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Monday, August 24, 2009

"The Firm" - A Life Report

Hi guys! Sorry it is taking me so long to get you the update I promised. In all honesty, life has been kind of weird since leaving the ol' law firm job. I'm going to try to explain why--not because I want sympathy or anything (I am positive there are TONS of people out there in far worse situations than I was in)--but rather because I think I need to get this out of my system in order to heal a little. Since I can't exactly afford therapy, and I'm pretty sure my mother will cut her ears off if she has to listen to this any longer, I thought it might help to blog about this and get it all down "on paper." :) I promise I will move on after this, and will treat you to a happy, upbeat update as to what is next for me. Please bear with me through this post (or feel free to skip it completely, as it will be pretty heavy on the whine!) . . .

So I'm sure by now you've gathered that things were bad for the 3 paralegals (or "donkeys", as we called ourselves) in my department at my ex-firm (let's call it "the firm") . . . like REALLY bad. I know most people imagine horrible, cut-throat, long hours environments when they picture NYC "Big Law", and that's partly true . . . but my firm (as much as they don't want to believe it) went above and beyond that level of suckage. First of all, let's go WAAAAY back . . . back to how I even ended up there in the first place.

So I graduated from college with a degree in Film, Television & Theater. My original dream was to work in documentary film making. But, like 95% of film school graduates, I ended up PA-ing (PA=production assistant). I did that for 2 years here in NYC before I got sick of the long hours and low pay, and essentially gave up. I decided that entertainment law might be a good option for me, but first I wanted to see what it was REALLY like to work at a law firm. I submitted my resume to a temp agency, and almost immediately got placed at a monstrously huge NYC law firm. Although I had to work some long hours at times, it really didn't seem so bad. I started studying for the LSAT and researching law schools. Since I was on a long-term temp assignment at that firm, I figured I could just hang out there until it was time for me to start law school in a little over a year.

BUT, something happened that put a bit of a wrinkle in my plan. After 6 months of temping at that firm, I came home--on a Friday evening--from a week-long vacation in Greece, where my niece had been baptized, only to run into a fellow temp employee in the subway. He informed me that a group of attorneys on my "team" (the case I was working on) were leaving to go work at another law firm, and were taking the case I worked on with them. I was floored. As soon as I got home, I anxiously called around, trying to get any information I could about what was going to happen to me; but I couldn't seem to get any answers. I was forced to wait 2 agonizing days until I returned to work on Monday to talk to anyone. When I finally did, I found out that the members of my team that were leaving were interested in taking me with them to the new firm.

Considering I would most likely be offered a permanent position at the new firm, and could FINALLY have actual, real health insurance (for the first time in 3 years!) I figured I'd be crazy not to go over there. I--along with two other litigation paralegals from my previous firm--interviewed at "the firm", were offered positions there, and accepted them all within about a week's time. Thus began my nearly three year long career at "the firm".

Now, when I first got there, things were pretty okay (or so I thought). Admittedly, the place seemed a tad bit disorganized . . . nobody knew where I was supposed to sit when I started, the training/orientation was basically non-existant, we had huge problems trying to access important electronic files, etc. But I chalked it up to "the firm's" NY office being much smaller than my previous firm's NY office and tried to remain optimistic. Within a week or so, we were finally getting settled (in our own private offices nonetheless--that would NEVER have happened at our previous firm! Half of us were stuck in secretary stations there due to space constraints). I was thrilled to learn that we were even invited to a Paralegal Appreciation Banquet one night during our first week. "They actually appreciate us here?!" I thought. Little did I know that this type of "appreciation" was TOTALLY out of the ordinary, and was basically just an act to make us newcomers think the firm was something it wasn't . . .

Throughout the next three years, things got progressively worse. For starters, I made the mistake of working WAY too hard early on, trying to prove myself. Now, this happens everywhere, I realize . . . but it didn't take long for people to begin taking total advantage of the fact that I would bust my a$$ to the point of endangering myself. We all had pretty heavy case loads, but mine was continually much larger than the other paras in the department; mostly because I wouldn't say no or give attitude about having to work long, hard hours. Within about six months, I had lost faith in the legal profession and had decided I no longer wanted to attend law school. The problem was . . . I was working so hard and so much that I didn't have time to explore other options. Little did I know that things would soon get MUCH worse.

