fine—we got everything we needed from the hostile witness! Oh, and couple this with the fact that I had a 12 week old infant that wakes up every 2 hours and 2 yr old toddler. And I had been with the firm for 5 years. They gave me 2 months severance and told me it was performance issues and business decision.

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Yep. Happened to me very early. I went to battle finding another job and got one within 2 weeks that was at a better ranked firm.

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Why do firms fire you if you’re interviewing? I thought they want associates to leave and go inhouse for potential client relationships

Ok that makes more sense. I was like sheesh people are being short sighted. Business folks ask the inhouse for suggestions for outside counsel, firms are burning a bridge to being referred work to your group or the ability to bring on a client for another group by firing someone who is trying to land inhouse. I remember every time the company wanted to do something the coo was like who should we call - do you know anyone - does your old partner know anyone? I still think even for lateral interviews, it’s a bit short sighted. I have been at three firms and I’d be happy to refer two of them and do... why burn future business when it’s easier just to pretend not to see the associate interviewing or transition them out so that after they leave and nostalgia hits, the firm can bank on it wo paying the salary?

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