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Law

So I was having a bad week and worse day, then I ended up getting screamed at by a partner on a call for no discernible reason. I hung up the phone and let a few explitives fly in frustration... Except it turns out I hadn't hung up and the partner heard everything (confirmed). My plan was to gather myself a bit then call back with a cooler head and apologize. I tried calling back an hour or so later, and again a day later but partner is not answering. Any suggestions? 2020 stinks.

likehelpful
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The fact that you were screamed at for no reason and didn’t get a call back from the partner apologizing is the reason you should start looking for another job and hopefully the next place will have better mentors for you. You want to work with someone who has risen to the level of consciousness that when the partner has a meltdown and an associate cusses in response then the partner 1) realizes the partner had a meltdown, 2) realizes her own behavior may have contributed to the associate’s response, and 3) is big enough to pick up the phone and find out what got you both to this level of dialog. Hopefully, that also leads to an apology on both sides and a laugh over drinks years later when you both reflect on “that one time.” But, those things haven’t happened. It may be that the partner is embarrassed, but since you reached out to no response, it is likely pride/anger stopping a call back instead. No one is perfect. This job is stressful. We need each other to keep our own sanity. If you aren’t working with a good team, find a better team elsewhere.

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I’ve worked for partners who stayed borderline heart attack stressed out & have yelled every chance they had, and I’ve worked for partners who manage stress & approach things professionally. You need to leave that place. Who cares that you cussed, I’m sure the partner deserved it. This job is stressful enough as it is & you don’t need a mentor who adds unnecessary stress.

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I think it's abusive to be yelling at an associate. None of my bosses have ever yelled at me, and if they did, I'd yell right back. Personally, I wouldn't appologize. Fuck him. Learn to treat your staff with some respect.

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I rather like yelling at people who also like to yell. It’s good theater.

likefunny
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I could be way off base but don’t do anything? Ignore it and act like it never happened. The screaming crazy partner should do the same and you both move on with your lives

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Absolutely the way to go. Like it never even happened.

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I think write out an apology (not too long, just a few sentences with NO excuses) and email it to the partner if they’re not answering your calls. But at the end of the day, fuck it! You can find another job. This was an accident, you thought you had hung up the phone, it’s not like you were cursing AT the partner. If they can’t get over it, then whatever. You’ll move on, don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re human.

likesmart
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Don't call. Write an email. Every single lawyer I've met has screamed at another attorney.

likehelpful
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I'm not sure how my comment opened the door for other legal practitioners, whom I've never met, to have a self-congratulatory moment. I'm glad several of you have never lost your temper and yelled at another attorney. I'm sure you have failings in other areas. The author should be afforded the opportunity to apologize in writing. The partner should also be apologizing to the author for their inexcusable behavior, though that apology may never come. No one should be looking for a new job due to one outburst.

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Start looking for jobs. You cannot respond to a partner that way. You need to have a much cooler head. I've yelled at people and been yelled at this isn't acceptable.

likefunny
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Hell no, just hell no. Partnership is such a joke lol. Are you kidding me? Anyone that says you should let a partner yell at you for no reason and act like it’s fine is a POS

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I’m not on mad power trips where I think my position gives me some special privileges, so perhaps take this with a grain of salt. But if I screamed at an associate, I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to hear them say something in response under their breath. It would take a lot more than that for me to ding them in any way. If you’re concerned I’d send him an email and just say you had a rough day and sorry about that, it won’t happen again. If the partner wants to be a baby, not much you can do.

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Start looking for jobs?

likefunny
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We are going to need an update here, OP. What happened?

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I told my boss I hated her once in frustration. I apologized profusely in the moment and kind of played it off as a joke. Eventually she forgave me and we moved on. I think you need to apologize to the partner and explain but also caveat that it’s not an excuse and you’ll do better in the future. If you can’t get ahold of the partner I’d write out your apology ASAP. The longer this goes unaddressed the harder it will be to come back from.

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I cannot stress this enough, but if you are going to email the partner to apologize make it sincere but leave out any mention of what you actually said, putting it in writing could be the very thing that will give them the evidence they need to fire you for cause.

likehelpful
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I am the managing partner in my office. Neither of you would get my good behavior award, but if I were called on to address the situation, the partner would receive the more severe treatment from me. And, absent very compelling circumstances would forbid any adverse action against the associate. An exchange of apologies would be required and we would move on.

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I would write an email ASAP and go from there. Some people could get over something like this, some won’t be able to. I would hope that the partner realizes that 1) it was a mistake and 2) both parties were in the wrong, but as a partner they hold the power here.

likeupliftingsmartfunny
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I strongly advise against following up with email. Do not memorialize this incident in writing. Just put it down, let it go, and start looking for a place that treats you with respect.

likesmart
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First and only time I was yelled at to “shut up” was over the phone at 11pm by the senior associate on a project. I was livid. I calmly told her that the last person that spoke to me like that (my ex) isn’t in my life anymore and that it was unprofessional. She did the “I’m sorry but you...” and I left the firm when the project ended.

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Umm why are people telling you to apologize but as if being screamed at is not wholly unprofessional? Sure, take responsibility for the cursing but that’s usually my response to being yelled at. Pot meet kettle.

likesmart
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In the words of Walter Shochak, "whatever, fuck it dude". I'd personally look for another job if a partner ever yelled at me, respect for the individual is crucial as a sign of character, I wouldn't want to work for a low character individual.

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This is a complicated case. You know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous.

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If my boss or coworker was yelling at me over the phone I’d simply hang up or ask if they wanted to schedule a call when they were in a better place and could communicate effectively as you’re just trying to help. We’re adults and you don’t get to just yell at other adults at work just because you’re upset. I wouldn’t apologize to that partner and if I did, it would be that I was sorry they heard that. Gotta break people of their bad habits and they need to realize just how ridiculous it is to yell at another adult.

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If you feel like you need to apologize, send a very brief email saying something like, “So-and-so, I just wanted to apologize for letting my frustration get the better of me earlier. It won’t happen again. Hope you and yours have a happy Thanksgiving!” (If you’re in the US.) Send it and then never say a thing about the incident again.

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Id appologize and blame it on other extenuating circumstances like life, issues with fam and just make it seem that there are other things besides work going on to try and help explain away the mental state. I mean the person sounds horrible to work for but at least you can try and do damage control/grovel for forgiveness to just move on.

likesmart
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A18, I didn’t mean to imply that I (or other partners) don’t care about burnout. Of course, you’re right that some (or a lot) of us don’t. But, at least in my group, we do care, for both personal and practical reasons. But, there is an appropriate time and manner for an associate to communicate that they are struggling. It should be a forthcoming, frank conversation and not motivated by a need to “explain away” and “move on” from a specific mistake - those goals are not solution-oriented, which is what we generally look for. If you want my understanding, you need to make sure I’m invested in your wellbeing and that we can work out a go-forward solution.

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