Well, right around my one-year anniversary at "the firm", I got assigned to yet another HUGE, full-time case. Apparently our paralegal manager didn't think it was a problem that I was already working absurdly long hours. At that point, I was assigned three full-time cases (at any other law firm, there would have been at least 3 paralegals assigned to those three cases), in addition to a handful of smaller cases on the side. I was almost literally killing myself trying to keep up with everything that was asked of me. And why? Because a couple of attorneys on the new case had requested me, and our manager didn't want to have to deal with telling them no.

After just 4-5 days of juggling the additional case load, I was experiencing such terrible stress symptoms (nausea, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain), I went to talk to the manager who had assigned me to the case. I was convinced that she would HAVE to help me . . . after all, I had been working from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. or midnight every day, and I was actually becoming ILL from the stress I was under. No such luck, though. She basically told me that I should try harder, and "give the new case more of a chance." It was completely asinine. I went directly to HR and let them know about her inept way of dealing with what was--in my mind--a VERY serious situation. Our HR rep apologized and promised to look into it; but it turns out that the HR rep was in the middle of being promoted, and left the NY office before she actually got around to dealing with the problem. I had nowhere to turn. I continued working anywhere from 13-18 hours a day, trying my hardest to get everything done that was asked of me--basically, all in an attempt to avoid being screamed at by any of the attorneys I worked with. At one point, I was so scared for my well-being that I gathered up all of the email correspondence I had between my manager and I, and the HR rep and I, and sent them to my sister and Wilson, "just in case anything happens to me". Not even kidding; that's how bad it was.

Around the same time, the entire department got really busy. One of the paralegals who had come over from my previous firm had already gotten fed up and left "the firm" (less than a year after we had started, nonetheless), and much to our surprise, "the firm" refused to hire anyone to replace him. We split his work amongst ourselves, and again, tried the best we could manage to get it all done. On multiple occasions, we BEGGED for help, and each time, we were told that we weren't at "full capacity" (a seemingly made up term for which we never did get an actual definition), and that they would not be hiring anyone to help us. We soon lost another paralegal from the department, who transitioned into a completely different role at "the firm". Guess what? He wasn't replaced either. Fast-forward another year . . . yep, there goes another paralegal from our department without any replacement. Within two years of starting at "the firm", we had dwindled from 6 department paralegals down to 3, despite the fact that our workload was the same as when I had started. Also around this time, we lost our manager. She supposedly quit, but we were convinced that she was actually asked to leave. Know what's funny? Not even SHE was replaced . . . nope! Instead, a litigation partner was put in charge of "managing" the litigation paralegals; this was basically the worst idea ever.

We thought it was bad before? HA. We had no idea how bad it would get with the partner in charge of us. At least when we had an inept manager, she would try to deal with issues (she just didn't happen to do a very good job of it). We may as well have had nobody managing us with that partner in charge. We were his ABSOLUTE last priority; not that I blame him. I mean, if I had spent years and years suffering, working my way up the corporate litigation ladder, I wouldn't want to listen to 3 paralegals bitch and moan either! But the fact of the matter was that the only worthwhile HR rep had been the woman who got promoted and left NY, and without so much as a manager, we had no one to turn to for help. Things got even worse than we ever imagined they could, and the only defense we had was for us three donkeys to look out for each other, and pitch in whenever we could to make things easier on whomever was busiest at any given moment--we had no choice but to band together in an attempt to protect one another.

