(Marital) Home Wrecker

For today’s “The Best of the Bitter: 2009,” we’re revisiting the three most popular associate abuse pieces from the last year.  “(Marital) Home Wrecker” was the winner, followed by “Bageled” and “Does No Legal Analysis.”

I worked on a large, involved divorce case for over a year. It was my full-time job. I came in and spoke with the client every single day (day in, day out).

She cried (and cried, and cried), and I listened. She demanded things, and I jumped. I made memos. I reported every phone call in a memo and presented it to the partner. I knew every time she and her husband had sex. I knew every minute of their 35-year marriage. I received boxes and boxes of documents—most of them poems to herself and journal entries that had absolutely no relevancy to the case at all. I carefully labeled all the documents. I drafted all motions, all correspondence. I appeared in court at least 10 times on the matter. I worked and worked and worked.

One of the things this client demanded was not only my time, but the partner’s too. He and I met with her at least four hours a week.

For one particular meeting, I was told to bring everything. (Really?  Just getting all the boxes into the conference room took 30 minutes.) When I got there, the partner wanted to “see her notes on the marital home.” Sure thing. I opened the file labeled “Marital Home.” I looked. I could not find them.

Panic began to rise. I had them! I remember seeing them! I started looking in all the other folders. Instead of bailing me out by saying, “Oh, we will just find them later,” the partner and the client just kept staring at me as I fumbled around for them. The client finally tried to help me out, but the partner said, “No, let’s see if she can find them.”

Humiliation at its finest. Maybe 18 minutes later, the partner finally relented. After the meeting, he went back to his office kicking and yelling and throwing things. The whole office knew the sins I had just committed.

This client fired us and to this day has never paid. I never received any lick of credit for the one-and-a-half years I worked for her. Now I know why her husband wanted to divorce her in the first place.

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31 Comments

  1. Al Dickman

    March 19, 2009 at 4:04 am

    Yes, some women can be testy, particularly when their lives are heading down the crapper, as this author suggests.  However, I have always found that you can keep your lady happy by paying attention to her needs, laughing with her, and agreeing with her on matters even where she is being objectively ridiculus,—generally being her partner in life.  When I first met my wife she was one of a number of very good looking co-eds looking for Mr. Right.  I was a relatively strapping former athlete with not a heck of a lot of long-term potential.  But I was attentive to things, including the fact that I would be best off married to someone like her –someone who adored me, rather than someone who I’d have to chase for any little morsel of attention.  My wife thought I was really great (much more than I did myself), and she touted me to all the other women at her sorority.  Even though she had a lot of spending money, that didn’t matter then.  The smartest thing I ever did was not let any of that get to my head. Her father was also very interested in the fact that I was going to be a lawyer, and he too encouraged me to marry his daughter (in his words make an honest gal out of her).  It is now over 25 years we are married and I still treat her right and she treats me right.  I think men and women who are bitter expect too much from their spouses.  I guess if you don’t get greedy, or think you are better than you are, you will do OK in life.  I pity the poor schmuck who married the woman in this story.  By marrying the right girl you won’t get into the trouble and wind up in the divorce line like this story.

  2. Alan

    March 19, 2009 at 4:38 am

    Is THE CLIENT this woman……..?

    http://is.gd/nX3G

  3. Shark Food

    March 19, 2009 at 5:27 am

    Dear abused associate, the question practically begs to be asked:  how long after the client fired you did the firm do likewise to you?  Or are you still there?

  4. Bill Dugan

    March 19, 2009 at 5:28 am

    I think they broke the mold with Dickman’s wife (rich, smart, loving).  Find me a babe like that and I’ll give up bachelorhood!

  5. Alma Federer

    March 19, 2009 at 6:36 am

    The reason she is bitter is because the man has screwed her over.  With guys like you, it’s no wonder we women have it so tough.  Does this lawyer get all his bills paid by men?  If not, are they bastards?  I think not. I think you men just don’t like women who have power over you.  That is why I advocate withholding sex from men who do not obey, and providing sex only after marriage to obedient men.

  6. Alma What's the Matter?

    March 19, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Seriously, why would anyone put out the effort to bang you?  Lots of hot broads out there who actually like sex.

  7. Curious

    March 19, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Funny how Dugan and Dickman go together like peanut butter and jelly.
    Get a room, you two.

  8. Anon Female

    March 19, 2009 at 8:43 am

    It is really unimaginable that so much care and effort was put into this for your firm to get canned. This sounds so frustrating. Thanks for sharing your story so we can all learn from it.

  9. BL1Y

    March 19, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Does anyone else have trouble understanding the first half of Alma’s reply?  Which man screwed what woman over?  The husband screwed over the wife?  The story doesn’t seem to say who was at fault.  The partner screwed over the associate?  All she did was get berated for losing an important file.  Who is she asking about when she wondering “Does this lawyer get all HIS bills paid by men?” Does Alma really see a partner not liking a female client not paying her fees as a sign that all men hate all women with power?  Power, wealth, and success in a woman are all turn-ons.  Seriously Alma, are you drunk?  I can’t understand half of what you type.

  10. Alex Hump

    March 19, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I think Alma has some sort of male phobia–she must have been attacked as a child by a large banana, and is now taking it out on us men.  Sorry Alma, but that’s the way I see it.

  11. Anonymous

    March 19, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I would never give up bachelorhood for Alma (which seems to be the ticket she’s requiring), but wouldn’t mind banging the living bejesus out of her.  That would probably shut her up once and for all.

