it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time. Just one today instead of our usual three since this one is a little longer.

While I was in law school, I clerked at a firm where I thought I had a future. Worked there for 2 years and was shocked to be let go soon after the bar exam. I had actually been planning to buy an extra used car to drive to handle all the out of state cases for the firm, because I knew that was a need, and didn’t want to put too many miles on my existing vehicle.

However, as emotional as I was, I resisted the urge to send a long bitter breakup email talking about all I did and was planning to do. I remained professional and kept in touch sporadically when there were big events or breaking news stories or cases in the practice area, of which there are many, since it’s a hot field due to politics and current events.

I then moved on to work in a nonprofit in the same practice field. That started out well, but it soon became clear that management (a) knew nothing about the field (b) knew nothing about management (c) cared only about superficial things and (d) did not read any emails, any of the client/case tracking files that we had to fill out both on Google Drive and on software – meaning they had no idea who was doing all the work and who was just turning away every client who didn’t come with a perfect case.

Worst of all was their response to the pandemic. They shut us down even though we were essential, and even though most of the work could be done remotely. They initially allowed work-from-home but wanted a detailed minute to minute log of what we were doing, sent every week (although again, they never read the reports nor provided any feedback or guidance) AND they expected all of the staff to constantly check email even while furloughed. Then, a couple weeks later when all the reopening hype started, they wanted to force us back into the office 40 hours a week. They also wanted to shift me to a non-law job, initially part of the time (25 hours), then wanted me to drop legal work entirely and do just the non-legal marketing stuff.

The Clueless Executive Officer asked all sorts of questions about what I wanted to do, then totally ignored everything I said. She cared more about having me sit in the office all day even though they weren’t assigning any work and clients were leaving us in droves because of the nonprofit’s mismanagement and inefficiency. When she found out my wife was pregnant, she sent me a Congratulations card but inside, the handwritten message said “happy birthday!” (It wasn’t my birthday)

Even free or very cheap legal help is useless if the legal services department isn’t working because of (a) to (d) above. They weren’t actually reading their email or the tracking sheets. They were weirdly insistent on my being in the office physically, even though I had a pregnant wife with a high-risk pregnancy and other risk factors like asthma. The breaking point came when they told me it didn’t matter that I had a pregnant wife with Covid risk factors because I wasn’t the one who was pregnant, and besides, “there are two pregnant women working in the clinic right now seeing clients, and they are fine.”

Meanwhile, contrary to the nonprofit’s “lets listen to the news and not the actual lawyer practitioners” philosophy, the field we are in was actually booming during the pandemic.

Here’s the good news part — The original law firm from the beginning of the story reached out to me and hired me back. I get paid several times what I did at the nonprofit, handle less clients, but get to do so much more fulfilling work helping clients achieve their dreams. I have much better management and am empowered to give my input and my ideas get implemented, not ignored.

Best of all, the pandemic means remote work has become the norm, so I didn’t even need the used car to handle clients nationwide, just Zoom and email. Plus, my wife just gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby, and I’m writing to you from the hospital room while watching over them, with a nice bouquet that my firm thoughtfully sent us. Now I’m enjoying my newest job as a first-time dad.

{ 78 comments… read them below }

    1. charo*

      Yes, best wishes!
      Not to be a downer, but it is true that “non-profits” are not necessarily virtuous and they for sure aren’t always run well. They can do good for some people but I’ve seen flaws from the inside.

  1. Caroline Bowman*

    That is wonderful! It’s a good example of why bridge-burning is a bad idea unless there really, really are serious extenuating circumstances, and just the odd keep-in-touch mail or call is never a bad idea in a relatively small industry / profession.

    Obviously they kept tabs on you, probably regretted your having been let go in the first place and now are much better-situated to give you the professional life you deserve and have worked hard for!

    Also, congratulations on joining the ranks of parenthood. The pay is crummy, the hours are, well, endless, but the intangible rewards are immense!

    1. Krabby*

      “Also, congratulations on joining the ranks of parenthood. The pay is crummy, the hours are, well, endless, but the intangible rewards are immense!”

      And you know, we’re like a family here!

      Sorry, couldn’t resist :P

    2. Mama Bear*

      Congrats on the baby, OP!

      I also like that they reached out to OP, so there was no question about how much they wanted OP back. This is a great story for Friday.

    3. charo*

      At a non-profit where I worked, the entire Counseling Dept. always seemed to feel they were better than other depts. and they finally angrily quit as a group and opened a private office.
      Within MONTHS or WEEKS they were closed because they couldn’t get along with each other!
      While the non-profit continued. Bridge burning didn’t take it down.

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      When a company asks you to return after letting you go – they’re eating a little humble pie, or just “oh S**T! What did we do by canning him?” Somebody did go out on a limb to call you back in.

