Monday, July 11, 2011
David Yamada (Suffolk) posts over on Minding the Workplace about When bad employers retain thuggish employment lawyers. Here's an excerpt:
[T]he legal universe somehow has a way of matching some of the worst employers with some of the most thuggish employment lawyers....
[O]nce they put on their lawyer suits, they are utterly heartless. Because they have superior numbers and resources to defend claims against their clients, they exercise their power with an iron fist.
They distort, intimidate, and delay. They take a worker’s minor faults or mistakes and elevate them into major deficiencies. They help their clients sweep horrible behaviors and actions under the rug. They use legal process to deplete, torture, and humiliate everyday workers.
Some of them appear to harbor an eliminationist mindset, at least in the way they casually destroy another’s livelihood and well-being. They regard a complainant – whether a clerk at a retail store or a mid-level executive — as the disruptive Other, a troublemaker who threatens the client who pays them so handsomely and — by extension — challenges The System in which they’ve succeeded.
I have a trio of responses to this:
- Employer-side attorneys have no monopoly on inappropriate litigation tactics, though they generally do have considerably more resources, and they (and their clients) start from a much more privileged position of power, than recently-fired employees.
- The view of what seems like egregious misconduct seldom is taken from a neutral perspective. I've seen (and participated in) several cases in which each side believed -- sincerely -- that the other side was represented by an attorney like the ones David describes.
- The best attorneys can see their cases "from both sides now". They are problem-solvers rather than fighters. They advocate for their clients, but also can talk civilly to opposing counsel, and can relate to the beliefs/feelings/emotions of the opposing client. They are the kind of attrorneys who attorneys on the other side of the aisle would happily choose as a mediator or arbitrator in the next case, because they have a strong reputation for empathy and fairness. In my experience, clients get far more bang for their buck by hiring this kind of attorney rather than the one David describes.