How to Clerk for a Jerk

By George Khoury, Esq. on January 03, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

One big drawback for law students is the fact that most legal jobs for students involve working for lawyers and a surprisingly large number of those lawyers that employ law students are just jerks to work for, with, or around.

Unfortunately for law students, with the legal job market still being rather cut-throat, most will not have the luxury of being able to quit a job because their boss is a jerk. After all, getting legal experience is almost as important for getting a lawyer job as graduating law school and passing the bar. Below, you'll find a few tips to help you work, or clerk, for a jerk.

Let the Old Yellers Yell

If you work for a yeller, it can be painful to withstand loud tirades about how you overused punctuation, or forgot the ever-important Oxford comma, or even over something serious that you should be learning from. But it's crucial to avoid responding by rolling your eyes or sighing. A quick apology followed by an "I understand," is the correct response. Basically, you just don't want to poke the growling bear. By not engaging with the yeller, or firing back at them with yelling of your own, it's more likely that they'll tire themselves out, almost like dealing with a toddler.

Let the Time Wasters Pay You

If you work for one of those bosses that makes you redo everything out of spite when you make a mistake, don't sweat it, just make sure you are getting paid for every bit of your work, including overtime if you have to stay for more than eight hours. The same goes for those bosses that refuse to let you do online research, or demand you do things inefficiently, or just seem to be wasting your time. It may be frustrating to have to redo work, or do things like they did in the Stone Age, but so long as you're getting paid, take your time, do it the way your boss wants, and keep cashing those paychecks.

When Lines Get Crossed

When your boss crosses a line from bully to civil rights violator, it is always difficult to speak up. Depending on what line was crossed, you may have a few options on how to respond.

If you can put up with it, keeping your head down while hunting for a new job is probably the safest path, especially if you need the money. However, if the line crossed involves sexual harassment, discrimination, or other actionable unlawful conduct, you need to figure out who to report it to, and seriously consider reporting it.

If you're working for a small firm, your boss may be HR, and what's worse, you may not have any recourse through the EEOC. State laws may apply though, so it's best to do a bit of your own legal research before taking action. Know that retaliation, though illegal, is generally par for the course when reporting bosses for misconduct in organizations small to large, so be cautious and start job hunting once you realize your boss is a jerk.

Related Resources:

FindLaw has an affiliate relationship with Indeed, earning a small amount of money each time someone uses Indeed's services via FindLaw. FindLaw receives no compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

Copied to clipboard