The Work Thread



  • Sometimes I want to say something re: work, but it doesn't really categorize anywhere else. Is it a thing I love? Maybe not entirely. Is it anger or disgruntlement? No.

    Sometimes it just is.

    So here's a thread for us to discuss jobs. Be it complaining about. Looking for advice. WHATEVER.

    Job it up.

    My thing of the moment: I've been fighting imposter syndrome because I've never worked on a tech writing project on this scale. And in a new industry, to boot.

    They believe in me. I believe in myself. But man I'm a month in and only just starting to ease up a little.

    I submitted the outline (as a Table of Contents) this week (proud of self: deadline was today, I delivered on Wednesday). I braced for impact in the form of tons of critique......

    ....my boss told me she loves it and is sending it up the line for further review.

    Now I just need to move from barebones outline to working outline and I'm mired in that pit of 'tons of raw data that's mostly organized.'

    Ugh.


  • Pitcrew

    I'm a lawyer and I have no idea what I'm doing like 90% of the time and every time I ask experienced lawyers for advice on the topics I'm dealing with they say they've never dealt with them before and every time I end up researching and doing work it becomes clear that the state has no idea what it's doing and the fact that this nonsense is getting allowed means that the district courts have no idea what they're doing and given how incredibly esoteric the higher courts are being in accepting and rejecting arguments I am beginning to have doubts there too.

    tl;dr I have imposter syndrome on a systemic level



  • @Rinel Everyone is an impostor if you dig deep enough. That's the secret of life. Everyone's faking it ALL THE TIME.


  • Pitcrew

    @Admiral

    See I'm okay with everyone in, like, admiralty law faking it. Because boats are far away and I do not have to worry so much about them. I am concerned about things like prisons and electrical engineers and architects and airplane pilots faking it, because those things are all very close by and I have to worry about them. Excepr for airplanes, which are far away but can become very close by and a very significant priority in a very short matter of time.


  • Pitcrew

    I'm two years into a new career, but at my age I had some wily old man tricks that let me move fast, at first. I made my way off the entry level team, dragged down a promotion, got a nice chunky bonus and all that good stuff in the first year.

    Now they've got me working way above my pay grade, and I'm feeling super exploited with the amount of work I'm doing at the level I'm doing it at for the pay I'm getting. I don't really feel like I have the clout to say I'm so great at this stuff I should get promoted more, and yet, they do in fact have me doing the work of someone years my senior. I do this work; it's a non-issue. I just feel like I ought to get paid the appropriate salary, somehow.


  • Pitcrew

    @gryphter Unfortunately, you'll likely have to move onto a new company to get a higher pay and position. :/


  • Pitcrew



  • @gryphter I'm trying to learn the art of saying no when asked to do things above my pay grade or outside scope.

    It's hard. Our generation was raised to be go-getters in this sense. That if we didn't put in the extra effort, go the extra mile, etc....we wouldn't get the money or promotion.

    Unfortunately, companies have learned some things. Namely that they can just dangle the money over our head like a carrot because our ability to go elsewhere is so slim. And why is our ability so slim? Because kids fresh out of college don't stand firm on their worth and take unpaid internships or low-salary jobs where they end up working 70 hours a week. These employers know if we do leave, they can find someone with nil experience to replace us for less.

    It's a goddamn mess. I was really glad when I learned that more and more college advisors are impressing upon students to never accept an unpaid internship. They deserve better than that.


  • Pitcrew

    @Roz You're right though. Just what a pain.


  • Pitcrew

    @Auspice I've watched them hire at least a half dozen people a rung above me that are less qualified and skilled and have turned out to be dead weight. My scope far exceeds. It's just such a stupid game. I'm down to run like hell and work like a horse if I can be assured it will get me somewhere, but I'm really beginning to wonder. And become disheartened.


  • Tutorialist

    @rinel and @gryphter

    So, I'm a paralegal. I know how this goes firsthand, too.

