Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

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ResJudicata738
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Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby ResJudicata738 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:57 pm

I am looking for some advice about an internship at a law firm I have been working at part time for approximately the past 5 months. The situation is a little complicated, so bear with me while I explain it.

First off, I am a 3L. The firm I work at is very small; the only permanent employees are one attorney ("Chuck") and another J.D. ("John") who only acts as a law clerk. I initially met Chuck and his firm because my girlfriend was their client. She asked about the possibility of me doing some work for them, which led to an interview, and ultimately to me working as an intern there. I'm not entirely sure what to call my position, actually. The firm specializes in medical malpractice, but also takes on a number of random cases. I have been working on all sorts of litigation documents, such as complaints, RFAs, RPDs, answers, settlement brochures, etc., as well as various research. I also generally assist around the office (answering phones, talking to potential clients, contacting existing clients, drafting random documents for Chuck, etc.). Keep in mind that, while I am not compensated, these are the tasks that other people in the office are paid to do.

Chuck is pretty cold around the office and I usually interact with John about what I need to be doing on a given day, or what changes I need to make to anything I am working on. It doesn't really bother me how Chuck acts. If he wants to have that type of relationship with his employees, that's his prerogative. It's frustrating at times when he hardly gives me any feedback--negative or positive--about my work. Still, that's also his decision.

Continuing, my girlfriend still has some interaction with Chuck. While he is not friendly towards me, he is very open and talkative with her. Ok, she's a pretty girl and I'm just some law student; still not a huge deal. So, my girlfriend happened to ask Chuck about the possibility of me getting paid for my work (which I didn't ask her to do). This is where my issue lies.

Chuck and my girlfriend have a phone conversation wherein Chuck explains why I should not be paid. While that does not please me, I let it roll off my back. Chuck has never expressed this sort of dissatisfaction to me personally. John has expressed that I am doing a good job at the firm, so I am also a little confused. A few days later Chuck asks my girlfriend to come into his office for seemingly unrelated matters. I don't know exactly what happened at the meeting between Chuck and my girlfriend, but somehow the topic switched to my work / why I am not getting paid. Chuck proceeds to tell my girlfriend what his problems are with my work. But he doesn't stop there. He proceeds to show her documents I have been working on and point out his problems with them, and to tell her how I am "not ready to be an attorney". He asks her not to tell me that he has shown her these things or made these comments.

To me, this is very inappropriate. I am not sure he is crossing any ethical or legal boundaries, but it sure as hell isn't how I think a law office (or business of any sort) should be run. I am inclined to stop working for him (at this point I feel like I am doing him a favor as I routinely do for free what he compensates undergraduate students for doing), and I think I should at least confront him about it. What irks me the most is that he holds himself out as being this very professional and ethical man, while to me that seems far from the truth. Anyway, I am not trying to vent about my feelings regarding the situation. I am just curious if others think this behavior is not acceptable, or have any recommendations about what I should do.

Anonymous User
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:04 pm

Just stop working there. Doesn't sound like great experience, won't lead to a job offer, won't be a good reference. You are getting nothing out of it.

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BlaqBella
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby BlaqBella » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:13 pm

1. You're wasting your time as Chuck doesn't like your work and is not willing to give you valuable feedback.

2. Chuck has no respect for you and I have a feeling he is complaining to your girlfriend because he likes her. He doesn't like you.

3. Leave and take your girlfriend with you.

4. Next time, keep the girlfriend out of it when trying to search for legal experience/employment. I'm disturbed that she didn't put Chuck in his place and relay that any issues he had with you should be directed to you...not her, a client.

5. Avoid SHITLAW as best as you can. This experience has all the appearances of one.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:17 pm

You're not getting feedback and you're not going to be able to get a decent reference out of this guy, so why are you continuing to work for him for free?

Literally the only positive you're getting out of it is a less-empty line on the resume.

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Teoeo
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby Teoeo » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:19 pm

Just FYI, not paying you is illegal anyway.

ResJudicata738
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby ResJudicata738 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:54 pm

It also occurs to me that what he specifically showed her was a settlement brochure I was working on putting together. It has essentially all the relevant information from a client's case--mostly deposition testimony. It occurs to me that showing this to my girlfriend is probably an actual ethics violation... Rule 1.6 of the Model Rules, specifically. Not to mention him getting people to use Lexis/Westlaw for him even though he does not have a subscription.

