The Good Ol’ Bus

Posted on | April 27, 2011 | 9 Comments

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For paralegals,  getting thrown under the bus ranks somewhere on the scale between daily and weekly. If  a paralegal is not currently being thrown under the bus, you can rest assured that: 1.) they will soon be under the bus or 2.) they are actively throwing other people under a bus. This is easy for you to remember since there are no exceptions.

Throwing someone under the bus means to blame somebody else and have them take the fall. It is important to note that this does not mean the person being blamed actually did anything wrong. Also, people generally throw the people working for them under the bus, and not the other way around (though it does happen).

Many problems that lawyers have (work is incomplete, budget is catastrophically blown, hatred towards fellow office mates, etc.) are addressed by throwing people under the bus.  It is important to note here that this doesn’t mean the problem is solved.  Some lawyers have a reputation for throwing people under the bus, which they’ve earned for good reason.

What can you take away from this lesson about lawyers?  When working with lawyers, you will get thrown under the bus for no good reason and probably often. So if you can’t avoid working with lawyers, (God knows I am trying) you should make sure that you are the person in-charge, and that way you can opt to throw or not throw your team under the bus.

Hopefully, you opt to NOT throw your team under the bus.

When I was in between jobs, very early in my paralegal career, I took a temp job for a firm and was the paralegal to a litigation attorney, who we will call Indian Princess.  She had several different paralegals who “didn’t work out for her” (when will they realize that it might be that THEY are the problem?).  Anyway, Indian Princess only worked half the time in the office and other days from her house.  She fascinated me because she seemed to be a good attorney, but she was young and very immature.  Indian Princess had her very first trial coming up and I did NOTHING to help her.  Why?  She didn’t trust me.  Honestly, that was fine with me because it made my job much easier.  Long story short, the head of the firm, Indian King,  went to her trial and she screwed something up.  I honestly can not remember what, but she blamed it on me.  Indian King never said anything to me, but was pissed off at me for two days.  I finally went to him and asked what was up and he told me that Indian Princess was currently involved in her first trial and that I let him and her down by messing up.  I looked at him like he had two heads and told him that I haven’t even touched that case, due to Indian Princess being a control freak.  He looked at me and said that it was my word against hers and that he has known her for many years, so he believed her.  He admonished me and told me to get my shit together for Indian Princess.

I was pissed and when Indian Princess showed up for work, I went into her office and asked if we could talk.  Let me actually edit that sentence, I went by her office to see when she would get off her cell phone so I could talk to her.  This took hours due to the fact that when she was in the office, she mostly talked on her cell phone to her husband, cousin, son, whoever she wanted to chat with.  They were never business calls.

I called her on her bullshit and she denied that I didn’t help her with her case.  She said she was standing by her story and it was too bad if I felt the way I did.

I immediately knew that if I continued to work there, that it would get so much worse.  The misery and headaches in the future, plus the pay of $9.00 per hour made my decision very easy.  I told  Indian King that I would not work with Indian Princess anymore, that I understand that he likes her and I wish them nothing but the best, but that day would be my last day.  Actually, I told him that I was leaving immediately since Indian Princess said she was so pissed off at me for “questioning” her to Indian King that I needed to get out of her sight and not talk to her for the rest of the day.

Funny thing is, Indian Princess represents a lot of clients that we are suing for unpaid taxes and I have had to talk to her on the phone.  I don’t think she knows who I am, but do not go out of my way to help her.  Her questions, messages, etc. go to the bottom of my list when she calls.  Oh- I am not a bad paralegal, I give  her messages to the attorney handling the case  around 4:30 the same day, but she is not the top priority in my world.

Suck it Indian Princess.  One day, you will be thrown under the bus and it saddens me that I won’t be there to see it.


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9 Responses to “The Good Ol’ Bus”

  1. Grumpy Humbug
    April 27th, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

    Kharma is a wonderful thing. (See what I did there? Kharma? Indian?)

    But seriously, this is a perfect example of the need to always cover your butt in this profession. Many have tried to throw me under the bus, all have failed due to my superb record keeping. It’s always fun to disabuse new young associates of their ignorance in this matter.

  2. Corporate Paralegal
    April 27th, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

    OK – I am going to tell you a story. It is not a fairy tale although you may find yourself thinking that once I begin. It is a true story. I witnessed it firsthand.

    An attorney took the blame and did not throw his paralegal under the bus (and it was her fault!). When my boss called and complained to said outside counsel about the behavior of his paralegal, the outside counsel said “I am sorry. That should never have happened. This is my fault and I will make it right.” My boss and I just looked up and stared at each other in shock. Now, granted, outside counsel may have reemed out the paralegal (justified because it was her fault!) but he took the blame with the client. Impressive.

    Needless to say, we now send him a lot of our work. Maybe that is GH’s Karma.

  3. Paralegal Hell
    April 28th, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

    It doesn’t sound like a fairy tale. I know there are so many awesome attorneys out there who would do this to protect their paralegals.
    Indian Princess was not one of them.

  4. The Extortionist
    April 27th, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

    Once again I am laughing so hard that my boss thought I was having a stroke. Drooling. Laughing. Gasping for breath.

  5. Kambros2004
    April 28th, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

    Seems to me as if you let your personal feelings get in the way of your work. You agree you did nothing to help her, albeit because she didn’t trust you, so in truth she didn’t throw you under the bus, you didn’t help her and she saw that and got you in trouble. Unless I’m reading this wrong.

  6. Paraelgal Hell
    April 28th, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

    There were no personal feelings, because she would not let me help her with the trial.
    I think you are reading this wrong because SHE was the one who did everything for the trial. When something was filed correctly, she blamed it on me. She threw me under the bus. It wasn’t that I did nothing, she got pissed and told on me. I did nothing due to the fact that she wouldn’t let me and when the judge called her on her mistakes, that is when I suddenly came into the picture and she stated to Indian King that it was me who did the filings wrong.
    Hope I explained that it to clear things up and welcome to the blog.

  7. Kambros2004
    April 28th, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

    Ohhhh, I see. Yes I did read it wrong. If she wouldnt let you help and then bitched about you then screw her. You do the best you can. :)

  8. Paralegal Hell
    April 28th, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

    Oops, I meant filed INcorrectly. Big difference :)

  9. Litigation_Paralegal
    April 28th, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

    Gotta love getting thrown under the bus. Unfortunately, in my area of the legal field –insurance defense — it isn’t just the attorneys throwing you under the bus — you really have to watch your back because you might just get a good shove from an adjuster to land you under the proverbial wheels. It has happened to me 3 times in less than a 6-month period. I have finally resorted to scheduling and confirming mediations through email with all of them to keep from getting blamed when they don’t schedule the mediation on their calendars.

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