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The other day I read a farewell e-mail from someone leaving the firm and was struck by the tone — it was actually potent and humorous. Anyone who works in a firm and experiences the transient nature of the law firsthand knows how refreshing this can be. Most people leave without a peep while others simply circulate a bland word of thanks along with their forwarding contact information. I never understood that. In our professional lives we have so few opportunities to take long vacations, talk with food in our mouths or speak our minds. In your final e-mail, at least tell people how long you are taking off between jobs. Throw out a little envy people, something, come on! Unbeknownst to the senders, I often save these e-mails in my “Fond Farewells” file. And, frankly, there’s only one that I enjoyed. The ‘re’ line read, “10 Reasons to Eat Cilantro” and the note went as follows:
Dear Colleagues and others, As many of you probably don’t know, today is my last day at the firm. I would like to say that it has been a pleasant and enjoyable 17 days here, but, alas, that would be what my Aunt Edna calls “a lying rug from carpetland.” Just to be clear, I never knew what that meant, but she said it so many times that it just stuck with me, like that annoying Barney song. Anyway, I’m leaving today and just wanted to thank my headhunter (who I’ve blind-copied on this e-mail) for finding me a suitable replacement for my current gig. Honestly, many of you seem really nice from afar, but my tenure here began with the arrest and continued with the window washer debacle (for the record, it was his fault — who checks their Blackberry in front of an open window while standing on scaffolding right above the T-line?). Perhaps if J.D.Q. (you know who I’m talking about) hadn’t been my first experience with authority here, I might have made it to my three-week anniversary. But again, that’s all history now. This much needed break will allow me time to visit the grasslands and repair the thatched roof on the cottage (I’ve attached a picture — a shame what those raccoons did, huh?). If you need to reach me (as if), I’ve attached my friend’s e-mail address (she is also blind-copied) and she’ll forward your message to me, depending on its content and required follow-up. Aunt Edna (in addition to imparting useless phrases and giving me Oboe lessons) taught me to be grateful for every opportunity in life and so, it is with that grace that I say farewell to those of you who I never had a chance to meet and who, I assume, would have been much nicer than those I did meet (including that woman I passed on the 19th floor yesterday — Arghhh). Good wishes and pleasant dreams, F.J.X.

Now, this has all the features of a great farewell note. Accordingly, its tone, style and content should be modeled. First she captures our attention by invoking our universal fixation on food with her “10 Reasons to Eat Cilantro” subject line (and who does not like cilantro?) Then she launches straight into her farewell message — no prelude, no introductory banter — immediately capturing her readers’ attention. Her audience assured, the mysterious F.J.X. gives her readers a look into her background with the lessons learned from Aunt Bea and her cottage in the grasslands (though note the skill with which she weaves the mystery into her life — where the heck are the grasslands?) Now for those of you happily employed at your firm, enjoy this message and take it for what it’s worth. But remember that arrivals are almost always molded into departures, so when the time comes take the time to write something thoughtful and provocative. After all you only get one shot and who knows — you could leave a lasting legacy or at least generate some envy over your trip to the grasslands. The Disassociate’s humor column appears occasionally in The National Law Journal.

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