Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shady Ethics & How to Screw Up a Networking Event

I've been having a post in me that I've been dying to get out of me for over a week now. Since doing this full time temp job, it's been my conclusion that the conspiracy Michael Moore was talking about against young people & student loans in Capitalism: A Love Story isn't with the student loan debts. No, I believe that conspiracy is having people work full time & full time+ hours (40 hours a week & more). See I think this is a conspiracy b/c once you're putting in all those hours, you don't have a lot of time to just sit & relax, much less ponder the great questions of life or participate in protests. Case in point: I've not been able to write that blog post that's been sitting there b/c I like having a life away from the computer & have to do little mundane tasks like wash dishes, pick out my outfit for the next day, etc.

So, universe let's get one thing straight right now: I don't need any more signs that the emperor has no clothes on. At least, I don't need this with respect to the great & vaulted BigLaw attorneys (notice my dripping sarcasm here). Here's the story:

Last week, I go to a session of Monday Night Law. I'm volunteering for it at City Bar for my first year, largely because I identify with the demographic it targets. In fact, I come from that demographic. My family & childhood acquaintances aren't living in cardboard boxes & eating garbage out of trash cans but they couldn't afford the market rates for legal services either.

I learn 2 things in my last experience there:

1. A lot of legal aid organizations are utter assholes to lawyers who wish to volunteer unless they come from BigLaw & are seeking pro bono credits. Now, the head of Monday Night Law was saying that one reason these groups have that requirement is because it's easier in terms of malpractice insurance: those lawyers are covered by those firms while I'm sure coverage is less for solos & people from smaller firms.

Okay, good point. Not one I'd have thought of as someone who came from the background. But here's one I bet they haven't considered: psychological studies show that people develop more trust & confide more in those who are like them. This could mean same race, age, gender but most definitely can mean social class.

I'm pretty sure the heads of these groups have ignored the fact that the poor are just as classist & can be just as snobby as any rich person you want to accuse of it. We even saw this play out in Pretty in Pink.

Do you want living proof? My parents, ladies & gentlemen! I've discussed my background pretty heavily here as well as my experiences in college with people whose parents generally had fewer money problems than mine. My parents & certainly many other people on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder think "more money = happiness & a problem free life." For them, their problems would vanish if you gave them a few million bucks after taxes. I know this from comments they have made about friends of mine whose parents had more money & I saw it firsthand when my former friend got the house my mother wanted b/c "her daddy bought it for her."

So, do you really think someone like my parents (especially my mother) is going to confide in, trust or take seriously some Harvard/Yale/T10 grad working at Skadden, Paul Weiss or any of those other large outfits? If you do, you're a fucking retard. Sorry but that's precisely what you are.

Now those who've read this blog know that I don't hate everyone who's got money. I also know for a fact there are some BigLaw folks who aren't morally corrupt assholes b/c I have met them. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt & judge them based on their own merits vs. stereotypes & assumptions about groups.

But you can be the nicest, sweetest, most empathetic person on the planet & so long as you're wearing a Rolex, work at one of these big firms or have a six figure salary, someone like my mother isn't going to take you seriously. They will dismiss you as a clueless person at best. At worst, you're going to be thought of a patronizing jerk who's only pretending you give a shit about them so you can get your gold star.

That sort of perception does not make for a relationship where a client will feel compelled to confide in you & certainly won't encourage honesty. I'm talking from real life experience. You don't take someone like me who understands this basic principle & just go for the BigLaw crowd? You're incredibly shitty at running your project & will have zero credibility with the very people you're trying to help. You're just creating an unnecessary boundary between the lawyers & the people you want to help while failing them both.

I didn't pipe up in this conversation but later on, I kind of wish I had. I'm sure if I hear one again, I certainly will & will have to make those points. When I made them with a rep of the National Lawyers Guild in law school, that rep agreed with me.

2. All that fawning you see most of the legal community doing over BigLaw & its ilk? Don't fall for it at all. I learned of a BigLaw cretin who's in the very same bar association who's probably defending the enemies of the Occupy movement who drink champagne while having hobo parties & dressing up like "the poor people" (if this scumbag isn't also participating in that). This guy is apparently violating the ethical obligations of our bar to a tremendous & appalling degree. In fact, this guy should thank his lucky stars I've not become a vigilante (and as long as great stuff keeps happening for me, I won't have to). If I were, I'd have to take him out for the good of humanity, the legal field & on good moral principle.

I would bet a trillion dollars that b/c of this guy's being in BigLaw, the ethics committee would look the other way if he were complained about while they'd go on kicking people out of the field or denying admission to the bar for far lesser things, including having the gall to want to be a lawyer without coming from a family that can provide you a trust fund. I've heard of various committees just looking the other way while people best described as "little shits" did all sorts of things that would make any functional person & maybe a few crazies say "Why would you let that person be a lawyer?" while I get harassed over credit card debt acquired for my basic survival b/c I didn't come from money, can't possibly repay it without getting admitted to the bar & have NOTHING else on my record to criticize.

If you ask me, there's most definitely a different law & standard if you're a lawyer from money vs. one who isn't. I think that's disgusting. I'd like to be proven wrong but this cynic won't be convinced until she stops hearing of lawyers being disbarred for defaulting on student loans & zero word about whether it was because they had no means to repay them (Hello, there's a massive unemployment rate right now in the legal field!) or they had a well paying job, assets, other ways to pay & were just ducking out on them.

