Sidley Austin Retirement Letter
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Every so often, a resignation or retirement letter will appear in the legal industry. The majority of interesting letters usually come from associates, but every now and then, one of those letters will come from a partner. A new letter was released to the media last week from a partner retiring from a major firm and here is a tease: “I have realized that I cannot simultaneously meet the demands of career and family. Without criticizing those who have chosen lucre over progeny let me just say that I am leaving the practice of law.”

The retirement memo was submitted to everyone working in the Chicago office of the law firm Sidley Austin on Friday, December 30.


The letter was written by David B. Johnson, who worked at Sidley Austin as a litigation partner. Johnson’s biography was removed from the firm’s website but it used to read as follows:

“DAVID B. JOHNSON is a partner in the Litigation Group of the Chicago office. He has a broad-based litigation practice with an emphasis on consumer and securities class action defense. He has also handled numerous business and commercial contract disputes regarding such issues as employer-employee relations, first refusal and preemptive rights and franchise relationships.”

In 1983, Johnson earned his J.D. degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. In 1978, Johnson earned his B.A. from Marquette University. Johnson was a member of the Illinois bar from 1983 and was admitted in the Seventh Circuit and the Central and Northern Districts of Illinois.

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The full retirement memo from Johnson is pasted below:


I have realized that I cannot simultaneously meet the demands of career and family. Without criticizing those who have chosen lucre over progeny, let me just say that I am leaving the practice of law.

My epiphany may have come a bit late as my youngest child — I believe his name is Erik — is 24. But as I always said after missing a filing deadline, better late than never.

I have made friendships at Sidley that I will treasure well into the first quarter of 2012. But a career based on the perception of untapped potential, rather than on actual production, has a limited shelf life. I frankly would have expected management to have caught on years ago. I trust that my longevity will serve as a beacon of hope for underperforming lawyers of all ages. No need to name names: you know who you are.

Farewell and best wishes,


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