    Re: imposter syndrome: nobody in the law, outside of very highly specialized attorneys that only practice in one field, know what the fuck they're doing, and even then they're half-assing it most of the time. Today, I got a brief from opposing counsel, and my attorneys were all 'this doesn't look good'... until I went to take a look at it and realized they were citing a version of the CFR that literally hasn't been valid in over a decade, but because nobody actually fucking checks citations, they would have gotten away with it -- if it hadn't been for the fact that I literally just read that obscure little portion last week for another case.

    Which brings me to Gryphter's thing -- everyone is getting paid well below their pay grade, now. I have two college degrees, a professional certificate, my CP/CLA (Certified Paralegal/Certified Legal Assistant) and ACP (Advanced Certified Paralegal) credentials in Discovery and Trial Practice, and I make half of the average salary of someone in an entry level position in my field, probably without those last two (which are fairly important) and tend to command an even higher salary. And I do the lion's share of the actual casework, too. The research, the briefs, the filings. The attorneys largely just take what I wrote and go talk about it in court. Why? Because they have a doctorate and took a test and paid a fortune to be able to do so and that somehow means they know more and make a zillion times more than me.

    Even though I literally wrote almost everything they're saying. AND I'm the one that tends to catch the major fuckups on both sides.

    (UPL is bullshit, by the way. Sidebar.)

    But yeah. The only way I'm getting a better anything is if I go and negotiate it at a new company. But I really love this position. It's almost exactly what I wanted to do. I would leave it for maybe one or two others, but only because they're even more specialized in the areas that I'm passionate about.

    It's a shitty place to find yourself.



  • I'm a solo attorney practicing alone without admin support. I desperately miss having an assistant of any kind. I always wrote my own briefs but I live in constant paranoia that I'm going to miss a hearing or something due to some dingbat calendaring mistake.

    After nine years, I no longer feel like a "fake" attorney putting on suits like playing dressup. I do not know when this transition occurred. Yet I do feel as though impostor syndrome was merely replaced by other anxieties.


  • Tutorialist

    @saosmash said in The Work Thread:

    I'm a solo attorney practicing alone without admin support. I desperately miss having an assistant of any kind.

    winces That is my second-to-worst nightmare. Why are you completely alone? I would be frantically searching for someone to partner up with. If for no other reason than to have someone to talk to about things that doesn't risk ethics violations and help me put out fires.

    You have my deepest sympathies.



  • My work story can be summarized with the quote: "Gaze not into the abyss, lest you become recognized as an abyss domain expert, and they expect you keep gazing into the damn thing."

    So the team I joined was just a teensy bit lacking when it came to rigor. The entirety of their testing consisted of one QA person who had a regression test suite that would hit endpoints on our staging environment. That was it. The whole thing. So I tentatively kept asking about 'Have you heard the good news about our lord and savior: Unit Tests' and they kept kinda brushing me off, saying that they didn't have any idea how to get django's test runner with Oracle, and even if they did who has the time to write unit tests, amirite?

    Undeterred, I decided to both get the test runner working with Oracle, and then write extensive unit tests for the core models of our app when I was doing a major refactor. Yay, we have tests, everyone's happy! I mean, I don't particularly enjoy writing tests, and am far from an expert in the subject, but sure, great.

    Then it devolves into some guy who's a pal of the team having a Jenkins instance that he was randomly running some security scans on our software images, and they ask if I can get the tests hooked up to there. Okay, sure, I've never used Jenkins before but I guess I can spend time doing that.

    Fast forward to now and I'm somehow responsible for managing every aspect of our Jenkins instance and constantly trying to open cases with our IT department that actually owns the global configuration and can change fucking plugins that never seem to work right. I absolutely hate devops with every fiber of my being and somehow I've become our designated devops guy. Also, I'm still the only member of the team who even knows how to read tests much less write them, so I'm stuck with constantly letting people know when they'd break the goddamned build.



  • @Derp Mm. I know some other solos in the general vicinity, but I'm super judgey of other people's practice (like an asshole) and I don't really want to yoke myself to someone who I don't SUPER trust. I'll hang socially with a lot of lawyers but the idea of actually connecting myself to someone else in a way where my professional reputation is tied to theirs is a huge commitment and I'm like eeeeehhhhhhhhh. Plus, I hold a couple of contracts as 'law office of Sao's real name' so I don't need a partner for like... rainmaking or whatever.

