Paralegal

How I Lost Every Shred of Confidence I had in Myself and My Abilities at Work in Just 12 Short Weeks! (A Guest Post)

I’ve worked in the legal field for the past eight years and have spent the last two years as a paralegal.  For the first year and a half, I really enjoyed my paralegal position and the attorney I worked with and I was great at my job.  I was always thinking three steps ahead, never missed a deadline, I could be relied upon to keep my attorney on-track and up-to-date on everything, and I received shout-outs at every single staff meeting.  All that changed the day ****** went on maternity leave.  ****** was assigned to one of the younger partners, *****, and a few weeks before she went on leave, I was told I would be taking over her responsibilities, in addition to my own, while she was away (I later found out that I was assigned to ***** while ****** was away because all the other paralegals had REFUSED to work with him ever again).  

Allow me to provide a little background info to aid in your understanding of my fantastic journey to mediocrity:  I work for a mass tort firm, specializing in personal injury and product liability claims involving representative trials called bellwether trials which are used to determine the what the future of a tort will look like – very few plaintiffs receive a bellwether trial and it is fairly rare for a mass tort firm to have any cases in pre or active litigation – litigation was not a part of my job, nor was it something I had any experience with whatsoever.  Well, lucky me, ***** just happened to be in the middle of prepping a case for an upcoming bellwether trial  – a very important trial pick involving a severely injured plaintiff.  

A few months before ****** went on leave, I had my annual review, during which ***** said he would be more than happy to take an afternoon to walk me through the stages of a bellwether trial pick, from the start of the claim through the bellwether trial and any subsequent appeals.  I had inquired as to when we could get together for the promised tutorial a few times without a response but when I learned I would soon be helping ***** while ****** was out on maternity leave, I was that much more intent on getting a time set up to go over this info. I spent the better part of two weeks asking for the promised lecture and for the better part of two weeks I was continually told that he was far too busy to be bothered and ultimately, I was told that he didn’t have time to “hold my hand” and wouldn’t waste his time walking me through the basics of the work I would be doing for the 12 weeks ****** would be on leave.  I guess he had just offered to put on a show for HR and the other attorneys in my performance review as a way of trying to prove that he was trying to be less of a horrible and toxic boss.  In the end, I was made to feel stupid and unqualified when I asked for something that he had offered to me out of the blue and completely unprovoked by me.  In retrospect, this should have been my first big warning of the type of person I would be working for or, rather, the person who would be abusing me for the next three months.

Getting back to the beginning of my very long 12 week period of castigation and debasement, I quickly learned that some of the many perks of working for ***** included: (1) being paid for 8 hours days, yet expected to be on-call 24-7; (2) being expected to return every email from ***** within one hour and not a second longer (literally – I would receive a scathing email from ***** within minutes of the hour mark passing, which makes me wonder whether or not he was just sitting there, watching the clock and waiting for the opportunity to bitch me out – more likely, he would just set a “time to bitch her out” alarm for 60 minutes after sending every email), whether or not the email was sent during working hours; (3) ever-changing expectations (example: one week, I was reamed for not communicating every step of the process of scheduling exert depositions, which process had been made that much more difficult due to COVID, and then the next week when sending an update, I received an email back that said, “Jesus, I don’t need a f*****g play by play”); (4) being expected to know procedures that had never been shared with me, resulting in a barrage of angry emails beginning with, “This is the way we’ve always done it, so I don’t understand why it’s suddenly a problem…”, to which I would reply, “I apologize, I was unaware of the standard procedure but will make sure to follow it moving forward” when what I should have said was, “I have no f*****g clue what the ‘standard procedure’ is for anything I’m doing because you refused to share that information with me, despite having promised it in front of numerous witnesses…”; and (5) 84 days of ridicule, verbal abuse and the constant reinforcement of the idea that I had no idea what I was doing, that my work product was shit and that I was a terrible paralegal.  With one week to go until ****** returned to work and I would be set free from this cycle of abuse, I was pushed over my limit.  After COVID, my office switched to a hybrid work schedule – two days from home and three in the office.  We were in the process of moving to a new office and were asked to come in that Monday to set up our desks and phones, and were told to head home to work for the rest of the day if it was one of your work from home days, which was the case for me.  I went in and set up my phone and computer, but was told they were still working on setting up the wi-fi, so I opted to return home to work at that point.  A minute after I got home, I received a frantic call from the HR Manager, who needed to know “where I was” and “what was going on!”  As it turns out, ***** had emailed me several times while I was in the office setting up my desk and I had not responded within the one hour mark which prompted ***** to seek out and scream at the HR Manager, demanding to know where I was and why I “wasn’t working”.  He was in the office and saw me setting up my desk and then announcing I would be heading out to work from home for the rest of the day, yet did not mention his “urgent” email to me at that time.  To *****, everything he wanted done was to be considered both urgent and time-sensitive. HR ended up apologizing to me for overreacting and I decided I was better off just letting the incident go since I was so close to the end of my time working under this monster.  This was the plan, until I got the absolute nastiest email I have ever received in my entire life, both personally and professionally, from *****.  The email tore me to shreds and questioned both my work and my intelligence – basically, he wanted to know why I wasn’t competent enough to get a certain deposition scheduled – the deposition in question is one that he, himself, had told me 100 times to “slow play” and not to schedule until after the next status hearing when we had a better idea of whether or not the trial date would be pushed yet again.  This was the final straw.  I went back and pulled every single email with his explicit instructions NOT to schedule the deposition yet, typed out a long email reiterating every verbal and emailed conversation that had occurred regarding the scheduling of this deposition and attached all the corresponding emails for good measure.  Shockingly, he did not respond to my email, nor did he ever apologize for his accusatory email.     