  12. Anon Female

    March 19, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Why is everyone talking about Alma? Isn’t this where we make comments or have a discussion about the piece? I am sure all the tools will have something non-witty and loser-ish to say now.

  13. Anonymous

    March 19, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    You see, Alma, it’s a FEMALE associate here that is pissed at a female client for not paying.  The female associate is not thriled with the male partner, either. The point is not sexism by males, but recognition by one female that the other non-paying female client is a bitch.  So you see, Alma, females can determine that other females are bitches without the need for male domination/intervention.  This is not a sexist thing.  And I concur with the others that you can use a good “boning” (just don’t look for me to do it).

  14. Anon Male

    March 19, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    @3:25. Amen, sister.  I’m so sick of this losers! Alma, Dugan, Hump… They’re all the same person.

  15. JenniK

    March 19, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    This is true associate abuse.

  16. Ex-BigLaw

    March 19, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    This partner is a jackass – when you think a mistake has been made that is completely recoverable, you recover it and ding the associate later, NEVER in front of a client.  The partner, not the associate, cost the firm this client’s bill, by making a bad situation worse.  Unfortunately I witnessed similar stupidity at one of my old firms – a partner on a case I was working on who had vastly less familiarity with the law on a particular subject was challenged by the judge after hearing the opposing side’s easily rebutted counterargument, and when I, knowing exactly the necessary response, rose to give it, the partner sat me down, spouted some incoherent BS and lost a motion for which we were 100% right on the law.  He didn’t even understand the cases we’d cited in our papers.  On the ride home, he said something to the effect that now I could tell everyone he bungled and lost the motion.  He also held his own stupidity against me later.  Partner does not equal good lawyer, good person, or good anything else other than ass kisser.

  17. BL1Y

    March 20, 2009 at 7:28 am

    I don’t think we can blame just the partner.  Mistakes were made all around.  The associate misplaced a file.  The partner failed to mitigate.  The client is a freaking psychopathic wretch.

  18. Peter H.

    March 20, 2009 at 10:49 am

    No, obviously the client was a problem and the associate created the situation herself. But the partner was still the proximate cause, because he could have averted the situation even after the associate screwed it up. A bad situation all around.

  19. Anonymous

    March 20, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    The client was a bitch.  Even the associate said so.

  20. Anon

    March 20, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    The partner is an idiot for not collecting fees for more than a year.  Or, apparently, a retainer.

  21. BL1Y

    March 23, 2009 at 4:50 am

    Let’s just blame it on the al-al-al-al-alcohol.

  22. no-L

    March 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Honestly, the client sounds like my crazy mom. (She’s a Bitter Ex – just Ex)

  23. Capt Long Dong

    March 24, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Sorry.  I have to call Bullshit.  Worked for a year with no pay or retainer.  Called every day.  Bullshit.  This story is bogus.  If you worked this hard with no upfront cash, you deserve what you get.

  24. Nobody

    March 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Yeah, bullshit.  The client fired you and never paid?  After one and a half years of work? Firms do not dedicate one partner and one associate to work full time on one issue without payment.  Any firm that does this is managed by incompetents. Bullshit.

  25. BS is right

    March 30, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Look, “associate abuse”?  GMAGBFFB.  This pitiful excuse for a lawyer failed to store and account for potential evidence.  How hard is that?  If I were th4e partner, I’d have canned her.  To any—and I mean ANY—of you whining, pathetic little sad excuses for wasted lumps of flesh with JDs who feel she was “abused,” I have news for you: you need to give up law, because it is not for you.  Or her.  She ought to become a counselor as she is so good at padding the bill yakking away with the client.  Sure the client’s a b*&ch;.  Does anyone doubt there is a good reason for a highly expensive, acrimonious divorce in the first place?  The issue is responsibility for client documents and potential evidence.  What the partner did was a good wake-up call.  She should have been fired, in my opinion.

  26. P. O'Connell

    April 10, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I have to say, I have lost a file or two in my day and I am still making a respectable living.  My experience has been that people who NEVER lose anything spend too much time worrying about… not losing anything.  This is the sort of pinhead who can run up a big bill on any sort of case, but who can’t solve a client’s problem if his life depended on it.  Hopefully, an attorney can do both, but mistakes do happen.  But the point is, good lawyering is more a function of handling people than it is being perfectly organized ALL the time.

  27. P-Wilson

    April 13, 2009 at 9:10 am

    This story is total bullshit.

  28. ExCrimLawyer

    October 6, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Where were the files?  Did you seriously lose the client’s files?

  29. Guano Dubango

    December 28, 2009 at 6:02 am

    This goes to show how catty the women can be to each other.  Meow!  It is one thing to be a lioness, and another to be a little pussy cat.  You have to be careful of both, because their claws can come out when you least expect it and when you are most vulnerable.  Personally, I never let any female have full liberties with my privates for this very reason.  In my country, there are more than a few men who did, and they regret it every day.

  30. BL1Y

    December 28, 2009 at 7:15 am

    I don’t understand the title of this piece.  Doesn’t the phrase “home wrecker” imply that she’s wrecking the marital home?

  31. Cheryl

    December 28, 2009 at 8:28 am

    I think it’s a play on how she wrecked the filed called “marital home.” But your insistence on always try and call out a technicality is growing charming.

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