One rough day in late October 2008, a big new case came in. Now, there is another partner at "the firm" who is basically one of the worst people you can imagine working with. He's cocky, he's callous, he doesn't know anything about anything . . . he basically got to where he is by kissing a$$, and somehow managed to not learn anything in the process. He frequently makes ridiculous demands without even thinking about what he is asking. In short, he doesn't give a shit about anyone he works with (he once tried to insist that a 7th year associate, who was 8 months pregnant and wearing 3-inch heels, go with our managing clerk as he rushed downtown to try to file a document before the court closed; when she asked if she could at least change into her sneakers, he snapped at her, "ABSOLUTELY NOT!"). Now, I volunteered to help out with the new case that came in that day despite the fact that I was already swamped, mostly because I didn't want either of the other two paras in the department (A & C) to have to deal with him. He came over from my old firm, so I was just far more familiar with and used to his abusive ways than they were. But things got seriously out of control that day. I was attempting to juggle about a billion things, while trying to get 4 billion forwarded emails with 80 billion attached documents printed up, organized and copied. On multiple occasions, he screamed at me so violently and personally insulted me in such a way that I actually became rather terrified of him. I was sprinting through the office in heels, carrying stacks of paper as tall as I was, completely anxiety-ridden over the possibility of receiving another abusive phone call from the man, and as you may remember, that's when I tumbled down an entire flight of marble stairs.

I wish I could explain to you how horrible it was, you guys. I was in SO much pain and was SO stunned when I finally landed at the bottom, and yet all I could think about--as soon as I made sure that I wasn't paralyzed-- was what state the documents were in and how angry that partner was going to get. When I had fallen, it was with such force that a bunch of the binder clips had broken and documents had flown EVERYWHERE. Five separate people rushed over to me with the speed of Usain Bolt, and they all tried to get me to stay down and not move; but within 30 seconds I was up, collecting the documents, and trying to run back to my office to get help from A, who sat next door to me.

That's right, folks. Although my entire left arm--shoulder to fingers--was screaming in pain, and swelling larger and larger by the minute, I made sure the documents were re-organized and distributed to the team before leaving for the emergency room. Thank goodness A wasn't terribly busy at the moment and she graciously volunteered to help me. We put a set of the documents back in order, and then she brought them upstairs to the jerk partner who incredulously asked her, "What on earth took so long?!" She told him I had fallen down the stairs, to which he replied, "Well do the other team members have their documents yet?!" They did not have them. So we got back to work, reorganizing the rest of the documents and passing them out to the other team members. When this task was finally complete about an hour later, A and I ventured off to the ER together, without anyone from HR . . . or anyone else at all, for that matter.

While I was in pretty serious pain, I still returned to work the next day, arm in sling. Basically, I was so scared that A & C would have to handle my work on top of their own mountains of work that I couldn't fathom staying at home . . . and so I went in. In fact, two weeks of crazy-busy (and painful) work passed before I finally felt like I could take a day off. Unaware of the fact that I had apparently used all of my sick days for the year (HR was supposed to send a reminder when I had one day left; but had apparently decided to stop doing this without telling anyone), I called out for two days to try and rest my stupid, maimed arm/shoulder, figuring that the two days HAD to somehow be covered, since I had missed them due to an injury I had obtained at work (of course, nobody in HR bothered to talk to me about what the procedure was regarding workers comp and disability). Well, wouldn't you know, at some point--over three months later--I was informed that I would have to pay "the firm" back for those two days I missed. I tried to explain that I had only missed those days because I had injured my arm when I fell, but it didn't matter. The HR rep I spoke to explained that those days were not covered, and that they would be taking the days out of my next paycheck. End of story. Awesome.

On top of that, I should mention that, a few days after my fall, I met with the partner who managed us to try to discuss the fact that his jerk partner colleague had been treating me really unreasonably in the hours leading up to my fall. Now, please note that this dude did not ask to meet with me; I had to harass him on multiple occasions to even get the meeting scheduled (I'm sure he had little interest, considering he was overseas when it happened and his response to the fact that I had fallen was, "Oh great. Now I'll have to deal with this crap when I get back."). Anyway, he basically suggested that I was overreacting regarding the jerk partner's behavior and that it was my own fault that I fell because I should have been using my (useless, I should mention) secretary for help if I needed it. Feeling this was an unsatisfactory answer, I went to HR for help. Once again, they never responded; not that I really expected them to. I was told that the HR rep I needed to speak to would contact me to discuss the issue. She never did. By this point, I had all but given up hope that anyone in that place would do anything to solve any problem that ever arose.

