Thursday, March 3, 2011

Barely Legal

By Jason Arbaugh
from Wendy Lyn Watson's Mysteries a la Mode

I picked a bad time to graduate from law school.

I went to Texas Tech . . . not quite top tier, but a fine law school. I won awards for moot court, graded onto the law review (and had my note published my third year), and clerked for a federal judge the summer before I graduated. I thought I was a shoe-in for a great job in a prestigious law firm. Or at least a decent public service job.

Right?

Wrong. I managed to get out of law school during the worst market for lawyers in about forever. I've heard about Columbia Law grads--Columbia!--working as baristas. The guy who had the highest GPA in my class? He's doing contract work in Dallas for $15 an hour.

That's why I considered myself fortunate when Kristen Ver Steeg and Madeline Jackson offered me a job. Crystal (my bride) and I are living with her parents, and Crystal's mom lets me bartend at some of her catering gigs. So even though I'm only making minimum wage at Jackson & Ver Steeg, I'm able to make my student loan payments.

I know that beggars can't be choosers. I'm lucky to have a paying legal job. I know that.

But between you and me, I'm not sure whether I should keep working at the firm. I just . . . well, I think there may be something hinky going on. I'm sorry I can't be more specific, but ethically, I don't think I can say much more.

Man, oh man. They don't prepare you for this stuff in law school. I don't know what to do. I need the money, but I don't want to get into something sticky.

Any advice? Have you ever had an ethical problem at work? How did you handle it?

~~~~~~~~~

Wendy Lyn Watson writes the Mysteries a la Mode: I Scream, You Scream, Scoop to Kill, and the forthcoming A Parfait Murder (where you can read all about Jason's ethical quandry and the hinky doings at Jackson & Ver Steeg). Visit Wendy on the web or on Facebook.


14 comments:

  1. Always err on the side of caution. NEVER put your butt on the line if you think things are not on the up and up. I have been in ethical situations and the hard decisions aren't always easy but they do work. I follow my heart and stayed on the right side of the law. You should too even if it just smells hinky.

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  2. I say to follow your gut...you can always find another job (even in this economy)!

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  3. My best friend, Haylee, and I suspected our boss of embezzling. We did a little after-hours sleuthing. Yes, it was scary.

    It all worked out, though. Our ex-boss is in jail, and we moved out of NYC to Threadville, PA, where Haylee owns a fabric store and I own a machine embroidery boutique on a street of textile arts shops. We love it here!

    And we live across the street from each other--very handy whenever we need to do a little wee-hours snooping.

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  4. I agree with Elizabeth. Go with your gut. If it doesn't feel right - walk away.

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  5. Don't let them take you to the dark side. Your gut is saying something is not right, my advice is to leave because you may appear guilty be association.

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  6. If you decide to stay, document everything. Don't end up being the fall guy.

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  7. I work for my dad, and there's always something hinky going on with him--usually involving a wayward mistress or two. It's best I just look away to preserve any sanity I have left.

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  8. If you decide to tough it out, cover your butt. Keep detailed notes about everything! On the other hand, you may be wise to move on. Tough decision. Good luck!

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  9. Excellent advice. I definitely need to keep myself separate from whatever Madeline and Kristen are up to. I just earned my license - I don't need to lose it for a stinkin' minimum wage job. Right?

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  10. Jason, I wish you would share more about that hinky business. Sounds quite interesting. Is your mother-in-law involved?

    ~Sophie

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  11. Sophie, I wish I could tell you more, I really do. But as a lawyer, I'm bound by such strict rules of confidentiality. I don't know what I can say and what I can't. I guess I should have paid more attention in ethics.

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  12. Hinky business. I say get out before you go down with a sinking ship.

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  13. Tough decision. Maybe you should investigate the hinkiness?? Maybe it's not as hinky as you think.

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  14. The trouble is that hinky so often makes for good reading. I think you should just hang in there. Try to stay alive though!

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