Friday, May 27, 2011


It used to be a good place to work. Friendly environment, good hours, decent work, shitty pay but hey something has to give and we were fully apprised of the fact. Comfortable, auto-cruise mode and you can understand why some people entered and stayed with a view towards retirement in the firm. I was even guilty of that once. Complacent and comfortable with the pace of things.

But times have changed, competition has picked up and while others are adapting and moving with the times, we seem to be stuck in a rut. Things have deteriorated slowly but steadily over the past couple of years. The laissez-faire attitude, lack of a clearly defined work structure and nelsonian blindness to changes, things which had initially appeared to be strengths of sorts, became afflictions. The absolute lack of system, the dearth of direction, the absence of channels of feedback, the wholly arbitrary and autocratic decision making all coupled to form a debilitating malaise emblematic of everything wrong with the department.

This in turn affected the work coming in, the quantity, scope and complexity of which began its inexorable decline. As one person noted aptly, the kind of work I'm getting and doing these days is sheer junk compared to what I used to be doing when I first started. Add the mind boggling attitude of senior management (i.e. those that mattered) towards the bread and butter areas of litigation, the lack of appreciation and transparency as well as an alarming tendency to ignore and address the problems on the ground, and you had a systemic failure of the system. If the current status of things could be regarded as a system that is.

The groundswell of discontent has hit the roof. What started out as a trickle, the first couple of resignations tendered has now triggered a tide. 6 in the span of 3 months with more to come. And soon pretty much the entire batch of associates will be gone in the next few months. The scariest thing is none of the problems have been addressed, not a single meeting convened, no damage control. All you see are a lot of worried faces, general denial and morale amongst those without plans dropping to an all time low.

You know you have a problem when all your associates are unhappy and are resigning en-masse in the span of less than 5 months. It's even worse when the resignations are not engineered for a walkout to a single firm but carefully considered decisions made to move to various places, united only by the collective conviction of the need to move and to move now. The total inaction and denial of the senior management based in no small part on a very myopic outlook of personnel replacement premised on replacing the seniors with cheap inexperienced trainees is stunning in its stupidity.

No one wants to be on a sinking ship. And right now that is certainly the sentiment on the ground. I'm glad I made the choice, for the path from now while harder, shall inevitably be more rewarding, more personally satisfying with a clear path for career progression. As for them, if nothing is done, they will find themselves with a dead department left to run very soon.