Conflicts of Interest: Clashing Personalities in a Law Firm


I work at a small law firm in a failing city about 45 minutes as the crow flies outside of Philadelphia.  This city, whose railroad is featured on the Monopoly board, is a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll in its makeup, sitting in a county with an eclectic mix of old money and the hillbilliest farmers you’ll see outside of an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies.  The city, however, can best be described as a barrio, with Spanish being the primary language of the streets, the center of downtown failing in a spiral of poverty and crime, and, like many such areas throughout the country, the urban center of decay being a staunchly Democrat stronghold in a sea of an otherwise-Red county.

This has caused me a few problems.  See, I’m a white southern male who transplanted to the North, and as such am viewed with distrust by everyone around me.  I’m also just slightly to the left of Roosevelt politically.  I would have been ecstatic to have had the option to vote for Sanders.  I am, God help me, a southern Democrat.  My style is to never raise my voice, never yell, never scream.  I’m openly friendly, but, as our office staff says, they can easily tell when I’m angry because my tone hardens, my drawl disappears, and I begin to clip my words.

My boss?  Not so much. He is the last of the old school of lawyers, who combined legal skill with powerful presence to get things done.  His style includes yelling during phone calls with clients and opposing parties.  When he’s calm and things are going as predicted, things around the office are peaceful and even friendly.  When something goes wrong, or he perceives something to be wrong, things tense up as he screams his way through the office.

A common target of this screaming is the poor associate who sits behind this keyboard.

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