Is Your Boss a Jackass?

Legal Professionals:

I know, it is probably blatantly obvious to you that you are working for a jackass. But, just in case you aren’t sure, I’ve created this test to further confirm your suspicions that you are in fact, working for a donkey. What does your boss do in the following situations?

1. Opposing counsel finally produced a CD of documents (approximately 10,000 pages) in response to your motion to compel. What does your boss do?

a. Barks at you to send the CD out for blowback copies and then asks you to get sandwiches and coffee. That’s it. Because you are apparently really a waitress, not a legal professional.

b. Barks at you to send the CD out for blowback copies and then asks for status updates every two hours.

c. Develops a keyword search list and has you OCR search the .pdfs for responsive terms. Then, you print the docs and organize them chronologically into a working notebook. Meanwhile, chunks of documents are assigned to other staff members to review.

2. Depositions need to be scheduled. What is the normal process?

a. You are tasked with just randomly picking dates. Your boss can’t seem to understand why this never works and why opposing counsel is always calling to object to the random dates.

b. You coordinate with other A. Big Shot Attorney’s paralegal for dates and then send notices once dates are agreed upon. When your boss changes his mind about taking the depositions at 10:00 p.m. the night before they are scheduled, you scramble the next morning to cancel everything. Then, at 9:30 a.m., he decides to re-notice all of the depositions for next week.

c. You coordinate with other A. Big Shot Attorney’s paralegal for mutually agreeable dates, notice the depositions one time, everyone shows up and the depositions are taken as agreed.

3. Your boss just had a secret meeting with a key witness in one of the firm’s biggest cases. Guess what else? The witness gave him a large stack of Tear the Roof off the Sucker Documents. What does your boss do with the documents?

a. Leaves them in his car. For a whole year. When he gets noticed for trial, he asks you where the Tear the Roof off the Sucker Documents are. You have no idea what he’s talking about, of course, because you aren’t allowed to drive his Porsche. He yells at you about not being able to buy a new light jet with the settlement money.

b. Your boss leaves the documents in your chair with no instructions and refuses to answer any questions or emails about them for three months. He just doesn’t feel like dealing with it right now, okay?

c. Your boss tells you about the meeting. You are then able to update the master witness and exhibit lists. The Tear the Roof off the Sucker Documents have been scanned in and the originals are filed away in the vault. You are a badass paralegal, and your boss just might get that jet after all.

4. There is a big hearing coming up. What’s going on in the office?

a. Your boss waits to start prepping until the day before the hearing. He throws papers around everywhere and then tells you to clean it up.

b. Your boss starts prepping a week before the hearing and tells you what exhibits and notebooks need to be assembled. You arrange everything perfectly. You think. Until he comes in one morning and decides to re-arrange the order of the notebook tabs. After you spend five hours doing this, he takes one look at the notebooks and changes his mind. The original way was better. Back to the drawing board!

c. Your boss starts prepping a week before the hearing and tells you what exhibits and notebooks need to be assembled. As you get closer to the deadline, your boss adds his new exhibits to the BACK of all of the notebooks. Then, he takes you to the hearing with him.

5. You are finally going to use two of your vacation days. What does your boss do?

a. Calls you the first day within three hours of the office opening to ask you where he put some documents (this is not a typo).

b. Sends you a whole bunch of passive aggressive emails asking for status updates in cases he has refused to talk about for the last six months.

c. Leaves you alone and hopes like hell you come back.

If you scored:

Mostly A’s: I’m sorry. Your boss is a donkey. There just isn’t an easy way to break this news to you.

Mostly B’s: Your boss needs some work, but there may be hope yet. Try to get him to tap into that humanity that probably lurked somewhere inside that soul of his years ago. Tell him: “Do you remember my first day of work?” I said: “Good morning.” You said: “Grunt. err. sniffle. snort.” “Can we go back to the way we were then when things were fresh and new?”

Mostly C’s: Your boss is amazing! Are you hiring? 



Categories: Paralegal | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Hate Your Paralegal Job? What Field Provides a Quick Escape?

If you hate your paralegal job, and are wondering what field might provide a quick escape, I really like the list provided over at the Practical Paralegalism blog:

If you have read my book, then you know that for me there really was only one answer. Small business owner! My experience with the paralegal field is that it is a dead-end job.

Unfortunately, my experience over the years with lawyers and law firms is that they are interested in exploiting paralegals by making them actually perform five jobs at once. The “paralegal” must also be a receptionist, waitress, administrative assistant, travel agent, and paralegal. Sometimes you even have to be the file clerk too. I have no idea why the people in charge think this is an efficient way to work, but they do for some reason.

The “paralegal” will become absolutely burned out by the stress of trying to perform actual substantive casework on files that have been piling up while she has been booking vacations for her boss and his girlfriend, scheduling depositions, and answering the copy salesman’s phone calls multiple times a day. Paralegals as a class of people are highly intelligent, organized, and helpful people. However, just because someone may be capable of performing five different jobs doesn’t mean that they actually want to do that for the long-term. It is a completely unlivable situation to catch hell from your boss because you were busy trying to cancel all of his appointments and failed to email him the draft discovery responses before he had to leave for his 4:00 pre-dinner cocktail hour.

Most lawyers view paralegals (and associates too, for that matter) as servants, not as highly skilled professionals who bring value and intelligent world experience to every client’s case. This is unfortunate, but it is my true experience.

