Complaints Wanted!

Teaching paralegals to manage clients and the paralegal-attorney relationship is best done in the context of “real life” situations. So, I am looking for your stories about difficult clients and problem attorneys. Please post a comment here or email me at sharing your stories. The best stories are ones that give context and specificity to a complaint, rather than simply state, “My attorney always procrastinates.”

The goal is to give students an opportunity to work through some of these situations and develop ways to prevent them or manage them when they do occur. Thanks for your help.

Of course, your emails will be kept confidential.

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One Comment

  • Jo Anne says:

    I used to work for a litigator who was a bear! He hired and fired six paralegals in a year and a half. Then along came me. I knew full and well what I was getting into but my attorney left the firm so it was either working for the bear or collecting unemployment. I was up for the challenge! I formulated a plan to approach him with confidence, assertiveness, and a little bit of humor. I didn’t know a whole lot about his prior paralegals but what I did know was that they were timid and very intimidated by him. I decided I would not let him intimidate me and not take his grumpiness personally. I was very careful to do the best job I could so he would have no reason to be grumpy with me (although he would find a reason anyway). I never let him bother me. I put up with about 5 months of him doing nothing but growling at me before we started to turn the corner. It was one day, for some reason I had a helium balloon tied to my desk. I don’t remember but my firm was always doing fun little things like balloons or flowers for some occasion. Anyway, the bear’s office door was right in front of my desk with a hallway in between. So I took my balloon, drew a smiley face on it and taped it to the front of my desk so as soon as the bear walked out, he saw it. When he came out of his office, he just started laughing. The same man who did nothing but scowl at me was actually smiling. I don’t know why he found that so funny but after that, he gradually started to warm up to me and with a little humor, I could get him to laugh easily. I didn’t figure out until recently when my current supervising attorney told me that I am very calm and focused when things get hairy and that is his favorite thing about me. He says that it helps him stay calm when he feels like things are under control instead of everyone falling apart around him. I think that’s what the bear liked about me. No matter how big of a fit he was having about something, I would calmly approach the issue and get it resolved. I think he needed to know that he could trust me to do good work, not fall apart under pressure, and know that I could get the job done. I don’t think he intentionally meant to be mean. I think he was mostly frustrated from his past experiences. I think if there is one bit of advice I would give another paralegal is always stay calm and focused. Don’t worry about what is going on around you, just stay focused on what needs to be done and do it the best you can. I worked for the bear for a few years and it was a sad parting. I don’t think I could have continued to work for him if we didn’t turn that corner but deep down inside, I knew we would eventually. I just spoke to him not too long ago and he was as sweet (and grumpy!) as he was when I left him. He’s gone through a few more paralegals since but he has one now that seems to be working out. Although he did say she’s not me.

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