Need advice about getting along with attorneys

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Comments (19)

Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

Can anyone give me any general advice as to how to get along with attorneys? For the most part, do you find that you have to be circumspect around them, i.e. anything that you say or do can be used against you?

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

Thanks. I'll read it. I'm learning that my attorney seems to be very proud in that he likes to be right and expects everything to be done in two seconds. Are most attorneys forgetful? I recall saying something that my attorney completely forgot about, but construed my words and actions totally differently than what I expected! Can you imagine that?

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

Thanks for your comments. I'm trying very hard to be careful what I say on this discussion board. You NEVER know who is reading what these days on the Internet. Suffice it to say, my attorney never says thank you. I feel very unappreciated and taken for granted, but somewhat important when this person NEEDS something. I do feel the need to be very circumspect and cautious, because this person documents EVERYTHING!

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Grant013 in Astoria, New York

70 months ago

If I believed in demonic possession, I would say many lawyers are somewhat possessed. Instead I prefer to say borderline personality or manic bipolar. You can't get along with bipolar people. What's worse is that they are incredibly cheap when it comes to paying paralegals.

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Grant013 in Astoria, New York

70 months ago

Save you sanity and give up trying to play psychologist and trying to "get along" with them. Stay with them long enough, and you WILL develop a mental illness of some sort. Crazy people make sane people...crazy too. The saddest thing, you can't even brag about a nice salary that makes tolerating this sh*t "worth it." Some people say "I do it for the money", but you can't even claim that.

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

I forgot to ask for advice about getting along with the legal secretaries too! I've some from you know where and can be very mean. What has your experience been as you've worked with other legal personnel?

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

70 months ago

With legal secretaries/admins you have to be careful because they will blame you for anything that goes wrong. They will throw you under the bus to cover up for their own error without a second thought. They have the upper hand and they know it. They are closer to the attorneys and know more of the attorney's secrets than the paralegals.

Also if the legal secretary that you are assigned to (if you are so lucky) is also assigned to attorneys, you can be very sure she won't do a dang thing for you. Ever. That goes for baby attorneys, too. The admins won't lift a finger for a baby attorney.

If the partner level attorney and secretary have been working together for 20+ years then forget it. You're toast. Don't even work there.

It's best to just be self sufficient and CYA anything the admin can blame you for. The admins are bitter angry old ladies. In fact I am sitting here trying to think of an admin that wasn't a bitter angry old lady and I can't think of one in my 12 years of legal field work.

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

Tell me what you would do in the following situation:

An attorney asks you to contact another attorney to get consent for a continuance. You can't reach this opposing counsel and leave a message. When you convey this to the attorney, based on the initial request, this person ALSO wants to know: a. did they tell you when they would return the call? and b. why didn't you get this information? The questions were asked in a very brusque manner.

The attorney's initial request was typewritten with very scant notes like a case no and partial name. NO other information was given! The attorney who gave the request works in the same building with the opposing counsel, but does not know the room number! Needless to say, this attorney was new to this office and has only been there a couple months. Give me your thoughts as to how you would nave dealt with this person. Can you top this story? I can't wait to read your comments! Thanks!

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: ....all the time. His way or the highway. I know.

In fairness, a certain amount "his way/highway" is necessary. You have to do things the attorney's way. You have to adhere to his procedures. But each paralegal prioritizes differently. Paralegal priorities are often different than attorneys', but that doesn't mean paralegal has forgotten or is ignoring them.

Yep. So many attorneys are like babies. If they don't get what they want RIGHT NOW, they either throw tantrums or, worse, treat you as an adversary. Especially true with so many litigators, who live in adversarial world and do not know from elsewhere. And, whatever you do, do NOT explain how you moved heaven and earth to get them something they wanted RIGHT NOW. All they care about is you putting the work on their desk They neither care, nor do they want to hear, how you did it. Start explaining your efforts to one of these individuals and you'll be slapped down and shut up in an instant. Not always. The last attorney I worked for had one of the best memories of anyone I ever met. He remembered everything. I liked that about him a lot.

