The Unsentimental Litigator Who Gets Sh*t Done

From: XXXX
Sent: Wednesday, XXXX, 2005 11:21 AM
To: All NY
Subject: My Departure

As many of you know, after more than five years, today is my last day at XXXX.  I would like to pay a special thank you to my mentors who have served as a model of excellence for me to follow and have nurtured my development from a summer associate to a senior associate:  XXXX, XXXX, and XXXX.  It has been a privilege to work with my intelligent and passionate colleagues in the litigation department at the firm, and to enjoy the support of [the firm]'s excellent and dedicated paralegals and support staff, particularly my former secretary XXXX, and my current secretary, XXXX, both of whom have enriched each day with their enthusiasm, their smiles, and their outstanding work.

I hope that you will all keep in touch as I assume my new role of an in-house litigator at the XXXX company XXXX.  As of XXXX, I can be reached at:


Please keep in touch and happy XXXX!


The only thing I know about the identity of the writer of this farewell email is that she is a woman.  But her departure message tells me the following additional information about her:

  • Unsentimental.  Despite the use of words like "nurtured," "enriched," and "smiles," which makes me feel like I'm reading a Gerber label, the matter-of-fact and faintly morbid subject header completely overrides those word choices and establishes that our writer has the emotional sensitivity of a fire hydrant.  While she waxes nostalgic about her development from a summer associate to a "senior" associate (remember back when being a fifth year meant that you were senior?), I don't detect any real pangs of feeling and the requisite "keep in touch/cross paths" line is given short shrift in the closing.  I'm willing to bet that our writer writes curt emails that make her sound pissed even when she's not pissed, frightening all the first-year associates and new paralegals.
  • Gets Sh*t Done.  Our writer wrote her Last Day Email at 11:21 AM.  Do you know what I was doing at 11:21 AM on my last day?  Frantically packing up boxes full of clothes and shoes that I had somehow accumulated and stashed in various drawers in my office, typing up a departure memo for the poor saps who were taking-over my cases, making farewell calls to business contacts outside of the firm (god knows why), and uh, doing billable work that I had left to the last-minute.  I'm pretty sure I didn't write my departure memo until well past 11:21 AM.  In contrast, our writer is the associate that calls you on speakerphone just five minutes after you two receive a document review assignment, to say, in that fast, efficient, monotone of people who get sh*t done, "I'm done my batch.  What's your status?"
  • Not particularly smart.  Because our writer gets sh*t done, I think that she also had the time to put some thought and effort into her Last Day Email.  Unfortunately, as efficient as she certainly is in her lawyerly duties, our writer's last writing assignment gets bogged down in the first paragraph with unnecessary words ("models of excellence for me to follow") and the overall piece has no flow, no rhythm.  Christ, I think I'm going to even go ahead and say that I don't think she's very good at dancing and all... of the implications that come with that inability.  This is the lawyer that went to an okay law school (though not as good as her undergraduate college) but studied really hard and got smart-people grades and interviewed well.  I'm also going to say that she didn't do so hot on her practice LSATs and Princeton Review's step-by-step approach really helped.
  • Sense of Propriety.  Our writer thanks both attorneys and support staff, and even remembers to thank her former secretary.  Again, even though most of this email is composed of statements of gratitude, I don't really feel anything truly sentimental going on here.  Therefore, what drives her to write the statements of gratitude is a sense of propriety, of doing what is expected, what the occasion calls for.  I would imagine that she is also quite neat in appearance, wears feminine, unadventurous designer office clothes and very high heels, colored carefully within the lines as a child, sends thank-you cards promptly, and would never write a status update on Facebook for all to see... that is, if she's even on Facebook (too gauche).  Also, going in-house usually requires at least a smidgeon of socializing ability, since you might have to talk to non-lawyers who earn more than you (i.e., they won't put up with your shit the way the copy center had to).  Our writer's sense of propriety covers up for her inability to empathize, and enables her to be, relatively speaking for her profession, a good socializer.

Um, so... what do you think?  Agree/disagree?  Also, I really hope the writer of this email never sees this and tries to contact me.

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