Cut to the present day – I’m no longer working with *****, but the experience has had devastating results.  I now feel that I really do suck at my job and my lack of confidence in my abilities is so great that it has been noticed and was pointed out in my annual review a month ago.  HR and the attorneys involved in my review actually acknowledged that they knew working for ***** was the cause of my sudden drop in confidence and the drastic change in the quality of my work.  This has made it all the more difficult to understand why he has been, and continues to be, allowed to abuse all those working under him.  While I was working for *****, I was told by numerous different co-workers to “hang in there” and was even told that he had been talked to about his behavior and was “working on it” without any evidence to the contrary.  I now have severe email anxiety and have a mini panic attack every time I hear the sound of the notification for a new email.  I really feel like I have forgotten how to do my job altogether and I have no idea what to do to get past this.  I feel so ashamed that someone could have this type of impact on me and my work ethic, which was always great before this experience.  At this point, I am really at a loss.

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“I Hate Paralegals”

According to my stats, the second most popular phrase that people are typing in to the Google search bar to find this website is “I Hate Paralegals.”

I can only assume that these searches are generated by asshole lawyers, and I just thought I would like to remind them that we hate them too.

Actually, I really don’t anymore.

But I do remember. I remember how awful most of you were – not just to your lowly staff, but to your own family members and to each other, and your clients too. I don’t hate you anymore, but I still think most of you are absolutely awful human beings, and I am thankful that I don’t have to get in the mud and dirty myself with you anymore.

I guess that’s closure or progress, or time healing wounds. I don’t know. I’m glad I don’t have the hate, because hate is ugly, and it blinds you, but it also lights the fire that makes you keep running until you don’t have to run anymore. Because you’re somewhere else now.

And you are happy, and not struggling right now, and all is well and light in the world.

We go up, and maybe, just maybe, we don’t come down again. Because we were already down so long that when we finally pick ourselves up, God himself smiles upon us and says, “You made it. You don’t have to worry anymore. You made it out. You found another way. And I will not let you fall now that you have made it out.”

That’s what I think. Things are not handed to you, but I think that when you fight and make it out, after awhile, you get to be safe. The psychological torture ends.

 

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From Paralegal to Future Med Student – An Escapee’s Message

IT IS OKAY TO QUIT. A guest post with an inspiring message:

At the age of seven, I announced I wanted to be a doctor. My mom bought me a toy stethoscope that could actually amplify heartbeats, a little white doctor coat, and a blue plastic “doctor bag” with pretend immunizations and Band-Aids. In high school I was an Advanced Placement and honors student. I graduated in the top five-percent of my class, went to a highly ranked four-year university, and majored in biology with a 3.8 GPA.

During the summer between my junior and senior year, I took a paid internship at a small litigation law firm easily accessible by public transportation from my modest student apartment. My roommate urged me to apply with her, and she and I became two of the three interns they hired that summer.

