Keeping A Level Head In These Crazy Times And Preparing For The Worst Case Scenario |

Keeping A Level Head In These Crazy Times And Preparing For The Worst Case Scenario


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Every day seems to bring news of yet another firm laying off employees. Many attorneys are wondering if their firm or their job may be the next casualty in these crazy economic times. Do you find yourself regularly checking ''Above the Law'' to see if there are any rumors regarding your firm? Are you monitoring the schedule for the firm's conference rooms to determine whether they are booked up for long periods of time on a Friday? Does your heart drop every time you see the name of the managing partner or head of human resources on your caller ID? If you answered yes to any of these questions, know that you are not alone. I speak to associates every day who are afraid that they may be next. However, it is very important to try and keep a level head and not panic, which understandably may be easier said than done.
Because every firm is looking at their bottom line and trying to cut costs wherever possible, it is imperative to not give your firm a reason to let you go. Thus, you should do everything you can to be the best employee possible. Do not assume the worst and let your work product suffer because you believe that your future at the firm is short-lived. Continue to put your best foot forward and, most importantly, maintain a positive attitude. While it may be very hard to do these things and stay focused during these trying times, you want to make sure your supervising attorneys do not see you as a problem that needs to be eliminated.
Keeping A Level Head In These Crazy Times And Preparing For The Worst Case Scenario

Nonetheless, even if you are doing everything right, there is always the chance that you may be laid off due to circumstances completely out of your control. Accordingly, you should also be prepared for the worst-case scenario by taking several important steps. First, maintain a copy of your contacts, both professional and personal, in your personal computer. In the event that you are laid off, you may immediately lose access to your computer. Because networking is a very important aspect of any job search, you want to make sure that you do not lose all of your contact information because it is stored solely on your work computer.

Second, obtain a copy of several writing samples that you can provide to potential employers who typically ask for these during the interview process. This is generally the case for litigators, and sometimes the case for transactional associates as well. These writing samples should be substantive in nature, and demonstrate your writing and analytical skills. Some good examples include a substantive brief or motion such as a summary judgment motion or an internal research memorandum. In determining which writing samples to use, make sure that such documents do not contain any confidential client information. Publicly available documents are generally acceptable since there are typically no confidentiality concerns. Internal research memoranda may also be used, but only if confidential information has been redacted.

Third, maintain a copy of all of the matters you have worked on during your tenure with the firm. The reason for this is that all offers are contingent upon a very detailed conflicts check for attorneys at all levels. Thus, you will need to be able to provide information regarding the client, type of matter, and adverse/third parties involved for each matter you worked on while you were at your current firm. This is a very important part of the interview process. Thus, you need to have complete records, which are harder to obtain once you have left the firm.

Lastly, make sure you have an updated version of your resume which includes as much information as possible regarding the different clients you have represented, the types of projects and cases you have worked on, and your various responsibilities in each matter. Review your chronology of work matters to make sure you are not forgetting anything. At this point, be sure to include as much detail as possible instead of trying to limit your resume to one page since you can always edit your resume at a later date. It is surprising how much information and detail can be lost with the passage of time. In addition, make sure you have a copy of your law school transcript. Intellectual property/patent attorneys should also have a copy of their undergraduate transcript.

In the event that you are unfortunately laid off, there are several things you should do. First and foremost, do not burn any bridges. The legal community is a very small world, and you never know where you may meet members of your current firm. Thus, do not give in to the urge to vent your frustrations and bad mouth everyone you feel is responsible for your situation. Second, you should try to obtain as long a period of time of affiliation with your firm so that you may try to find a job while still being employed. In normal times, firms typically provide between one and three months of such affiliation time which admittedly may be harder to obtain in today's market. Third, it is imperative that you confirm whether you will be able to provide references from partners or other supervising attorneys with whom you worked closely during your tenure at the firm. I cannot stress how important it is to only use references that you are 100 percent confident will speak positively about your work product and professionalism. If possible, and depending upon your particular circumstances, try to obtain a letter of reference that speaks to the fact that you were not laid off for performance reasons.

No matter what your situation, it is important that you try to remain positive and believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Having a negative, defeatist attitude will only make your situation worse. While it is natural to take some time to be frustrated and miserable in the event the worst-case scenario happens, do your best to pick yourself up as quickly as possible. The power of positive thinking and remaining optimistic can only help you succeed in making the best of your particular situation.

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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