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July 24, 2018


Allison C. Johs, Legal Ease Consulting, Inc.


It's so disheartening to read your story, but unfortunately, not surprising. I completely agree that throwing subordinates under the bus is a real morale killer, and it is never acceptable to allow anyone - inside or outside of the firm - to abuse a firm's employees.

You sound like the kind of employee that would be a fantastic addition to any law firm, and it's too bad that the firms you have worked for have not realized and taken advantage of that. I hope you find a workplace that values you - I know that there are many law firms that would love to have an employee who is seeking ways to improve the firm or to help others out. Thanks for commenting!

Jen  L

If only many attorneys did believe this way. My first couple of experiences were with sole practitioners where I was always encouraged to "work smarter not harder" and if I had ideas to make that happen that were okay, we tried them out. Then I went to work in a larger office (about 10 people total. Still small for most places, but larger than 1 attorney and one paralegal). We used to have monthly meetings. Upper level leadership indicated that it was encouraged to speak up about things we thought could make things better. I sat back as the newbie for a couple of months and observed all of the things that were already going on and what I thought could improve. A lot of the system was great, but there were a few minor changes thought could make the system run a bit more smoothly.

By about the fourth month I felt confident enough to offer a "what if we tried this." I immediately became shunned by my co-workers. After the meeting I was told that the "speak freely" only applied to the attorneys and that the paralegals and staff were NEVER to speak or offer any sort of suggestion. I was told they thought I understood that rule since I had been quiet for awhile. I learned very quickly that my place was to follow instructions, not to provide solutions.

I have often wished that attorneys could do Undercover Boss so they could see what worked and what did not work, so they could see the small things that really make a difference. Where I currently work, things are very divided as to "my responsibility/his responsibility/her responsibility" and it is terribly offensive to others if I try to just help out. In my opinion, making sure the client's case/matter is moving along is the top responsibility of the firm.

To me the most damaging morale killer in a workplace is throwing subordinates under the bus for mistakes made and then not telling them how to correct the mistake or getting the mistake corrected immediately. This also goes for members of management who allow their employees to be treated in an abusive manner- clients yelling at the staff member or threatening them.

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