The office was so swanky! A high rise! In a beautiful city! Where the attorneys were in suits with slicked back hair! My roommate and I went shopping for the good pantyhose—the kind that wouldn’t run after one wear—wool skirts, and blouses. We loved the office environment. All the free coffee we wanted! So important and official! Clicking of keyboards everywhere, errands to run all around the city, and the attorneys appeared so important and successful. By the end of the summer, they had me convinced I wanted to go into law, and I was the only intern who jumped at the opportunity to continue our menial scanning, filing, and reception work during the school year.

When I graduated from college, my GPA just a little worse for wear due to commuting and working at the firm, the partners offered me a full-time position as a legal assistant. While I’d been envisioning a higher education and more degrees, I felt that, as a recent college grad, I couldn’t pass up on this generous, immediate job offer.

I accepted and was immediately moved from the front lobby to a back cubicle. The menial labor took its toll after all of one week of work. The attorneys, sitting comfortably in light-filled offices that circled the perimeter of our floor, had natural light, waterfront views, personal thermostats, and large desks. I was always too hot, under a fluorescent light, bombarded with the smell of my cell mate–excuse me, coworkers’ food and the sounds of their telephone conversations, and couldn’t complete my assigned duties because my desk wasn’t large enough. This all would have been fine and good if there was a reward for this work, if there was room for growth and self-learning, if I was contributing to society and could leave for my sweaty, cramped commute with a sense of self-worth, if only I could be promoted or grow within the company. I pulled myself together. I reminded myself to be thankful I had a job at all. One partner even stepped in and offered to pay for my night classes to become a licensed paralegal. Clearly I was being ungrateful, and law school could wait while I grappled with this opportunity to make a little more money and be a little more respected in the office.

I assisted one of the partners and two of the associate attorneys. Interns now came to ask me for help. Accounting approved my request for a second monitor. I felt I was moving up in the world, even if it was in minute increments.

However, I loathed my job. I loathed entering the office. I loathed knowing that I could complete eighty-percent of my tasks from home, even on my two-hour public transportation commute, but, since I wasn’t an attorney, was firmly told this wasn’t a possibility. The partner who I assisted guilt-tripped me every time I wanted to take my earned vacation time. I was berated for calling in sick on a day he was scheduled to meet with a client (who would book their lunch now??). I grew to loathe the office, the city it was located in, and law itself.

After years of working there, I was still not respected, still handed hours and hours of work and expected to complete it in ten minutes, still in my stifling too-small cubicle, and still mind-numbed by the menial tasks. I noticed that male new hires were never asked to make coffee, empty the dishwasher, run to the store for supplies, or even answer the phone if the receptionist was away from her (because it has always been a her) desk, while female senior paralegals were constantly asked to complete these tasks.

I quit three months ago ago. The last two weeks on the job were the most grueling and dragging, especially when the partner who I assist interrupted my ten-hour work day to ask me to walk the five blocks to the office supply store and carry back two new monitors. While I’m thankful for my years of steady employment, I feel that I’ve put in more than my due of respect and long hours. I took an accelerated math course over the summer and will be completing a post bacc for the next year that will help me prepare for the MCAT and apply to medical schools. I hope to become a family medicine physician, actively working to improve my community, directly helping people, and finally thinking critically and using the intelligence and critical thinking skills I desperately wanted to use more.

Most of the paralegals I speak with say that they “fell into it” several years (or decades) ago and simply never left. There is very little leeway to progress in the profession. Years go by without notice, and everyone seems to encourage you to be thankful for your full time job. Everyone works in an office. No one gets fresh air. What did you expect adulthood to be, anyway?

I’m here to say that it is okay to quit. It is okay to pursue a more fulfilling career path, even when it the outlook appears risky and uncertain. The retirement you’ve accumulated will still be there. Furthermore, we are not retired at fifty, fifty-five anymore. You have decades more of working ahead of you, and it is important—for your mental health, your sense of self-worth, and society as a whole—for you to have a profession you feel passion toward.

Categories: Paralegal | 5 Comments

“Here’s Why You Should Hire Me.”

YOU KNOW I HAD TO SHARE THIS ONE!

It was on this day, March 5, 2016, that I awoke and came to the sudden realization that I have apparently become the self-proclaimed Jackass Whisperer for the legal profession. Then I hit the “publ…

Source: “Here’s Why You Should Hire Me.”

