August 19, 2023

O'Melveny's chief operating officer almost killed himself

       Following up on the prior post about not expecting sympathy from O'Melveny's partners, because they have their own problems . . . the firm's chief operating officer ("COO") recently gave an interview. In the interview, he talked about how he almost killed himself due to a mix of personal issues and the stress of working at O'Melveny. 

       I was wondering if I should add this, but I'm going to because he publicly disclosed it himself, and it's another piece of the puzzle of why O'Melveny is the way it is. As COO, he supervised many of the dirty dealings you see in this blog. Knowing this about his past might explain why he wasn't bothered by those events.  

       Would he care, for example, that an associate was abruptly fired despite meeting his hours requirement? To your average person, that sounds terrible. Why would you fire someone who has done their job, and do so without any warning? Who treats employees that way? But Mr. Demos might respond to such queries with, "So what? That's nothing compared to what I went through." 

       Would he care about being deceptive, for example when he touts the firm's wellness efforts despite the fact that O'Melveny provides a cheap medical plan that pays Medicare rates? Probably not. In the interview he said he "give[s] [him]self grace" (permission to do the wrong thing) as part of his mental health routine. And these are two of the more minor stories on this blog. 

       Of course, not everyone responds to misfortune in this way. Some don't let their past impact their worldview. Some become even more sensitive to injustice, to try and prevent it from repeating. But based on the stories in this blog, Mr. Demos doesn't seem to be in those categories. He seems to be in the "well, that happened to me so why shouldn't misfortune befall others as well" category.
       And Mr. Demos didn't only impact associates. I remember a lunch in which a partner loudly complained about distributions for the entire time I was there. It was hard to ignore as he was using the voice I imagine he uses in combative cross examinations. I had never seen him that upset and animated. I want to be equivocal here as I don't know the details, the numbers, and he could have been wrong. But I do remember him complaining that he didn't receive something he thought he should have, trying to understand why, and blaming Mr. Demos. I vaguely recall him saying that another partner shared similar concerns. (Incidentally, both of the aforementioned partners left O'Melveny shortly thereafter.) The partner sitting with him, who seemed more connected to management, tried to reassure him by explaining the calculation. During that back and forth, the explaining partner added that the upset partner did not want to see what Mr. Demos could do if he really wanted to be unfair.

       As for the rest of Mr. Demos's interview . . . there was nothing of substance. Not a single new benefit, new employee right, or anything of value. His main goal seemed to be to network with in-house counsel. I wouldn't be surprised if one of his motivations was to drum up work. At the end of the interview he gave out his email address and asked people to contact him to discuss the topic further. It would be interesting to see who did, and whether he filtered respondents into categories like "possible revenue" and "no benefit to knowing this person" for his follow-ups.

       Anyway, there's another clue in trying to understand why this firm is the way it is. And again, please be careful about expecting sympathy or empathy from these folks; as you can see, it's not all rosy in their world. 
George Demos, O'Melveny benefits, O'Melveny culture