Friday, October 18, 2013

Akin Gump: A Tale of Two Partners -- Street Smarts versus Naivete

I used to work as a paralegal at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, from 1988 to 1991.  I believed I was a victim of job harassment during the entirety of my tenure and, in fact, I was terminated a few days after I lodged a harassment complaint against my supervisor and others.

One of my blog posts is a collection of anecdotes about a law firm partner (Dennis M. Race, Esq.) -- it is a collection of perceptions about him.  Dennis Race had preceded Earl Segal as the partner in charge of the firm's paralegal program.  The perceptions are for the most part neutral or positive in tone.

One of my blog posts is a collection of anecdotes about another law firm partner (Earl L. Segal, Esq.) -- it is a collection of perceptions about him.  Earl Segal was the partner in charge of the firm's paralegal program throughout my employment.  The perceptions are suggestive of some unexplained hostility.

Why would two attorneys -- two partners, two individuals in the same employment group of an organization -- have a notably different reaction to me?  What would explain the seeming disparity in their reactions to me?  Is it possible that the disparate reactions of Dennis Race and Earl Segal reflected a political rift in the firm?  Did Dennis Race and Earl Segal belong to two opposing political factions at the firm?  Or am I being paranoid?

One curious fact about my writings concerning these two individuals is that two of the anecdotes have a polar opposite quality on the issue of "street smarts" versus naivete.  There is a suggestion that Dennis Race saw me as shrewd while Earl Segal saw me as clueless and unsophisticated.

The blog post about Earl Segal contains the following observation:

  • At 5:30 that afternoon, I was leaving the office for the weekend. I worked on the fifth floor at that time. I walked out into the elevator area, and I saw two people: Earl L. Segal, Esq. and the young associate, Amy Cohen, Esq. Earl Segal looked at me in the strangest way. It was a look of strong negative emotion. I believed the look was directed at me, but didn't know what the look meant.

    I got on the elevator to leave the building. Amy Cohen got on the elevator with me. The elevator door closed. Amy Cohen said to me: "I forgot my umbrella." (That tells me it was a rainy day.) Then she spurted out: "Are you stupid?" I replied: "I'm not the one who forgot his umbrella."

    I reasoned that Daniel Cutler had telephoned Maggie Sinnott or Earl Segal at Akin Gump about my job proposition. Earl Segal thought that I had acted stupidly. 
The blog post about Dennis Race contains the following observation: 

  • 1. In about late March 1989 I telephoned you, on a weekend, for the first time in a few months. (I had the impression that my failure to call you led to a stir at the firm, and decided it was a good idea if I called you. But that’s part of another axis.) I think it was on the Monday following my call to you that I saw Dennis Race talking to David Tobin in an elevator area. When Dennis Race saw me he smiled, and, talking to David Tobin, said, “He’s smart.” I didn’t know who Dennis Race was at that time but had the peculiar feeling his comment, “He’s smart,” in some symbolic way referred to me. I also had the tentative, self-referential notion that if the statement did refer to me it related to the fact that I had called you.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

Message for Dennis Race: You were right the first time!