On countless occasions, the other two litigation paras and I had begged various people at that firm for help--various partners, everyone in HR, anyone we could think of. It never worked. My colleague, A, went through a REALLY rough trial at one point, where she was working until 1 or 2 a.m., only to have to be downtown at the trial site to move 40-50 boxes (without help, in the freezing cold) by 7 a.m. the next morning (please note that A is a tiny, petite female who weighs approximately 95 pounds). I was helping her for most of that trial, forced to ignore my own work, which would pile up so badly, I had to spend the entirety of my weekends at work catching up on it all. I would go weeks without a day off (or even a single day shorter than 12-hours). Our third donkey, C, was in the same boat too. And still, nobody would help us. We met with the partner who managed us on probably 12 different occasions to discuss getting help and we were always met with the same answer: "I'll look into it." But nothing ever happened, no matter how exhausted and/or overworked we were. It was just insane.

I think the worst of it, though, was back maybe six months ago. Since I'd started at "the firm", we had this annoying "weekend paralegal coverage" situation, where the litigation paralegals would take turns being "on call" each weekend in case a litigation emergency came up. Now, at first it wasn't SO bad because there were 6 of us in the department. When the department shrunk to 3 paralegals, though, it seriously sucked; every third weekend, we were on call; meaning we were glued to our blackberries and cell phones, ready to come into the office at a moment's notice. We couldn't leave town; we couldn't go out drinking; I mean, I would run long runs with my blackberry, "just in case." Anyway, at some point in time--about a year ago--someone had also decided that, not only would we be on call every third weekend; but we would also be on call all night, every night for the entire work-week following our on call weekend. We had never been paid for any of this "on call" time; we were told that nobody else at the firm got paid for being on call, and neither would we. For some reason, we never questioned this despite the fact that we seriously felt like that had to be a lie.

Well, one day we found out that the litigation secretaries actually DID get paid $150 a day when they were on call on the weekends. We were just chatting with one of the secretaries as she helped us with a project, and she casually mentioned it. To say that we were enfuriated to find that out would be the understatement of the century. I immediately stopped what I was doing and went back to my desk to search "the firm's" electronic document storage system. Not surprisingly, I found an "IT Support On Call Procedures" form that mentioned, of course, on call IT Support personnel getting paid a stipend; as well as various on call claim forms that were to be submitted to payroll. Basically, the NY litigation paras were the only non-exempt employees in the entire firm who didn't get paid to be on call. Considering we were on call so much and so often, this royally pissed us off.

We went to HR. For some reason, despite the fact that so much had happened to crush our hopes at that place, we went into the meeting optimistic, thinking that there had simply been a miscommunication and that we would be re-paid for the time we had been on call at "the firm". We should have known better. We were basically told that we were "more like the attorneys" at the firm (we were constantly lumped into either the "business services" or the "legal" category, depending on what was most convenient for the firm in any given situation), and that it was expected that being on call was part of the job description; whereas for the secretaries and IT Support personnel (AKA "business services"), it wasn't expected, and so they needed to be paid for it. I tried to argue that whether or not we should get paid was NOT based on our classification as either business services or legal staff, but that it was dependent on the fact that we were non-exempt employees vs. exempt, like the attorneys; but this woman was SO rude . . . she wouldn't even let us get a full sentence in without cutting us off. She cut us off time and again, suggesting that we were horrible and ungrateful employees. She stated that paralegal jobs are only for people who want to go to law school (this, despite the fact that none of us was actually interested in attending law school; and that C--someone who is RIDICULOUSLY smart and talented, but has simply lost like 10 or 15 years of his life to doing paralegal work, and never figured out what it was he wanted to do--was in the room; it was SO offensive), and that we should just be happy to have contacts at a NYC law firm. We pressed her further, and she finally lost her cool and yelled at us, "Oh C'MON! Would $100 REALLY make a difference?! I mean, HONESTLY!" The whole meeting was just SO insulting, and needless to say, we never got paid for all those hours we were on call. We talked a bit about speaking to an employment lawyer to see what he/she thought, but we just never got around to it.

