I had almost ten years of litigation paralegal experience when I walked away from a “good” job.
I want to get people talking about what it is really like to work in a law firm as a paralegal. Based upon countless talks with anonymous paralegals across the country, it is my opinion that my own experiences were not unique to me. What I speak of in the book is something that goes on in toxic law firms everywhere! Unfortunately, it is a sort of dirty secret that people just don’t talk about for fear of losing their jobs.
Not all paralegals (thankfully) get to work with both a self-proclaimed “Dirty Old Man” and a boss who barks at his staff every 7-9 minutes like a dog at the same time, but it seems that almost every single one is exposed to some sort of psychological torment, which always felt like abuse to me. Bullying is alive and well in the law office.
I would like to shine a light on the psychological warfare that lawyers engage in with their own staff on a daily basis (some for fun to boost their own egos, others because they are so broken they don’t know how else to communicate). I would like to warn those who are looking to enter the field and perhaps even provide some comic relief to those who are still working as paralegals. I wish someone would have written the truth before I entered the field. I certainly might have been swayed to consider another career option.
Looking back, I have made the connection that I have never actually been yelled at by a partner for anything that was actually truly within my control to fix. For instance, I have only been subject to abuse when I failed to get a Delta Captain to hold a 747 because my hung-over partner was yakking in the bathroom. I have been yelled at because an associate decided to file confidential client medical records with a court filing on a day I was on vacation, and I have even been held responsible for witnesses (who were properly served with a subpoena) who failed to show up for trial.
Needless to say, working with litigators is a truly horrible job. I once found myself having a conversation with a co-worker where we were asking each other if we were dead and the law firm was hell.
There is a reason that paralegal and associate are two job titles that frequently make the top “Worst Jobs in America” lists. I talk about all the reasons why in my book, and use real emails that I have accumulated over the years to illustrate a few points.