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 :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pro Bono Blues

One of the Associates is doing a pro bono case, required by our state's Bar Association.  Sometimes pro bono work gives us a good chance to gain some experience in areas of the law that we've never worked on before.  Sometimes pro bono work is rewarding, and you get a warm fuzzy feeling for having helped a deserving soul in a bad position. 

This, however, is not one of those times... 

The saga begins with Associate getting forced by a Court (that we never practice in) to intervene as temporary guardian to protect the interests of a child caught in a custody battle between her squabbling divorced parents.  Of course, 99% of the work has been dumped on yours truly so that Associate can go back to billable work.  If I could go to the hearings instead of said Associate, I'm sure that last 1% would be mine also.  Not that I blame Associate, I'd be doing the same thing if our positions were reversed.

Did I mention that both parents are completely insane, incredibly stupid and in all meaningful ways a total waste of human flesh?  I have hundreds of documents from the police and child welfare people about the nonsense these two have pulled on each other.  The tactic seems to be "my complaint file is less massive than my ex's, so give me the kid."

Since neither of them can afford attorneys, and Associate is now involved, they seem to think they can ask our office for legal advice at all times of the day and night.  Of course, we can't give it to them because (a) we aren't a family law practice and know almost nothing about it, (b) it would be a conflict of interest since we are trying to protect their daughter's welfare and (c) they wouldn't follow it anyway.  But that doesn't stop them from asking us.  Repeatedly.

Meanwhile, it's becoming painfully clear that this poor child shouldn't be forced to live with either parent.  She's better off being raised by wolves, or maybe the Three Stooges.  Unfortunately, the Judge is going to have to pick which parent is less crazy, and will be looking at us for guidance.  Associate is seriously thinking about filing a motion to have both parents forcibly lobotomized to protect society and absolve us of having to make a recommendation.

I've lost all faith in humanity thanks to this pro bono domestic disaster.  This mess makes my own problems look trivial in comparison.  I feel so bad for the child in all this, she's such a sweet kid.


Icchic said...

Stories like this break my heart. I hope that this poor child somehow grows up to be happy, but that is not likely.

Dana (dh418) said...

My husband is almost qualified to be a lawyer in Australia. Husband will not even consider working in Family Law. I am not sure how the system works there, but here, if a lawyer is involved, the case is going to be ugly (amicable cases are settled through mediation). There are just too many broken people in Family Law.

I do admit that I am looking forward to some warm fuzzies through his pro bono work.

LostParalegal said...

Hah. Can sympathize. My attorney, as a favor to one of the attorneys in another state, took on a family court case (a court he never practices in).

A few weeks later, he got the happy news that he now represents the father in a termination of parental rights case.

He was just overjoyed to learn that he can be recompensed at $60/hr.