Basically, I learned a long time ago not to exalt anyone & certainly not to consider any institution infallible. The emperor isn't just naked to me. To me, the emperor is naked & impotent.

To my husband, the emperor is naked, impotent & masturbating in a corner somewhere.

When I say there's fawning of these types, I don't simply mean special perks or flattery. I'm talking about flattery to the extent that other lawyers are made to feel like second class citizens.

This is how I feel when I deal with most bar associations. In fact, I'm pretty sure this could explain why I & other entertainment law attorneys who aren't part of that snobbery or BigLaw don't deal with bar associations. Let's face it, our jobs are also a hell of a lot cooler than theirs. Most of them also aren't happy if you ask them about it. Gee, would YOU want to go someplace where you were made to feel like a second class citizen? If I didn't personally know higher ups at the associations I belong to who directly told me they welcomed my presence & to be myself i.e. accepting me as my anti-lawyer self, I'd never show up.

On another note of ethics, I'd like to know why pharmacists & their employees are continuing to keep jobs & licenses while playing moral majority when it comes to contraceptives & Plan B. I read this recently about the misinformation pharmacies are spreading to 17 year olds & even their doctors about getting Plan B.

You know, if you have moral objections to Plan B or anything else that could be prescribed to someone it's called "Get another damn job!" If I represented a criminal that I had prejudice against like a rapist or a neglectful mother & then lied about the laws to the client, didn't do my duty & generally didn't "zealously" represent my client, I'd get punished by the state bar. In fact, a lawyer could get disbarred for doing that.

The grievance committee wouldn't let you get a pass based on your religious beliefs, either. They'd say "Tough shit. You are a LAWYER. Your ethical duties as a lawyer to a client trump your religious beliefs. Take on clients you don't have moral objections to if you want to be a lawyer & practice your faith. Otherwise, you're not going to harm these people with your unethical behavior."

I know for a fact pharmacists have to be licensed just like doctors & lawyers. Why haven't those governing boards stripped some people of their licenses for playing God with folks' lives? I don't care if it was a "tech" who did it, either. Lawyers can be punished for the acts of their paralegals & secretaries since they're responsible for those employees (they're considered being under the attorney's watch). Aren't techs also under the watch of the pharmacists they work for? Not being trained properly makes it even worse for the lawyer.

I think even grievance committees in the Bible Belt or other religious regions wouldn't tolerate lawyers doing what I mentioned with clients whose alleged conduct they found morally objectionable for any religious reason. Being a Christian wouldn't give you a pass down there (no attorney I know down there has ever said they could get away with violating that rule because of religious beliefs & I do believe it's incorporated into most of the states as part of the Model Rules) so why does it give you a pass to harm consumers if you're a pharmacist? Anyone want to explain this to me?

A warning to all pharmacists: if you ever refuse to fill a legal prescription for me for "religious reasons," I will be reporting you to your state licensing board & calling for you to get the Hell out of the field. If you do this to someone I know, I will be helping that person report you & they will be super prepared to face you and your moralizing. If I can help it, I'll make sure you are blacklisted from working in any pharmacy in that town & will likely be calling for your head on a platter. You will be famous for your intrusion into my affairs & I'll have to demand you to start paying a portion of my monthly expenses since you want to get involved in my private life so damn bad. How about you cover my Metrocard for starters?

If you want to proselytize, be a preacher. Be a missionary & travel to foreign lands. Don't go into a field where you have responsibilities & ethical obligations to the general public. Otherwise, it makes you far worse than any "sinner" you take issue with. In fact, it makes YOU a sinner; probably even on par with Bernie Madoff or Satan in the flesh.

Lastly, how do you screw up a networking event? Here's the answer:

1. Pick a venue rated "Grade Pending." That's a good way to weed out those wusses who care about their health & don't want to eat or use utensils that could have had vermin crawling on them.

2. Don't bother having anyone to greet your guests. Make them guess where your event is & have to bother the venue employees to find it. Those employees don't have jobs to do or tips to earn; they exist solely to direct YOUR guests.

3. Don't have any signage or indication of your event. No people standing & talking, no one wearing name tags, nothing.

4. Spend all your time just talking to people you know. Don't acknowledge your guests or ask if they are there for your event. Be so good at this, they only get acknowledgement from the server who talked to them before.

5. Don't have any food or drink tickets for the guests. No outside food or even complimentary bites from the venue. No free drinks.

6. Finally, continue doing this over 30 minutes after your event was slated to start. This a priceless way to confuse folks.

See why I went home? Most networking events don't do this stuff. I've been to some where I did make good contacts & met interesting people. But no effort to talk to or even acknowledge me after 10 minutes or so, especially when I'm carrying a laptop I need for my job? Goodbye. Plus, you're competing against my hubby & adorable feline at home. If you can't persuade me to stay someplace despise those two waiting for me, you're not doing a very good job. #5 is negotiable (it's just a nice perk) but violating most of the other stuff is a surefire way to get me & I hope most rational people to leave a networking event.

I think I'm ready to give up on networking events via Meetup. I either get propositioned, ignored or irritated at 90% of them. I've been to one that was really fun & part of that was because 2 of my friends were there (including one who makes these great vegan & gluten free cookies).

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