Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Rings of Hell

You know in Dante's The Inferno, there are the rings of hell. You know, as you go down further, they get progressively worse. Well, I think I have determined that my job sometimes is right about that 4th circle of hell; the circle where sinners are condemned to useless labor. Yeah, that describes what I do at work and the people who call in. See, unfortunately, I work in customer service. We get 3 types of people; law students, paralegals, or attorneys. Law students are clueless simply because they're new to searching the law; paralegals chew on our asses because they just got their asses chewed by the attorney; and the attorneys are the worst (I'll explain that later). What I have learned from my job is why the law is so fucked up right now. I have literally had this conversation or close to it on my job:

Idiot caller: Yeah, I need to find federal cases that will allow us to file a claim even though the statute of limitations has passed. Our client is a corporation and they've sorta waited for years to file this.
The Devil: I see. So the statute of limitations expired. What federal law is it that has the statute of limitations defined within it.
Idiot Caller: xx USC xxxx. (This would be the law that says that you must file your case within so many years).
The Devil: So let me get this straight. You want something that says you can file a claim, even though your client waited far too long to file and even more importantly, there is a federal law that says you can't?
Idiot Caller: Yeah.

See, this is why the law is fucked up. Big companies will pay big law firms big money to spend hours, weeks, months, to find something that will allow them to circumvent the laws that you and I must obey. Chances are, this attorney probably found some obscure case in some obscure instance where the court allowed it. This big company was probably being billed hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars an hour. So while you and I and small companies would've had to just suck it up and say "Damn, it's too expensive to keep researching this and there is still the chance the judge will just throw our claim out of court as frivilous."; the big companies can afford to starve out the smaller guy because the smaller guy doesn't have a war chest stuffed with billions of dollars. In other words, in the legal world, the guy with the most money who can hire the bigger law firm wins about 99% of the time.

But to make matters worse, we get some callers who treat us like their personal look up/document retrieval service. These are the lazy fuckers I hate. They don't know how to research or worse yet, they haven't even started even though they swear up and down they've been researching for hours or all day. See, here is what is scary folks. These types of lawyers are getting close to, if not more than, six figures a year. Yet, they won't do the research. They'll call into some dumb schlep like me making nowhere near that much money and having us do the research for him. The scary thing is, it's not our ass on the line; we won't be guilty of malpractice if we give the guy some materials or sources but he misses the important cases or laws that make his arguments null and void. Ultimately, the client will lose because his attorney didn't do the job because he/she couldn't be bothered to do the research. If I'm a doctor, I'm not going to call into some medical database and say, "Yeah, this guy has gout. What do I do?" Essentially, this is what these types of guys/gals are doing when they call us. Now, we do get the callers who love us. If we find exactly what they're looking for, they all but tell us they love us (and I'm sure that someone has said they do love us). They're grateful and respectful and I would gladly spend all day helping that person.

The good thing about the job is that if I ever decide to practice, I will be that much more ahead of so many attorneys out there. I know how to research and where to research. I have to say that my company is decent to work for; they do take care of us (although more money would be nice); and the benefits are pretty damn good (everywhere I go in this city offers us some sort of discount for working at the company). So if anyone from the company reads this, they'll know I dig the company but hate the lazy callers. Plus, working in a customer service environment has made me that much more courteous when I go somewhere. If a waitress gets my order a little bit wrong, I let her know. But I don't make a scene and demand to see the manager immediately. That sort of thing is for assholes who want to belittle someone because they have small man/small dick syndrome. When I call the phone company or a utility company, I have the information that I need ready (i.e. account number, what exactly I am looking for, etc...). This makes it easier on everyone. Its so funny because when I get put on hold, I always tell them "take your time" or "don't worry, do what you need to do". It's amazing how a little sugar goes a long way to making your whole experience that much sweeter.

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