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 :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Unemployed and Ostracized

For about a week, unemployment was fun.  Then I got bored enough to start working on things around the house, like painting the living room on week 2.  By the start of week 3, I was reaching the stage of reorganizing my CD collection and pruning every blasted plant/tree/shrub/bush on my property. 

Within the first week, I had several interviews with a number of firms.  Most of them admired my depth and variety of experience, and were impressed by my professional knowledge and demeanor.  Then the inevitable “can we contact your prior employers?”  Which means The UnManager, who I found out through a sympathetic recruiter was soundly bashing me as the worst employee in history to anyone who will listen. 

So now, it appears that after close to 2 decades in this field, my career options are pretty much zero.  All because one person just can’t get over the fact that I proved her plum job was a result of being politically connected instead of competent. 

It appears relocating might be my only option.  Any suggestions as to what geographic areas are looking for experienced litigation paralegals?  I’ll take anything but New York City.  No offense, but visiting is enough.  I just couldn’t stand to live there.


Momalegal said...

Grumpy - Dude, that completely blows. I've been completely out of the loop on blogs, etc. for a while. But I saw the link to this post on Twitter & had to comment. I am sincerely sorry you have to go through that. My husband went through similar issues in the past and it's beyond ridiculous that one person with a vendetta can completely screw you over.

Know anybody who deals in voodoo dolls? :/

jenna! said...

I know that you know that UnManager isn't allowed to give a negative reference. She can say that you worked there and the dates you worked there but if she says anything to get in the way of your future employment you can go after her & the firm. That being said from what you've written she doesn't play by the rules. But, for me, I give the names and contact information for the attorneys for whom I worked. I don't think I've ever had a firm contact my previous employer/HR/office manger. I just have them speak directly to the people for whom I worked.

Scott Jacobs said...

And here I was under the impression that such a thing was not, in fact, legal.

The terms of your severance package... Did it say anything about what may or may not be said regarding calls from prospective employers?

Also, I might suggest obtaining letters from each of the lawyers who were shocked by your termination to give to potential employers and say "You certainly may contact my former employer - be aware that she will lie, and I have these as some small measure of rebuttal..."

Anonymous said...

When they ask whether they can contact your previous employers, can you not point them to some attorneys you worked with, as opposed to UnManager? As an attorney, I'd prefer to talk to another attorney about how a paralegal performed, rather than some sort of office manager.

Grumpy Humbug said...

The attorneys are all under orders to forward any requests for references to UnManager. Also, UnManager's boss, Senior Partner, is very well-connected and friends with most of the other well-connected senior partners in town. The entire thing is basically an informal, under-the-table smear campaign. Plus, my state rarely sides with employees against employers in anything.

Scott Jacobs said...

"The attorneys are all under orders to forward any requests for references to UnManager"

The solution to that is to have them ignore that order.

You really, really need to check that contract you signed, show it to an employment lawyer, and see if this doesn't violate it.

And get those letters from the attorneys who liked you.

It might be time to scorch some earth.

Grumpy Humbug said...

The problem is that everything's below-the-radar politics. None of the lawyers will stick their necks out for me, and I can't blame them. Senior Partner is extremely influential and very powerful, and he protects UnManager like a mother bear with a cub. The last associate who stood up to him over UnManager had to leave the state, take another bar and change practice areas just to find employment again. Besides, it may be against the law or in violation of the agreement, but I'll have no luck finding anyone to testify in open court on my behalf, since they would be destroying their own career.

Like I said, this situation sucks any way you look at it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am so SO sorry to hear that :(( I'm appalled.

Anonymous said...

If you are having problems finding employment in your state and if you are willing to move, I would suggest Alaska. Especially Anchorage. There are several big and international firms as well as smaller size firms. There is a whole array of legal fields to choose from due to the state's diversity. You can find anything from traditional legal fields such as family law and civil litigation to mining and claims.

Alaska is vast yet small and not for everyone, but if anyone needs a change you can find it on a map.

Anonymous said...

What state do you live in currently? Just wondering where you are looking for a job and where you might considering moving to? I have been a paralegal in several states so I might be able to point you in the right direction.

Carla said...

Wow! That's really crazy! I am sorry to hear that.