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dingbat
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby dingbat » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:08 pm

ResJudicata738 wrote:It also occurs to me that what he specifically showed her was a settlement brochure I was working on putting together. It has essentially all the relevant information from a client's case--mostly deposition testimony. It occurs to me that showing this to my girlfriend is probably an actual ethics violation... Rule 1.6 of the Model Rules, specifically. Not to mention him getting people to use Lexis/Westlaw for him even though he does not have a subscription.

That alone should justify him paying you.

Separately, depending on what information is on the brochure, assuming that it's been redacted properly to remove any identifying information, that's probably fine. At my old job we used to do that from time to time, and the ethical standards there were pretty darned high

Aqualibrium
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby Aqualibrium » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:08 pm

ResJudicata738 wrote:It also occurs to me that what he specifically showed her was a settlement brochure I was working on putting together. It has essentially all the relevant information from a client's case--mostly deposition testimony. It occurs to me that showing this to my girlfriend is probably an actual ethics violation... Rule 1.6 of the Model Rules, specifically. Not to mention him getting people to use Lexis/Westlaw for him even though he does not have a subscription.


Well, you could report him for that. As I understand it, you've got no obligation to as you are not a member of the bar (although your school's honor code or the Lexis/Westlaw terms of use might say otherwise).

Man Law says you should bang your gf in his office and leave the condom in an envelope with a note that says "I Quit. P.S. You can have her."


Both chuck and your gf aren't worth your time IMO.

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20160810
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby 20160810 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:19 pm

GTFO.

He sounds like a scam artist who just wants access to your Westlaw account. You will get ZERO benefit out of having this on your resume. Just GTFO, now.

Also, why the hell is your gf still involved with Chuck now that he's done representing her? To the point where she feels comfortable raising issues like this? I think your boss might be banging your gf dood.

ResJudicata738
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby ResJudicata738 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:29 pm

@Dingbat - nothing was redacted; it was the exact product I have been working on.

Also, I'm not worried about him stealing my gf away at all... he's a fat, short, older man and I'm a 24 year old heartthrob with the body of a Greek god (or so I tell myself hah). She actually suggested I should think about not working there any more after all of this happened. I don't think she realized how inappropriate everything was until that last meeting, when her thoughts about Chuck changed.

I do feel that I am getting some valuable experience out of this, but mainly due to what "John" does to help me out. He makes a sincere effort to give me meaningful things to do and answer any questions I have. Part of me thinks it would look good to have continued employment on my resume (anything to help get a job in this market), but it's looking like it might be best to part ways.

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20160810
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby 20160810 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:39 pm

ResJudicata738 wrote:@Dingbat - nothing was redacted; it was the exact product I have been working on.

Also, I'm not worried about him stealing my gf away at all... he's a fat, short, older man and I'm a 24 year old heartthrob with the body of a Greek god (or so I tell myself hah). She actually suggested I should think about not working there any more after all of this happened. I don't think she realized how inappropriate everything was until that last meeting, when her thoughts about Chuck changed.

I do feel that I am getting some valuable experience out of this, but mainly due to what "John" does to help me out. He makes a sincere effort to give me meaningful things to do and answer any questions I have. Part of me thinks it would look good to have continued employment on my resume (anything to help get a job in this market), but it's looking like it might be best to part ways.

This isn't "employment," you're just being ripped off. And you know this bozo won't give you a good reference. You're getting ZERO out of this.

Also, depending on what your gf's relationship with her dad is like, you might still have cause to worry here.

choochoo
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby choochoo » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:47 pm

Sorry to hear about your experience, but now is actually a good time to leave. You can quit now, study for finals, then get a new job in January without having any gaps on your resume.

Be careful about the Westlaw/Lexis usage--seems like this could get you into trouble too and not just him if it gets reported.

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SuperCerealBrah
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby SuperCerealBrah » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:04 pm

SBL wrote:GTFO.

He sounds like a scam artist who just wants access to your Westlaw account. You will get ZERO benefit out of having this on your resume. Just GTFO, now.

Also, why the hell is your gf still involved with Chuck now that he's done representing her? To the point where she feels comfortable raising issues like this? I think your boss might be banging your gf dood.


This. I am angry for you OP. To me, it is 100 percent obvious that he wants to get in your gf's pants. He would not do things such as ask her into the office and show her documents of why you "are not fit to be an attorney yet". I mean, WTF!? Who does that shit? What a complete douchebag. Get out and get out now. He is probably a bar complaint away from being disbarred.

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:49 pm

If you're using your Westlaw/Lexis account for him, then you are violating the terms of use, doing that will get you personally into trouble if they find out, and they actually do monitor people's usage for signs of improper use. How many cases they actually catch is another question (which I don't know the answer to), but that's your position there.

