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My Resignation Letter


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Let freedom ring!

Dear Attorneys and Staff:

It is with sadness that I must announce my immediate resignation. I feel compelled to pen this letter to clarify the reasons for my abrupt departure.

Before joining the firm, many terms of employment and Firm involvement were discussed verbally. I accepted the position at Firestone and Brehm based upon these terms. I sold my house and moved from Columbus to Delaware, Ohio. Teri and I believed the Firm shared our business values, which among other things emphasizes the value of creating and fostering Win/Win relationships. To us, Win/Win relationships include those between Firm and Client, Firm and Employee and between Firm and the Community. We were excited to join a Firm with historical roots and young leadership that seemed to embrace the spirit of teamwork.

We immediately began working in good faith towards the betterment of the Firm in numerous ways. We spent countless hours remodeling the office and even recruited Ohio Wesleyan students to help. Teri worked for several months filling in for revolving staff and trained incoming staff in addition to developing the computer files to a highly organized and efficient system. Our sweat equity was provided joyfully and willingly without request for payment. This effort was put forward in a spirit of teamwork, of Win/Win, of mutual benefit.

I was promised a “reap what you sow” compensation plan and “non-equity partnership” status. I was told that once I cleared expenses, my compensation would quickly equate to 95% of actual dollars received. This arrangement reflected our expectations that I would generate my own clients, work independently on my own cases and firm cases, develop the Delaware Law Office, train the staff as needed, develop the various legal practice methods and ultimately pay a full pro-rata share of expenses. I could not have guessed, and it was never volunteered, that the office expenses are upwards of $250,000.00 per year. Such expenses apparently include David’s car payments, Christmas gifts to friends among many personal items, and a lease from David to the Firm of all office furniture and equipment. This “reap what you sow” method of compensation was designed to allow me to essentially be a “partner” in the responsibility, contribution, and rewards of the position, without obtaining Firm ownership

Once the scope of the expenses was disclosed, though shocked, I volunteered to help focus on cutting costs. My ideas, such as a new cell phone plan that would have already saved us over $600, were brushed aside. Somehow I became jointly responsible for ever increasing expenses, yet I was powerless to decrease that number through efficiency, attention to detail or creativity. Issues concerning expenses were always resolved with a demand for more revenue.

I have been with the Firm for over one year and have not become a non-equity partner. David still refers to me as an associate. In fact the whole non-equity partner plan ceased from discussion all together with the introduction of the compensation plan in March 2003. It was as if, without notice the deal went from Win/Win to Win/Lose. I have partnership responsibility, but only associate title and benefits. The new compensation plan actually financially penalizes me for being successful. There are no provisions for excess money kept by the Firm after expenses are paid. Indeed financial reports have been infrequent, inconsistent and each report was a different format and showed completely different, sometimes irrelevant information.

I have not been compensated for the Village of Sunbury Mayor’s Court, a responsibility of the Sunbury Solicitor. My earned income for Mayor’s court has not been reflected on my receipts. Not only did the compensation plan lower numerous times on that aspect of my employment, it seems to have disappeared altogether.

This resignation is not merely about compensation and responsibility. It is Efficiency, Accountability and Integrity. I believe the Golden Rule holds “treat others as you would have them treat you.” David’s words may say differently, but his actions clearly illustrate his position, “He who has the Gold makes the rules!”

Examples of abuse of absolute power in the Firm are numerous. Half way through the first quarter of this year the Firm radically changed my compensation structure instituting a confusing, car salesman structure. Without notice or warning, the Firm revoked my quarterly bonus based on earned income. The Firm installed a new plan that paid a far smaller percentage than anything previously discussed and formed a convoluted “bonus” structure that is written to be reimbursed to David or not paid at all should I leave the firm for any reason. As an explanation for this drastic change, David told me that the Firm wants to realize more profits so that they would be able to provide more services to the employees. An example given was health insurance. David told me that the Firm would pay for health insurance. I was also told that the excess money would be made available for practice development.

