Lawyer's limerick farewell goes global

SAM BLACKMAN: 'I have grown wings and flown the coop.'
SAM BLACKMAN: 'I have grown wings and flown the coop.'

A Kiwi's "off the rails" farewell note after he resigned from a top law firm after just a month has attracted international attention on a top United States legal blog.

Chapman Tripp graduate Sam Blackman's "resignation" appeared on Above the Law last week, with the blog saying he had "managed to start, quit, and burn his career bridges in about four weeks. Impressive".

The blog did not name Blackman, a former University of Auckland student who said the email circulating online was not his resignation, but a "lighthearted farewell" to colleagues on his final day.

Above the Law said the former graduate's note was "just . . . not lawyerly in any way".

"You know your departure memo is about to go off the rails when you open with lines from Julius Caesar."

Blackman's memo, which included a limerick, read:

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury the law, not to praise it . . . You all did love law once, not without cause: what cause withholds you then to mourn for it?

My journey has been fleeting. It has been fleeting but eye-opening.

My drive is to create and innovate. I cannot follow this passion here.

I wish you all the best in living your passions and I leave you with a limerick:

A young clerk was fed up with the law.

So he packed up and went for the door.

Said his colleagues to him, 'This decision is dim!' He replied: 'You just wait what's in store'!"

His out of office reply, seen by internal staff, then read:

"I have grown wings and flown the coop. For an overview on my ideology, please see:"

The link provided such witticisms as "more balls, less chains" and "you used to have a job, but we won't hold that against you".

Blackman said he resigned with a formal letter which had not been circulated online, and he left the firm on good terms.

"Contrary to what the blogs are saying, the email circulating was not my resignation letter," he said.

"The 'tamer' of the emails circling the blogosphere was an email I wrote to my team an hour after I formally resigned, letting them know what was happening.

"The email with the poem was a lighthearted farewell email I sent to the rest of my colleagues on my final day of work."

Chapman Tripp senior communications advisor Melanie Pook said the firm did not comment on the circumstances of individual employees or those who had left the company.

Dundas Street Employment Lawyers partner Susan Hornsby-Geluk said the memo was creative and amusing.

"In terms of colourful resignation letters the more likely ones are very short and contain an expletive or two," she said.

"I haven't seen creative language used to that extent before."

Hornsby-Geluk cautioned that employees needed to be careful, because things could go viral very quickly.

"Something you think is funny as a 20-something-year-old may come back to bite you when you try to find a job when you are 30 or so."

She said there was a need to be "appropriately formal" when communicating that sort of message.

"As an employer I wouldn't necessarily view it in such a dim light . . . but other employers with a more conservative approach may not look upon it so lightly," she said.

Blackman said he did not think it would have any impact on his career.

"If I were to continue with a career in the law I would have stayed with Chapman Tripp," he said.

"I am heading off to pursue leads in [technology entrepreneurship] in the San Francisco Bay area and New York City starting 16 April."

Hornsby-Geluk said Blackman would not be able to take any action against Chapman Tripp unless he could identify how the email was circulated out of the firm, which would be "difficult to pin down".

"In this environment you take the risk that it will be forwarded and communicated to others," she said.

Blackman said he did not intend his internal emails to travel outside of Chapman Tripp, but he would not be pursuing the matter.

Top 10 resignation situations

1. W. Neil Berrett gave his employer his two weeks notice iced on a full sheet-sized cake. Berrett said the cake was "delicious" and "well received". He also submitted a letter of resignation, because "it's hard to file away a cake."

2. Kevin Nalty was "invited" to resign from Merck Pharmaceuticals after his "Farting in Public" video received 7.4 million views.

3. Goldman Sachs' executive Greg Smith, who resigned via a column in the New York Times, said the environment was "as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it". Smith claimed the managing directors of the company referred to their clients as "muppets", sometimes over internal email.

4. Joey DeFrancesco dropped his letter of resignation from the Providence Rhode Island Hotel on the floor of his boss' office, and left followed by a marching band.

5. An unnamed designer quit his job when he created an "error" message which read: "The designer you treat like shit has quit unexpectedly". His employers were given a "renegotiate" option to click on.

6. Steven Slater, formerly of airline Jet Blue, swore at a passenger who refused to stay seated on a flight to New York's JFK airport. Slater then grabbed a beer and popped the lever to the plane's inflatable emergency chute, which he used to slide down. Slater's former colleagues told the Daily Mail that he was having "a really bad day".

7. Karen Chang sang her resignation from Microsoft to the tune of "American Pie" on YouTube - complete with lyrics that began "Long, long lines of code . . ."

8. Graphic designer Cat Sacdalan quit after her colleagues complained she worked from home too often while she cared for her sick father. Her resignation was written in technicolour kids' crayon, complete with a small picture of a dog.

9. MEC Global senior account manager Kieran Allen sent a firm wide email entitled "Leaving", in which he accused his boss of being anti-Semitic and of having sex with a colleague in an office meeting room.

10. Sun Micro's Jonathan Schwartz tweeted a haiku on his last day that said "Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more".

Fairfax Media