I always said that my job is great, but for the clients. Of course that's a joke, b/c w/o the clients, I wouldn't have a job. But at some point in people's lives, they have to got to realize that they are responsible for the decisions they make, good or bad, and quit blaming said decisions on everyone else. Especially not on your lawyer and his staff. I'm not talking about the clients who are in a long term marriage and the guy blindsides the wife w/ a request for a divorce, and I'm not talking about the clients who are trying to collect child support from a deadbeat, with the exception of one demanding client, described below.
Yeah, yeah, everyone LOVES to bash lawyers. I get the amusing jokes in my email every now and then. Oh, funny-ha-ha. However, in these litigious times, more people are finding themselves in need of an attorney's help, to extricate them from the big fat mess they've made of their lives. And this is across the board: marriages, business decisions, real estate purchases, etc. And of course when things don't go their way, who do they blame? The lawyers, of course.
I've been pretty fortunate to have worked for some of the best, highly respected, most ethical lawyers around in the Bay Area and at my current job. OK quit laughing. There are lots of ethical lawyers. The few unethical ones give the rest of them a bad name (think: suing McDonalds b/c their coffee is too hot or b/c eating their food made someone fat). I've also had the misfortune of working for some real assholes. When I first moved to Washington, between June 1989 and March 2001, I worked at 5 different law firms. Five. I kept bailing b/c I hated my bosses. So when I find a job I like with a boss I like, I stay put.
Well, right now, we have a whole passel of pain in the ass, unreasonable and unbelievably demanding, and verbally abusive, clients. They act as if we are here on earth to serve them and only them. They expect us to drop what we are doing and wait on them when they drop by w/o an appointment. Oh yes, that's it, that's it exactly. We've been waiting all fucking day for you to call or grace us with your presence, Your Majesty. Or, "I called Steve this morning and still haven't received a call back". Well that was 2 hours ago asshole and my response is the same as it was then, "He's down at Court at a hearing, I'll leave him another message that you called." Then they try to trap you with, "Can you make sure that he calls me?" Oh yes, fer shure. Let me just get my trusty revolver out and hold it to Steve's head and say, "CALL MR. X", and keep it there till he makes the call.
On Tuesday, a particularly pain-in-the-ass-thorn-in-our-side client came in to our office, demanding to see Steve at 3:30 pm. Meanwhile, he is getting ready for a trial, our fax machine is spewing out 50 pages of the opposing party's trial stuff, he's on the phone w/ our client who is flying up from San Diego, and so we told her that he was unavailable. Then the bitch has the unmitigated gall to whine, "HE NEVER HAS TIME FOR ME" and storms out, slamming our door. I was apoplectic. Then the bitch comes back in, and proceeds to stand at Debby's desk, weeping about how unfair this is. BTW, sorry to sound racist or whatever, but she's white, her ex is black. Shocking that he's a deadbeat dad.
I had to go in the back, to the conference room, and wait till she left b/c I was seriously in danger of telling her off: "Listen bitch, how dare you say Steve never makes time for you!! YOU are the one that married the guy. YOU are the one that had a kid with him. YOU are the one who divorced him, THEN LET HIM CONTINUE TO SLEEP WITH YOU TILL HE KNOCKED YOU UP AGAIN! And now you are whining that he won't pay child support? We've done everything you've asked: Garnished his bank accounts, subpoenaed thousands of pages of real estate documents, dragged him into Court FOURTEEN TIMES since February, 2007, entered multiple Judgments against him and are now requesting jail time. It's not our fault that he's making a mockery of the system. It's not our fault that the Judge keeps giving him a chance to get an attorney. It's not our fault he filed for bankruptcy. So fuck off and shut up and oh here's a little hint, keep your fucking legs shut next time, you stupid whore. And by the way, you owe our firm about $7,300 so how's about bringing your account current before you start bitching that Steve can't see you every time you barge into our office demanding to see him."