Categories: Paralegal | 2 Comments

Unhappy Paralegal – A Guest Post

A word from an anonymous paralegal, who reached out to me via email a few weeks ago.

Hi: I am so grateful to have a forum in which to express my all-consuming hatred for my job and my resulting depression. I moved from the west coast where I worked as an executive assistant in the high tech and venture capital fields, sometimes making $80,000 a year, to a town in the Midwest with a population of 5,000, to earn about $32,000 a year. For almost 15 years now. That’s right. I had one raise. Ten years ago. I have no benefits. No retirement, nothing.

I sit in an area exterior to the attorney that I am doing time for, where the walls are cinder blocks. Painted grey. When the peeling paint finally meant some dollars had to be peeled from his wallet to have the office repainted, my at-first-granted request to have this area painted a warm color (any warm color please!) was overruled by his wife who decided “grey is more in keeping with the theme of the offices.”

Just looks like a cell with desks.

His office is plush and the new furniture cost about $10,000.00. There is another lovely office that has sat vacant for four years that I am not worthy of occupying. It has often been pointed out to me “you really ought to find someone to rent that office to. Then I could split the cost of your assistance to them as well. You could handle it and it would cost me less. You know I’m cheap. I’ve told you every day.”

We have an empty conference room that is quite nice, where I am only allowed to enter if I am summoned (last week during a hearing by telephone I was summoned through fingers snapping and then pointing to an open chair while the words “get in here” were mouthed – in front of a client). Today, since our officer cleaner relocated yesterday, I was told that we can’t hire another cleaner and that “Maybe you should clean the office. Should only need a dusting every two weeks.” I stayed mute.

As if I don’t shovel snow, vacuum in between cleanings, unplug the toilet after the unwashed masses use it, dust, clean the conference room, serve coffee; my list of janitorial and maid duties are numerous. We have one bathroom that is shared by the two of us and all clients from all walks of life. It has one toilet. As of today I am never going to use that toilet again. I think I’ll look into a permanent catheter as a solution.

I am allowed no vacation time. I’ve had 6 days off for vacation, in 15 years. I have had 4 sick days. In fifteen years. I am almost crying as I write this. I come to work sick, on the rare occasions that I am. I live very close by and have been afforded the privilege of raising our child and being there every day during the work week. I still eat lunch with my child every day. My husband works really long hours and has a long commute so we decided long ago that one person had to be close if one was going to be far. Ended up to be me. I am a slave.

I used to be treated as though I had a brain and was able to use it. I am now treated like I am the one who is incompetent and lacking an education. He will be xx this year and I was praying he would retire. He now says he has to continue working to pay the college tuition of each one of his grandchildren (even though all of his children are very wealthy). He also says that my child (a straight A student) should “go to a community college. Your child is who they are made for.”

Once, when I had to pick up my child (at four years old) from preschool after a broken arm injury, (although I came in the next day from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. until my husband went to work and then returned when he came home, to make sure my work was done) this attorney a/k/a Attila the Dutch Hun (he’s very proud of being Dutch and often in the office, proclaims “remember if you’re not DUTCH you’re not MUCH”) needless to say he is proclaiming this to a person who is NOT Dutch – said “why don’t you just tie ____ up with a rope outside your house – that way you won’t have to take any time off.”

He left early that day, by the way, because one of his grandchildren was ill and their mom (his daughter) couldn’t pick them up b/c she had to work. He told me all about how horrible that daughter’s boss was. By the way, she is an emergency room RN and was the only one on duty. I call this move and change in my career, going FROM HIGH TECH TO THE HOLLER.

I am basically given hieroglyphics to turn into trial briefs, conduct all the legal research, interact with clients and an ongoing caseload of at least 80 active cases, act as the accountant, do all the banking, invoice the clients, answer the incoming lines, and track all dates and calendar events. I am always sick with the worry of having forgotten something; some detail; some court date. I go to sleep worrying about whom I have forgotten and/or what I’ve neglected to do and I wake up the same way. I am tired.

The career I would pursue if I could (I am __ now) is the executive assistant career I used to have. I am passionate about entrepreneurs and assisting them. I am passionate about being the right hand to someone’s left and taking care of all of the details which then allows them to then do what they are really good at. I miss being valued and I miss the generosity of spirit that is lacking here. I miss not being degraded every day of my working life.

