Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Prudence Anyone?

So I put myself out there. Prudence dictates that I keep my head down, wait for this incident to blow over, apply for a normal job, and pray that whoever interviews me (if I can still get an interview, that is) is oblivious enough not to have seen my email or has a bad enough memory not to recognize my name. I mean, there's a reason why fish camouflage, and isn't there something to be learned from that? Instead, I stick my neck out once again and wait for the guillotine to drop.

I read the comments on Above the Law, and I got that churning feeling in the pit of my stomach. Why did I give my facebook photo to the WSJ reporter, and why is it plastered all over the place? I am freakin tired of looking at it too. But such mean comments. Who are these people? And where do they work that they should have so much time on their hands? But maybe this is what I get for grabbing more virtual space than this is worth. Should I just delete this blog now? Go away quietly and resume my life as it was before this fiasco? I mean, why use this opportunity to try writing? It's gibberish, and why do I have to practice my writing in front of the world to see (and judge so harshly)? And who cares about some random chick who had a miscarriage and got fired? Shit happens all the time, and on the grand scale, this really is trivial.

But the other side of me says, well, you've been wanting to try your hand at writing for the past fifteen years, and now that you've been spit out by PH, what's the harm in trying it out? The worst that can happen is that no one reads it, or people read it and tell you it's crap, and you will at least know that you gave it a try. And you never saw the point of writing if no one reads what you write, so isn't this a great way to try your hand at it? And one way or the other, sooner or later, you'll know more concretely whether it's worth pursuing. Right?

And is spending another ten years in a law firm really the answer? Haven't I had my fill of discovery, case law, and settlement conferences? I mean, what do I have to show for the past ten years of my life? Yeah, I can write a mean ass nastygram, but is that really something to tout? And am I going to look back 10 years from now and regret I didn't at least give it a try? I'll forever wonder how the ilks of Jhumpa Laharis hit the best seller list and I couldn't even give it a try.

But that damn job pays so well. Well, maybe I keep doing my contract gig for a bit, which at the end of the day is enough to live on, and try my hand at this writing thing for a few months. We'll see how this goes...

And in the meantime, if only I could grow a thicker skin...


  1. you don't know me from eve, but i like your writing and will definitely read, for what it's worth.

    incidentally, your experience with PH has given me a serious helping of healthy skepticism as i prepare to join biglaw in the fall.

    here's hoping this debacle ends as well for you as it did for http://www.petiteanglaise.com/.

  2. Ms. Oh:
    Please don't take those awful posters on ATL seriously. I get more disgusted by our profession when I read postings on ATL and even on the WSJ law blog. You would think that 12-year-olds write those things, not alleged attorneys. It just goes to show how our profession has fallen. I think that you did a brave thing that many of us (myself included) do not have the courage to do.
    Keep your chin up!

  3. Like the previous commenter, you don't know me. I too read the recent comments on ATL (hence my landing here). It never ceases to amaze me that people can be so needlessly cruel. If they don't want to read what you have to say as you process what you've gone through personally and professionally (and as you move on with your life), they don't have to -- you didn't invite them here or ask their opinion. I wouldn't put much stock in any of it.

    For what it's worth, I'm a fellow biglaw litigation associate who had a miscarriage (mine was last fall). At my firm (whose identity will remain anonymous), the powers that be were (surprisingly) very supportive when I finally let them know. My own more positive experience made me feel especially disheartened to read about how negative yours was.

    On that note, as you go through the process of evaluating where to go from here, be sure to separate out the abysmal end of your tenure at PH from your feelings about your career and work generally. Were you enjoying what you were doing prior to the falling of the ax? Or had you merely convinced yourself you were in an act of cognitive dissonance? Perhaps the contract work you're doing now can give you the time and distance needed to seriously think about that question (I know it's a question I'll need to ask myself at some point soon, but certainly don't have the mental energy to do so now).

    Best wishes!

  4. I saw the blog mentioned on Above the Law last night, immediately clicked over, read the first five post and added it to my bloglines.

    You have a way with words (to put it mildly). Keep writing!

  5. Stop reading those dumb comments on ATL! You did the right thing and nothing will stop or change that. Those folks are immature and would never have the courage to take the high road like you did. I left the law firm life a few years ago. Not as flashy of a departure as yours, but it was hard nonetheless. Most lawyers I knew congradulated me for "getting out." I knew that was a sign.

