Awful Boss - Is This Normal?

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Awful Boss - Is This Normal?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:14 am

This may turn into a whine-fest, and for that I apologize ahead of time, but I wanted to get this out there and see if anyone has had similar experiences.

The partner that I work under is just... imbalanced. He barely shows up to the office for weeks, and then when he finally starts showing up, he begins to self-project onto every associate that works under him, alleging that "no one here works." As passive-aggressive punishment (is he punishing himself or us? I'm not sure), he makes us sit around and chat with him (er, listen to him passive-aggressively bitch about us indirectly) until late hours in the night - complete non-billable wasted time. Sometimes, we don't even talk. We have to sit there and watch him read e-mails. For an hour. Literally. Then he claims that we aren't billing any hours, that we're lazy. It's a situation where if we didn't have these chats, everyone could leave an hour sooner and have billed two hours more, and he seems oblivious to it. Then, after keeping us late just sitting around, he's like, "We are all going be in early tomorrow, right?" As if we haven't been getting there early for the last year or anything and as if he actually has been showing up before noon at all. Right.

This whole time, while he's busy not showing up, we're keeping his clients happy, getting things filed or served on time, etc. We get there at a reasonable time in the morning, and don't stay terribly late because we're in a slower season, but never leave before the average dinner time. Except, he hasn't been there to witness this, so it's the same as no one being there at all.

Then, when we want mentorship or leadership or a small piece of advice, he treats it like, why the hell are you asking me how to practice law. He suddenly has no time, and we are wasting what little precious time he has.

I want to start looking for a new job because I can't stand the imbalance and it truly stresses me out. I have no problem working 12-14 hour days if I'm being productive or, if it must be face time, the face time is fun or bears some semblance to mentorship - not being treated like someone's lapdog or punching bag or whatever piece of shit I'm supposed to be for him that day.

But I am afraid to start looking for a new job because I know that these inefficiencies and bad partners are everywhere - so maybe I could end up in a worse situation. Also if he finds out I'm looking elsewhere and then I don't get the job - his behavior could worsen towards me.

I will take any and all advice on this situation. Should I sit down with the partner and tell him that he's being unreasonable and a bit crazy, or should I look for other work? Should I look for that work behind his back or tell him as I get interviews (assuming I get any at all, of course)?

Has anyone ever faced this situation before? Did you move on, and were you better off?

Or, I guess, is this all law partners?


EDIT: I did want to add that part of my conflict is that maybe I should be grateful just to have a decent-paying job in this economy. Many people would be grateful to be a punching bag for any amount of pay, and I don't want it to seem as though I don't realize that.

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Re: Awful Boss - Is This Normal?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 19, 2013 1:03 am

I actually had a somewhat similar situation at my first job after law school. I also worked for a partner who would constantly be away from the office. When he was in the office, it would be a whole days of him yelling and screaming at us that we are incompetent and are not taking our jobs seriously, when we were all trying our best and in my view doing a great job. We came to a conclusion that he was insane and likely had bipolar disorder. Once, when working late, I left the office for 20 minutes to get some take out for dinner and some fresh air. When I came back, he was at my office ready to explode that I was unavailable when he needed to get a brief proofread. He would constantly threaten us with getting fired. When he was away, he would usually not assign us any work/forget we even existed, so we would sit around on facebook all day looking for something to occupy our time. Eventually, I started doing work for other people in other practice groups. When he came back from his trips, he was extremely pissed that I was doing work from others in his absence, telling me that "YOU WORK FOR ME!!". I ignored him and continued doing work for others while he was gone. Amazingly, partners in other groups would always give me compliments on my work. By that point, I was starting to feel that I should never have become a lawyer to begin with since my work was so horrible. Hearing others say positive things about my work was very encouraging. After a little bit, I ended up getting offers from other practice groups to come work for them. They all knew how horrible my current boss was and sympathized with me. I accepted one of them, and never looked back. It took me about three weeks in the new group to become a normal human being again. It would amaze me any time someone said my work was great, or just act like reasonable humans. I now love my job and there are definitely partners out there who are much better than your current boss.

Sorry for my own rant...your post brought back memories. I would advise switching groups if you can, or looking for another job. Does your firm have a formal mentorship program? My assigned mentor also helped me considerably in navigating the process of switching groups. Do not tell your current boss until you have secured an offer, and definitely don't have a conversation with him where you accuse him of being unreasonable. He is perfectly reasonable in his own world.

I should also add that regardless of the economy, you should never have to take this kind of crap. It can also be very detrimental to your career to work for a partner like this, as his opinion of you will become an important part of your annual performance reviews.

Anonymous User
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Re: Awful Boss - Is This Normal?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:29 pm

I just thought I would raise the fact that maybe the partner does work but you might not be seeing it. Partners often have to travel or meet with clients or try to get business. But this guy also sounds unstable. A part of me wonders if talking to someone else in fhe company would be useful. Do you think an honest conversation with him would be helpful or is he too unstable? Looking for other jobs also sounds good.

Anonymous User
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Re: Awful Boss - Is This Normal?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 21, 2013 10:39 pm

OP here. Thank you all for your advice, especially first Anon. It is really uplifting to hear that you did move on, and that other partners can be nice and reasonable human beings.

I am considering speaking with other partners at my current firm about it, but it is politically awkward to be the first to bring it up, I think... I almost want to hint and see if anyone bites, but you never know when you are talking to your boss's best friend, you know? Us associates who work under him discuss it amongst ourselves, but that has been the extent of it.

Maybe I will begin popping my head into other offices, though, to casually ask for assignments when I have spare time. That does sound like a good place to start. At minimum, I may gain some general mentorship and, if my work is good, some recognition from other attorneys of that.

Trying to have a conversation with the partner about his behavior has decidedly become a last resort type of thing for me. He isn't likely reasonable enough to handle it. I could just get fired on the spot. Or he would passive aggressively give me hell for the future to come. I couldn't think of any other outcome. I just wish I knew why he is the way he is - but I'm guessing no one does and no one ever will.

In terms of looking for another job while in this one, how does one "secretly" interview? I guess I wouldn't want to tell anyone about searching for another job (though I'd bet other associates are too).




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