My job has me at the end of my rope I fear...

As some of you may know from my posting, I am a legal assistant in a small family law firm. I’ve dutifully done my job here now for a year and a half. I’m underpaid, not quite overworked, and I’m good at what I’m instructed to do.

For the first year, I liked my job. I handled it really well. Most of the shit going on here slid off my back as I’m not the unlucky SOB who it’s happening to. But lately, I’m becoming overwhelmed. The ugliness has gotten to me. The hate and fear, and anger and violence and pettiness and abuse of the system and of each other is really wearing me down. I’m starting to be angry and ugly and take sides. I’m starting to resent those on the other side who perpetrate these mis-deeds on each other. I’m starting to really fucking hate these people. Some, our clients, others their ex-spouses and attorneys.

The job market is for shite, and I know I will be unable to obtain another job if I leave, but I don’t know how much longer I can do this without totally freaking the fuck out. I’ve never met so many fucking infantile adults before. THese fucking people can’t even agree on what to dress their kids in if it involves their ex-spouse.

The system here is broken. I fucking hate the system too. The clerks, judges and family court services are so full of themselves, so overworked, that often they choose status quo over making a beneficial change for the children. Other times, the FCS people blatantly ignore proof of abuse or malfeasance on the part of one parent or the other and with the most disgusting bias ever, side one parent or the other.

I’m tired of the false accusations. THe false allegations. The whining, bitching, blatant lying, transparent bullshit stories, the drinking, the drug abuse, the dysfunction.

Somebody save me and offer me a job in a customer service center, would ya? :mad:


Surely the market for legal assistants here in the bay area isn’t that bad, Sam? I truly understand getting burnt out on family law. I once worked at a firm where my attorney decided he wanted to switch from business litigation to family law, and I couldn’t stand it either. From Day One, I couldn’t stand it. I started sending out my resume and doing some research through Martindale Hubbell. It took awhile, but I eventually got out of there and into a firm where I worked with business clients once again.

The best of luck to you. You’ll find something else, I know.

Unfortunately, you’re apparently in a position where you’re exposed to some of the very worst traits in human nature. Is it too late for you to become a geologist? I’ve personally found it exceedingly difficult to get pissed off at rocks.

THanks for the thoughts Puggy. I’d look for something else in legal if I thought it was my true calling. I took this job out of desperation of not having ANY job for 2 years. Problem is that I’m not a formally trained legal anything. I have no degree, and few seminars(since they’ve stopped holding paralegal seminars in San Jose). I guess I’ll redouble my efforts.

lieu, it’s funny you should say that. All my childhood I wanted to be a geologist, my boss has a degree in geology, and I’m a geography major in college. Even thought the stress and anger levels are low as a geo, or a geographer, or any of the earth sciences/physical sciences, it’s hard getting paid!


By “family law”, I assume you mean that the practice mostly handles divorces?

I have to admit, nothing reconciles me to my perennial single status like listening to my friends’ tales of divorce and child custody. In one case, they’ve burned through enough lawyer fees to send the kid in question to Harvard and graduate school and, as far as I can tell, not a damned thing has been resolved. I’m pretty sure it will end up like Bleak House with no result until every penny has been spent. I don’t see how you could be exposed to that every day without becoming burned out and cynical.

Good luck in finding something else…

Sam, is there anything at all redeeming about the place or the people? The only reason I ask is that, as you describe it, you’re going to be there no matter what. I guess I’m just trying to give you an ear and a shoulder. Maybe if you could think of even one good thing, it would become more bearable.

Yes Finagle, “Family Law” generally means divorce, custody, separation, property division, restraining order procurement/defense, and a whole host of other things that can encompass conservatorship(taking care of those whoc annot take care of themselves), and handling abuse cases. The latter 2 we do not do for obvious reasons.

We have cases in our office that have drug on more than 4 years and have sucked both families dry. Unfortunately, if one asshole parent has the means to seek orders via Ex-Parte-basically a law suit, the other must respond or risk losing their child. We have several cases like this, one parent has a rich mom who continually can fund actions against the other parent.

Some of these cases have up to 10 binders’ worth of documents(close to 15,000 pages I think), and cost well over $100K. It’s fucking silly and I’m tired of it.


Just to state the obvious: start looking for a new job, but don’t quit the current job until the new job is lined up.

Ah yes. The first rule of wing walking.

