Open Thread Thursday: Cures for Sea Sickness

We want to hear what you are doing to take care of yourself. Have you made plans for the weekend that include more than working on your resume and reviewing finances? A nice walk, laying out in the sun, a glass of wine?

Spill. We want to know.

Your Cruise Director


11 Responses to “Open Thread Thursday: Cures for Sea Sickness”

  1. 1 Legal Secretary 18 September 2008 at 8:51 am

    I’d already updated my resume, but resolved not to send it out until I know what’s happening at the Firm. However, that resolve wobbled pretty badly this morning when I read the Recorder’s prediction that Heller will dissolve. I feel so helpless – like I’m a paper boat in muddy waters that are circling the drain. Maybe someone will put the plug in before I reach the drain, maybe not. The only thing I can do right now, since I have no vote whatsoever, is to spend my coming weekend like I always do – working on my novel and screenplay. Monday morning? I will come to work as I always do and just hope for the best.

    I really don’t want this firm to dissolve. If there’s anything I can do to stay here, I will do it.

  2. 2 Pat 18 September 2008 at 8:55 am

    Long ago I was in what seemed like a beautiful relationship with a quality partner. Then, seemingly out of the blue, he broke up with me. I was devastated. But looking back at the relationship, I should have noticed the signs that all was not well. He rarely called or visited me; I did the calling and visiting. I made all the plans. He lost interest in much “bedroom activity.” Nothing long-term was discussed. But, I was so in love, I did not want to believe or accept that anything was amiss. I was delusionally happy, until the bustup.

    Sound familiar? Many of us have experienced this. Now apply this la-la-la-everything-is-OK delusion to working at Heller in the past 12 months. All the signs have been there all along so we should not be shocked at the pending dissolution. Budget cuts, hiring freezes, partner defections, poor client intake, etc.

    Fooled once, fooled twice. I have seen the signs, but I guess I’ve been too lazy, or maybe delusional again, to take action. I’m still here, arranging the deck chairs on the SS Heller. Let’s share the life preservers, please.

  3. 3 IT 18 September 2008 at 9:19 am

    The total lack of work has allowed us to update our resumes and job hunt… Mine is updated, applying for jobs, talking to recruiters, interviews scheduled… Not going to wait for this ship to sink.

  4. 4 hellerdrone 18 September 2008 at 9:53 am

    Thanks gang. These are the kind of comments I and other like to see – otherwise you can feel pretty isolated when no one wants to talk about the 900 pound gorilla in the room.

    Cruise Director

  5. 5 Legal Secretary 18 September 2008 at 11:16 am

    Question please? I have money still unused in my Mediflex. Should Heller dissolve next week – before I could get a doctor’s appointment or fill a prescription, etc. to use up that remaining money – does that money then disappear? Could I have the option of at least 30 days or so to fill new prescriptions or at least try to use up some of that money?


  6. 6 hellerdrone 18 September 2008 at 11:31 am

    Legal Secretary

    Here is info from Wikipedia on the coverage period issues:

    An FSA’s coverage period ends either at the time the “plan year” ends for your plan or at the time when your coverage under that plan ends. Example: Loss of coverage due to a separation from the employer.
    This means that if you are employed by a company from January through June and covered on their cafeteria benefits plan (including FSA) during that time, but do not elect and pay for continued coverage under that plan (i.e. COBRA). Your coverage period is defined only as January through June, not January through December as one might think. [1]
    All covered expenses must be incurred (or be dated) between January and June of that year.

  7. 7 Treading Water 18 September 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Nothing like creating mass hysteria, HD. I really, really hope that your expectation that Heller will implode soon is not going to happen, but what has happened at work is becoming nearly unbearable to those of us that choose not to flip out over this. Yes, I’m getting my affairs in order, of course, but our coworker who works two feet away from us is driving us crazy with her doom and gloom mantra all day long. All right, all ready. Some of us are okay to wait this out, but trying to deal with the person sitting right next to us, who can’t cope with anything s/he can’t control is becoming unbearable, to say the least. I’m going to bring earplugs so I can hear myself think. When the going gets tough it’s easy to see who can hang and who cannot.

  8. 8 hellerdrone 19 September 2008 at 3:31 am

    Thanks Treading

    I understand your point and I can empathize with you. H.D. remembers when he had a co-worker (not at Heller) who constantly worried and predicted a set of layoffs that never happened. Well there was only one layoff and she didn’t expect it – too busy being Miss Doom and Gloom. The winds of karma do prevail sometimes.

    Everyone is going to deal with this differently. I appreciate the feedback as to this blog and my posts fanning the flames at Heller. I will try to keep that in check as I continue to post.

    Deep down would I like a dissolution of the Firm? NO. Am I being reasonable in being willing to accept a dissolution of the Firm? YES. I’d much rather have a situation where we split off into different firms rather than have the bankruptcy pandemonium that was Brobeck.

    And by constantly bringing up the dissolution concept I feel that those who are still in denial or still too shell-shocked to deal with what is going on, will be better able to absorb, process and act upon the news when and if it does come.

    Cruise Director

  9. 9 po'ed 20 September 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Hey Treading Water, I feel your pain but fear things will get even more unbearable next week as plans unfold and staffers realize they’re definitely being left behind. Seems like everyone was in disbelief most of this past week and many are holding on to hope of still having a job next month. I’ve personally moved from anger to fear to sadness and am back to anger again.

    btw, did anyone else happen to see the All-Hands Thank-you message last night from Alaska associate Wei-Drin Lee? It was not-surprisingly wiped off my in-box by this morning and I kinda wished I’d forwarded it somewhere for posterity!