With the Firm’s history of changing stories it came as no great surprise that the Firm suddenly decided that each employee would be responsible for paying health insurance premiums out of their own money. And this health insurance plan was essentially unusable to myself and my wife, but we were forced to take this monetary hit. This again was an example of a change of story and a Win/Lose transaction. Moreover, the Firm continues to hassle little old ladies like Betty Laing over a few hundred dollars for a deposition transcript when there is clear liability. Obviously the money is not going into a fund to support personal injury cases. We’ve lost big dollar PI cases because the Firm refused to advance expenses on these contingency cases. In this regard, I have no future at this Firm with Civil Litigation development.

As an employee of the firm I’ve been very shocked at David’s treatment of employee benefits. One of the most important things about employment for workers is their paycheck. They work hard, they should be paid without hassle. Since coming to the Firm, Firestone and Brehm has issued checks to home addresses within 3-5 days of the end of the pay-period. Some employees have begged for the ability to pick their check up on Friday or have it brought from Sunbury on Monday, or anything that got the check to them earlier. In this instance the Firm had the perfect opportunity to demonstrate a Win/Win attitude toward their employees. Not only was it a perfect opportunity, there were also several easy solutions. So easy it was ridiculous not to implement one. Instead, the Firm issued a memo forbidding early pickup of checks and setting into stone the procedure of checks being mailed from the accountant who is located right across the street from the Sunbury office. This communicated a clear Win/Lose mentality toward employees and really went a long way to demonstrate a lack of care for their needs, even causing suspicion that the procedure was designed to ensure a few extra days of interest for the Firm.

Further demonstration of the Win/Lose mentality by the Firm management can be seen in its client operations. Never have we sat down to design programs and services that really meet the clients’ needs. Indeed the only practice development the Firm has engaged in is discussion about how to bill estate files better so the Firm can make more money. Even the Firm’s billing contract is written one sided and designed to intimidate the client. I believe it fails to fully disclose all billing terms to the client. I feel that the firm is extremely money centered and maintains no significant ideology beyond that, - not to their clients, not to their employees and not to the community.

It has been heartbreaking to walk away from the enormous amount of time and effort that I willingly placed into the Firm. The fact that I have actual receivables between $75,000 and $90,000 and have only received a little less than $26,000 will ensure that I never again make an important life decision based upon a verbal agreement subject to change at any time without warning.

I will be continuing the practice of law at Owens Law Office, LPA. This was the best move for me and my Clients given the availability of my wife to design the business and assist with the legal process. We are excited to design an environment where our creative and cutting edge ideas and projects can be implemented and that we may operate at the level of integrity with which we are dedicated.

We are saddened to have to leave without notice, however we’ve begged David to operate at the Win/Win standard with us and he has demonstrated over and over that he has no intention of doing so. Given David’s unreliability, we felt that we had no choice but to take extraordinary steps to safeguard our interests as well as those of our clients.

Very truly yours,

Owens Law Office, LPA

____________________________

Robert M. Owens

“Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win/Win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a Win/Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win/Win sees life as a cooperative, not a competitive arena. Most people tend to think in terms of dichotomies: strong or weak, hardball or softball, win or lose. But that kind of thinking is fundamentally flawed. It’s based on power and position rather than on principle. Win/Win is based on a paradigm that there is plenty for everybody, that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others.”

“In leadership style, Win/Lose is the authoritarian approach: “I get my way, you don’t get yours.” Win/Lose people are prone to use position, power, credentials, possessions or personality to get their way”

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Good luck to you, BoW. That's certainly a :finger: to your old firm. I hope that it's not construed as defamation or interference with their relationships with employees.

But you may well have some new job applications coming your way.

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Hell of a letter. You're doing law the hard way. My wife is an associate at a big firm up here and she gets paid a great deal, but, it's not tied to clients she brings in. It's a very socialistic firm such that there are no guys making the multiple millions, but no one is making less than a certain dollar amount either.

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there is nothing more stressful than working in what I like to call a 'toxic' environment, ie poor personal relationships, little trust, little accountability and integrity, etc.......

better to get out as you did early on instead of suffering the health effects over time of being in an untenable situation.

what seems ironic from your letter is that the firm's interest in focusing on the profit motive at the expense of the employees and clients is exactly the strategy to follow to eventually put itself out of business.