I have heard some stories from people who have fought and made a “quick” escape to executive assistant work. The story doesn’t tend to have a happier ending, though. Remember, CEO’s are complete psychopaths too. The only difference is that they tend to have better private jets than the lawyers. But it doesn’t matter, because you most likely will not be enjoying the view.

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Lawyers a/k/a Psychopaths – Second on the List, Just After CEOs

In case some of you haven’t noticed, most lawyers are complete psychopaths. Don’t believe me?

Check out this article from Business Insider

The defining characteristics of the lawyer as a psychopath is their universal lack of empathy and complete detachment from other human beings. Scared yet?

How about this ABA Journal article that declares that the legal field attracts psychopaths?

The Recovering Paralegal is of course, not surprised by any of this. I have seen it all firsthand. I have known for years that lawyers are psychopaths. It just makes me feel a little bit better to see some scholarly research to legitimize my personal opinions.



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Why Are There So Many Asshole Lawyers?

Just brilliant.

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Quitting a Job You Hate

Some years ago, I was seemingly trapped in a litigation paralegal job that was literally sucking the will to live right out of me. While on a quest to get some peace on vacation, I found myself on a guided hike through the Red Rock Canyons. I struck up a conversation with my guide. He looked at me and said: “Yeah, I get a lot of people out here who hate their jobs. Why don’t you just quit?”

I was stunned. Clearly this man was an idiot, who was completely incapable of grasping the inner complexities of my little world, and how every little intricate layer of the life I built revealed an issue or detail that prevented me from “just quitting.” I believe I gave him a more tactful response, in the way of declaring: “But it isn’t that simple.”

This time, the sage guide looked at me as though I was the one with the mental problem. He said: “Yes it is.”

Looking back in my rearview mirror on the job and city I left in the dust, I realize of course that the guide was right. Most things really are simple. Everything is as easy or as hard as you make it. Decide what you want, and set your course. The inner complexities are probably just fear and insecurities, not actual problems that are preventing you from changing.  

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Being Called in on Saturday

An associate lawyer I know shared this little nugget with me. Once, when she was just starting out, her cell phone rang early on a Saturday morning. There weren’t any deadlines coming up, and she couldn’t for the life of her figure out why her boss was calling her. When she answered the phone, he only gave her a cryptic: “I need you to get in here.”

She of course got dressed quickly and sped through several traffic lights to get in the office as soon as possible. When she arrived, her boss passed her in the hallway. She said to him: “What do you need?” His response? “I just think you need to be here working on Saturday.”

We both agreed that of course if he had something specific in mind, it was reasonable to ask her to work. The point is, there was literally nothing going on. She was begging for billables and he wasn’t delegating any tasks. She sat there and cleaned her office for a little while and then went home. Ridiculous!

Categories: Paralegal | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Regular People

Ran into a lawyer today. He regaled me of a horrific time he had just had while being forced to travel via commercial airplane. Apparently the weather suddenly took a turn for the worse, and the airline cancelled his flight. He said:  “Thankfully, there was a Westin at the Airport, but I had my nanny, and my two kids, it was hell. I felt so sorry for all those regular people just standing there at the gate. They looked like they didn’t even have any credit cards.”

I just nodded my head in agreement. Yes, that surely is a terrible problem you had to overcome. A. Big Shot Attorney has it so rough!


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Hate Your Paralegal Job? What Other Fields Can Provide an Escape?

If you hate your paralegal job and are exploring other career opportunities, I really like this list (even though it is a few years old) that was posted on the Practical Paralegalism blog:

If you have read my book, then you know that there was really only one viable long-term answer for me, and that was to become my own boss. Find a business you love and grow it. You can find yourself in a paralegal job that is tolerable, but that isn’t what life is supposed to be. We should be thriving and growing in all aspects of our life.

My experience in the field led me to the conclusion that being a paralegal was a dead-end job for me. I understand that not everyone feels that way, and it probably has a lot to do with personality traits. I have seen a lot of lawyers over the years who view paralegals as servants instead of valued professionals who have intelligent perspectives to bring to each case. Unfortunately, my experience is that a majority of lawyers and firms want to exploit their paralegals into working five jobs at once. You must at all times be able to switch between being a receptionist, waitress, travel agent, administrative assistant, and paralegal. This is just exhausting. Making the mental switch between different roles and tasks while under constant performance pressure to complete actual case work is just not a livable situation.

Paralegals as a group of people are highly capable, organized, and helpful creatures. But, just because we are capable of doing five jobs at once does not mean that we want that, or that it is actually the most efficient way to use us for generating profits and helping clients. It’s sad, actually. To have a pile of case files in front of you with a list of substantive work to complete, and to have to mentally fight to concentrate to accomplish the smallest thing because your boss needs you to answer his phone, book his plane tickets, and schedule a deposition. Then, at the end of the day, he will bless you out because you didn’t get the draft discovery responses to him before he left for his 4:00 pre-dinner cocktail hour.

I have heard some transition stories from a few people who have been able to become executive assistants. However, the ultimate outcome was the same as far as what happens when you just pick another psychopath to work for (you are just choosing a different type of hell). Psychopath lawyer vs. psychopath CEO. Pretty much the only difference is the size of their private jet, but you probably aren’t going to be on it, anyway.


Categories: Paralegal | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

A. Big Shot Attorney Seeks Secretary with Benefits

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10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job in 2014

This article gives me chills!


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