But it was at that point that I was officially done. I realized I needed to get out . . . and was simply working on creating some kind of an out for myself. As I mentioned on this blog at one point, Wilson and I had decided that if I made it to next June, I would quit no matter what was going on at the time. Well, needless to say, I didn't quite make it that far. A little over a month ago, we had our summer litigaiton event. A bunch of us ended up at a bar afterwards, all pretty drunk. A and I were pretty down in the dumps, considering we got stuck talking to the head partner in the litigation department for 20 minutes, and had to listen to all sorts of details about his 3 summer homes and various trips his family would be taking throughout the summer. Well, somehow our friend, M (a third-year associate), got into a heated discussion with one of the other litigation partners about how horrible things are for the litigation paras, and how wrong it is that we are treated so poorly. Before we knew it, the "conversation" turned into an all out shouting match. It got so bad that I had to leave the bar; it was just TOO uncomfortable to watch M putting her career on the line in an attempt to help us. Of course, the partner was SO out of touch with reality that he was totally blowing off everything she was saying, and it was just depressing the hell out of me.

I realized right then and there that things were never going to change at that place; and that the nearly three years I had spent trying to fix that place were a complete waste. I also felt seriously guilty that M had risked her career to stand up for us. While I had thought all along that continuing to fight for proper working conditions at "the firm" WAS standing up for myself, I suddenly had an epiphany and realized that the only way to truly stand up for myself and gain back my self-respect (which I honestly had so little of left by that point, it was just pathetic) was to get out of that place. If things were THAT bad, there was a very simple solution . . . JUST LEAVE! So I went into work a bit hungover the next day, and I began cleaning my office out. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I wanted to know that should it come to it, I could leave at a moment's notice. The funny thing about this is that the only person who even questioned me about why my office was suddenly so clean/empty and where all of my personal items had gone was a guy from the mailroom!

A couple of weeks passed, and I STILL couldn't get up the courage to give my notice. I think I was honestly convinced that I would just stick it out until next June. Well, then came the news that I posted about a few weeks back . . . the news that A and I would be in charge of TWO big trials at once, starting in late August. We were both in a state of panic over it. About two days after we found this news out, A called out sick. She came back the next day, Thursday, and told me she would be putting her notice in the next day. I was in shock. I realized right then and there that I had to get out too. I knew that if I didn't, "the firm" would drag its feet in hiring a replacement for A (if it hired anyone at all, that is), and I would be put in charge of BOTH trials and would be all but killed.

I called Wilson, seeking advice. He told me he really thought that I should quit, but that I needed to come up with a plan before I took any steps toward doing so. So, I ignored my work and spent the rest of the day that Thursday searching for "my plan". Wouldn't you know--it was like divine intervention or something--I came up with a plan by the end of the workday, and presented it to Wilson that night. He thought it was perfect. I called my mother and she thought it sounded great too. I'm pretty sure my plan could have been to join a nunnery or raise baby snakes and they both would have agreed to it; that's how badly they both wanted me out of that place. Anyway, by 1:00 Friday morning, I had decided to put my notice in as well. So on Friday, July 31, A and I both put in our notice, after talking it through with C. We were sad to have to leave C behind--after all, the three of us donkeys really only had each other to rely on in that place--but he promised us that he would soon be on his way out of there as well. Within a few weeks, he should be gone too (thank goodness!).

I really do wish I could say that we left on a positive note, but we were treated pretty horribly even upon our departure. The partner and HR rep we gave our notice to never responded to us, never wished us luck, never thanked us for killing ourselves for them for 3+ years, nothing. In fact, the partner who managed us tried to deny us the leaving drinks that departing employees at our firm typically get. Luckily, there was enough of an uproar about that that he finally approved them (of course, he didn't bother to show up to them). At my exit interview, I tried my darndest to get out everything I felt/thought about my experiences at "the firm", but it's just so hard in a situation like that . . . I mean, how do you adequately convey the level of abuse you suffered for three years in a 45-minute interview? Not to mention, when you know it won't make a difference, it's a little hard to care. The HR rep we met with for those exit interviews was less than sympathetic when we flooded her with tales of our suffering; she simply tried to suggest that maybe we were lazy (HA!) and "not quite cut out for the legal field" (well, she's certainly right about that one!); she also flat out called us unprofessional for leaving at the same time. I just laughed in her face and said, "I don't owe this firm anything. I've already given more than I ever should have to this place. A and I are both leaving for school programs, we both gave the proper 2 weeks notice, and we both went above and beyond what was required of us in terms of organizing our case files. What exactly is unprofessional about the way we are leaving?!"