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I hope you don't advise your clients to behave as you have. Having been involved in law and politics for about 20 years, I would offer you the following thoughts:

1) What were you thinking? Everyone that watches "Judge Judy" much less another lawyer, knows to get agreements in writing. If you had done so you would have had a better basis for suing the firm for breach of contract. You may still have a basis for doing so, but your letter will undermine your ability to do so because it could be used to paint you as a "disgruntled employee."

2) Venting is great. Your letter may also expose you to a libel suit.

3) NEVER burn bridges. If you couldn't stand it there any more, tell the firm you're pursuing another vision and dream. Life is long, you'll certainly have many opportunities to stick it to David and the firm without putting yourself in jeopardy. Now David will be gunning for you and try to blackball you and bad mouth you at every opportunity.

4) Your letter reveals a degree of muddled thinking. You question David's professionalism and ethics, but you do so in an unprofessional way. Professionals don't broadcast their business disputes with their employer to the whole organization - much less post it on the web.

5) Sifting through your letter, perhaps your most prevalent claim is that David is using the firm to make money for himself and not sharing it with you as much as you would like. Is your real complaint that he's a better businessman than you? Or is it that he isn't a nice man? The last time I checked, businesses generally act nice only when it makes business sense, i.e. makes them more money. Sue him for what you're owed or take it as a lesson well learned and be grateful that you're out of there having not lost more.

6) Final point - you've made a mistake in metaphysical terms. It is not your job to correct the morality of David. The Universe employs kharma to educate the ignorant and wicked. You can't create good kharma by allowing David's bad kharma to splash on you. You should have walked away without soiling your hands on him. Now you'll have a mess to clean up for yourself by enveloping yourself in anger, resentment bitterness, and vindictiveness.

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Originally posted by thinker

I hope you don't advise your clients to behave as you have. Having been involved in law and politics for about 20 years, I would offer you the following thoughts:

1) What were you thinking? Everyone that watches "Judge Judy" much less another lawyer, knows to get agreements in writing. If you had done so you would have had a better basis for suing the firm for breach of contract. You may still have a basis for doing so, but your letter will undermine your ability to do so because it could be used to paint you as a "disgruntled employee."

2) Venting is great. Your letter may also expose you to a libel suit.

3) NEVER burn bridges. If you couldn't stand it there any more, tell the firm you're pursuing another vision and dream. Life is long, you'll certainly have many opportunities to stick it to David and the firm without putting yourself in jeopardy. Now David will be gunning for you and try to blackball you and bad mouth you at every opportunity.

4) Your letter reveals a degree of muddled thinking. You question David's professionalism and ethics, but you do so in an unprofessional way. Professionals don't broadcast their business disputes with their employer to the whole organization - much less post it on the web.

5) Sifting through your letter, perhaps your most prevalent claim is that David is using the firm to make money for himself and not sharing it with you as much as you would like. Is your real complaint that he's a better businessman than you? Or is it that he isn't a nice man? The last time I checked, businesses generally act nice only when it makes business sense, i.e. makes them more money. Sue him for what you're owed or take it as a lesson well learned and be grateful that you're out of there having not lost more.

6) Final point - you've made a mistake in metaphysical terms. It is not your job to correct the morality of David. The Universe employs kharma to educate the ignorant and wicked. You can't create good kharma by allowing David's bad kharma to splash on you. You should have walked away without soiling your hands on him. Now you'll have a mess to clean up for yourself by enveloping yourself in anger, resentment bitterness, and vindictiveness.

Is your name by any chance...... DAVID?????

:doh:

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Incredibly courageous letter.

One thing that I have learned while being the managing partner in a manufacturing business is to put your people first, give them what they want, within reason, and the benefits will return ten fold!! As the adage goes "Ignore your customers, they'll go away" ;)

Good luck in all future endeavors! :thumbsup:

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As much as my heart wants it to be otherwise, I have to side with Thinker on this one. If things were as you describe, you were right to leave when you did, however burning bridges probably wasn't a good idea right about now.

