6 Kinds of Asshole Lawyers

I have largely avoided discussing my last job in this space, having founded this institution almost immediately after the establishment of my funemployment, when my PTSD was at its freshest. Without getting into the nitty gritty of it, suffice to say that a significant part of my job was giving a variety of lawyers bad news, and asking them what they would like me to do about it. You can perhaps imagine that some of these conversations were less than pleasant (although it’s worth noting that most lawyers I talked to were, if not chill, than at least reasonable).

Since I’ve had some time to mellow out about some of my more unfortunate experiences, and because it’s hilarious, I’ve chosen to describe six kinds of asshole lawyers that I encountered in my former life. There are a few ground rules to make note of here. First, this is not even close to an exhaustive list of all asshole lawyer uh…templates. Second, those of you with keen senses of observation and synthesis will note there is significant overlap among the templates described; this is a feature, not a bug. Finally, please note that utter lack of street smarts, while a common problem among lawyers, is not a category represented here. While I frequently ran my head up against a wall dealing with lawyers who didn’t seem to have any idea how anything actually works, and while that’s definitely a theme common to a lot of these categories, many lawyers I dealt with were clueless puds that were also nice, or if not nice exactly, at least decent.

1. The ones who thought being pissy would somehow change underlying conditions: The older I get, the less I understand why some people think acting pissed off is a viable solution, somehow. Here’s a life tip – If you ever decide to take out your frustrations on someone who is just doing his or her job, know that person isn’t doing anything other than rolling his or her eyes at you. If being a raging piece of shit to someone somehow gets you what you want, know that this success was entirely coincidental. Anyway, as you all know this isn’t a problem exclusive to the legal profession. I would like to point out that almost nobody asked to talk to my manager, even when they were losing their minds. Usually I was the one to suggest talking to a manager, as I was generally powerless and had other things to do.

2. The ones who didn’t actually understand the scope of my work/training, and didn’t see why they should: For some reason, once every so often I would talk to some jackoff who assumed I must have been a certified paralegal (I was not and am not), and therefore believed my understanding of the situation should be absolute. This category also encompasses those attorneys who felt that surely, my only duty is catering to their whims, regardless of my actual duties, instructions, or constraints.

3. The cheapskates: Time for another protip: People who do work for you deserve to be paid. I’m not sure why that’s so difficult but here we are.

4. The ones who thought the ‘righteousness’ of their cause would allow me to let them bend the rules: There’s nothing worse than misplaced conviction. What’s worse is that, in practice, these were inevitably eviction lawyers who didn’t understand why we couldn’t just let the landlord break into the place to serve papers on tenants. Typically, lawyers who can only get work in evictions are those that were too dumb to succeed in any other field of legal endeavor, so you can see how dangerous shit gets when greed, idiocy, and lack of imagination combine.

5. The ones who thought every interaction was a negotiation: In my capacity as the guy towards the very bottom of the ladder, I was fortunate to avoid dealing with attorneys who made partner somewhere reasonably big. When I did, a seemingly curious but easily explicable phenomenon occurred – since a large part of being a partner is bringing in new business, a lot of these partner types proved to be glorified sales goons, with all of the worst tendencies that term implies. They thought every conversation, no matter how anodyne, was a zero-sum game that they were determined to ‘win’, and their techniques for doing so were so obnoxiously arrogant and insistent that their ability to reason abstractly became a matter of direct question.

6. The ones who didn’t understand that mutual communication was required for operations to proceed smoothly: Even if it was expressed politely, I didn’t find any line of complaint from any attorney quite as insulting as “I don’t want to deal with this.” It became impossible to view this line of reasoning as anything other than entitled whining. Hey asshole, dealing with stupid procedural horse shit is your job, one you’re getting paid a great deal to do. You don’t wanna deal with this bullshit? Go work at the fucking Walgreens.

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