So here I am, over a week later, still trying to process everything that happened in my three years at that place. It's a tad bit overwhelming, to say the least. For some reason, I really thought leaving there would make me feel better about life, but I actually feel worse. It's like, as long as I was there--as hopeless as I felt at times--deep down, I felt there was always a chance that things could get better; but my leaving that place was essentially admitting that it COULDN'T get better. So along with my job, I seem to have lost my optimism. I ran a 5K on Saturday, and I gave up in the middle of it because it was hot, humid and super hilly. I just got to this point where I felt an overwhelming sense that things WOUDLN'T get better. I ended up with a personal worst by over 2 minutes in that race. I wish I could say that I'm okay, and that everything is better now that I am out of that place . . . but frankly, I'm not exactly okay, and it's going to take some time to heal after everything I went through there. I'm a completely different person than I was when I started there--and it kills me to admit that I let that place affect me like it did. I guess when you are beat down and disrespected so many times, and made to feel like you are a worthless piece of shit, it's hard not to let it change you. The worst of it is that I feel like I've lost so much respect for myself , just knowing I allowed them to treat me that way. I guess I just have to learn from it and never let it happen again. As painful as it may be, I know reflecting on this stuff and using it as a lesson is the only way I'm going to be able to move past it.

So I apologize that I've been so absent lately. I'm trying to not be so selfish . . . but it's just been hard to sort through all of this stuff. A and I met C for lunch the other day, and A said she's having similar issues. I guess time will heal this stuff; but it doesn't make the present any easier, you know? Anyway, I'm going to work on being more positive and putting this whole thing behind me. I already feel a little bit better, having typed it all out. If you are still reading at this point, thank you . . . and congrats; you are finally getting to the end of it all! I promise there is a happy update post coming up soon! I hope you are all enjoying the last few weeks of Summer :)

17 comments:

EmLit said...

Well, first, big time HUGS to you. I'm glad you were able to write this all out, and I can assure you that although you are still feeling crummy now, things will start to get better as you continue to work through this mess. You endured three years of intensely abusive practices and I hope that soon you will be able to see how strong you were for finally putting your foot down and walking away from it. It's true that things weren't going to get better, but don't let that be a reflection on you or how hard you tried--you were not the failure in this situation, and ultimately there's nothing you could have done to change things but it is a testament to what an amazing person you are that you tried so hard for so long.

Things will get better soon, I promise! Until they do, though, let yourself feel bad and work through the difficult parts of this. Don't expect to be able to just shrug off three years of awful in a few days! I'm thinking of you, and I hope things get better soon!!

Lisa said...

Wow. What a horrible experience. I am sorry you went through all that.

You say you were a non-exempt employee. Doesn't that mean that you were entitled to overtime? If they didn't pay you overtime, you may have a SERIOUS labor lawsuit on your hands. In fact, the harassment and working conditions might be a suit as well. I am not a litigious person, but I have worked quite a bit with employees and HR and what you experienced is not only WRONG, but possibly illegal. I think it is bad enough to treat Associates that way, but people that don't get the same compensation-- that is criminal.

I promise you that things will get better. Soon this will be a memory and an experience that will only add to your wisdom. I am glad that you have someone like Wilson to be there for you.

Paul said...

OMG. As I sit here on the other side of the world (in Australia) I just cannot believe that this kind of thing happens in modern society. Yet I am sure it goes on in the buildings beside mine right here too.

As a manager of staff in the IT field I cannot understand how your boss(es) thought that treating you in this way would get the best from you. If I treated my staff that way I'd expect them (or their family members) to be chasing me down the street with a weapon!

Please believe that there are many, many managers who go out of their way to keep staff happy and healthy.

