The Dinosaur Lawyer Who Extinct-ed Me

Since I go to a TTT law school—fully knowing my non-top 10% grades would put me at a disadvantage in seeking summer employment—I hustled my butt off during the school year to find employment.  I was finally able to secure a job as a legal assistant for a solo practitioner in January, and I have been working 30-hour weeks on top of juggling a full class schedule, which is in violation of the ABA 20-hour mandated work week for full-time students.

As a legal assistant, AKA a fancy-sounding hybrid secretary/paralegal, I compose my employer’s correspondence, manage his financial books, enter his time and do some legal research and associate-level tasks for In-N-Out Burger wages (think McDonalds but with somewhat of a soul).

This normally would be okay, except for one thing.  My boss is 87 years old.  I’m not kidding you, 87 freaking years old—and still practicing law while charging too high of an hourly rate for what he is capable of, if you ask me.  He either must hate his wife or she must be butt ugly for him to still be practicing and not retired.

Because of his stone age, he has no idea how to use computers or how a computer works.  He once asked me to take a sent email out of the outbox so he could add something to it.  He had no idea that emails were sent instantaneously.  I commit a holocaust on trees each day because I have to print out every single email he receives, including ads for online CLEs that he will never listen to because he doesn’t even know how to turn the computer on.

I understand that in this modern age, business and legal work cannot function without the use of a computer.  And I know he will get hardly any work done without me there, so being mindful of that, I have gone out of my way numerous times to make myself available for him (e.g., the only two days I took off during finals week were the days I had in-class exams, and I once limited a trip home to visit my family to a long weekend because I knew any more time off would surely irk him).

Normally, this wouldn’t piss me off.  I’m a hard worker and am willing to break my back to receive a positive recommendation from him in the future and to be able to add some summer work experience to my resume, which could put me at an advantage to the majority of my classmates who have none and will be sitting in summer school.

But not so fast…

I was called into his office today and informed that I am not detail oriented enough for his liking.  I’ll admit that I made some minor typos and omissions on work—but it’s certainly nothing that would ever call his legal license into question.  They are just normal, justifiable errors—especially considering all of the other tasks and responsibilities I handle for him.

But today took the cake.  He was upset that I put a file in the wrong cabinet and that when I turned a memo in to him, I dated it 4/13/2010 instead of 5/13/2010.  I initially didn’t recognize this grave error.  By committing these major offenses, he determined that I am not detailed oriented enough to work for him anymore, he’s looking into replacing me, and he even had the audacity to tell me that he is worried for my future clients because he thinks I will commit malpractice.

EXCUSE ME?!?!  Aren’t you committing legal malpractice by not including a confidentiality warning in your email signature block?

In any other circumstance, I would have gotten up right there, gave him the finger, and left saying, “Good luck detailing your emails without me.” But I didn’t, and I couldn’t—because unfortunately, I need to pay rent and put food on my table.  Now because of this, I will have to eek out every hour I can with him, which will probably include training my replacement.

The only reason I worked my butt off during the school year (probably to the detriment of my grades) was because I wanted summer legal experience for my resume.  Now, the only experience I will get, if I’m lucky, is waiting tables at The Cheesecake Factory.  The same one I’ll probably continue to work at far beyond graduation.

PS: At least I won’t have to worry about him reading this since there is no chance of him ever getting on a computer—nor knowing what the hell BitterLawyer.com even is.

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Since I go to a TTT law school—fully knowing my non-top 10% grades would put me at a disadvantage in seeking summer employment—I hustled my butt off during the school year to find employment.  I was finally able to secure a job as a legal assistant for a solo practitioner in January, and I have been working 30-hour weeks on top of juggling a full class schedule, which is in violation of the ABA 20-hour mandated work week for full-time students.

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16 Comments

  1. Guano Dubango

    May 14, 2010 at 2:49 am

    Dude, you must recognise there is a generational difference, and adapt to it.  Otherwise, you will always be bitter.  Follow the old geazer’s lead.  I too had to adapt to cultural differences when I took my first job in the USA.  While in DC, I could only get a job at Burger King, where after 1 year, I was promoted to Assistant to the Assistant Manager.  This meant a lot to me as I only had been here for 2 years, and my first year, I could not get any work legally.  Now that I am in NY City, I have also adapted to my legal work environment, although I do not have the social life I could have in Accra.  On the other hand, I have met many women who view me as a novelty.  We must all learn to adapt to our surroundings and make the most of it.

  2. Juris Depravis

    May 14, 2010 at 4:05 am

    You. Are. Fucked.  Sorry.  And Cheesecake Factory servers make serious coin. plus many of them are hot and party hard.  I am guessing you do not get out on dates much, so this may be a more viable path for you.

  3. Vilma-doo

    May 14, 2010 at 4:33 am

    Guano is correct.  In this economic environment, as a TTT student, you cannot thumb your nose at any experience, even if your boss is a dick.  He is a lawyer, and you need all the help you can get.  After all, you are not exactly an Elena Kagan in the brains department, and though you may well look like her, she did not get to her position by going to a TTT school and graduating where you are heading.  In fact, unless you look like Kate Hudson, which I am sure you don’t, you had better get used to being treated like dog poop.

