Boss’s blame has “devastated my self-esteem.” 1/05

 I am the author of a 5/03 post concerning working for a partner who expects me to handle matters completely outside of my area of expertise. In the two years or so since I wrote that question, I discovered that I suffered from ADHD, got treatment and pretty much turned my situation around. I have settled major cases and conducted my own trials. I feel I’ve greatly matured and improved as an attorney. However, the same old issues keep rearing their ugly head. Last year, I was asked to assist a longstanding client in filing the paperwork to establish a mechanic’s lien in another state. The amount of money involved was large. I told my boss at the time that I wasn’t admitted in the particular state, didn’t feel comfortable working on the case and suggested that the matter should be referred to a lawyer admitted in that state. He refused. He told me it was just a simple mechanic’s lien and I should get it filed. I was able to find the law of the other jurisdiction online. I was also able to purchase forms online from a trusted source. Due to time constraints, I learned what I know of the law in an afternoon and filed the paperwork for the client. Now that the project is over, the client’s customer hasn’t paid and it’s time to enforce the mechanic’s lien, it looks like the lien is invalid because the form I purchased was missing two essential words. My Boss blames me for the entire situation and what he calls “sloppy work.” In fact, prior to filing the paperwork, I brought my findings into his office to discuss the law and whether the forms were sufficient. He wouldn’t engage in any discussion of the law itself. He told me to just file them. Now he’s telling me that his only mistake was trusting me to get a job done and he has no confidence in me. If I had been more familiar with the law of this state, I would not have made the mistake. While in the abstract, I know that all of the blame should not fall on my head, his attitude and the statement that he has no confidence in me has basically devastated my self esteem to the point that I have no confidence in myself. Am I wrong to think I have to stop working for this person?

Despite the progress you’ve made with regard to ADHD (congratulations on that), which was not part of your question to us in 5/03, the problem with your boss sounds essentially the same. If it’s the same boss you had then, it would be noteworthy if you have not yet sought ways to move to other employment (or self-employment). If the same dynamic is recurring with a new boss, it is worth pondering whether there is something about how you agree to work for certain kinds of people, or whether you in some unconscious way position yourself to be mistreated. In either case, we would suggest some therapy/counseling to keep tabs on yourself over time. (This would be more focused on psychological/interpersonal matters than ADHD treatment, which largely involves finding medications and/or strategies to compensate for what is largely a neuro-psychological processing style.) If you like, and can come to meet with us, we’d be happy to help you find a well matched therapist. Perhaps we are over-emphasizing the psychological aspects and under-emphasizing realities of the life of a lawyer — in any case, if any other lawyers care to email us their “two cents” (assuming their comments contribute constructively to the dialog), we might post those comments here as well. [Click the appropriate blue words above depending on whether you wish to be anonymous.]

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