Chuck hates you. Maybe he's jealous of your girlfriend, who knows, but authority figures who hate you for no fucking reason are a real drag. I understand your reasons for staying, but just make sure you minimize any damage this guy could do to you. (From experience: an unfounded personal dislike of a random unpaid intern is not the sign of a rational, predictable, sane person.) For starters, definitely keep in touch with John and direct future employers to him as your direct supervisor if they ask for references (on the off-chance they actually call). Past that, Chuck's behavior is definitely inappropriate and wildly unprofessional, but what's in your interests is to not piss him off. Stay if you want the experience, leave if you want the study time, but just keep your head down and remind yourself you'll have a better life than him.

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20160810
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby 20160810 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:09 pm

choochoo wrote:Sorry to hear about your experience, but now is actually a good time to leave. You can quit now, study for finals, then get a new job in January without having any gaps on your resume.

Be careful about the Westlaw/Lexis usage--seems like this could get you into trouble too and not just him if it gets reported.

Correct. I have a *very strong* hunch that both John and Chuck are scamming OP's Westlaw password, in which case I would refer all three of them to a little thing I like to call 18 U.S.C. §1346.

rad lulz
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby rad lulz » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:13 pm

Bail but keep in touch w John because he sounds like a solid breh

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20160810
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby 20160810 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:17 pm

rad lulz wrote:Bail but keep in touch w John because he sounds like a solid breh

Keep in mind that the best job John could get was as a barely-paid "clerk" in Chuck's office. From a networking standpoint, John's value is zero. If OP likes him, by all means, grab beers, but there should be no pretense that OP is doing anything at this office more productive than spinning his wheels and possibly committing wire fraud.

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Lwoods
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby Lwoods » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:18 pm

Get out. You are being taken advantage of.

As for your concerns...
It won't look weird to have a break in your resume right now because you're still in school. Leave ASAP and try to line something else for the spring (small and solo shops will pay law students to do the type of thing you're doing now...they may not be able to pay much, but something is better than nothing). If you can't find anything paid, look into working with a judge. The lack of money would [still] suck, but it would be a better resume line than this clown's firm, the work experience will probably be better, and you may be able to get school credit or some sort of public service recognition for it.

Maintain a good relationship with John if you like (it never hurts to have networking contacts/references), but leave the firm nowyesterday.

cynthiad
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby cynthiad » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:25 pm

Leave. It sounds like John is supervising you, so list him as your supervisor if anyone asks for a reference. Get a better internship for spring. It's not unusual for students to have jobs/internships that only last one semester--in fact it's the norm, so don't worry about that.

rad lulz
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby rad lulz » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:26 pm

SBL wrote:
rad lulz wrote:Bail but keep in touch w John because he sounds like a solid breh

Keep in mind that the best job John could get was as a barely-paid "clerk" in Chuck's office. From a networking standpoint, John's value is zero. If OP likes him, by all means, grab beers, but there should be no pretense that OP is doing anything at this office more productive than spinning his wheels and possibly committing wire fraud.

Probably true, but hey, it never hurts.

edit: also, as a 3L looking for jerbz, I am in no position to pass judgment on anyone/anything.

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20160810
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby 20160810 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:34 pm

cynthiad wrote:Leave. It sounds like John is supervising you, so list him as your supervisor if anyone asks for a reference. Get a better internship for spring. It's not unusual for students to have jobs/internships that only last one semester--in fact it's the norm, so don't worry about that.

Not to mention that telling anyone about an unpaid internship in a law firm is just going to make them go "Wait, what the hell?"

ResJudicata738
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby ResJudicata738 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:40 pm

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I'm going to talk to a few professors at my school about this to get their take as well. As of now I don't plan on doing any more work for him... I'm just trying to decide what to say to him. :twisted:

Anonymous User
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:43 pm

Leave, then report Chuck's behavior to the local Bar for hiring unpaid interns to do paid work, if you feel like burning that bridge.

Or just tell Chuck that you're leaving and you expect some sort of payment for the legal work, because you both know that it's illegal to hire an unpaid intern to do work that others do for pay in the office. If he doesn't pay you, sue him when you pass the bar.

anon168
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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby anon168 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:08 pm

ResJudicata738 wrote:I am looking for some advice about an internship at a law firm I have been working at part time for approximately the past 5 months. The situation is a little complicated, so bear with me while I explain it.

