Barratry

I’m taking another story out of order, because it is just too amazing not to.

Recently, I was heading out to lunch. As I often do, I was getting lunch late because things seemed to quiet down around three in the afternoon, so escaping for food then is usually least noticed by those around me. Before I made it to my car, I got a phone call from the paralegal telling me Mr. Senior Partner was calling a meeting of a bunch of associates. When asked what about, turns out there was no information given. The paralegal had given me an out saying they didn’t know where I was, and then calling me on the phone. (lying in this manner is done so often it may as well be company policy) I had a brief opportunity as I looked between my car and back toward the law firm building. I told them I was headed back inside and I would get lunch later. (I greatly regret this decision not to place more value upon my lunch and will not make this mistake again).

I show up and am told it the meeting was for associates. So I file in expecting to see a bunch of us. Well, not quite. I see maybe a dozen of us… which is odd because there are a whole bunch more around the office. Mr. Senior Partner does his usual meeting appearance half an hour plus after it is supposed to start, making everyone just sit and do nothing. He looks around the room and points at the 2 associates of one of his favored litigators, and says “I didn’t ask for you two, you can go.” Which just seems to make the whole situation stranger that those of us left were apparently hand picked for this assignment. Which did not bode well, because at one end of the room were some lower level associates who had never graced the floor of the building we were in before this.

He starts talking, and weaving a story about a some random guy. The last time he spun a story in a meeting like this, it is slightly notable that he lied about the story, by vastly embellishing details which were material to the case at hand, but no matter. The short version was that there was a guy, who was now in the hospital and we were being conscripted to guard the client from other *cough* less scrupulous attorneys who might try to get them to sign something. (I am unsure if a less scrupulous firm exists). Someone asks if this person is a client. Mr Senior Partner sidesteps the question and doesn’t answer. He then quickly leaves and says the compliance attorney will fill us in on any other details.

So we are given signup sheets to go guard a patient, in a hospital, over the weekend. At least once more someone asks if they are a currently client, and the answer was something to the effect of “he’s a really nice man”. This time I ask the compliance attorney directly… Is.. he.. a.. client? There is a pause and apparently committed to it, the compliance attorney says “Of course he is. why else would we be doing this?” Then we’re told the ‘client’ has no family and it’s so sad what happened, as if this is supposed to explain away why we are doing this…. assigning a cadre of attorneys to hover at the bedside of some random person in a hospital.

Now most people can already smell the bullshit. The favored associates were given a pass, “handpicked” ones were being made to hang out in a hospital over the weekend, doing the absolute epitome of ambulance chasing.

I left the meeting and talked to someone who had been with the firm almost from the beginning. When I told them, they literally gasped, and said that the firm never does this and the founder must not know because this is strictly taboo. (also illegal pretty much everywhere… look up barraty).

I had lucked out and gotten a slightly better timeslot. I showed up, and found out first and foremost, the grand lie that the person had no family. There were about a dozen family members packed into the hospital room, and there I was, shifting uncomfortably around them until I finally just decided to wait in the hall. And damn am I glad I did, because shortly thereafter they began praying. And not the quiet praying… nooo… I’m talking loud yelling praying which turned into speaking in tongues. No shit. It was a cross between hilarious and horrifying.

I waited out my time. This was quite literally the slimiest thing I’ve done to date. Basically the firm used a bunch of attorneys to guard some guy in a hospital bed as if he were a big pile of money. Because that’s how the firm saw him. I am willing to work pretty much anywhere at this point. I really hope someday I get to testify in front of the bar against these people.

My boss has been effectively absent for the last 3 weeks. I am actually curious to know what his opinion is on this latest activity. Of course, he has to show up for me to actually communicate with him beyond very short text messages.

6 thoughts on “Barratry”

  1. Wow. Just wow.

    Problem is you are now ethically bound to report these bozos. And to find a new job in this terrible ass market we are drowning in.

    1. Yes. And I agree with you. In point of fact, this isn’t the only really shady as fuck thing I have been cornered into, I’ll eventually get to another great one from a few months ago… and I’ll round it out by telling a wonderful tale of what happened to one of the attorneys I know who did stand up and say what was going on was unethical and what happened to him (on an unrelated matter to the other two).

      I’ve actually talked with several impartial attorney friends about this situation I am in. Everyone ends up saying the same thing, get out as fast as possible; don’t leave until you have another job because you will never get one if you quit. And to round it out, I’m also usually told to surreptitiously collect whatever evidence I can to prove what I say (keep a short list of names to verify what went on, maybe a photo to prove something, etc). I would really like to quit, unfortunately as you say, the market as it stands means there is no work if I do. I talked it over with my significant other, with friends, hell… even with my parents. Everyone says as long as they keep paying you, stick it out. Which is not at all how this industry is intended to run.

      The really short version is, I can’t afford to quit from a financial stance. Food is an excellent motivator.

  2. Hi there, sorry I didn’t review your last few entries, the ones about the senior partner (I’ll get to those, I promise), but thanks for the update.

    Also, not to be an annoying nitpicker, but it’s spelled “barratry” with a 2nd “r.” And yes, I just looked it up, on both Wikipedia and Dictionary.com.

    Also, sorry to hear about what they’re making you do. I would have emailed you in private, but I don’t know if it would have gotten through, so let me just say: If you want me to help you find another job elsewhere, email me your resume and I’ll see what I can do.

    1. Actually, I then meant to then correct MYSELF after I caught my own error; I should have said 3rd “r,” not 2nd.
      But yes, glad to help. 🙂

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