    I'm working on getting into an office share with some folks so that I won't just be Shroedinger's lawyer in my own house / car / random coffee shops all the time (which is the current setup -- always at work and not at work simultaneously). We'll see how it goes. Mumblemumblemumble.

    If I get to a point where income is sustainable I guess I'll try and figure out how the eff employment taxes and stuff work so I can hire someone. I mean I GUESS. I am not enthusiastic about trying to be someone's boss. It sounds awful.


  • Pitcrew

    @Derp said in The Work Thread:

    Which brings me to Gryphter's thing -- everyone is getting paid well below their pay grade, now. I have two college degrees, a professional certificate, my CP/CLA (Certified Paralegal/Certified Legal Assistant) and ACP (Advanced Certified Paralegal) credentials in Discovery and Trial Practice, and I make half of the average salary of someone in an entry level position in my field, probably without those last two (which are fairly important) and tend to command an even higher salary. And I do the lion's share of the actual casework, too. The research, the briefs, the filings. The attorneys largely just take what I wrote and go talk about it in court. Why? Because they have a doctorate and took a test and paid a fortune to be able to do so and that somehow means they know more and make a zillion times more than me.

    I've been in places that treat their support staff okay (an unnamed public defense office), places that literally have their support staff committing the unauthorized practice of law (another unnamed public defense office), and where I am now, where I at least think we treat our support staff well (we're paying them more than we're taking home, at least). And this is just the office manager and the investigator I'm talking about. Our clerks (also paid; we aren't scum) are invaluable.

    I could never do what @saosmash manages. I finished an application for post-conviction relief on Wednesday after about three months of work, and I'd say that I assigned a solid 30% of the research to clerks.

    @Derp I do check cites tho >:(



  • @Rinel I will say that as in my particular area of the law, there's not that much intensive research that needs to happen. Fully half of my time is spent being an unqualified therapist for people in crisis. A quarter of my time is spent working cases towards compromise points based on terrible facts -- the law barely registers on these except in so far as it helps that both I and the attorneys I'm arguing with have ostensibly read the goddamn statute.

    I'd also say 90% of motions I write are doctored versions of previous motions I already wrote, so it's not like... there's a lot of NEW research I have to do. If I were working appeals and personal restraint petitions and digging down in the trenches of whatever the fuck the 9th circuit did most recently, as a solo like I am now, I would probably die.


  • Tutorialist

    @Rinel said in The Work Thread:

    places that literally have their support staff committing the unauthorized practice of law (another unnamed public defense office)

    My usual creative end-run around this is to walk into the attorney's office and say, "Ok, so, such-and-such case. I figure that we're looking at blah-blah-blah, and we should let them know about this-and-that, making sure they understand the whoosit about the whatsit, and if they try and drag us off the path, we just tell them that it's outside the scope of our representation. Nod if you authorize me to say all that."


  • Pitcrew

    @Derp said in The Work Thread:

    @Rinel said in The Work Thread:

    places that literally have their support staff committing the unauthorized practice of law (another unnamed public defense office)

    My usual creative end-run around this is to walk into the attorney's office and say, "Ok, so, such-and-such case. I figure that we're looking at blah-blah-blah, and we should let them know about this-and-that, making sure they understand the whoosit about the whatsit, and if they try and drag us off the path, we just tell them that it's outside the scope of our representation. Nod if you authorize me to say all that."

    That's what we did. It's not illegal if you say "but ask your attorney first" or you have the attorney sign what you wrote without reading it!

    (It totally is illegal)


  • Pitcrew

    @Auspice said in The Work Thread:

    @gryphter I'm trying to learn the art of saying no when asked to do things above my pay grade or outside scope.

    It's hard. Our generation was raised to be go-getters in this sense. That if we didn't put in the extra effort, go the extra mile, etc....we wouldn't get the money or promotion.

    I have a stock phrase - "I'm sorry, I don't have capacity to take that on at this time. Can we revisit later in the year?"


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