Thursday, March 24, 2005

I'm just a 1L...

Today's quote: You know, there's like a butt-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bo staff.

Does anyone else get bombarded with friends calling you demanding advice on what to do in their problems? My family and friends keep calling me every now and then giving me some problem and asking me if it's in their best interests to sue, or how else to deal with it. Everyone knows that the best thing to do is resolve the situation without resorting to going to court, but what do I know? I'm just a 1L.

Note: I DO NOT give anyone legal advice. I always tell them I don't know anything, and to go seek professional counsel. I only think about these situations in the context as if a hypo given in class, and how I would address these hypos if given on an exam.

For instance, my friend, an administrative assistant, called me a few months back, absolutely hysterical. She'd made a mistake of some kind on obtaining information that resulted in costing her boss a whole day in fruitless activity. Anyway, while he was spending the day finding out that what she'd told him was a huge mistake, my friend had taken the afternoon off for her dental appointment. Therefore, she was not in the position to answer her phone. When she left the office, she saw that she had a voice mail from him. She checked it, and listened to the most crazily obscene and profane message, calling her "a stupid bitch who was going to be in big trouble, and why wasn't she picking up the fucking phone" etc. Apparently, every other word was profanity. In her panic, she deleted the voicemail because she didn't want to hear anymore of it. I told her that was a big mistake to begin with, you never delete evidence, just common sense.

Then, the next day she went to work, he demanded to see her. The co-president had forewarned her to be as subdued as possible, because the man had been ranting about wanting to fire my friend. So she goes in, and sits down. He begins with, "How much do you make here?" Basically, everyone there knew that my friend had just purchased a new home. She was struggling to meet the mortgage payments on her measly salary, and everyone at the company knew this. So it was especially heinous that he played that card. He went on to disparage her past work, saying she just wasn't up to par, and made her feel like life wasn't even worth living. This was the first mistake she'd ever made.

A few days later she called me, and asked me if there was anything that she could do. I told her she'd have to go see an attorney for this kind of thing, since I didn't know much about it. The only thing that I could think of was that it sounded a lot like IIED, so I went through the prima facie case for it, and I'd thought she might be able to have a decent case, except for the fact that she'd deleted that voicemail. If she'd been able to obtain testimony from other workers at the company about his frequent rages and how he just fired people at a whim (this was a frequent pattern), maybe it would have made up for it. But everyone was so terrified of the man that she was sure that no one would help her for fear of retaliatory consequences at work. I told her that she should go find counsel (maybe at a clinic since it might be cheaper), who might tell her to go see a shrink and obtain medical documentation to establish expert evidence. Plus, I'm sure the fact that the company is a private corporation will have some impact on this. I called my old workplace to ask an attorney what she thought, and she said that employees have a very difficult time winning lawsuits against private employers for this kind of thing.

It really sucks knowing that my friends and family are out there having these problems, and there's nothing that I can do about it. This was exactly the kind of thing that I'd hoped to remedy by entering the legal profession. At times like this, I feel like I'm not learning fast enough.