Law School Discussion

Firm/Legal Employment Horror Stories

Firm/Legal Employment Horror Stories
« on: March 31, 2008, 03:44:19 PM »
Just wanted to start a thread regarding people's "War Stories" with regards to summer or post-grad employment that demonstrated some of the horrors of legal employment. I think it would be useful to have a means of comparison for those of us considering different fields, different size firms, etc. I'll start:

I turned down $28/hr and 50-60 hr weeks in my hometown to take $14/hr (had to bargain them up from $12/hr) and 40hr week maximum to work at a small insurance defense firm in the town where my girlfriend is located. My reasons for doing so were three-fold: (1) the girlfriend obviously (2) to break into the legal market in that state/city where I will likely move post-grad (3) the people who interviewed me seemed awesome.

My duties were pretty much according to standard summer-clerk protocol: research and write memos, briefs, summarize depositions/medical records etc. The content of the first memo I ever wrote for a young associate was more or less taken verbatim and filed with the appellate court there. A motion for summary judgment I wrote on a slip and fall case was approved nearly verbatim and signed off on by an attorney from another firm who was joined in on the case. To make a long story short, the vast majority of my work product during my time there was well done and ALWAYS timely. Tack on the fact that I was literally never late to work, and only took 1/2 of a day off in the three months I worked there.

However, this firm made it crystal clear that they didn't give two shits about their law clerks. First, they stuck us in an "office" which was the equivalent of a janitor's closet. Secondly, by week two, we were informed that this firm had never extended an offer of full-time post-grad employment to a law clerk before. There was no degree of courtship whatsoever. Even on our last day of work, none of the partners/attorneys even offered to take us out and pay for our lunch. Furthermore, during the interview process, they told all of the clerks that we would have the opportunity to watch trials, depositions, etc. None of us ever saw a courtroom.

During my fourth week there, a partner for the firm asked me to compose a memo for him regarding a fire-related accident. He gave me limited facts and when I inquired more, he told me it was "my job to figure it out." I consulted with a young associate, who knew this company's paralegal very well, and suggested that I contact her. I did so, and received a fed-ex'd package of data shortly thereafter. I wrote the majority of the memo and went to ask the partner a question about one portion of it. When I told him I spoke with the paralegal, he said: "What hte @#!* are you doing. You're a f-ing law clerk. What makes you think you're so important, you're a speck on that company's radar. You better not ever f-ing call a client again, etc." Took every ounce of restraint not to leap over the table and deck this guy, and the only reason I didn't curse back was b/c I needed the job.

But here's the real kicker. Halfway through the summer, I went to my managing attorney and asked her for feedback. She emailed several of the people who I did work for and asked their opinion of my work. These people themselves came up to me and said "Person A asked me about your work and I told her youre doing a great job." However, it wasn't until my last day of work where my boss brought me into my office and told me that she "didn't feel I really wanted to practice law." She said I lacked confidence and didn't listen properly to instructions because I did not correctly summarize medical records in the format that she requested on one individual assignment(fair criticism). She provided me with none of the email feedback she received from others indicating that the work I did for them was well done.

I don't regret working there for several reasons. First, one of the young associates wrote me a glaring letter of recommendation. Secondly, I greatly improved my research and writing skills. Third, I figured that if I could endure working at a place where the vast majority of attorneys/partners exhibited little to no professionalism, that I can handle working pretty much anywhere.

I guess what I'm asking are the following:

1. Have any of you experienced a work situation that resembled mine in any fashion?
2. Am I being a giant p*ssy and is this something I shoudl "get used to" dealing with in the future if I'm to work at a law firm?