People have all sorts of preconceived notions about me, so I thought it would be best to get some of these embarrassing little traits out in the open right now. Here are seven characteristics of mine that either embarrass me or should.
- I laugh when I hear stories of retaliation.
I’m sorry. I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help myself. I know retaliation hurts a lot because I’ve experienced it. I also know that most people who are experiencing retaliation think it is anything but funny. I laugh, I guess, because retaliatory stunts never seem to change. People retaliate against whistleblowers in ways that are amazingly and absurdly unimaginative.
If you are a whistleblower by nature, and you get some experience with blowing the whistle, you begin to spot all the ways people let you know that they don’t much appreciate your comments. After you’ve experienced retaliation a few times, the tactics people use to marginalize whistleblowers become downright funny. Let’s see. There is the “accuse the whistleblower of being crazy” approach, the “social isolation” method, the “ridicule the whistleblower” strategy, the “force her to quit” idea, etc.
Why people just won’t take the time to really look at a whistleblower complaint is beyond me. I mean, really, folks. The lack of creativity for retaliating against whistleblowers is stunning. How about some fresh, new ways to marginalize those that disagree? Or better yet, how about we dial back the tired old retaliation strategies???
2. I frequently have no idea where to find my cell phone.
I dislike the cell phone. Things are much better since my husband gave me an iPhone, but the truth is, on any given day, I have no clue where I’ve put my phone. Right now, as I write this, I don’t know where my phone is. If people want to be sure they reach me, they should call my paralegal at the office number. I would love to be one of those people that answers the phone night and day, but let’s get serious. It’s not going to happen.
3. I am so comfortable with writing, email, and social media that I have typos in my stuff.
Typos don’t mean much to me, and if they mean a lot to someone else, I wonder about that. There isn’t any corollary between typos and intelligence. Sometimes, recurrent kinds of typos may signal some sort of grammar issue, but the usual typographical error doesn’t mean much of anything. To me, if defense counsel wants to make a big fuss over a typo, then defense counsel doesn’t have much of anything more worthwhile to contribute. If that’s the best defense can do to attack the plaintiff, hurray for the good guys!
Typos in my stuff usually indicate a level of comfort. I like messing around with social media. I used to be a writing professor and was always looking for ways to get my students to write more, so I would try out all the new web sites and teach my students how to post. The upshot is I don’t get all bent out of shape over typos or even the occasional (frequent?) questionable content post. If you are the type of person that delights in finding an attorney’s typos, we would be a perfect match. Likewise, if you don’t want to know that I am taste testing new vodkas, don’t follow me on Twitter.
4. It took me more than a year to get a webpage up.
Fortunately, pal Rory Delaney chewed me out in 2012 for a terrible cheap-looking web page I posted. Still, it took me about eight months to get something launched. I’ve been around web page folks, and I know, for my area of law, there are very, very few people that can post content to which I will attach my name. I practice an unusual area of law. Boilerplate won’t do, and I don’t need or want some six figure web design firm either. So why did it take me so long to write my own content? Well, if you could spend an hour on a relator’s submission or on some future web page, what would you choose?
5. My dogs have free access to my office.
Some people find this to be unprofessional, but I enjoy my dogs immensely, and they like to join me in the office. I don’t think the presence of dogs impacts on my professionalism. After all, some attorneys do animal law, right?
I live and spend most of my time in the country; my doggies sit on a table and look out the window of my office. If they see a squirrel or deer, they get excited and bark. There have been times when they’ve barked during a conference call. I was embarrassed one time years ago when opposing counsel said, “Does someone have a DOG?” I was more easily rattled back then, so I pretended I didn’t hear the comment, and my bewildered opponent just moved on. Now, however, I ‘fess up. What’s the point of having a home office if you can’t have doggies around? No doubt my opponents are jealous.
6. Attorneys make me laugh.
I spent about ten years as a hearing officer, and I presided over education disputes that were typically handled by attorneys in an administrative hearing process. I was not an attorney at the time, and I was intrigued by the antics of those appearing before me. There was the blonde attorney who never changed expression when her case took a hit, but her skin got all blotchy. There was the elderly attorney who relied on a lot of bluster and never seemed to research or prepare any aspect of his cases. There was the endless showboating designed to please the clients. There were the attorneys who fell asleep during their clients’ testimony, and the attorneys who were amazingly immature. I spent lots of energy observing these folks closely and trying to figure out their motives. Now, I laugh.
Attorneys are just people. Granted, they are a peculiar subset of the population and have a lot of occupational quirks, but at the end of the day, they aren’t as intimidating as people allow them to be.
7. I have gotten nailed for blowing the whistle.
Retaliation is painful, and people can be brutal. I’ve gotten nailed more than once, and whether I protected myself well or didn’t, it’s always been very, very ugly. I always prefer that I could just choose coworkers that see things the same way I do. As a friend of mine once said, “They should call it ‘whistle sucking.’”
I agree. I would rather not have been a whistleblower. In my defense, I never wanted to be a whistleblower. I would much rather have folks say, “Linda! Great idea! Thanks for spending those brain cells on an idea to help us save money [or increase efficiency or improve client satisfaction or whatever].” I would even prefer folks to say, “Linda! I know you think that might be helpful, but we can’t do it because [we don’t want to or someone wants us to do it differently or whatever].”
Like most of my clients, I’ve blown the whistle because I genuinely thought I was working to improve things. As I’ve gotten more experience, I’ve learned to spot retaliation and make the most of a bad situation, but I don’t like being in those situations at all. If my experience can help you avoid some of the pain I experienced, then again, hurray for the good guys!
So, that’s the list, and I feel better getting this information out. Now, you know it all. Go ahead, defense counsel. Do your worst.