Bullying in the Law Office

The first article I have linked below discusses the pandemic of bullying within the law firm. Even though it speaks about relationships between partners and junior staff members, we all know the trickle down effect that this takes on staff members. This isn’t just whining because “somebody was mean to me at work today” (insert pouty face here). The Forbes article linked below reported that “45% of individuals targeted by bullies at work suffer stress-related health problems.”

Obvious signs of bullying could be getting yelled at by your boss in front of your co-workers or clients, or being made to run back and forth playing fetch with your boss, while your co-workers remain seated around a conference table and glance away uncomfortably, to avoid meeting your eyes.

The not so obvious signs that you are being bullied, may surprise you.  Have you ever gotten physically sick before or during work, but knew that you did not have a virus? We used to call that “anxiety vomit,” and it can kill a bitch. How about this one that Forbes lists:  “Falsely accusing you of errors is another common tactic.”  I know every paralegal in America has experienced this little phenomenon!

Another good question to ask yourself is:  Do you spend your time off work recovering from work?  Do you stare lifelessly at the television, or ever try to read something and find yourself unable to concentrate? Do your friends or family members complain about your obsession about your job? My God, Forbes just keeps hitting these out of the park! It is almost as though the author is writing from INSIDE THE LAW FIRM! The call is coming from the inside!!

What does Forbes say is another sign that you are being bullied at work?  If you have an impossible schedule, with lots of last-minute tasks! Paralegals, are you reading this right now?!?! Bueller? The internet is absolutely full of personal stories from paralegals who have been bullied in the law office, including an entire worksheet over on Paralegal Pie for what bullying is and how to cope. If I had been smart enough to do my research about this field ten years ago, I could have saved myself a lot of heartache.

The saddest part of all is when the old-time staffers start to emulate their boss. Et tu, Brute? My personal experience with the subject is that there is no fixing this, and your only solution is to take your skills and talent, along with what is left of your humanity, and head out for new opportunities. The firm management is not going to fix your problem. You think the big bad wolf is going to turn into a little lap dog because of you? You’re dreaming!

Employees just shouldn’t have to get the crap kicked out of them every day in the pursuit of being able to almost pay all of their bills. Yet it happens. Over and over again, all over the world. I wish I could make it stop. I wish I could give jobs to all these good people who get abused at work.

http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/the-new-lawyer/comment-debate/12295-Bullying-pandemic-in-law-firms

http://www.forbes.com/2008/03/22/health-bullying-office-forbeslife-cx_avd_0324health.html

http://www.paralegalpie.com/paralegalpie/2012/03/bullying.html

http://www.wedolegal.com/Bullies.htm

http://www.bullyonline.org/cases/case52.htm

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Categories: Paralegal | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Bullying in the Law Office

  1. There is a lot of truth to what you have shared. I completely agree, if you aren’t treated with respect and dignity, you should pack your bags and leave. Great share.

    • Thank you. You know, another sad part about the whole experience is that while it is happening, you ask yourself several times: “Am I crazy? Is this real?” It was real. It happens to other people. I hope this blog helps other people to find out that they aren’t alone and that they aren’t imagining things!

  2. This is so spot on. It was like reading my autobiography!! I really did think it was only me so good (and bad too!) to know this happens everywhere.

    • I know what you mean. You hate to hear that other people are suffering, but you also take comfort in the knowledge that you are not suffering alone anymore.

  3. LegalNoob

    Thank you soooo much for taking the time to provide all this valuable info about working as paralegal/legal assistant. I am a Canadian Citizen that graduated from the Paralegal Program 4 years ago but I never pursued it due to not being able to find a job.My 20s flew by and at the age of 28 I am back at square one trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.I decided I would give the legal field a green light(after working random jobs)and I just completed a 2 week paid internship as a legal assistant in a small real estate law firm and I hated it!

    The work(as expected)was very transcriptional and I felt very stiffed but I thought I would just commit and see where it took me.The reason I did not succeed was because the legal assistant that I was hired to replace completely sabotaged me.She would not let me breathe and micromanaged every aspect of my work which gave me apprehension appraisal anxiety and interfered with my ability to produce quality work! It was such a nightmare I had to get sleeping pills prescribed for the very first time in my life and run to the drugstore to purchase anti-anxiety supplements so that I could focus at work. Admittedly,the lawyer was a good guy but his right hand lady had unrealistic expectations for an entry level candidate. She expected me to know the complete details of every file we were working on, the name of every broker and realtor calling the firm, and the name of every client(in reference to their corresponding file)within my first 2 weeks.The sad part of all of this is the training was almost non-existent(granted it was a busy practice)and when I volunteered to come in on the weekends I was greeted with a blank stare.So how does this story ends…I was belittled but the legal assistant and let go.I was actually let go on the day that I decided to make myself a tea in the morning(15 min prior to starting my shift)before checking the fax..which, of course,she made a big deal about.Wowwwww

    Luckily for me, I am a poised individual and thanked the kind lawyer for the opportunity and said my farewells.I have a strong feeling the legal assistant sabotages every inexperienced girl that attempts to give this job a go.

    All in all, I realized that i don’t do well being instructed and directed all day long(makes me nervous) and by reading this blog I’m starting to realize that this is to be expected in the legal field.Do you have any suggestions where I can utilize my legal education but work in a more autonomous capacity? Possibly a bank?

    Or maybe Ill go in another direction and pursue another field.:)

    • Honestly, all jobs as an underling just seem to be different versions of hell. It seems like you would have a better chance at happiness by picking ANY other field! Any real business that sells something real should provide you a better opportunity than peddling bullshit all day long. The sad part is that paralegal skills truly make you feel as though you are qualified to take over the world, but the world thinks you are just a deluded lawyer’s bitch, and they won’t even answer your resume email. At least you still have your youth. Keep me posted on your progress!

  4. Judyta Procio

    Thank you.I will!

    BTW I love your writing style..the humor of it makes my heart smile!..maybe you should write an ebook on how to survive the legal world..Im sure it would sell well 🙂

    • Thank you. It is funny to me now, but I’m not kidding you when I say there were times that I should have been placed on suicide watch. Your job shouldn’t make you want to die. I did put a book up on Amazon about the toxicity levels inside the law firm but no one is buying it. Maybe it is not news! How to survive would be a good one, although I almost feel like I wouldn’t be true to my beliefs if I preached anything but “get out if you’re not happy.” Remember, counseling and working things out only works in personal relationships. Your litigator boss doesn’t give a shit that Grammy died. He needs his exhibits and a nice ham sandwich.

      • I Agree

        I almost feel like I wouldn’t be true to my beliefs if I preached anything but “get out if you’re not happy.” Remember, counseling and working things out only works in personal relationships.

        Yep, that’s pretty much it. Thank you for this.

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