Easiest Ethics Question Of The Month

" Dear Ellie: The firm seems a little shady to me, but I need the experience. Should I take the offer?"

” Dear Ellie: The firm seems a little shady to me, but I need the experience. Should I take the offer?”

Over at Above the Law, Ellie Mystal posts a request for advice from a desperate job-seeking lawyer, and polls readers for their response. The lawyer has an offer from a local attorney she says has a reputation for being unethical and untrustworthy. He has filed for bankruptcy once; he is being investigated by the local bar and the government, and former employees say he’s atrocious to work for. The inexperienced lawyer asks,

“Is this really bad for an entry-level lawyer to work for an (arguably) bad lawyer? Is it an absolute NO? Which one is more important: get some experience or working at a right/good firm? To put it another way, which one is worse: having no experience or working at a bad firm? I keep searching job postings and there is no opening for entry-level. Everyone looks for experienced lawyers. So I get the impression that no experience is the worst.

“I don’t know what to do with this offer. Feels not right to accept this offer but cannot just forgo. So give me some advice — should I accept his offer?”

Well, let me th—NOOOOOOOO!!!! Absolutely NOT! Never in a million years! NEVER!

And yet, almost 20% of Above the Law’s mostly lawyer readers voted for the choice reading, “Yes. Beggars can’t be choosers.”

That is disturbing. Continue reading

“Is It Wrong To Go On Vacation When You’re Unemployed?”

Job hunting…

This is the question asked by unemployed author Fran Hopkins, who, her bio says, ” has been searching for full-time work since losing her job in a January 2010 layoff. While “between jobs,” she’s earned an MS degree in Health Communication, does freelance writing and public relations.” In her article on AOL, Hopkins argues that it isn’t wrong, because “I need to get away, just for a few days, close to the soothing sound and motion of the sea, inhaling salt air and unwinding. I have to restore my mental, emotional and spiritual inner resources. I’m running low.” But she feels guilty, and to read the comments, a lot of people thinks she should. On Fark, where I found the post, the wags there simply answered her query “Yes” and filed it under “Dumbass.”

Nonsense. To begin with, the question is unanswerable, since it depends on so many variables. Is it unethical to spend your kids’ college funds or the mortgage money on a vacation? Yes. Is it wrong to spend public assistance on a vacation? Yes. But these are all irresponsible acts, and taking a vacation to recharge your batteries, relieve stress and clear your mind when there are no negative consequences to anyone else from doing so is not irresponsible, and might be the smartest thing you can do.

Poor Fran has been looking for a job for more than two and a half years, and that is, or should be, hard work. Anyone who says, as some commenters do, that there is nothing for her to take a vacation from either has never looked for a work or has no idea how to do it right. Job hunting is a hard job, and a soul-killing one. After a while you tend to become negative and cynical, or pathetic and desperate, and these attitudes can be fatal to your employment prospects. If a week on Cape Cod or the Jersey Shore can restore your vigor and perspective, it is well worth the time and money.

The most annoying  criticism of Fran are the people who write that it is inconsiderate of her to take a break from job-hunting when so many of her desperate fellow-citizens can’t afford to do likewise. If there is a mutated sub-category of liberals that make me want to get a package deal on an NRA/ Ayn Rand/ Donald Trump/ Rush Limbaugh fan club, this is it: the “you have no right to be happy as long as other people are miserable” crowd. Really, however, all the criticism of Fran is annoying, because it isn’t based on concepts of right and wrong at all. There’s nothing wrong with Fran taking a vacation while unemployed; there’s nothing wrong with her giving up on employment entirely and becoming a retiree, a beach bum, a street corner philosopher, a mime or an ethics blogger, either, as long as she isn’t defaulting on her obligations to others, or sponging off people who are working.

Have a great time on your vacation, Fran. You’ve earned it.


Pointer: Fark

Source: AOL

Graphic: Sidney Morning Herald

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

Ethics Dunce: Gary Chaplin

Temper temper!!

When a job hunter sent a mass e-mail to 4000 potential employers and executive search firms in the United Kingdom, it was not the brightest move in the world.  It had one arguably useful result, however. The mass spamming inspired Gary Chaplin, an executive with one of the search firms, to demonstrate why developing the ethical habit of civility is not only the right thing to do and the smart thing to do, it is also the safe thing to do.

So annoyed was Chaplin by Manos Katsampoukas’s e-mail that he sent this in response:

“I think I speak for all 4000 people you have e-mailed when I say, “Thanks for your CV”—it’s nice to know you are taking this seriously and taking the time to make us feel special and unique. If you are not bright enough to learn how to ‘bcc’ and thus encourage cock-jockey retards to then spam everyone on the list…then please fuck off…you are too stupid to get a job, even in banking.”

Yes, this is bad.

Continue reading

My Grudge

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has been in the epicenter of the last-ditch debt ceiling negotiations, and will probably deserve significant credit if the nation’s looming, self-created crisis is averted, if only temporarily. I’m going to have a hard time applauding, however, and not just because I think the entire incident has proven that America’s leadership void in all branches of government is terrifying. I can’t stand Mitch McConnell. I can’t stand to look at him, listen to him or read about him, and for the most unfair of reasons. I have a deep personal grudge against his wife, and its aura is wide and strong enough to engulf the Senator as well.

Back in 1987, McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, was a Reagan appointee in the Transportation Department, and I was out of work. Recalling that I had done a lot of work in transportation policy analysis, my former boss of two jobs back, (who is the current President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), graciously offered to make some calls on my behalf, and set me up to meet with Chao, a friend of his. The meeting that resulted remains the most humiliating and infuriating business-related experience of my life. Continue reading

Extending Job Benefits: Irresponsible, Unfair and Unethical

Last week, Republicans blocked yet another extension of unemployment benefits, and we can only hope they have the integrity and courage to do it again, in the face of predictable cries that they are cruel and heartless. The correct term is “fair and responsible.”

Well over a decade ago, President Clinton and a Republican Congress instituted welfare reform over similar accusations that it would spark tragedy and starvation. What it did was help end cycles of poverty and dependency. Hardly anyone except die-hard socialists argues that limiting welfare was a mistake today.

The serial extensions of unemployment benefits we have seen for two years, however, have become indistinguishable from welfare, and are now blatant political pandering to a large unemployed voter bloc in distress. The government is broke and in debt, and in no position to add an open-ended entitlement that pays Americans not to get jobs. Continue reading