    I also have done contract work and it doesn't pay as well but I have my freedom and flexibilty to do other things. It was the best desision I have ever made. After I left I couldn't even tell my former colleagues how great it was to not be a slave to billable hours b/c they just didn't want to hear it. You can't blame them. They are on their hamster wheel and they "must" keep going - or at least they think so.

    One more similarity: I had a miscarriage recently. It threw me for a tailspin like nothing I have ever experienced. Your honesty about your experience was very inspiring to me. Keep you blog up. I will read it. Others will read it. And you will grow as a person. People who criticize you just want company in their own mysery.

  6. I agree with everybody else. Do what you are doing, and stay away from the "comments" section on ATL. If people have something REALLY worth saying, they will comment here.

  7. I recently was laid off from a big law firm (my suspicions are that it had a lot to do with being a young mother and because I had been taking advantage of a post-maternity program that allowed me to work part-time). I am also korean american. I was appalled when your PH email had been circulated without your permission, but am very glad that it brought some amount of justice to the situation in the end. Like you, sometimes I feel like my world is spinning too and I wonder what use the last couple of years of grueling work had. I'm trying to take this opportunity to reflect, rest, pray and patiently wait for the next opportunity or inspiration to come along. Hope that you are able to find that bright ray of sunshine in these dark confusing times. Best of luck. Try to keep following your passions!

  8. Ignore the unduly harsh critics and their anonymous swords. Your writing style is awesome and very entertaining. I just found your blog today and really enjoy it. I've never worked in BigLaw...not my thing, life is too short to be unhappy. Best to you in both your professional and personal life.

  9. I never read the comments on ATL because it's never worthwhile. Ever notice how they usually quickly devolve into some nonsensical name-calling that has nothing to do with the substance of the ATL post? I suspect they are written by monkeys. Keep writing. I am running out of websites to surf while I draft another opposition to a motion to compel.

  10. I strongly suggest you take a good hard look in the mirror and start appreciating yourself.

    The worst thing I've seen you do among all the brave things you have done is hand over your power to a bunch of lawyers (and the worst of the lost, including the imbecile commenters on ATL) and letting them tell you what you are worth. That's a trap door you should NEVER fall through.

    Your writing is a gift. Your willingness to repeatedly put yourself out there to send a message is not an easy choice. Own it; don't detract from it by questioning your decision. You knew what you were doing when you started blogging...and continue to blog :-)

    Now, to hopefully attract publishers and more to help bring your writing gift to the world.

  11. Definitely keep writing. There are a lot of biglaw associates who are rooting for you. You gave us strength by standing up for yourself.

  12. HA. Although I love ATL, the commenters can only be described as frat-boy-esq. Theres something very strange that happens to (some) people when they are allowed to say things with impunity--knowing that they wont be held accountable.

    Nevertheless, keep your chin up. Theres nothing that any of us can do to prevent this sort of behavior except be certain that we dont allow ourselves to stoop to such levels. People will always find something to criticize. And the less likely they are to be held accountable, the meaner they'll be.

    I get the sense you are a very strong woman--after all, you survived law school, years at PH, and had the guts to send off an AWESOME parting letter. Dont let a bunch of frat boys get you down.

  13. I don't know you either, but more ATL readers should be like me. I skip the comments all together so all I got was a great new blog recommendation and no disappointment in the shallowness of my colleagues that spend far too much time on that website!

    But, now I'm kind of curious! Don't delete the blog. It's great.

  14. I'm a first-year female associate. Your email was admirable and your blog is inspiring. Please keep it up!

  15. Don't read the comments on ATL, just a bunch of folks reverting to middle school antics.

  16. I think your writing is excellent. Keep it up, and don't let the haters get you down!

    If you write a book, I will definitely buy it!

  17. You have a gift for the written word; it would be a shame for you to give it up because some nitwit ex-frat boys gave you a hardtime on ATL. Keep writing, and I'll keep writing.

  18. Don't throw in the towel. I really enjoy your writing and just linked you!!!

  19. For what it's worth... I read your PH email when it was 1st posted on ATL and recommended it to a bunch of my girl friends. Your email was honest and moving.

    I now look forward to following your progress on your new blog. Whether it's prudent or not, you now have a whole team of readers who are rooting for you and your professional success.

  20. Your story is quite sad, yet inspiring. I'm applying to Law School this year, and reading your story has only confirmed my expectations of the profession. It took courage to write such a farewell email.