      You’re likely back where you should be. Two things to remember –

      – Forgive. Don’t exhibit hostility, or walk around with a chip on your shoulder.
      – DO NOT FORGET.

    1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      Yeah, I think I need to go get my Claritin and some tissues… for my nose.. of course… sniff sniff

  2. PivotPivot*

    Congratulations all around. On the job, on the positive aspect of networking, on mom and baby. All of it.

  3. Important Moi*

    I am investigating a career similar to what LW is doing. This gives me hope!


  4. Jean (just Jean)*

    Such nice news! Enjoy your happiness! Wishing you years of productive work and happy parenting!
    Thank you for your example about the benefits of staying focused on one’s goals, and staying in touch with past contacts. Also thanks for the reminder that it is almost always better to take the high road. Quitting by fish (see earlier AAM posts) or emergency exit-slide (search for airline steward who exited his last working flight this way) makes for great fantasies but not such great living.

  5. SeluciaMD*

    This story totally made my day! Congratulations OP – both on your beautiful new baby and your shiny new (far more excellent) job!

  6. Granger Chase*

    Congratulations on your new baby! Hopefully both your wife & baby are doing well! High risk pregnancies can be scary, and I can’t believe the nonprofit really brought it down to picking between keeping your family safe from covid and being able to put food on the table. I’m so glad you’re back at a company who takes care of its employees & I wish you many years of success there!

  7. WorkIsADarkComedy*

    You gotta wonder how the bozos running the nonprofit got there in the first place. Not only do they not give a flying F-bomb about the welfare of their employees, but they also don’t seem to care about the mission of the nonprofit.

    Did they simply dream up the idea of the organization one night while drunk and then were too embarrassed to admit they were in over their heads?

    1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      It’s a nonprofit, so often it ends up with a beggars-can’t-be-choosers mentality. The people who are their clients have no other choice but to accept subpar services because the nonprofit has a monopoly on free/sliding scale services.

      It is maddening.

  8. Circe*

    I kept reading and reading, waiting for good news until I finally skipped to the bottom. So glad you found a wonderful new work-home!

  9. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Who’s cutting onions in here?

    OP, I am so glad you’ve made a triumphant exit from toxicity into happiness:)

  10. Colorado*

    The best piece of advice I was ever given by my mom (of course) is never burn your bridges. Good for you for resisting the urge to do that early in your law career.

    Congrats on your baby and Happy Birthday!

  11. Justme, the OG*

    I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Sorry to shout but this is exactly the kind of story I needed today.

  12. Bookworm*

    Definitely worth the ride. Thanks for sharing and so glad it worked out for you. Congratulations on every single part!!

  13. Sally Cat*

    Thanks for sharing your great story. It shows that things work out in the end. Congratulations on the new baby!

  14. Can't Sit Still*

    Best wishes to your family! I’m so glad you’ll be able to enjoy being a father, since you won’t be overworked and underpaid.

  15. tab*

    Possibly the best news I’ve ever read in this column! I’m so happy to the LW and his wife. Thanks, Alison for these delightful posts!

  16. CaliforniaLTD*

    What a great (ending to the) story! Congratulations and good for you! Best wishes to you and your family.

  17. Sharrbe*

    The happy birthday comment……oh my. Thank goodness it wasn’t a bereavement card. What a great illustration of the incompetence.

  18. Marie*

    I hope your non-profit wasn’t legal aid. Legal aid needs to keep all the dedicated attorneys they can!!

  19. Puppies!*

    This update made me happy on a day when I’ve been dealing with a painful situation. I’m happy for you OP. Wishing all the best to you and your wife and baby. xo

  20. Megumin*

    Congratulations to you and your wife! Getting to watch a tiny blob learn to how to be a human is a cool experience. Best of luck and thanks for sharing your good news!!

  21. Jules the Goblin*

    I LOVE hearing good news… fingers crossed my Friday is looking pretty good too! Thank you Alison and OP!

  22. Kesnit*

    I can’t believe the non-profit wanted to take a licensed attorney (who don’t grow on trees) and put you in marketing.

  23. Falling Star*

    Congrats!!! I think one of the best pieces of advice I have given my daughter is to not care more about the business than the owners. It will just frustrate you and the business will not change.

    1. Bob*

      “is to not care more about the business than the owners”
      Very interesting, is there a story behind this?

  24. Anonymous Poster*

    Sounds similar to us. We bought a home a couple years ago, just to land a job where we’d have to move internationally. Then, we found out we were expecting, lost it just as we entered the second trimester, and faced huge delays in our international move. Then found out we weren’t going to the country we thought we were going to, but going somewhere else instead and all the language training I had been doing was for naught because they don’t speak the same language in these countries. We moved, and the house sat empty for months.