And far from lose respect for yourself; please recognise the amazing personal and professional qualities which allowed you to endure those conditions for so long. You will be a treasured employee somewhere else!

I hope your running helps you re-discover the wonderful person you know still exists in your skin.

Regards and best wishes,
Paul :-)

Running and living said...

This is unbelievable. So sorry you had to experience this. Cut yourself some slack, though. There was no way you could forsee things getting so bad, and probably part of you hoped things would change, and so you stayed on. Sometimes its the inertia that keeps us in a spot that may not be good for us. But, you learned from this experience. You will heal, writing down is therapeutic. The more you;ll read this, and reexperience it, the easier it will be, and the more you'll realize how STRONG you are, what good of a value system you have, and be able to move on. For now, run a lot, have fun a lot, and enjoy your time off. Heck, make fun of those a$$es at the firm, they may even start crumbling without you A and C there doing the work. Ana-Maria

Rachel said...

Wow. I seriously can't believe they treated you that way! Nobody should ever have to put up with the things that you did. I'm glad that you are finally free from that place and can focus on the future!

Count of Monte Christo said...

The stuff you describe would be enough to chase anyone away. *Respect* for keeping it up for so long!
The reaction of the PR rep at your exit meeting is extremely ridiculous and would be sufficient confirmation for me that I had taken the right decision.

Have a great week and thanks for sharing

Spike said...

because I am an attorney, I know exactly what you are going through. time will make it better. even 'Big NY Law' can't keep a positive person down for long. you are a rock star, so get busy rocking the next part of your life!

Paige said...

Thank EFF'ING GOD you got out of there! Holy crap, I was literally holding my breath as I read this, and kept gasping at each horrendous detail.

I cannot believe that sort of thing goes on. I don't think that you should get down on yourself at all for having endured all that, simply because you *did* endure it and you made it out alive. You're done, and you NEVER have to go back there EVER again. Peace out shitty job, and previous disposition!

As for thinking that you gave up on it getting better...I think you're looking at it the wrong way. You left, therefore it DID get better, for you, and that's all that matters right now, YOU. You just needed to realize that the only way it was ever going to get better there was if you left. Sometimes, giving up, or quitting, is the only sane and healthy option, and I think you made the right move.

Like someone else commented, let yourself feel down about it; let the feelings run their course, it's only human. But don't let it go for too long because guess what? You have a fresh, new, exciting life ahead of you and it's just a'waitin' for you to get started on it! You have your health, you have running, Wilson, family, school and so much else to enjoy and look forward to!

You rock and congratulations on droppin' it like it's hot!

And remember, what goes around, comes around. Those people will get theirs, and you can just sit back and smile knowing that little 'fact of life' :)

Can't wait to read about what's next :)

Marlene said...

O-M-G.

I am serisouly in shock at most of the &$^% you have gone through. That is ABUSE.

Sooo happy you have taken steps to get out of there. Take care of yourself, girl. You deserve it.

The Laminator said...

Hey Irish!

Congrats to you for finally taking charge of the situation and getting out when it is. I know it must be so painful to rewind the tape and review the events of the last several years but I think you needed to deal with it in your own way in your own terms in order to move past it.

It's wierd, because even though you think you disrespected yourself by allowing this emotionally abusive relationship with the firm to go on for so long, I think you kind of show how truly tough you are for having held out under such grave conditions for as long as you did. C'mon, I can't even imagine anything else in the future that could be worse than what you had to go through in there. I hope you realize that you showed incredible strength and incredible courage and if you could channel a fraction of that in your future endeavors, you will be successful in whatever you choose to do.

Hang in there, Irish! It will get better soon! We're all cheering for ya!

lindsay said...

wow. drama!

that was crazy girl. crazy. i don't know how you put up with it for so long, well maybe i kind of can... i just hit 3 years myself but in an unfulfilling environment vs abusive. way different, i know.

please don't feel guilty or down on yourself. like you said you gave WAY MORE than you should have. you gave it the irish 110% and they just took advantage of your drive.

i LOVE that you and your friend left at the same time. that was not unprofessional - you didn't deviously come up with the plan and besides you guys did not deserve that crap! i hope "C" got out too safely. peace of mind and a stress-free life are very important - work should never consume your entire life.

i hope you are pampering yourself and relaxing and getting all zen again and stuff. you are amazing!

