Can this guy get any wimpier?
September 24, 2010 11:31 AM Subscribe
How do I deal with the fact that my boss has no spine?
posted by anonymous to work & money (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Note: Not just looking for answers from other lawyers. This isn't really a legal question, and anyone with a boss who won't stand up for his own department is more than welcome to chime in.
I work in the legal department of a company with... well... let's just say "generalized competency problems." People seem to be promoted based more on seniority and personal relationships than anything to do with whether or not they can actually do their jobs. Both promotion and pay increases seem completely unrelated to any mental state attainable without the use of mind altering substances.
I was hired about eighteen months ago, along with another attorney, bringing the number of attorneys in the department up to five, not counting the VP, who is mostly busy outside the department. Of the three attorneys already here, one was hired two years ago and another three years ago. So the department has grown pretty quickly. The remaining attorney has been here for fifteen years, and when the VP realized that he needed someone to be in charge, that person was made the manager over the rest of us.
It was a logical decision in some ways. He's been here much longer than any of the rest of us and really knows how the company works (or doesn't, as the case may be).
The problem is that he seems completely and totally unable to stand up to anyone about anything. Doesn't matter how irrational or even illegal* the request from another department, he never holds the line. Even worse, when myself or one of my colleagues attempt to do so in the normal course of our duties, and someone in another department inevitably complains to him, he throws us under he bus, apologizing for us and unilaterally backing the department away from the position we've taken.
It's not just in inter-departmental relations either. If one of the attorneys thinks that the VP needs to be made aware of something, we aren't allowed to go directly to him, but anything filtered through proper channels, i.e. the boss, gets so watered down that any sense of seriousness or urgency is completely lost. None of us have any confidence that the advice we mean to give is actually making it up the chain.
This is getting to be a problem and is making it very, very difficult for me and the other attorneys in the department to do our jobs, as one of the main things that legal departments do is tell other departments that they're Doing It Wrong and how to do it right. But it doesn't matter how serious a compliance problem I or anyone else discovers: if anyone pushes back against my boss, whatever it is gets shelved.
Aside from finding another job (I am desperately sending out applications), how am I supposed to deal with this?
Other than sending periodic CYA memos to demonstrate that I did, in fact, give proper legal advice when we inevitably get our collective butts sued off. Lawyers aren't generally allowed to blow the whistle.
*Other than your run-of-the-mill petty nepotism, we aren't talking about ethical problems. I work in a regulated industry, and the regulations are a pain in the ass, so people--especially Marketing--don't like doing them. The only people who are going to suffer are the company and its employees.