Posts Tagged 'be prepared'

Buoy oh buoy! Five Things Hellerites Wished They Knew At The Start

[Note from Heller Drone:  your Cruise Director was asked to write a brief post over at Above The Law – a post with advice for our commrades at Thelen and other firms going through or getting ready to go through a dissolution.  Believing that knowledge is power, I was only too happy to oblige.  Below is the text of the post with a link back to the original.]

[Ed Note: This post was written for ATL by “Heller Drone,” who created the blog Heller Highwater in response to a lack of information concerning Heller Ehrman’s dissolution. We asked Heller Drone for helpful advice to offer Thelen associates and staff. Good luck to everybody dealing with these difficult circumstances.]

Being capsized is often something quite jarring and comes upon you suddenly and painfully, say like food poisoning or an episode of The View. And despite the fact that you can see that iceberg in the distance, a soon-to-be ex-staffer of a BigLaw firm can’t always anticipate each and every wave that will buffet his or her lifeboat. Here are words of advice for our colleagues at Thelen and perhaps other firms which are in the process of dissolving:

Get Organized

You don’t necessarily need a blog but it is a nice way of communicating to a large group without hosting a website on your domain, etc. Blogging is a very “turnkey” operation and with platforms such as Blogger or WordPress or Typepad you can be on your way to your first post in less than five minutes. Any stressed and harried soon-to-be unemployed staffer can do it.

Besides a blog, set up some form of networking such as Facebook or better yet LinkedIn. This will allow former staffers to communicate with each other once the firm’s email system is offline.

Know Your Rights as an Employee

Do your research – and if you don’t know where to start enlist a paralegal or associate to assist. Realize that labor laws differ by state and this includes vacation accrual, how to file a wage claim, etc. Make sure you understand clearly anything you are being asked to sign and ask to make a copy of the document, take it home and review it first if possible. Do not sign any of your rights away during what can be a very emotionally trying time.

Start Backing Up Items NOW

While this seems like a no-brainer, time can slip away and you can, and will, be terminated sooner than expected. Hellerites received their WARN Act notice on September 26th and it stated that “there will be work for you” through November 28th. Here it is October 28th and less than a handful of people are still employed at Heller.

Sort through your emails, electronic files, etc. now. If you have a laptop, take it home and back it up to an external drive or to one of many free online services (Lifehacker has an up to date list here (

Otherwise, get a flash drive or some other USB device and backup what you need. When in doubt, keep it.

Get It In Writing

Come on. We’ve all been on the receiving end of those lines of b.s. such as “I’ll call you” or “The check is in the mail” or “I promise it won’t end up on the Internet.” It is nice to trust your soon to be ex-firm and those at the helm of the dissolution. Every statement made verbally should be backed up by an email or a memo. And if it isn’t then ask for it.

Take Care of Number One

That means you. Start by stocking up on prescriptions if possible, make appointments for doctor, dentist and optometrist. Check your flexible spending account rules – you may need to make expenditures before your termination date otherwise you lose that money. Consider eliminating or reducing your 401k contributions (better to have that money in your pocket than tied up in retirement funds, especially given the stock market situation). Save all your pay stubs to calculate accrued vacation. Download any and all HR policies now before they are removed from the firm’s website.

And by all means give yourself time and room to grieve, to be angry, to take it easy, to just daydream, to just take care of yourself. Seek out a job coach or someone who can help you find a new perspective in terms of what you want to do with the rest of your life – both professionally and personally. See this as an opportunity, as the glass being half full. You’ll accomplish more than you realize when all is said and done.

Heller Drone can be reached at Heller Highwater, a website devoted to helping ex-Heller employees reach higher ground.

Red Sky At Night . . .

As the old weather forecasting saying goes: “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.  Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.”

Well the sky is coming up red every morning here on the S.S. Heller and we’re just trying to sort through all types of info we keep receiving – some helpful, some bizarre, some rumour, and some just downright hateful.