Then we have who we'll call "Client X". We divorced him in 2005. We got him awarded custody of his kids. We also helped him out of a real estate jam he got into as well. So we find out last fall that he went to China and married himself a bride. We shook our collective heads...."What was he thinking?" Almost immediately after returning here, with the wife still in China, he decides he needs to get divorced. He has waffled over this for about 6 months now. He'll call, then change his mind. Last month he asked me to locate the Chinese marriage license he'd given us, b/c he needed it. He picked it up and that was the last we heard. Till yesterday. At 3:45 pm. He calls, "I NEED TO START DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS RIGHT NOW!!!" So again, Debby has to drop what she's doing to prepare the initial papers and get them ready for Steve to sign b/f he leaves for vacation because Client X got himself into this mess w/ a foreign bride. And by the way, it's now 3:50 pm, over 24 hours since Client X's frantic call. Has he shown up to sign the papers? No, of course not. He was called last night and told he could come in first thing in the morning, and by first thing, I mean 7 or 7:30.
And our favourite client, whose last name rhymes with "McPain", which is what we call her.....she's deceptive, a liar, demanding, verbally abusive, hears what she wants, and then misrepresents what Steve told her to her husband....in writing no less....which he then gives to HIS lawyer, and we get a nastygram from said lawyer, and Steve's left w/ egg on his face b/c he either never said what she said he did, or she's grossly misrepresented it. She and her husband despise each other. They have 3 young boys, who they are using as pawns, to piss each other off. And it's only hurting the boys. The 9 year old is reverting and trying to breast feed. On Easter, the youngest refused to put a stitch of clothing on to go to visit his father. Can you say, "serial killers in the making"? McPain has the kids on the most rigid schedule I've EVER seen. She calls it "The Happy House Rules". 7:00 wake up. 7:00-7:15, practice piano. 7:15-7:30 eat breakfast. etc etc etc. For grins, I started reading the schedule out loud, in an exaggerated German accent, "YOU VILL COMMENCE PIANO NOW! YOU VILL COMMENCE BREAKFAST NOW!" then I launched into a rousing chorus of "Deutschland Uber Alles". Steve and Debby were in hysterics.
We don't trust her at all. We have to write down the details of all conversations w/ her as a "CYA" thing b/c in all likelihood, she'll turn Steve over to the Bar Association. It's bad enough that she's still attorney-shopping behind our backs, b/c one called to ask Steve what her deal was. One day she called in a snit that "He changed the locks! I cant' get in to get the rest of my stuff! I need my work stuff now!" So Steve fires off a terse "how dare he" letter to the other attorney and we get one back w/in 20 minutes saying that the guy did not change the locks, and has no idea why she can't get in, and baseless accusations will not be tolerated. Then the bitch admits that SHE FORGOT TO BRING HER KEYS. Did she actually think she was going to get away w/ her accusation? And she LIED to us, making Steve look like a fool. Yesterday was the last straw though, and we're withdrawing as her attorney. Princess Bitch McPain can go bug someone else for a change. And incidentally, the bitch makes about $10,000 PER MONTH, but has she paid her bill which is over $8,000 now? Of course not.
I know that I'm extremely terse w/ the clients on the phone. I'm not a "soft touch", I won't mollycoddle and I won't get sucked into their dramas. I can't. It's bad enough that I'm covered in disgusting itchy hives, which have been diagnosed as stress-related. Debby, on the other hand, spends WAY too much time holding their hands and letting them whine and cry. I'm sorry, but I have a job to do & I have to keep them at arm's length. I'm sure that many of the clients think of me as a bitch, but I don't fucking care. If they are going to call me multiple times a day, demanding this and that, whining that it's "not fair" when they are the ones that created the mess to begin with, then don't expect me to be all soft and fuzzy. That's not to say that I hate ALL our clients, b/c I don't, and I'm not terse w/ all of them either. Only the ones that insiste upon calling 3x a day, plus sending emails up the kazoo. We have many good people who did get screwed, and who pay their bills. Ironically, it's always the clients who truly don't have a pot to piss in who regularly send us $25 a month, good faith payments. It may take them years and years but they send in their payment religiously. The wealthy clients who routinely carry mega balances w/ us are the ones who never pay and are the most demanding.
Just leave me alone and let me do my damn job.