    Your writing is admirable and you should continue to keep writing. Admittedly, I usually close the window of a blog if it bores me, but I didn't with yours (and I'm hard to please). I thought the first entry was quite good (such candid emotion), however it was a bit much for my late night dinner. Remain gallant, chin up, and keep writing!

  21. I am coming to the end of a seven-year run as an associate in a biglaw firm. It may or may not matter to you, but your departure words resonated with many within my firm and the stubborn pride that you demonstrated in what otherwise might have been an ignoble exit were more inspiring than you might perhaps ever begin to appreciate. Thank you and best of luck in all of your future endeavors -- professional and personal.

  22. Please keep writing the blog! And don't ever read the comments over at ATL- as many have noted, it is a cesspool over there sometimes. Your writing is lovely and your email and continued courage are inspirational, especially to other women in large law firms. Plus I'm looking forward to seeing where life takes you!

  23. I would say forget about the posters on ATL. The individuals that post on ATL are mostly Biglaw associates who use ATL as an escape for their unfulfilling jobs, unfulfilling home lives and bitter existences -- and it shows through their cruel, immature and senseless comments. As others have echoed, you have a talent for writing. Continue to do what you do knowing that there are plenty who appreciate reading what you have to write. I would stay away from ATL's comment section -- nothing good can come of it...for anyone!

  24. What a terrible experience you have been through - a miscarriage is a devastating experience and to lose your job so soon was a true injustice.

    I hope that for you this is a step in a new career path, whatever it might be. And don't give up on your dream of having a child, miscarriages are awful and you must grieve but you will find new focus if you have something to dream of. Take care.

  25. Well, it appears there is more than a consensus on what you should do. And I am in agreement with them. I have enjoyed your writing thus far (though I dispute the "non-existent God" comment, but maybe we'll save that for another day).

    I say, "Keep writing. You're doing a great job."


  26. great--you're writing! i will read every post, as, it seems, will many others. then maybe the advertising $ and publishing possibilities will come. the key, though, is to post as regularly as possible.

    i am so glad to read an attorney's blog who is so genuine and decent--someone who could use the money we make in biglaw but turned it down for reasons of personal integrity and dignity. i'm so often tired of the cynicism, elitism, and incredible shallowness of biglaw attorneys--many of whom used to do very interesting things and be interesting people. somehow biglaw submerges personalities, decency, and any real passion for life in general. makes me sad, and i am glad to see you emerge on the other side, integrity, genuineness, passion all intact.

  27. I think you're awesome. Don't worry about the toolbags at ATL.

  28. I agree you should keep writing. I do read ATL and I actually do like the website exactly because it shows me the inner workings of biglaw folks. They are nothing to aspire to.

    I am currently studying for the bar and already know I DO NOT want to be a lawyer (in most aspects of the law, although there are a few I would consider). I worked as a paralegal in top 5 biglaw firm and I can say most people there are only there for the money and are quite unhappy compensating for lack of passion and joy in their lives with money they spend but not generally spend much time enjoying.

    I think its important for other lawyers to know what others in their profession genuinely think, feel and do truthfully because so many lie to themselves and others and pat themselves on the back for their ivy degrees, salaries and prestigious jobs with absolutely nothing worthwhile to show for it - not even a happy, satisfying life.

    Keep writing and hope something pans out for you that you enjoy whether its legal or not.

  29. Hi! I'm a 2L who came over from ATL.

    Just wanted to say that you have valuable insights and wonderful writing ability. It's clear that you've been through a lot and you deserve a lot of credit for that.

    Haters who comment meanly about others tend to be unhappy and deficient in their own lives. They pick on someone's else's misery out of indifference, perhaps b/c their personalities are so lousy. Your haters make it clear that you are much more considerate and courageous than them.

    I hope that you can keep your focus, time and energy up and not get discouraged. If you're looking for people to edit your work or give you feedback, let me know,

  30. It's 1:00am, so naturally I'm still at work procrastinating. I just read all of your posts, and honestly they're really good. Best of luck.

  31. You should come out to Seattle. People are much more civil here and a great area to start a writing career.

  32. Dear Shinyung,

    You have 6+ years of litigation experience at a major law firm. Rent some office space and go solo. Its not that difficult to do. Call up some old clients and ask for referrals. Sitting around will get you nowhere.