Posting real names and such on the net was an even worse idea. If your prior employer decides to sue you over this they may or may not win. However, they will succeed in sucking your time and energy away from you as you try to establish your new firm.

You'd have been much better served just keeping it to yourself, and having the best revenge.....living well.

Good luck with the new practice.

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As I read your letter, a wide range of reactions were evoked. It seemed to me to be a bold but brash action of an angry idealistic man of strong morals. These morals obviously shaped a business perspective based upon good faith and trust. While I admire your career goals and share your perspective, you need to temper your responses to reflect the professional you are and wish to be. In regards to the letter and experience with the firm:

I hope there is no fallout from your accusations

I hope the letter’s composition was cathartic

I hope you learned some valuable business lessons

I hope you use this experience for personal growth

Good luck BOW, I really hope you succeed. The world needs ethical folks like you.

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Probably should not have printed it on the "extreme" but I'm sure we will all keep it here. I hear your frustration, though as an attorney I have to say, "you can't judge a whole profession by 900,000 to a million bad apples. " The great thing about private is you can do it your way.

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Originally posted by Art

Hell of a letter. You're doing law the hard way. My wife is an associate at a big firm up here and she gets paid a great deal, but, it's not tied to clients she brings in. It's a very socialistic firm such that there are no guys making the multiple millions, but no one is making less than a certain dollar amount either.

So, Art, are you saying that socialism can be beneficial form of organization?

:D

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What a great letter! I admire your stones to tell it like it is, but I'd have to agree with a few others here.

NEVER burn a bridge. You never know when that may come back to haunt you.

More importantly, to this point ...will ensure that I never again make an important life decision based upon a verbal agreement subject to change at any time without warning.

I'm no lawyer, but I've always heard verbal agreements were as good as the paper they were written on. Why would you make such a drastic move and expect so much without a written agreement?:doh:

Sorry you had to leave, but good luck to you!

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I appreciate the wide variety of responses.

I came into the deal as an old friend of mine from college had just joined as a lawyer eight month before and reported all is well. The man leaving the firm was becomming common pleas judge and had a reputation of fairness that far proceeded him. I suppose that I just trusted that an ethos had been established. Regardless, lesson learned. :gus: Even Judge Judy knows better. Now, so do I. Some lessons can only be learned the hard way.

The names are not changed and all of this is very real. I published this letter to the employees b/c they have the actual contact with our clients. If they just saw that I disappeared without an explanition they could assume the worst and rumors could be a killer. "The truth shall set you free"

As for liability for my statements, truth is an amazing defense. Besides, David owes me $20,000 so if he wants to duke it out in court, bring it on!:box:

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Originally posted by Braves On Warpath

I appreciate the wide variety of responses.

I came into the deal as an old friend of mine from college had just joined as a lawyer eight month before and reported all is well. The man leaving the firm was becomming common pleas judge and had a reputation of fairness that far proceeded him. I suppose that I just trusted that an ethos had been established. Regardless, lesson learned. :gus: Even Judge Judy knows better. Now, so do I. Some lessons can only be learned the hard way.

The names are not changed and all of this is very real. I published this letter to the employees b/c they have the actual contact with our clients. If they just saw that I disappeared without an explanition they could assume the worst and rumors could be a killer. "The truth shall set you free"

As for liability for my statements, truth is an amazing defense. Besides, David owes me $20,000 so if he wants to duke it out in court, bring it on!:box:

Brave,

You have shown true conviction in you stance. Which is something I can't say for most of the people in the business world.

Whether it's the law profession, advertising, manufacturing, or what have you. Bottome line is, DEMAND to be treated fairly in what you do. The world isn't union, but the world of character and self belief is!

I commend you for your stance. I only wish that there were more cut from the same cloth, instead of the a$$ kissers that we all deal with every day!

HAIL TO YOU! :applause: :applause:

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As someone so eloquently said once 'I think this situation absolutely requires that a really futile, stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!'.

Sometimes, its worth the consequences to stand up and call a spade a spade. The reason I could never BE an attorney is because life isn't always about the 'logical' and 'reasoned' response. Sometimes, you just have to say 'what the **** (insert sentence enhancer here)'.

Nice letter regardless of what it brings.

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