I miss being recognized as a contributor to the bottom line. I miss working as hard as I do now, for both financial and personal gains that I will never realize again (in all likelihood). Our child was chronically ill for over a decade, and we both have to work to make ends meet. The only way we could properly raise her ourselves, was to sacrifice basically, everything. Which we’ve done. She is now a healthy __ year old (graduating a year early).

So that is the reward, and it’s not one that can be quantified. But it has been at the expense of who I am and what I can contribute to the world outside of our small family. I’ve never written about this before and I am a very private person, so I thank you for the opportunity to give myself a voice.

Categories: Paralegal | 4 Comments

Rich Lawyer’s Wife Refers to Herself as a “Rich Piece of Shit”

http://abovethelaw.com/2015/01/rich-lawyers-wife-leaves-incredibly-drunk-racist-message-promising-massive-f-ing-lawsuit/2/
I made the mistake of commenting about this video over on Above the Law the other day. How could I have forgotten about this? The wife call herself a rich piece of shit! That about sums it up. JoePesci over there had to put me in my place by reminding me of what he thought my permanent status in life is. And so, ladies and gents, I submit to you one more piece of evidence about what lawyers think of paralegals:

Rich piece of shit. Awesome. The Asian Hawaiian Monster was in fact a werewolf she saw drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s. And his hair…

  • Remember, you will always be a paralegal, but ask for help from a higher power, and take it one day at a time.

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A Look Inside the Book – Are You Sure You Want to be a Paralegal?

The Beginning of Chapter One:

To begin, we should take a good, hard, sobering (ahem) look at the personality characteristics of litigators. Why do you hate working for lawyers? I will break it down for you.

Who Are Your Bosses?

  • Alcoholics;

Psychology Today weighed in on the subject and concluded that:  “The ABA estimates that 15-20 percent of all U.S. lawyers suffer from alcoholism or substance abuse.” (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/therapy-matters/201105/the-depressed-lawyer).  To put this number in perspective, consider that The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates the rate of alcoholism among the general population as 7-10 percent.

The American Bar Association reports that “as many as one in five lawyers is a problem drinker – twice the national rate.” (http://www.americanbar.org/groups/lawyer_assistance/resources/alcohol_abuse_dependence.html)

As late as October 29, 2014, The International Journal of Law and Psychiatry study is still being quoted to measure rates of problem drinking as 18 percent for lawyers who have practiced anywhere from 2-20 years, and a whopping 25 percent for lawyers who have been working for 20 or more years.   (http://www.chicagolawbulletin.com/Elements/pages/print.aspx?printpath=/Archives/2014/10/29/Alcoholism-Survey-10-29-14&classname=tera.gn3article).

Working for alcoholics can potentially make your work life completely toxic and dysfunctinal for obvious reasons, but consider this.  What if being in an environment for years on end where the culture encourages and feeds toxicity starts to affect you?  What you are exposed to on a daily basis becomes your normal sense of reality.  Functioning among bosses who forget everything they ever told you and forget to tell you key pieces of information you need to know to do your job (but then punish you for not knowing what they forgot to tell you), will make you a nervous wreck or an alcoholic yourself.  For a few years, I was probably both.  I honestly did not realize how toxic my job was until I quit drinking myself.  That subject is probably best reserved for another book entirely.

  • Unhappiest Workers in America;

In that same Psychology Today article that is linked above, it is reported that a Johns Hopkins University Study found that lawyers have the highest rates of depression among more than 100 different occupations.  Careerbliss.com routinely puts out a study about the happiest / unhappiest jobs in America and guess what tops the list for unhappiest?  Associate Attorney!  Also worth mentioning is the fact that Legal Assistant was closely followed as the Number 7 Unhappiest Job in America.  In my mind, it should be ranked right behind Associate Attorney.  (http://www.careerbliss.com/facts-and-figures/careerbliss-happiest-and-unhappiest-jobs-in-america-2013/).  For more commentary on the unhappiest jobs in America please read:  http://abovethelaw.com/2013/03/unhappiest-job-in-america-take-a-guess/

http://www.businessinsider.com/unhappiest-jobs-in-america-2013-12

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/efkk45ehffl/no-1-unhappiest-job-associate-attorney/

  • Assholes; and

There are plenty of attorney jokes. The hard data to back it up might be found in Bob Sutton’s The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. It will come as no surprise to anyone in the field that the legal field is an occupation that is rife with over-bearing assholes who engage in constant psychological abuse towards their staff members and co-workers. They may do it by assigning demeaning, meaningless “emergency” tasks that chip away at your spirit little by little, or they may do it in obvious ways such as barking at you like a dog in front of their clients for you to fetch things.