  10. 10 Anonymous 20 September 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Po’ed: Got it here:

    From: Lee, Wei-Drin
    Sent: Friday, September 19, 2008 7:01 PM
    To: Lee, Wei-Drin
    Subject: Thank you

    Dear Friends and Colleagues:
    I have spent the last seven years in ABJECT FEAR AND DREAD of accidentally sending a Firmwide message, which, as we all know, is totally prohibited without prior Management approval. In fact, I regularly recoil whenever asked to send even a practice-group-wide email for fear of looking like a total idiot. And although this Firmwide message does not have prior Management approval, strange times call for stranger actions. Before the winds scatter us into becoming the Diaspora Formerly Known as Heller Ehrman, I am writing to you today because I think we still have some unfinished business.

    In the flurry of activity beginning Monday morning, there has been confusion, frustration, bewilderment, and of course, deflating spirits hissing a tune that seemed to match that of our financial markets. No doubt many of us have scurried into our separate corners and cubicles, shut our office doors, and proceeded to get on the phone to find Plan Bs to keep the lights on. But in the midst of all of this, I personally have not taken a moment to do something I think is still important –

    Pay my respects.
    Lest you think I am some kind of out-of-touch cheerleader whose pom-poms are making light of difficult times, I would be the first to point out, of course, it hasn’t always been just lollipops and butterflies – it wouldn’t be the practice of law if that were the case. Personally I’ve had my share of difficult cases, challenging client and internal expectations, and of course, document review paper cuts. When I first started at Heller, my office had a view of some nondescript grey building, which on rainy days, was just about the dirtiest, most depressing thing to look at. But from where I sit today, I have a view of the Pacific Ocean and on a clear day, this continent’s highest peak – Mt. McKinley. (And more importantly on an even clearer day, Russia, if you have a lively imagination or a bionic eye.)

    But when I started, I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to stick with a big firm long enough to ensure that I wouldn’t have to pay back moving expenses. Since then, I’ve morphed through three practice groups, moved from our biggest office to one of our smallest, and watched our Strategic Axis unfold into Strategic Bubbles.

    And I’ve worked with countless good and brilliant people.
    I’ve always said to others outside our profession I didn’t think I could work for any “Big Firm” other than Heller Ehrman because this firm has tried to be there for its people. On a personal note, when I decided mid-practice to leave San Francisco to clerk in Alaska (of all places), this firm was there for me and supportive of my departure. When I decided to stay up here but continue working with everyone, this firm was there and welcomed me back. When I hit a metaphysical brick wall and began doubting a future in this profession, this firm was still there for me – and stood by side making it hard to just walk away. I of course always thought this firm would be there – for me and for everyone – and would surely outlive all of our own respective legal careers.

    But we’ve all had to find out the hard way, from newspapers and blogs, that things are changing. And while many of us have gone into our colleagues’ cubicles and offices to hold each other and weep, we haven’t had a common moment all together – firmwide – to recognize ourselves and be proud of the work we have always done.

    I’ve been here through many efforts to re-engineer who we are, including that Strategic Axis (which by the way was very hard to mime when you only have two arms) and the decision to try to juggle the aforementioned strategic bubbles. But in the end, what we have always done at Heller Ehrman is actually quite plain and simple:

    Good work, for good clients, with good people.
    How’s that for strategery?
    As with everything, there is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. So I believe for each of us, even during difficult times, there has been a moment, at least a flash, when we’ve taken great pride that we work for Heller Ehrman. With no particular authority whatsoever, I ask you all to take a moment to still be proud of that, to remember the times when the firm has managed to be there for you, and most of all, to thank you for being there for the firm and for each other in the work we do. I am not making this sh*t up.

    You deserve it.
    So to all the attorneys who have tolerated my “stupid” questions and helped me rise to challenges, to all the secretaries who have reformatted every brief I’ve royally screwed up, to all the paralegals and case assistants who have stood by my side while producing millions and millions of pages without blinking or going insane, to all the IT staff who have reworked massive databases all while standing on one leg….

    To everyone who has manned this ship, this particular Heller Ehrman employee would like to personally thank you and let you all know you are great people with fine skills which will see you through this challenging time. I have taken pride in working with all of you. And if you are still reading this diatribe, I thank you for your time and hope the best for all of you.

    P.S. Please note, again, this is totally NOT a firm-approved message. But somebody had to say something.
    Onward and upward,

    Heller Ehrman LLP
    State Bar of California 2007 President’s Pro Bono Service Award, Distinguished Pro Bono
    2008 Go-To Law Firm for 2008, American Law Media #1 Law Firm Best in Region (Pacific Northwest)


  11. 11 hellerdrone 22 September 2008 at 9:43 am

    Thanks! You beat me to this – I immediately saved this email to my flash drive knowing that Heller IT can go in an delete email blasts like this.

    Heller Drone
    Cruise Director

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Life preserver.jpg
Remember the words of Rev. Frank Scott (Gene Hackman in The Poseidon Adventure):

". . . sitting on our butts is not going to help us either. Maybe by climbing out of here, we can save ourselves. If you've got any sense, you'll come along with us."

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Last Modified: September 14, 2008

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