Laura said...

What an awful story, but I TOTALLY understand what you were going through! As you know, my life was like that on various projects at my consulting firm (fortunately the longest it went for me with that sort of hell was six weeks though... I can't imagine how you put up with it for so long).

I'm with those who think as a non-exempt employee, you definitely have rights and should consider contacting an attorney.

Otherwise - maybe we can meet up for drinks sometime? Sounds like you need to destress a bit! I can try to cheer you up with stories about how there IS life after a crazy job and you're going to love working at a normal place at whatever opportunity comes your way :)

B.o.B. said...

Ok so I read this entire post and really feel for you. I can totally relate. I worked at a company where the boss screamed at his employees constantly. He threw chair, broke phones, and when I quit he laughed at the fact that I told him his behaviour was unacceptable.

I felt very very bitter about it for a long time. He spoke badly about me to people still employed there. And it took me a while to get over the situation, even after I quit.

You did the right thing by leaving a very bad situation. Give it some time and you'll feel right again. It was a big part of you life for 3+ years. It's like a bad break up. BUT you'll be stronger from it and you have definitely learned a lot from it.

trialsoftraining said...

Ok. *WHOA*. that is the longest blog i think I've ever read - I was completely in a zone, reading every word and taking it all in. I CANNOT IMAGINE having a job like that, let alone for 3 years. I remember you posting things about crazy hours/long days/lots of work, but could've NEVER really understood everything without this post. This took a Lot of courage to write and to "put out there" - I hope it settled your feelings at least a little bit.

I haven't read the most recent post yet (I'm catching up!) - but I hope you're coming to realize that Leaving that job was the ONLY thing you could do for yourself. Clearly nothing was going to change, it would only get worse. Can you see yourself as that person who has spent 10-15 yrs as a Para? No no no! While this experience probably gave you some seriously tough skin and kick ass work ethic, there's Definitely a better job out there for you.

I'm very curious..what's "the plan"???? :) :)

XO.

Fair Weather Runner said...

let me first say you did the right thing, and things WILL get better. in time. second, sorry i just now read this! i'm a bad blahggie buddy :(

so whoa, i can't even begin to imagine what that must have been like, i look at ed's firm, small town and all, but still, i can't imagine a single person in that firm treating someone like that! so horrible. i bet you anything 'the firm' realizes what an asset you were now that you are gone. my one hope when i eal with a-holes over and over is that eventually they will fall... and when they do they will fall hard.

i hope your time in school this fall will get you back your confidence and turn it all around for ya. good things are coming your way my friend. and if all else fails... there is always beef. and BBQ. :)

HUGS.

Terri said...

I think I just felt a huge blast of air go right over my shoulder from you exhaling. I have worked in some pretty awful places, and lately I've been complaining about work but I think your firm definitely won the "worst place to work" competition.

I have a feeling a lot of our students must go to this firm. Your firm is probably in bed with my school if you know what I mean.

I am so glad for you (and proud of you although we've never met) for finally just leaving. I've felt the same way as you when leaving a job, but please do believe that it will gradually decrease over time. You were abused for so long it's understandable you feel the way you do. And make no mistake about it, you were abused, in so many ways.

sRod said...

I mean I knew your job sucked, but I truly had no idea how bad it was.

My first thing to you is that YOU HAVE ALL THE RIGHT TO BE SELFISH. Good Lord. You have been serviant and over-giving for way too long. Be greedy, be indulgent, think of yourself--for you have a severe deprivation of those essential human things.

Second thing for you is that you better take this as lesson to not take any shit any more. If the firm has taught you anything it is the definition of abuse. You know when it's happening to you, you know the effects it causes you, and you know when enough is enough. When you see this crap happening again, even the beginnings of it, stand up on your chair and say "fuck off."

Ok, I'll come down from my soap box. I really hope you got a good "angry" run out of this.