    But then, we found out we were expecting. The house got rented out. We can get by very well in the country we moved to in English, and know enough pleasantries to acknowledge that the country speaks another language entirely. And we welcomed our baby boy. And now our second is on its way. And I’m paid well enough where my spouse can fulfill their dream of staying at home with the kids.

    Moving internationally and culture shock and all that is very, very real. But even while sleep deprived, seeing my little tyke smile at me when I say good morning to him makes it all okay.

  25. Not So NewReader*

    This is a great story for anyone feeling like they are on a hamster wheel at the moment. What a ride you had here, OP. Congratulations on your new and good job and Congrats! to the both of you on your new little one.

  26. Banana Bread*

    Congratulations! This must be the first time someone has written to AAM from a hospital!

  27. Academic Librarian too*

    work from home means that no one can label me unprofessional for crying at work. Thank you for sharing!

  28. Chelsea*

    Probably the biggest takeaway I have from reading this blog is to never, ever work at a non-profit. Seems like they are rife with mismanagement and even abuse.

  29. SinisterSerina*

    I may have teared up at this. Congratulations (not happy birthday unless it really is your birthday by some odd coincidence) . I’m a sucker for a happy ending and this is a happy ending (and beginning!) if I ever heard one.

  30. Chaordic One*

    This really is a great story and great news. I admire your restraint in being able to resist sending that bitter breakup email. I do wonder just what they said when they reached out to you. (Any groveling?)

    But still, congrats on everything.

  31. Scarlett10is*

    What a wonderful story! Thanks so much for sharing, and congratulations to you and your wife :-D

  32. 30 Years in the Biz*

    Thank you for taking the time to write up your recent triple dose of good news! Congratulations on your growing family!!

  33. WFH2020*

    This one made me cry, tears of joy. Congratulations! Such a hopeful story during such a weird and stressful time.

  34. Them Boots*

    Yay!!! Congratulations for many, many things and especially on the new addition to your family. Whoo hoo!!!

  35. MamaSarah*

    Congratulations, LW!! And welcome to the club! I love that you took the high road and it all worked out. Very inspiring!

  36. Bob*

    Clueless Executive Officer
    I love it, gonna steal it!

    Glad to hear it worked out but be vigilant that they might do a repeat and suddenly let you go again.
    Build up your contacts, put out subtle feelers and bolster your savings accounts. Despite being extra tired with a newborn and the time and especially expense involved do not neglect to save up a substantial rainy day fund, forget the 6 months of expenses, aim for a year or more and begin building it rapidly starting right away.
    Beware of lifestyle creep.

  37. Long Time Lurker*

    Congrats on the baby and new job! Your story is a prime example for why we should never burn our bridges!

  38. JobHopper*

    “clueless executive officer”– that is priceless.
    So happy you are having a great ending and even better to leave the clueless nonprofit.
    Enjoy your new journey!

  39. Batgirl*

    I’m having lots of fun reading a memo sent out by snail mail from the school where I teach. It contains a highly optimistic equipment list that parents must equip students with (presumably because we can’t just hand out shared stuff to the kids any more). It goes:
    – Face mask with reseable plastic bag
    – Hand sanitiser
    – Pens ×2
    – Red pen
    – HB pencil
    – Highlighter
    – Set of coloured pencils
    – Glue stick
    – Ruler
    – Eraser
    – Pencil sharpener
    – Protractor
    – Pair of compasses
    – Dictionary
    – Scientific calculator.
    For context, very few of my students have more than a leaky pen on them at any one time and consider themselves lucky if they have that much.
    I’m sure that free school meal, and just shy of qualifying, families who’ve been relying on their own wits for months and possibly lost jobs and suffered sickness will get right on that shopping list.
    That’s before we even consider those from chaotic homes and those kids who are in care.
    The dictionary is where I lost it. Not even the school can afford enough dictionaries. Many of my low ability kids can’t use them properly.. there may even be some who are allergic to dictionaries.
    It’s not even an unreasonable list. Yet I’ll be jiggered if people follow it.

  40. Steveo*

    I will say that my only knowledge of what it is like working at a non-profit comes from this site. I don’t have any friends or relatives who work at one – and oh boy – why do they all seem like giant train wrecks of a workplace. Something about “oh we can ignore all these laws, business norms, and polite society – because of the mission”?

  41. 'Tis Me*

    It sounds like perhaps they weren’t able to hire on OP straight away but it wasn’t due to anything personal and they were always hoping to bring them back on board – sounds like it’s happened with really good timing and a newfound appreciation for all of the things they do well!

    Also, big congratulations on the new arrival! <3

  42. Lt. Frank Drebin*

    Oh I bet i know which nonprofit that is (I have a friend there and it sounds like a disaster). Kudos to you for getting out!

Comments are closed.