Compare with one of his partners. This attorney, who won an award for being an outstanding young lawyer, could settle six-figure cases in his sleep. But he habitually left his wallet in his car. I recall that he either left his keys in his car or lost them at least a couple of times. He admitted he needed one of his paralegals to remind him of things.

Continued, below.....

Have you ever heard of a paralegal putting an attorney in his or her place? I guess it takes a while to earn that kind of clout. I bet you have another story along these lines am I right?

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

Thanks for your comments. Your offer to call OC back to obtain consent for the continuance tells me that you have a lot of experience dealing with attorneys who want answers and things NOW. When I look back at this situation, I think we were mismatched because this person only has six months litigation experience, and I am a new paralegal. This attorney should have been placed with someone more experienced that could gently lead him along the peaks and valleys if you know what I mean. The main thing that I am gleaning from your comment is that even though you can't anticipate what they are going to say, you should take initiative and be proactive. I LITERALLY followed his directions to the letter, but obviously that was not good enough because I'm not a mind reader!

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

Grant013 in Astoria, New York said: If I believed in demonic possession, I would say many lawyers are somewhat possessed. Instead I prefer to say borderline personality or manic bipolar. You can't get along with bipolar people. What's worse is that they are incredibly cheap when it comes to paying paralegals.

I agree with the cheap part. I was screened by the HR department of a top law firm recently, and they only wanted to pay $35-40 K for an entry level position. I told them that I thought that was a little low after 30 seconds of initial silence. After, I listened to the reply when I made my comment about the salary being rather low, I also added that you get what you pay for. That person may stay six months or so just to get the experience and move on somewhere else where they will get more money. I doubt if that firm will be calling me back.

Why do law firms want slave labor? Doesn't tur constitution state that slavery is illegal!

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

70 months ago

If my attorney told me to call OC to consent for something I would call the attorney, call their assistant, ask the assistant for a cell number for the attorney, call the cell phone and email both the attorney with a cc to the assistant. I always gave detailed info to the assistant or on a voice mail message so the OC would know exactly why I was calling.

Most attorneys I have found will ask you all kinds of questions *after* the phone call and pretty soon you will be able to predict what those questions will be and ask while you have the other party on the line.

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

Yes please! I'll gladly take all of the examples you can possibly offer about staying ahead of the game. Thanks!

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

Who is "Carnac" if I may politely ask please?

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

I had to tactfully, quietly, and professionally request a transfer from this moody attorney. The person I am working with now is much older, more seasoned, more kind, more patient, more everything that this newbie, wet behind the ears wasn't! My new situation is a much better fit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think the older attorneys have less drama issues. The newer attorneys who have woke up from the smell of coffee and realize they don't like their jobs, which is the problem I think my other attorney had, are the MOST difficult to deal with. Let me know if you agree or disagree with anything I've said.

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

70 months ago

Yeah, not knowing that these interrogation questions that would be forthcoming, even after I carefully and meticulously followed this person's instructions, stunned me especially after I got a scowl as if to say, "Do you have a brain?" look. To say this attorney was hard to please is an understatement.

To be totally fair though, we were professionally mated, but not matched. This person didn't know that I was coming on my very first day of work, and had no clue about my prior education, background, or work history. When the person found out that I was working on my paralegal certificate and not a law student though, I don't think that helped much. This person seems to prefer talking to the law student in the office and carrying on conversations with the other attorneys. This leads me to another question: Do you think attorneys despise paralegals? I'm hearing and observing that some paralegals are smarter, and are more well-versed in the law than some licensed attorneys? Can you imagine that?

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

70 months ago

I found that these attorneys who look at you like you are an idiot because you didn't read their minds are all bullies.

"Karmac" is an old skit Johnny Carson used to do on The Tonight Show where he tried to guess what was written down using psychic ability or in other words, it's a way for DLP to show his age (and for me to show mine!).

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Anonymous in Lanham, Maryland

69 months ago

I'm working with a different attorney now. Things are a little better, but there are some similarities. Would you say that most attorney's think they are better than you? There are a lot of things I'm quickly learning about the profession as well. Most attorneys think they are RIGHT and you are dead WRONG. Would you say they're proud, arrogrant, or holier-than thou too?

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

69 months ago

Yes.

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