This is not the post I expected to be writing today. Really, this is not the post I expected to be writing anytime in the foreseeable future.
My full-time job is likely ending. The partners told me today they have agreed to terms to sell/merge with a big corporate firm. This has been under discussion since the first of the year and I have been peripherally involved in those discussions. However, as of the end of April it appeared to be filed away under not-going-to-happen. Apparently there were some other things going on behind the scenes as of today, the deal is done. I went to the office to notarize documents and agreements and have had opportunity to skim through the highlights. The firm as a separate entity ends on June 30, but there will be up to a 6-month transition term to ensure our existing clients receive the same level of service and we figure out office space and other matters.
What that means for me – I already knew I will be leaving, even if offered an opportunity to stay. Life is short, and I do not want to work in a corporate firm again. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is the small firm aspects of it. I am within 10 feet of the owners and decision makers; there is no layered bureaucracy to wade through and navigate. While we have a chain of command and a defined organizational structure, everyone in our firm is comfortable talking to the partners about anything and everything. It’s informal and comfortable, yet very professional with high integrity and sense of fairness. From working with people of rather flexible moral standards when it came to running a business, I have found this to be of immeasurable importance and priority for me.
The partners – they are good people; they put measures in place to protect the staff. Whether I stay or go, I will be collecting a paycheck through the end of 2017. Because of health insurance benefits and other severance package incentives, I will honor my commitments to them in whatever shape it takes me. However, I already know I am likely to be among the first to exit the firm. As a supervising manager in our office and an almost purely administrative overhead employee, my job functions of billing, accounting, payroll, and human resources will be absorbed almost immediately by existing staff in the Los Angeles office. A new leader has already been appointed and will be in the office the third week in June meeting the staff and outlining the way forward. The partners will continue to function as consultants to the new enterprise, guiding existing client cases as needed until they can be moved to another attorney.
Surprisingly, I am actually quite happy for the partners. From a business and financial standpoint, they made an excellent deal that sets them up for either early retirement or with an opportunity to pursue other types of work that may interest them. Reading through the outline of the agreement, they put protections in place for the staff with regard to severance pay and offers of continued employment. Who will end up staying or going I cannot predict, but at least the parachute the partners negotiated will soften our landings.
While I should be more upset about this turn of events, I am really not. I will miss my crew; I have made some great friends and helped create a very special work environment. In truth, of all my professional accomplishments within this firm, I am most proud of the team we have built and the work ethic we have instilled and built up around one another as individuals as well as the firm as a whole. To see it absorbed and become just another tiny cog in a big giant machine with bazillions of cogs is difficult to swallow. But that’s business.
Most people in my situation would understandably be freaking out, but I guess I am not most people. I still have a thriving little self-employment business and with more time and a little energy I can return to a level of billing that comfortably pays the bills and provides freedom to continue pursuing our interests. I recently cut ties with a couple of clients, and I still have zero regrets about it, despite this new news. With a steady paycheck and maybe a job to report to for the balance of the year, I have room to plan and create a strategy for moving forward on my own again.
Maybe the freak out happens next month, when this all becomes a lot more real. Or perhaps I will just become enthralled and excited about more time to pursue my better health objectives and develop a hobby. Or something like it. Heck, maybe I’ll even blog more frequently than I have been this year.
Whatever happens next, I have the luxury (and trust me, I recognize how fortunate we are in this) of looking at it as an adventure rather than a setback.