  4. Craig

    May 14, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Isn’t it obvious?  Your boss obviously does not give a shit about all the technology you work with.  He looks at it like a necessary evil.  He looks down on it.  He admires good old fashioned work.  Meaning attention to details, and not making careless errors.

  5. BL1Y

    May 14, 2010 at 8:00 am

    One time I got chewed out by a partner because the layout of an external memo I wrote was all wrong.  I had foolishly used the external memo template the firm had created and figured that if he wanted something different from the firm-endorsed norm, he’d have said something from the start.  Nope.  He wasn’t even aware we had templates.  After 10 years of practice, 2 of your CLE credits should have to be technology skills training.

  6. Alma Federer

    May 14, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I have sympathy for this poor person.  She must be aware that not all lawyers are caring and attentive.  She needs to understand that lawyers in the real world are not all nice.  I have survived by remembering these concepts and being very nice to all persons, including support staff, who help me get through the day.

  7. Harry Hu

    May 14, 2010 at 10:47 am

    You have employer who may expire in the near term (letting you inherit his entire practice) and you let it go?  Suggest you volunteer to work extra hard in the summer, hang onto the job and flatter him like Guano on a date with Alma. Or like Alma to a yacht-owning, rolls-driving 35 year old who says “What I really want is woman who wants to stay home, spend my money and raise my kids.” If in doubt how to do this watch any early Michael J Fox movie where he sucks up to some boss. Call your boss “Sir,” all the time, e.g., “brilliant ddecision sir.” Tell any replacement that he makes passes and “accidentally” grazes your chest so the replacement will flee.  Buy him steak and french fries.  And while you wait for him to “retire at his desk,”recognize he’s is not there to fix YOUR typos: see?

  8. Sarcasmus

    May 14, 2010 at 10:55 am

    The best part is where you want us to feel bad for you because your boss fired you for admittedly screwing up.  Tip:  To be self-righteous, be right.

  9. May 2010 Graduate

    May 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Having worked my butt off as a paralegal for the same firm all three years of law school (at the absolute detriment to my grades) only to told by the senior partner that he will not be hiring me on as an associate when I pass the bar, I sympathize with you.
    However, it seems like this place is not the right fit for you.  That being said, I’ll pass along some wisdom one of the junior associates recently gave me.  “Just be grateful for the experience you gained and take that with you to your next job.”
    I know someone who was #1 in my class, actually graduated early, passed the February bar, and was recently admitted to practice, and she still doesn’t have a job lined up yet because she lacks any real world experience.  So, you’re right in that having this experience is a plus, just don’t let it completely ruin your grades.
    Good luck (to both of us).

  10. No surprise you were fired!

    May 14, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Lurn how 2 rite:
    I commit a holocaust on trees each day because I have to print out every single email he receives, including ads for online CLEs that he will never listen to because he doesn’t even know how to TURN the computer on.  Notice the word you omitted that I added in ALL CAPS. 
    Also, note that the coorect spelling is eke, not “eek.” This dinosaur was right to fire you.
    SKRU U

  11. southern litigator

    May 17, 2010 at 9:20 am

    “EXCUSE ME?!?!  Aren’t you committing legal malpractice by not including a confidentiality warning in your email signature block?”
    since when is that legal malpractice? i know everybody does it, but i don’t remember that being grounds for malpractice from the rpc or any ethics opinions or anything. maybe i’m out of touch, but i don’t think so… please correct me if i’m wrong

  12. legal malpractice

    May 21, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I’d think that failing to include a confidentiality notice would make ‘workproduct’ more likely useable.

  13. southern litigator

    May 25, 2010 at 9:01 am

    just labeling something confidential does not make it confidential or work product or undiscoverable or anything else. if it is automatically included at the bottom of every e-mail you send, from the fantasy baseball-related to happy birthdays to actual privileged communications, i would think it would actually be less helpful in claiming a privilege. anyway, those decisions are based on the actual content and parties involved, not some boilerplate language practically every lawyer attaches to all e-mails sent from a work account. back to my original post, i’m still pretty sure not including a confidentiality disclaimer in your emails does not constitute malpractice, so if anyone knows for sure that i’m wrong, please tell me and provide a cite or something

  14. Pity Party

    June 17, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    So you want us to feel sorry for you because (1) you’re bad at what you do, (2) your employer has a problem with that, (3) you didn’t get into a good enough school, and (4) you’re not doing well enough there to justify going in the first place… did I cover it all?
    Okay, here’s a pity party for you: one-two-three-awwww.
    Now please go away.  You sound like one of those entitled kids who get the rest of us unfairly labeled “the slackoisie” by older lawyers who might be doing some hiring.  Please stop.

  15. Erin

    April 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Wow, what a terrible boss.  Get out while you still can!

  16. Barret

    April 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I couldn’t imagine working in law without technology.  I don’t know how your boss even got things accomplished.  I’ll use your story as a learning experience because I’m taking the Indiana BAR soon and am hoping to find a law firm to intern for, but I don’t want to work for anybody like your boss.  My focus is with intellectual property law.  Does anybody know of any big firms that specialize in <a href=”http://arewhatyoueat.blogspot.com/2011/03/will-run-for-food.html”>intellectual property</a> litigation?

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