The Job Help section has been updated with Legal/Paralegal jobs on Craiglist for all the major ports of call for the S.S. Heller.  Check it.  I am assuming that most of us are just waiting for information before giving notice, leaving the firm, etc.  But it never hurts to line things up and check out some listings.

Can anyone confirm the rumour that we may meet up with another sinking ship, the S.S. Thelen Reid, and our new name will be The Hell?

Also, rumour has it that Frank Chiu has been elected to replace Matt Larrabee. At least there will be more communication than as of late, even though it may be posted on crazy signs.

Grab your rain gear everyone.  This is not a drill.  Like each and every day, be prepared for something . . .

Over and out.

Heller Drone
Cruise Director

Weekend To Do List

1.  Check in at Heller Highwater.

2.  Enjoy the fine weather – all over the damned country!

3.  Full caff, two extra shot latte at Peet’s.  And make it fast dammit!

4.  Laptop fully charged to work on job listings and plot strategy while enjoying said latte.

5.  Call Walgreens and place order for prescriptions.  For NO REFILLS, call doctor’s office.  Tell answering service situation and try to get approval.  STAT!

6.  Map out finances.  Check out Little Steps: 100 Great Tips For Saving Money For Those Just Getting Started.  Act like these are your salad days.  It is a long winter and could be months before things really pick up.  Seriously.

7.  See if certain things can wait until the last week of the year.  Property taxes due?  What would happen between now and 12/31 if they weren’t paid?  Probably just a small penalty and interest right?  Sock that money away now, pay taxes right before 12/31, and still reap the income benefits next spring.

8.  Call your mother.  She worries.

9.  Spread the love.  While it is all well and fine to look out for #1, check in on your colleagues.  And I mean laterally and up and down.  Secretaries call your attorneys and say, “Do you need anything?”  If they hear that on a weekend you will be a god or goddess in their eyes.  Attorneys – don’t wait for the next Secretaries Day (or whatever the PC term is these days . . .) to tell him/her how much you appreciate them.  We are all in this together.

10.  Take care of yourself: glass of wine, hot tub divine.  Dinner out but on the cheap.  Call a friend, make some new ones.

And BTW – remember that Boss’s Day is coming up October 16th.  Buy something special for Heller Ehrman management.

Peace out.

Heller Drone
Cruise Director

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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This blog has been created by Thomas MacEntee.

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Terms of Service

Heller Highwater (
Last Modified: September 14, 2008

- Don't be a dill weed.

- Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

- Ladies and children first.

- This is a rescue, not a bitch session.

- Help don't harm.

- Save the snarks for the attorneys and Above The Law.

Heller Highwater is not:

- a place to practice viscious and vindictive "whisper down the lane" rumour-mongering;

- a place to bad mouth co-workers;

- a place for diatribes against specific people or specific incidents;

- a place to heap pity on poor Heller Ehrman staff by outsiders;

- a place that discriminates or sets margins noting who is outside and who is inside - we even welcome supportive Heller Ehrman attorneys!;

- meant to further the demise of Heller Ehrman, LLP.

Heller Highwater is:

- a place for support, a place of empowerment, a place of passion;

- a place to learn about job leads, resume preparation, skill building, training, new opportunities, and how to succeed in a new workplace;

- a place to keep up on the latest news as to how Heller Ehrman management intends to treat its support staff as it winds down its operations - will it be every woman for herself? or will it be "let me hold the door for you and is there anything else I can do for you"?

- a place of refuge.

Note: in no way, shape or form is Heller Highwater sanctioned, supported or even recognized, (but it is very likely monitored) by the management of Heller Erhman, LLP. The opinions represented here and on each and every page of Heller Highwater do not constitute the opinions of Heller Ehrman, LLP or its shareholders or its management. In addition, the comments left by visitors do not reflect the opinions of Heller Highwater.