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Old 03-20-2019, 09:23 AM
 
166 posts, read 49,060 times
Reputation: 118

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Hi all, appreciate the advice in advance.

I've had some real job struggles in the past few years (fired from last 2, that's another story but you can read about it if you like by searching my name). Anyway, I landed a great job 2 months ago. I love it. I really do. And no job is perfect.

I work for a law firm and report to 2 attorneys. One is great, gives direction and is nice. The other, well, a bit of a mess. Disorganized and non-communicative. Normally, I'd know how to go about this and get to know them more. But in this job, I have a dotted line to a more senior paralegal who's been here for 20 some years. She definitely has some power here. She does not like my attorney, and it's becoming more and more clear. The attorney will give me a task, and the sr. paralegal will step in and say, no, we aren't doing that, we are doing it this way. The attorney will dump a last minute thing on my desk and the sr. paralegal will say, no push back. The attorney doesn't like the sr. paralegal either.

So, question is, how do I manage this? How do I stay as "Sweden" and not get in the middle of their stuff?

I really love this job and don't want to get caught in political bs. I want to stay and keep this great job.

Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2019, 09:52 AM
 
6,839 posts, read 3,710,891 times
Reputation: 18078
These situations are horrible to be in. They come about because the actual boss is weak and ineffective and the dotted line boss is a forceful personality. I've been in your position stuck between a weak boss and a forceful wannabe boss who. And have also been the boss when a dotted line tried to be the boss.

In the latter case, as the actual supervisor, I've gone to the dotted line and let them know my employee works for me, not them, and if they have a problem with that, come to me, not give orders to my employee. And I have no problem bringing their boss in as well. You usually have to revisit this every couple months because this type doesnt change, they just lay low for a while and tart up again.

As the employee, in this situation I made my own decision because the boss was ineffective but you have to be careful because management will know, even if they dont admit it, that your boss is a worthless wimp, and will listen to the dotted line as if she really were your boss.
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Old 03-20-2019, 11:29 AM
 
2,053 posts, read 595,092 times
Reputation: 2905
Get out of the law industry. I was a paralegal when I was younger and like you got fired for BS. I learned very quickly that was not the industry to be in and pivoted.
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Old 03-20-2019, 11:59 AM
 
9,778 posts, read 16,966,691 times
Reputation: 18389
Which one is your actual boss?
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Old 03-20-2019, 03:08 PM
 
166 posts, read 49,060 times
Reputation: 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tencent View Post
Get out of the law industry. I was a paralegal when I was younger and like you got fired for BS. I learned very quickly that was not the industry to be in and pivoted.
Haven't we talked from years back? I took a total detour in my career doing two different roles and found myself really missing law. I'm now at a small firm that's making me really happy, albeit this little bit.
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Old 03-20-2019, 03:13 PM
 
166 posts, read 49,060 times
Reputation: 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
These situations are horrible to be in. They come about because the actual boss is weak and ineffective and the dotted line boss is a forceful personality. I've been in your position stuck between a weak boss and a forceful wannabe boss who. And have also been the boss when a dotted line tried to be the boss.

In the latter case, as the actual supervisor, I've gone to the dotted line and let them know my employee works for me, not them, and if they have a problem with that, come to me, not give orders to my employee. And I have no problem bringing their boss in as well. You usually have to revisit this every couple months because this type doesnt change, they just lay low for a while and tart up again.

As the employee, in this situation I made my own decision because the boss was ineffective but you have to be careful because management will know, even if they dont admit it, that your boss is a worthless wimp, and will listen to the dotted line as if she really were your boss.
Interesting. I can see how this could really go sideways. A few updates:

I had a really brief conversation with the one HR person here. It's a small, small firm and there is just one person who's HR. Anyway, we ran into each other in the hall and I took the opportunity to chat. We moved behind closed doors where I was told that the future of the attorney (boss) is uncertain and that they were aware of problems. I was also told that my dotted line boss (sr. paralegal) will be around forever. Who I actually like quite a bit.

I think I've done really well with regard to your last paragraph as I can see the power the dotted line boss holds and I've made an effort to really get along with them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe from dayton View Post
Which one is your actual boss?
The actual boss is the attorney, but he's not doing so well at the firm...The sr. paralegal, dotted line, has been here forever and probably will remain here forever. I like her, she's great. It's just being in the middle that's hard.
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Old 03-20-2019, 05:09 PM
 
2,053 posts, read 595,092 times
Reputation: 2905
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveMyPet View Post
Haven't we talked from years back? I took a total detour in my career doing two different roles and found myself really missing law. I'm now at a small firm that's making me really happy, albeit this little bit.
You can't separate the law from the lawyer.

Laws are open to interpretation. Just because you enjoy certain aspects of the job unfortunately that is not separable from the absolutely maddening parts of the job where you are dealing with bumbling incompetent buffoons and their intricacies and ticks.
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Old 03-20-2019, 09:32 PM
 
Location: Denver CO
21,159 posts, read 11,761,610 times
Reputation: 32142
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveMyPet View Post
I had a really brief conversation with the one HR person here. It's a small, small firm and there is just one person who's HR. Anyway, we ran into each other in the hall and I took the opportunity to chat. We moved behind closed doors where I was told that the future of the attorney (boss) is uncertain and that they were aware of problems. I was also told that my dotted line boss (sr. paralegal) will be around forever. Who I actually like quite a bit.

Sounds like you got your answer then. I just hope that if/when this attorney departs, it doesn't mean your job goes away.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Chandler, AZ
2,277 posts, read 1,151,974 times
Reputation: 5379
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveMyPet View Post
I work for a law firm and report to 2 attorneys. One is great, gives direction and is nice. The other, well, a bit of a mess. Disorganized and non-communicative. Normally, I'd know how to go about this and get to know them more. But in this job, I have a dotted line to a more senior paralegal who's been here for 20 some years. She definitely has some power here. She does not like my attorney, and it's becoming more and more clear. The attorney will give me a task, and the sr. paralegal will step in and say, no, we aren't doing that, we are doing it this way. The attorney will dump a last minute thing on my desk and the sr. paralegal will say, no push back. The attorney doesn't like the sr. paralegal either.

So, question is, how do I manage this? How do I stay as "Sweden" and not get in the middle of their stuff?
You can't.

Your only option is to memorandize the conflict in an email to all involved, CCing anyone else who has the ability to fire you. "I'm receiving some mixed signals here, A is saying X and B is saying Y, I need clarification as to which way to go."
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:03 AM
 
166 posts, read 49,060 times
Reputation: 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by emm74 View Post
Sounds like you got your answer then. I just hope that if/when this attorney departs, it doesn't mean your job goes away.
I had the same thought, but I think I'm good. Turns out it's much worse than I thought. Attorney may have a drinking problem - he disappeared for most of the day yesterday but not before telling me he was going out for drinks. Apparently management is aware and meetings are scheduled. I do support another attorney and the firm is quite busy so I think I'm good.
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