I had a dream last night — a dream so real that my heart was pumping fast when I awoke. The logic and the details of the dream are now a blur, but the angst and the dread I felt are the ones I knew all too well.
The dream began with me getting a call from a client asking me to do something. I knew in my dream that I had already left the firm, but for whatever reason I assured the client that I would relay the request to the partner. (See, the logic makes no sense here). So, I went back to the firm, which looked exactly the same except that I no longer had an office. After I relayed the message, I was told that I should sort out the task myself since I was the best person to do it. While I was trying to sort out the task, another partner came by to tell me that a deal she and I had worked on together had come back from the dead and that I needed to draft some agreements ASAP. I felt overwhelmed and the adrenaline was rising in my chest, but I remained calm on the outside and asked the partner whether I could get a junior associate to help. Then, I woke up, fortunately.
I wonder what a psychiatrist would think of this dream…
But the dream was not so far fetched from reality. The day before my last day at the firm, which was also the day of my departure party, I got an email from a partner asking me to call him regarding a deal he and I worked on. Since that deal had hit a major road block a month ago and hadn’t had much activity since, we thought it was practically dead, and didn’t transition it to another associate. Lo and behold, the deal came back. I can still remember the feeling of my stomach sinking when I got his email. It is always the worst when you don’t know what the exact request entails.
The partner explained the changes in the deal structure and asked if I could turn a few documents. I agreed even though I wasn’t sure whether I was capable of revising the drafts before my last day. It was a month since I focused on this deal, so the details were fuzzy. Also, my mind had already checked out.
But what was I to do? I knew the deal the best and was the best person to do it. Also, the partner asked nicely. He didn’t have to since I was still on the firm’s payroll, but I was glad that he did.
I needed to refresh my memory of the specifics of the deal first, and needed to do it fast. Normally, I would just grab my deal binder, where I neatly kept the latest copies of the transaction documents. But, since I had already cleaned out my office it was not an easy task. In accordance with firm policy, I wasn’t taking any work-related documents with me, so I had already thrown all my papers in a huge recycling bin. As an environmentally conscious and frugal person, I of course only disposed of the actual paper and not the binders.
I spent the next 10 minutes anxiously rummaging through the recycling bin, in search of the transaction documents I needed. Beads of sweat were forming on my forehead. I ruffled through stacks of papers, ignoring the paper cuts I was getting on my fingers.
Once I found the documents and refreshed my memory, the task of revising them wasn’t as complicated as I thought. (I did have to go to the office at 8:30 am the next day with a queasy stomach to finish the final revisions, but it was a different kind of queasiness, one from the good time I had at my departure party.) I finished the job and left the firm on a good note with goodwill.
Looking back, I think this little ordeal was the best thing that could’ve have happened during my final days at the firm. I was getting sentimental towards the end. After all, I spent almost a decade (including law school years) of hard work to get to a position, a well-paying one at that, that many people would envy. The thought of throwing all of that, along with the glamor of running multi-billion dollar deals and the prestige of belonging to an preeminent organization, gave me pause. Well, whatever sentiment or doubts I had, they all vanished during my 10-minute dumpster dive.