When I started my job search, I utilized the Martindale Hubbell directory and sent cold letters and resumes to all business-based law firms over a certain size, rather than searching want ads. This resulted in four interviews, and I limited my search to the San Jose area only. Of course, I’m a legal secretary, not a paralegal, but the pay for legal secretaries is not far behind that of paralegals around here.

Although, I’ve it’s pretty much the same wherever you go, I wish you luck getting out of that hellhole.

And here I was considering going into family law when I graduate.

Thanks for the heads up!

Maybe I can find a nice estate lawyer that needs a paralegal …

Abbie, overall, it(family law) is a good place to be. Most of the time you get to help people who are in need of your services. Most of the time, it’s pretty standard. Most of the time, it’s simple and not gut-wrenchingly awful like this.

Unfortunately, my boss is a pro and excels in the ugly divorces. He is a custody expert, and people in dire need come to our office. Most of the time, the good guy wins and they all ride off into the sunset…with $100K legal bills, but into the sunset nonetheless.

Honestly, my defenses just broke down yesterday and I allowed somebody elses shit to get to me. It haoppens every once and a while. It also allows me to appreciate my family and my wife :slight_smile:


Estates are just sooooooooooooo boring…

GaWd, is it possible for you to take some time off? It may be impossible to throw a last-minute vacation together when a family is involved, but could you at least get out of that place for a few days, maybe a week? It won’t fix the problems, but it might help you ‘recharge’ and gather the strength you need to stay until something else comes along. Repeat as necessary. :wink:

When one of the other writers here was so fed up that she was about to quit, management worked it out with her so that she took a 3-week vacation/leave of absence with the understanding that if she was still unhappy when she came back, she would most likely quit then. Now, in her case she brought on most of her frustration herself, and she did wind up quitting, but I thought it was an excellent idea to take a break instead of just, well, imploding.

I know that not everyone can take time off whenever they want/need to, it’s just a thought. :slight_smile:

Aah, well, you must have missed the part about me being underpaid. :wink: Hell, I don’t even get sick pay/vacation pay or insurance. Insurance costs me $200 out of my pocket every month.

So no, not really. :frowning:

But a vacation would certainly do the trick, I tell ya.


If your lawyer is so good, why are you so underpaid? At the very least, I’d talk to the boss about working on your skillset so that you can start getting paid an actual decent salary. That alone should eliminate some stress.

Being underpaid has nothing to do with being able to take time off – even if you just hang around the house for a few days, you’d still get the breather you need – but the no leave thing blows. No insurance blows, too, but, while I had no health insurance for the first 5 years after I graduated from college, even in my dark days of being a contract employee I got sick/vacation time. The only time I’ve ever been underpaid and had absolutely no benefits was when I was a temp…are you a temp?

If you’re not a temp, and are a full-time employee, you SERIOUSLY need to talk with your boss about some kind of leave and/or insurance plan. Threaten to sue him. Heh.

(just kidding, couldn’t resist the ‘sue the lawyer’ thing)

Also, I agree with Finagle about trying to improve your skillset. That never hurts no matter what kind of work you’re doing. :slight_smile:

Hello? Is this thing on?

What what what? Christ, you sound like my clients now! :wink:

Finagle and Misnomer have excellent points. Finagle, he’s an excellent lawyer, but an honest one. In family law, there are 2 types of lawyers-Grinders and advocates. A Grinder takes the case, wrings out all of the $$ with worthless motions and litigation, and gets out ASAP. An Advocate works with the client, works within the scope of their monetary ability and generally tries to help them out. Unfortunately, he’s not a Grinder. We often do stupid things on our own dime to help clients out, because it is the “right” thing to do.

I’d like to get more skills, but as I said before, Paralegal seminars are no longer held within 60 miles of where I live. I refuse to travel that far for a snore of a seminar. I attended the last seminar in San Jose, apparently, a year ago.

I do need to talk to him about things, but he’s a shitty communicator. Hell, we were supposed to have a meeting last monday. THat meeting was supposed to be basically a review of my skills, and contain constructive criticism about my work. We never had it. I told my wife the Friday before(when he told me about the review), that I wouldn’t be shocked if we never had this infamous meeting-I was right.

Feh. I guess I just need to step up my jobsearch again and find something else within my skillset.


I guess he’s starting to look like a shitty boss…