    Also, a quick question, you said that your old bosses said you quit because your husband is a successful entrepeneur? Is it true that he is? I have wondered why you would turn down the severance package. I am in a similar situation on the east coast and as the bread winner I cannot be so cavalier as to turn down a similar package, if offered, even if it hurts my feelings to do so. This is not an attack, as I empathize with you on this.

  33. I'm just a dumb kid applying to law school in the fall... and happened upon ATL, read the post about you, and now found your blog.

    Whew. I have to say I have been sufficiently freaked out. But your writing is so good. I am so on that couch that you were when you decided to not try writing... only my couch dream is to be an environmental lawyer. Here's to couch dreams. You're awesome. Good luck and we're all rooting for you. I will buy your first book.

  34. You're a hero-- don't lose heart!

  35. Keep up the great work with the blog. You'll find writing to be a rewarding experience.

    You should look into going solo -- Big Law gets so much attention that everyone forgets that most attorneys out in the collar counties and "flyover country" are solo or small firm practitioners. There might be less money involved, but the extra time for personal interests and family is worth more than some extra dollars.

  36. As a GC of a financial services company, the story you tell is one reason why my company chooses the outside attorneys who represent us very carefully. The large law firm business model is difficult to sustain -- more and more companies are refusing to pay outrageous hourly rates, especially for those firms who expect their clients to foot the training costs and who throw partners (with not enough billables) on matters more suitably staffed by associates.

    Good luck in your future endeavors -- I'll keep reading this blog and should you get a book deal, will buy that book. contract

  37. Good for you. You've done what so many have wished they had the guts to do.

  38. Your email to PH was like an Allen Ginsberg moment leaving me awestruck -- it's very fitting that you live in San Francisco, the city that always challenges this country to think differently about its mores -- for my own selfish reasons, I hope that you will write a book -- it would be a gift to me as a fan of your writing and it would give me comfort to know that you had triumphed after all that you have been through. I wish you all the best.

  39. Keep up the blog. Keep your head up. That's easy for me to say, but you seem like a strong woman. You will land on your feet. As a father of a baby girl I have started thinking about strong female role models. You are one.


  40. Please contact me, I have a case for you, has guaranteed public noteworthiness and the Federal Court approved contracts guarantee payment. You may never have to work again. Powerful parties do not want the case to see light of day. As you are already battling the "entrenched" mindset, what is another?
    the matter is eToys
    Google of will give you insight.
    the case, as a matter of Law, is an easy task. They simply refuse to apply the law and your noteriety would prevent that from continuing. Also, new investigations have begun as the SEC contacted me, again, this very day.
    Now is the time.
    Plus this will be fun.
    You can do a great public service and "get the bad guys".

  41. BTW,

    Kudo's to your effort to do.
    The number one item that all human's seek, after the safety of health and food, is to fulfill the need of speciality. Our desire to be special to someone, even for a brief period of time, goes hand in hand with the quest to do, the pursuit of A's over B's the zeal to win a race, etc.
    We all have what we are born with, what we do with it is what counts.

    Just remember the old movie addage, there is no such thing as "bad" publicity, there is ONLY Publicity.
    Publicity is what makes our world go round.
    Remember the Hollywood basic rules,
    Never answer on the first ring,
    Never say I will be right over
    NEVER, EVER, let them see you sweat!
    You have something going for you here. Like an extra birth right.
    What you do with it is up to you.
    Don't let naysayers get you down.
    For it is funny how people, inherrently, would sit across the table from Gatex, Trumb or Hillary and, having become familiar with them, contempt would seek in and they would reflect they are just lucky people, no different or better than me.
    For the other basic human flaw is the weak always try to elevate themselves over those who take control and act strong, by putting the other person down.

    I, even disagree with your approaches to your dilemma,
    Only a foolish one would blow an opportunity thrusted upon them.
    This is your 15 minutes,
    Spend it wisely!

  42. I also came about your blog via Above The Law and first heard about your story from there as well.

    Being a Korean female and an attorney, I immediately was drawn to your story and side. Please keep writing! Through your writing, people can let go of their frustrations by just reading it, knowing that many are being informed of wth is really going on and that associates are people too.


  43. I will read whatever you write.

  44. I finally took a few minutes to read your blog, and I love what you have to say. I love that you collect those rare moments alone with inspiring women and that you're honest. I love that you didn't just bury your head in the sand. And I love, perhaps most of all, that you were shocked by the mean comments on ATL. I have been attacked there too, and it is no picnic, I know.

    Please keep writing. You can make it work.