This is a humorous and sarcastic blog written by a paralegal in a mid-sized law firm in a mid-tier market. The goal is to share some of the pitfalls and foibles encountered in my own day-to-day experiences. Feel free to contact me at aparalegalslife@gmail.com with comments. Complaints, not so much :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Life During Wartime

Most of the non-attorney staff in this office are pretty new to law-firm life.  All are good at their jobs, but have some lessons to learn about dealing with attorneys.  Since I’ve been doing this for *cough*-teen years, it’s clear that I need to lead by example and show them a few things.  First lesson:  Dealing with an associate when he decides to be a raging jackass. 

I haven’t come up with a good nickname for him yet, so for now I’ll just call him Associate.  Generally we work well together and get along fine.  Once in a while, though, he gets whipped into a frenzy for no good reason and starts grossly mistreating the non-attorney staff.  There have been times when I can tell he’s actually restraining himself from smacking someone.  He stops being rational, won't explain what he wants done, and gets even more agitated when you try to ask for details.  Like what case it’s for. 

The first time Associate went off on one of his tirades after I got here, I wasn’t involved so it was better to simply observe and record.  He tosses a project at someone, yells at them to "just get it done", that person timidly says "OK", and then tries to figure out what Associate wants without disturbing him.  This led to the inevitable mistakes, which only made Associate more upset, and started a cycle that ends with a staff member in tears.

The next time he went off the reservation, it was directed at me and I knew exactly how to handle it:  return his fire and call him out for being an unreasonable jackass.  With my door open and in earshot of most of the office, I promptly told him to “shut the f**k up, count to ten, and explain it again calmly and completely”.  There was DEAD SILENCE, except for a phone ringing off in the distance.  Associate looked like I’d just slapped him across the face.  He collected himself and stormed to the Office Manager, presumably to try and have me fired. 

Office Manager has been issuing the verbal beat-down to snot-nosed egomaniacal attorneys since the Reagan Administration.  If this were a cop show, she'd be the grizzled old precinct captain.  She knows exactly how he acts and backed me up by telling Associate he was completely out of line and that I did nothing wrong by demanding that he calm down and provide clarification.  She also sternly told him that he can’t treat the staff this way and, just to drive home the point, said he’ll never make Partner in this firm if that behavior continues.  I suspect she had the speech prepared already but was just waiting for the right employee to snap back at Associate. 

5 minutes later he came back and calmly explained what he needed done, and I cheerily said "OK, I understand and will get right on this".  He never apologized, though I wouldn’t expect an attorney to apologize for anything.  But now he can tell by my glare when he needs to calm down and stop overreacting. 

Associate learned that he can’t browbeat people (at least not all of us), and the rest of the office learned that I won’t tolerate any crap.  Lesson concluded.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! I like this! :) I would do that but we don't have an office manager lol so I don't think it would flow the same way.