Some Like it Hot: Southern Lawyers Write the Warmest Departure Emails

Whether it is the writer's intention or not, you can tell a lot about a workplace's culture by the kind of departure emails it generates.  A comparison of last day at the office emails from different geographic regions of the United States suggests that although New York might be the national melting pot, you might have to go south to find warmth in the workplace.

First up is a nice farewell email written by a lawyer at a law firm in Atlanta, Georgia.

From: XXXX
Sent: Friday, XXXX, 2010 6:30 PM
Subject: So long...
Dear friends,
As many of you know, I am leaving XXXX to work for [local public defender's office] in my home town of XXXX, Tennessee.  The decision to leave the firm was a difficult one:  on the one hand, I could go to work every day for the most dangerous and depraved elements of our society; on the other hand, I could leave XXXX and go to work for the [local public defender's office].
Bad jokes aside, I feel incredibly fortunate to have cut my teeth on litigation and the law at XXXX.  More importantly, I have made many wonderful friends. Please keep in touch (contact info below) -- I plan to remain in Atlanta for the next month or so and would love to see as many of you as possible.  And while it is my sincerest hope that none of you ever needs the services of my future employers, do please drop a line if you are in XXXX and need a beer. 
Sorry to indulge in the long tradition of bittersweet farewell emails, but I will miss you all. 

As you can see, our southerner's email follows the standard Last Day Email template; it begins with "As many of you know," segues into a gentle joke, asserts that the writer's experience at the workplace has been both professionally and socially enriching, and ends with a plea to keep in touch along with contact info.

Unlike a writer from the northern United States, however, our southern writer is not consumed by a fear of appearing dumb, and dares to -gasp- start one of his sentences with "And" and to suggest that his colleagues might one day "need a beer."  Most significant, however, is a complete lack of passive aggressiveness in the southern gentleman's email.  There is no subtext of discontent here.  As we shall see in the second email below, no matter how steadfast northern lawyers stick to the departure email template, a bit of absolute, utter, disdain for certain aspects of the workplace always seeps through, just like how The Trap emits smoke and a putrid stench after it successfully captures a ghost.

Now let's look at a Last Day Email from a litigation associate at a large New York law firm:
From: XXXX
Subject: My Departure
On Tuesday March 24th I will begin a new phase of my career at XXXX.  I am sincerely thankful to all of you for making my experiences here so pleasant and rewarding.  I have enjoyed my time at XXXX and will miss the familiar faces. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this very special firm.
I can be reached at 212-XXX-XXXX or by e-mail at
All the very best and continued success to each of you.
Immediately, this email makes you feel that the writer is in a hurry, not necessarily because he has a lot of things to do, but because he thinks interacting with you a complete waste of time.  His farewell email also follows the Last Day at the Office Email conventions, but he does not have an extra word to spare.  There is something perfunctory in the air.  While our southern writer mentions the "wonderful friends" he made at his firm, our northern writer can only attest to the familiarity of his colleagues' faces.

But the most telling sign of sheer, utter, displeasure with his workplace is the word "special."  Popular culture offers countless scenarios of a character searching for a word to describe something bad politely and finally, after a long ellipsis, settling, with a wink to the camera, on "special."  As a result, "special" has become a widely recognized inside joke.  Precisely for this reason, using "special" in a real life departure email demonstrates a certain degree of cavalierness --the writer is barely hiding his disgust, because he doesn't really care if you know that he hates your guts.

So there you have it.  Warmer climates produce warmer departure emails.  Yet another check mark in the "pro's" column for global warming.

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