Rookie Mistake

Published September 2, 2011

“After conquering Silicon Valley” during a 15-year high-tech career, a former software engineer went to law school and took a job with a big New York City firm. He lasted less than a year.

First, he refused to do mundane legal work routinely assigned to first-year lawyers. Then, with time on his hands even though he “immediately began doing superlative work” at the firm, he sent an e-mail to 12 partners at the firm. It said:

“I am writing to see if you have any small cases I could manage for you. It has become clear that the only limiting factor on how much value I am to a case is how much responsibility I am given: the more responsibility I am given, the better the outcome. I am in kind of an uncomfortable position at the firm because although I am a ‘first year,’ I have 15 years business and real world experience, as much as many senior associates. When I first got here I did not know what to expect, but after working here for several months now it has become clear that I have as much experience and ability as an associate many years my senior, as much skill writing, and a superior legal mind to most I have met.”

Not surprisingly, the associate was fired. Also not surprisingly, he’s now suing the firm for $77 million.

Source: David Lat, “Lawsuit of the Day: Ex-Kasowitz Associate With ‘Superior Legal Mind’ Sues the Firm for $77 Million,” above the law, August 17, 2011