Friday, March 6, 2009

Layoff Coverage

Earlier this week, I was contacted by a freelance writer working on an article for the Associated Press. I declined to speak to her because I thought the media was focusing too much on how employees are reacting to layoffs instead of highlighting the unethical manners in which companies are handling layoffs. I asked her to focus on what the companies are doing, and she responded that she would be "happy to talk...about that as well." Well, sure enough, the article comes out and it's only about employees and their departure emails. Good thing I declined to speak to her.

[If you want to read a decent and intelligent article that the New York Times did on layoffs, check out this article. I had to email the guy and thank him.]

Here's the email exchange I had with the AP writer:

On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 10:46 AM, Kelly DiNardo wrote:

I'm a freelance writer working on a story about departure e-mails for the
Associated Press. I was hoping to have a quick phone chat with you about the
one you sent out and that then traveled through the blogosphere. Would you
give me a ring at your earliest convenience -- [phone number deleted] -- or let me
know the best way to reach you?


Kelly DiNardo
Freelance Writer

On Mar 4, 2009, at 1:59 PM, Shinyung Oh wrote:

Hi, Kelly,

Thanks for the request, but I think the media should focus on
unethical practices corporations and law firms are engaged in when
laying off their employees. Thanks.



I'm happy to talk to you about that as well. Would you give me a call?




  1. Journalists, and not only freelancers, almost always approach a story with an angle in mind - and then they look (primarily) for supporting evidence, and just enough to provide some counterpoint.

    So when you find an article (like the one in the Times) that you like, that's because of the angle they chose when they decided to do the story, not because of what their research turned up.

    I'm not suggesting that this is right or good - but it is a fact of life.

  2. This...

    As part of a government filing last week, I.B.M. said its work force in Brazil, Russia, India and China had climbed to 113,000. These are markets with faster growth than the United States, and less expensive skilled labor.

    is fairly typical these days.

    Just as the auto industry is shipping jobs from the US and Canada to Mexico, knowledge workers in this hemisphere have been at risk for there jobs 'going to India'.

    Thomas Friedman in his book The World is Flat points out that the wave of globalisation for knowledge work (think IT, HR, Payroll) took off in earnest during the 2000-2003 recession so, it would make sense that it will simply accelerate now.

  3. Thank you for this post Shinyung. I couldn't agree with you more. I would love to hear from former associates (and others) who have lost their jobs under the pretense of performance when it was really economic based or other political absurdities prevalent in the legal field. This type of maltreatment needs to be exposed and with the legal economy in shambles right now, there is no better time for this to happen.

    I worked in biglaw for two years before finally quitting after three different associates at my firm were fired under the umbrella of poor work quality when in fact there work had never been a problem once throughout their tenure. One was given a defamatory performance review by a vial partner who brings in absolutely no business and was going through a very public and messy divorce. I was then given an assignment to work for this same partner, who started to harass me for my writing. In two years, I had never received an even remotely unfavorable review. I gave notice of my intent to leave before I could let him further satiate his already overinflated ego. I don’t care what the economic situation is, nobody has the right to treat me in a subhuman manner; I’d rather pay off my loans for a period of 60 years than continue to be subjected to such hostile treatment.

    Please continue to fight the good fight. Hopefully you can find a group of people to band together to expose the firms and their partners for their inhumane ways.

  4. Hi Shinyung,
    My husband read about your story from a Chinese newspaper and told me about it. I just want to say that I applaud and support you for exposing Paul Hasting's practice and probably the practice of many other law firms out there. 8 years ago, I was also RIFFed and it happened in the 5th month of my maternity leave, which was well after the 3month protection under FMLA. My career has taken twist and turns since then--(one twist also involved another employer maligning my character so they could cover up their own mistakes)--the maligning of my character was harder to get over than the RIF during my maternity leave, so I know exactly what you're talking about.

    I just want to encourage you to hang on, and pursue your writing or whatever else you want to do. You'll probably look back someday and say that was a turning point in your life onto something bigger and better. Best of luck to you.

    From a fellow attorney in Vienna, Virginia