EXPOSING THE MYTH OF A GENTEEL PROFESSION


Law firms are rife with office politics, says paralegal Android, and it’s worse for those at the bottom of the heap

An American blog is claiming that while law firms are stressful environments, they rise above office politics. The writer of the post is either deluded, or I must move to America now.

Worketiquette.co.uk offers a useful definition of office politics:

“Most office politics tend to occur as a result of one or more than one person holding (or being seen as holding) a significant amount of power within the office. These are often the people who will blame others for their mistakes or will try to undermine the efforts and abilities of others to make them feel better about themselves.”

Now tell me this doesn’t apply to your legal workplace…

I have worked in a number of solicitors’ firms, and all I can say is that office politics is a popular game there. As if working in a law firm wasn’t stressful enough, with tight deadlines, heavy workloads and long hours, you may also have to deal with difficult colleagues, who will make your life miserable unless you play by their rules.

Regular readers of my blog, Android’s Reminiscences, will remember some of the struggles I had to overcome when I started my job in a personal injury firm. Damn, those were some dark days. It made me wonder whether all law firms are full of conflicts, passive aggression and bullies.

There was an article in ABA Journal (Aug 1999) on bullying in law firms, which states that law firms are more prone to hostility between colleagues (surprise, surprise):

“While no workplaces are free from bullying, […] law firm environments are perfect breeding grounds for it. As individuals, lawyers tend to be ego-driven, aggressive and competitive. As workplaces, firms encourage competition among lawyers. Together these characteristics make law firms bully-prone.”

So basically if you wish to work in a stress-free, conflict-free environment, then you must stay clear of the legal industry.

Bar graduate Android is currently working as a paralegal while she re-qualifies as a solicitor. Android blogs at Android’s Reminiscences.