Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Your first legal job....

I have spent several weeks talking to attorney's that I know.  All asking me how I enjoy my job.  One thing that has been a common theme is that most first jobs are horror stories.  One attorney told me that her first job involved a man that would get drunk and pinch her butt.  Another attorney told me about a boss that was verbally abusive and patronizing.  I think it is important to talk about the fact that this profession is filled with people who are alcoholics and people who are extremely depressed.  These people can bring terrible misconduct into the offices in which we work.  The horrible part is that as a new attorney, these are the people that you would be dependent on for a reference, let alone your pay check.

Take the following story from a friend as an example:  My friend found a job with a firm right away.  Things went well, and then one morning my friend's boss showed up at work drunk.  For two days, this attorney advised clients while intoxicated, raged, yelled, drove the company car while intoxicated, and made threats to their spouse so that the whole office could hear.  At the end of the day, my friend called the firm and the managing partners in.  What followed was interesting.  Two more incidents followed.  One where the boss made threats and accusations against my friend for disloyalty for going to the managing partner -- the boss actually made threats to my friend to ruin his/her career.  This friend was not allowed to leave his/her office until a weird loyalty pledge was affirmed to the boss.  The second incident the boss confronted my friend and accused him/her of spying and reporting all activities to the managing partner, followed by some threats.

Another friend worked for an alcoholic attorney as well and was placed in the inalienable position of having to turn his/her boss into the bar when the attorney showed up at a hearing highly intoxicated.  What baffled my friend the most is that no other attorney, nor the judge found the behavior of the drunk attorney as strange or weird.  Therefore it feel upon my friends shoulders to do the right thing and call the bar.  Actually, he/she had an affirmative duty to report such behavior.  As you can imagine, this attorney lost his/her job.  No reference, no thank you.

Another friend found out this the boss had a criminal conviction for spousal abuse.  Not exactly morally fit, correct?

My point is that you are likely going to find yourself in a pickle.  The odds are FOR this, not against it.  There are a few things you can do when researching a firm...... You can call the bar and see if there have been complaints or discipline.  You can run the name through the local courthouse's public records.  If you see a conviction for battery, or DUI -- that's your first clue.  Ask around.  Anyone you know in the profession, asked pointed questions like, "Would you work for this person?"  That may not always help you as professionals have become adept at hiding issues.

This may seem overwhelming to you.  I share it because it is important to realize this is a reality and you need to guard against it.  These are extreme situations -- but they exist.


  1. First, pass the bar and then maybe you can criticize those who came before you!

  2. Normally I would not approve anonymous posts because if you are not willing to put your name to a jab, then it is cowardly. But in this case, someone said this to my face in a fit of rage during a conversation, so I have a good idea who this.....

    So, let me say this: Passing the bar in no way equips me in a better way to share experiences from attorneys who have given me advice.

    Second, In the context of this comment it seems as if the "anonymous" poster has taken some kind of offense to what I have said and that I am passing some kind of judgment. Not at all. My intent was to pass on hard earned experiences and to let my readers know to protect yourself in all ways that I possibly can. And to realize, that not all people are lucky landing their dream job the first time around.....

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