Feeling Defeated

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Feeling Defeated

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:04 pm

I need some advice and I'm hoping that at least someone on here has gone through what I am going through.

I am an in-house attorney (just me and general counsel) in the SF Bay Area and the owner/CEO is a complete nightmare. I've worked at the company for almost 2 years and during these 2 years, the owner has blown up more times than I can count, mostly over things that have nothing to do with the legal department, even though the legal department gets blamed. When I say that he has "blown up" I mean that he yells and bangs his fists on the table until he is blue in the face, storms out of people's offices, and throws papers. These blow ups are mostly met with foul language and disparaging remarks (mostly directed at the legal department, which consists of me, general counsel, and the legal secretary). When it first happened to me, I thought I had to be dreaming, as I've NEVER seen someone get so angry over something so minor. Just last week he started screaming at me because the signature tags (the "sign here" stickies) were in the wrong place ("tell the legal secretary that she knows I want the tags above my signature, not next to it!!!!!"). This is the insane stuff I deal with on a daily basis. The general counsel (my boss) will step in when this happens, but it's seriously uncomfortable and totally uncalled for. The legal department at my company is extremely busy and when things like this happen, the entire morale is shot and we all feel defeated. I've cried a handful of times (mostly in the bathroom or when I got home) and I've comforted our legal secretary who has openly cried in my office. I've spoken to general counsel multiple times about it and he assures me that ALL owners/CEOs are like this and to just hang in there. The attorney that had my position before me quit because of the reasons I outline above and everyone in the office is 110% aware of the owner's temper.

I feel like I've reached my breaking point and I'm tired of being screamed at, but the problem is that I feel extremely loyal to the general counsel. He has been a wonderful mentor (I'm only 3 years out of law school) and I'm learning so much from him. I've been offered similar in-house positions recently, but have turned them down because I feel like I would be seriously letting down the general counsel. Just yesterday, I had a call with a recruiter that sounds like the dream position, but I really don't know what I want to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Danger Zone

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Re: Feeling Defeated

Postby Danger Zone » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:12 pm

You've gotta get out of there for your health. The general counsel will understand. Make sure you talk to the GC and let them know what a great mentor they've been and that you want to keep in touch.
Last edited by Danger Zone on Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Feeling Defeated

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:37 pm

OP here... I just wanted to make sure that this wasn't normal CEO/owner behavior.

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Re: Feeling Defeated

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:40 pm

I'm in a similar in-house position and I could have written that post. My SO has dealt with this as well in his prior and current in-house positions.

I'm not saying it's OK, but it's certainly not uncommon. IME it's a lot more common at smaller and/or privately held firms/companies where there is less bureaucracy/board oversight/etc.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Danger Zone

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Re: Feeling Defeated

Postby Danger Zone » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:42 pm

Absolutely not. I'm in house as well and the president and CEO (two different people here) are among the most supportive and chillest guys I've ever met in my life. Your CEO sounds like he has a loose screw.
Last edited by Danger Zone on Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rpupkin

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Re: Feeling Defeated

Postby rpupkin » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm in a similar in-house position and I could have written that post. My SO has dealt with this as well in his prior and current in-house positions.

I'm not saying it's OK, but it's certainly not uncommon.

Agreed. In-house positions are more hit-and-miss than TLS'ers generally realize.

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Re: Feeling Defeated

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:28 am

OP here. Yes, the company I work for is 20-25 people with no board oversight. The owner with the temper tantrums is like 80% owner of the company, and then there are a handful of partners to make up the other 20%. It’s disappointing to hear that this isn’t all that uncommon. I worry that if I switch to another in-house position, I may run into the same problem. Just to be clear, I’m not a sensitive or emotional person. I can count the number of times I’ve cried on one hand, but this has really gotten to me. I dread having to walk by his office or sit in a meeting with him, even though I’m getting exceptionally high marks on my reviews from him and all the other partners. It’s exhausting.

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de minimis

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Re: Feeling Defeated

Postby de minimis » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here... I just wanted to make sure that this wasn't normal CEO/owner behavior.


It’s not normal but it’s not uncommon. I’ve worked for several startups, some good, some just like this. One thing you can be certain of is that it’s never going to get better. If the company succeeds, this assholes assiholic behavior will be reinforced and it will continue. If the company struggles, it’ll get much worse.

If a better opportunity comes your way, jump all over it.

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Re: Feeling Defeated

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:37 am

I just left Biglaw in Boston because my partners were yelling nightmares. I had a horrible month in August where I was at work late night and a partner randomly threw something crazy heavy (like a closing set or similar) at the wall in the middle of the night. It was terrifying and I was two offices down.

This is not "normal" workplace behavior, but I will tell you that the tone at the top will set the tone for any business. No one will rein this in. You need to either just let it roll off you or look for another job. Separately, I remind you that you will not lose your boss/mentor when you leave. You won't be able to ping him as often, but he will still be a mentor and advocate for you if you move elsewhere, and you _might_ have another great boss again too. It doesn't hurt to look.

I too was completely demoralized. It honestly reminded me of battered woman syndrome from crim in law school. We were in a cycle of unacceptably bad behavior, followed by gifts and then reversion to the mean. It was awful. GTFO. I promise you will sleep better.

And seriously, hugs. This sucks. You didn't work as hard as you did in law school to be treated like this.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Feeling Defeated

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I just left Biglaw in Boston because my partners were yelling nightmares. I had a horrible month in August where I was at work late night and a partner randomly threw something crazy heavy (like a closing set or similar) at the wall in the middle of the night. It was terrifying and I was two offices down.

This is not "normal" workplace behavior, but I will tell you that the tone at the top will set the tone for any business. No one will rein this in. You need to either just let it roll off you or look for another job. Separately, I remind you that you will not lose your boss/mentor when you leave. You won't be able to ping him as often, but he will still be a mentor and advocate for you if you move elsewhere, and you _might_ have another great boss again too. It doesn't hurt to look.

I too was completely demoralized. It honestly reminded me of battered woman syndrome from crim in law school. We were in a cycle of unacceptably bad behavior, followed by gifts and then reversion to the mean. It was awful. GTFO. I promise you will sleep better.

And seriously, hugs. This sucks. You didn't work as hard as you did in law school to be treated like this.


OP here. Thank you for your kind words! I ALWAYS think about battered woman syndrome when I think about the treatment I receive at my company. The CEO will blow up and then the very next day, he will apologize and start talking about the great work I do for him. I sometimes think that my raises and bonuses thus far are only a reason to keep me around and deal with the CEO's outbursts. The attorney that had this position before me quit after the CEO threw an entire ream of paper at him, in the middle of the hallway. I didn't hear about this until somewhat recently. The men in my company don't seem to have an issue with the CEO's outbursts, nor does the CEO have them as often in front of them. The only women, other than me, on the c-level floor are secretaries, so I sometimes wonder if he is just "more comfortable" taking out his anger on a woman (or maybe it's just the legal department in general). I did some soul searching this weekend and read through the comments here. I've decided to start my job search to see what is out there. Thanks for all the advice and encouragement!



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