First off, I am a 3L. The firm I work at is very small; the only permanent employees are one attorney ("Chuck") and another J.D. ("John") who only acts as a law clerk. I initially met Chuck and his firm because my girlfriend was their client. She asked about the possibility of me doing some work for them, which led to an interview, and ultimately to me working as an intern there. I'm not entirely sure what to call my position, actually. The firm specializes in medical malpractice, but also takes on a number of random cases. I have been working on all sorts of litigation documents, such as complaints, RFAs, RPDs, answers, settlement brochures, etc., as well as various research. I also generally assist around the office (answering phones, talking to potential clients, contacting existing clients, drafting random documents for Chuck, etc.). Keep in mind that, while I am not compensated, these are the tasks that other people in the office are paid to do.

Chuck is pretty cold around the office and I usually interact with John about what I need to be doing on a given day, or what changes I need to make to anything I am working on. It doesn't really bother me how Chuck acts. If he wants to have that type of relationship with his employees, that's his prerogative. It's frustrating at times when he hardly gives me any feedback--negative or positive--about my work. Still, that's also his decision.

Continuing, my girlfriend still has some interaction with Chuck. While he is not friendly towards me, he is very open and talkative with her. Ok, she's a pretty girl and I'm just some law student; still not a huge deal. So, my girlfriend happened to ask Chuck about the possibility of me getting paid for my work (which I didn't ask her to do). This is where my issue lies.

Chuck and my girlfriend have a phone conversation wherein Chuck explains why I should not be paid. While that does not please me, I let it roll off my back. Chuck has never expressed this sort of dissatisfaction to me personally. John has expressed that I am doing a good job at the firm, so I am also a little confused. A few days later Chuck asks my girlfriend to come into his office for seemingly unrelated matters. I don't know exactly what happened at the meeting between Chuck and my girlfriend, but somehow the topic switched to my work / why I am not getting paid. Chuck proceeds to tell my girlfriend what his problems are with my work. But he doesn't stop there. He proceeds to show her documents I have been working on and point out his problems with them, and to tell her how I am "not ready to be an attorney". He asks her not to tell me that he has shown her these things or made these comments.

To me, this is very inappropriate. I am not sure he is crossing any ethical or legal boundaries, but it sure as hell isn't how I think a law office (or business of any sort) should be run. I am inclined to stop working for him (at this point I feel like I am doing him a favor as I routinely do for free what he compensates undergraduate students for doing), and I think I should at least confront him about it. What irks me the most is that he holds himself out as being this very professional and ethical man, while to me that seems far from the truth. Anyway, I am not trying to vent about my feelings regarding the situation. I am just curious if others think this behavior is not acceptable, or have any recommendations about what I should do.


The way you are phrasing your question and the situation in general just begs for sympathy.

But like everything in life there are probably 100 sides to this story, if not more.

Let's just take the facts as you've presented them, shorn of any of judgment or bias.

1. You were work for free

2. You seem to like John

3. You don't appear to like Chuck

4. Your girlfriend is a client of Chuck's

5. Your girlfriend asks Chuck if you can get paid for your work

6. Chuck declines your girlfriend's request

7. Chuck shows your girlfriend your workproduct

From all of that, you claim that Chuck (1) has it in for you and (2) was off-base in showing your workproduct to your GF.

From all of that, I can also spin it to say that Chuck only showed GF your workproduct to justify not paying you. It was, after all, your GF who approached Chuck about getting you paid, and Chuck being the sage business person that he is, and knowing that your GF is his client, did not want to offend her. Maybe Chuck feels like your workproduct is subpar but doesn't want to can you for fear of losing the business your GF is providing him. So he takes the middle ground -- keeps you around on an "intern" basis to humor the GF, but not pay you so that he's not out-of-pocket for subpar workproduct.

Life's never as simple as people say it is. We can all sit here and listen to your side of the story and bang on Chuck, but life's not always that simple. If one wanted to be a total prick about it, one might ask, "why, as a 3L, you're slumming in a solo shop based only on a connection that GF got you?" But we won't go there.

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Re: Questionable behavior by supervising attorney

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:18 pm

A few things:

1. What is your girlfriend doing talking to this guy anymore?

2. What is your girlfriend doing talking to this guy about paying you? How does she not know this is inappropriate?

3. You can't complain about him showing your girlfriend your work, because she has basically become a parent acting as an intermediary between her 15 year old son and his employer at American Eagle.

4. As someone mentioned earlier, this stubby boss of yours wants to bang your girlfriend. This is what happens with stubby shitlaw attorneys who are on the wrong side of 40 and never get laid.




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