  • Psychopaths.

Kevin Dutton’s The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers can Teach us About Success, lists lawyers as second on the list of occupations that attract the most psychopaths. That is completely believable and certainly comes as no surprise to me. As an employee, the factors that you should be the most concerned about are detachment and lack of empathy. What do you think it will do to you on a daily basis to interact with someone who fails to exhibit human emotions and normal characteristics? I promise you the result is not going to make your life better.

(http://www.businessinsider.com/most-psychopathic-professions-2012-11)

Now you at least know who you will be working for.  But what does it really mean?  Name calling is great, but what exactly are all these alcoholic, depressed and unhappy, asshole psychopaths going to do to you to make your sheer existence a living nightmare?  Let me count the ways.

Why/How the Work Itself is Toxic

Here are my best explanations for how the law firm turns into a practical nightmare for the paralegal.

  • Your Work Isn’t Meaningful;

There are so many studies that support the idea that most workers just want the chance to be engaged in something that matters. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-leadership/how-to-completely-utterly-destroy-an-employees-work-life/2012/03/05/gIQAxU3iuR_story.html).   Paralegals certainly fit this characteristic.  You start out all bright-eyed and optimistic at the law firm, thinking that you are going to do good work and make a valuable contribution.  You might work like a dog to get a case shaped up and actually achieve that goal of making a valuable contribution.  Then, the partners will do one of the most demoralizing things that they can do to a paralegal, which is arbitrarily reassign teams and you will watch as your work disappears to another team, and the lazy paralegal who inherits all the work and research you did will get the credit for your hard work and contribution.  Your reward is that you get to keep your job and do it all over again from scratch.  Congratulations on your hard work and effort.  No one cares what you did, what you are doing, and what you are going to do.  Just shut up and keep the seat warm.

What are you waiting for?! Go buy the book!

Categories: Paralegal | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

On Bondage and Slavery

From time to time, I review the internet search results on my WordPress stats to determine how people are finding this blog. This week, poor litigation paralegal souls were somewhere out there pounding into the computer:

  • hate being a paralegal need a new job
  • jobs after being a paralegal
  • i hate being a paralegal
  • i don’t want to be a paralegal anymore
  • why i hate being a paralegal
  • hate being paralegal
  • psychopath lawyers
  • i hate my attorney

You hate it because to be employed under a lawyer is essentially to be a slave, or to live in bondage.

Slavery: severe toil; drudgery.

Bondage: captivity; restraint; prison.

No, you are most likely not physically whipped daily and raped by your master (probably, but I have heard some stories…). But, if you are typing those above-listed search terms into Google, you are most definitely being psychologically abused and you are a slave to your job if you have any financial commitments whatsoever. The boss knows this, and their behavior worsens because they know how difficult it is to find other work.

I hate to break it to you, but the second you have to ask another grown-up if you have their permission to go to a funeral, take care of your sick child, or go home for the holidays, you have just entered into slavery. What sort of place allows you to go out in the yard one time a day for an hour? Don’t they call that prison? Don’t you have to do something really reprehensible to wind up in prison?!

I don’t know when it became acceptable to live this way, but it makes me absolutely sick. Knowledge workers should not be voluntarily subjecting themselves to slavery. I am extremely suspicious of lawyers who require their paralegals to be sitting in a desk directly outside their office at all times. This is not a boss who wants a productive worker who is achieving measurable results. This is a boss who wants someone to yell at, play fetch with, and degrade in front of clients and co-workers. I know, having been that dog for the longest six months of my entire life.

How did this happen to the American people? How did so many of us become working slaves? It baffles me. Thoughts?

Categories: Paralegal | Tags: , | 9 Comments

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

Categories: Paralegal | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

How to Completely Destroy an Employee’s Work Life

Just in case A. Big Shot Attorney needs any ideas for how to make life for his staff completely unbearable:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-leadership/how-to-completely-utterly-destroy-an-employees-work-life/2012/03/05/gIQAxU3iuR_story.html

Categories: Paralegal | Tags: | 2 Comments

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