For Affirmation Generation, Layoffs Hurt All the More
Posted Mar 6, 2009 7:31 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Today’s associates were part of a generation raised with lots of affirmation and rewards, making job losses all the more difficult, according to a psychologist who has studied lawyer personalities.
Psychologist and Hildebrandt consultant Larry Richard told the National Law Journal that most of those laid off will focus on what they might have done differently and remain isolated from others, damaging their self-confidence and self-esteem.
The uncertainty of unemployment is a “corrosive acid” creating a sense of danger and kicking in a fight-or-flight mechanism, Richard told the NLJ. That prompts job seekers to make rash decisions and think in all-or-nothing terms, believing, perhaps, that they will never find work again. He advises laid-off lawyers to reach out to others in the same situation. “There’s safety in numbers,” he said.
Richard also cautioned that some of those who still have jobs are in survival mode and may be acting out. They may end up nitpicking on details, hoarding work, displaying inattentiveness, or acting in a cantankerous way, he told the legal newspaper.
The NLJ article profiles three lawyers who are experiencing some of the emotions described by Richard. One of them is Megan Logsdon, a first-year associate at the dissolved law firm Thacher Proffitt & Wood with about $120,000 in student debt.
Logsdon said that she is still surprised that as a Georgetown law graduate with good grades and the ability to speak Spanish, she can’t find a job. She has sent out dozens of resumés, applying for one position in the small town of Bethel, Alaska. “I would work anywhere,” she said.