Machete Law Firm Management

Couldn’t help but pass on this Above The Law Story  – probably not the best way to do things although I’m sure we all feel like using this approach to gee up recalcitrant staff every now and then….


Law Firm Chief Brings Machete To Staff Meeting
BroadMacheteMost young lawyers are sufficiently motivated by their ingrained work ethic. If that fails, there’s always the fear of losing their jobs and toiling as a document reviewer. But what if that just isn’t enough to get lawyers to stop screwing around on the job? Perhaps brandishing a machete and slamming it into a desk while chewing out the slackers will do the trick.

It’s unconventional office behavior, but the head of one law firm apparently thinks it gets results.

As with every insane post today, we remind you that this is not an April Fools’ joke, because we aren’t monsters. No, this is an actual tale of workplace terror recounted by a young lawyer at a “small-ish firm in the Midwest” to an advice columnist:

At the end of last week, the boss calls me and [Anonymous Admin] S into his office, along with the other attorney, the office manager, and the staff person who had been complaining the most about S. He yelled at just about everybody except me (and really, nothing he said was out of bounds or inappropriate because it was all about being late to work or screwing around). And then he pulls out a machete. A real machete. And then he says that while we’re all very important to the firm, if he has to have this conversation again, not everybody is going to leave an employee, and then he brought the machete down on his desk, leaving a gouge in the wood. I still can’t quite believe it happened.

The next day, I expected him to at least acknowledge how nuts/over the top/whatever his behavior was, but instead he said, “I think machete cuts in desks will be a great way to enforce order and discipline!” I was speechless.

OK, f**k you buddy. This isn’t fodder for an advice columnist. There’s no “what should I do?” here. When you’re working for someone with an autographed copy of “One Effective Habit Of A Highly Effective Leader” by Pol Pot on his desk, you get the hell out of Dodge or whatever Midwest locale you’re in. Maybe the boss is just playing around in his mind, but the lack of propriety and self-control that thinks it’s acceptable to back threats with machete blows is going to manifest itself in all sorts of different ways that all add up to “hostile work environment.” Or “brutal office slaying.”

In fact, this lawyer admits as much in the rest of the letter:

There’s been some drama at work among the support staff, and my boss restructured to help reduce friction, putting me in charge of a law clerk and an admin that I’ll call S. S is young and pretty. She’s also a hard worker and a lot of fun. We get along great, and as a team, we’re doing really well.

The problem is that my boss (who is the head of the firm, and so has no one in authority over him) has a Thing for S, and when S started hanging out with one of the other attorneys, he took it badly. I know this because he confronted S about it, asked if she was fucking the other attorney, and asked if she preferred him.

YES! That right there. That sense of entitlement mixed with violence is exactly the sort of megalomaniacal behavior I’m talking about. Get out of there. Run. It’s a hostile work environment.

Jesus, this letter reads like a classic abuse victim:

For now, I’ve told my people to keep their heads down and their noses clean so that no one can complain. If the boss carries through with his promise to put me in charge, I’m hopeful that he’ll focus on the other side of the business and leave us to do our thing. And maybe once he pulls his head out of his ass and gets over his bruised ego, he’ll start seeing sense.

No. No, that’s not how this works. There are no bloodless transfers of power for guys wielding machetes. See generally, History of Central Africa, 1950-2014.

At least Captain Annoying put it bluntly:

Let’s review:

* A married boss/CEO has a thing for a young female assistant so obvious and inappropriate that he asks about her sex/love life at work.
* Then he starts monitoring all of her behavior at work and finally has a “work” reason to censure her.
* So he brandishes a machete when he reads her for disciplinary issues, and makes sure other employees see it.

This is a Lifetime Movie waiting to happen. This is a patchwork quilt where all the patches are made of red flags and the pattern is someone doing semaphore that means “Get out.” Either he is unstable enough or enough of a jerkass to have lost all sense of consequence and filter (and he shouldn’t be in charge) or he deliberately orchestrated that meeting as a way to hint at S. that he is capable of getting violent (and he shouldn’t be in charge).


Fly you fool.

When Is A Machete Inappropriate?

Searching for Dr. Livingstone.
Delivering malaria medication to a secluded Amazonian village.
Securing a golden idol of the Chachapoyan goddess of fertility.
Making a point about punctuality to impress/terrorize your desired sidepiece.