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Jul 4, 2018

Secret Life of a Lawyer Part 6 – Bullied by Females

Jul 4, 2018

Secret Life of a Lawyer Part 6 – Bullied by Females


I have been afraid to write. But the truth is raw and liberating. This is exactly how it happened: 

Wellbutrin. Was my anti-anxiety drug that felt like a cozy warm blanket I pulled over my head at the age of 30, and for the first time in my life. As its effects took over slowly, a deep sorrow took me over because I knew I was losing myself in exchange for numbing my pain. I felt like I was detached from life and had lost myself. Lost my passion and my will. But I had to trade myself off in exchange for losing my pain.

6 minutes is the maximum amount of time you should  spend with a doctor at a walk in clinic. Any time above that means the doctor will lose money on seeing the next patient through Medicare. But the doctor I saw, that older, calm looking soul, made me sit there with her for 45 minutes and listened to everything I said.

She told me it was time to put the sword down and give in – at least for a while. Because I was on my knees and couldn’t fight anymore. I listened to her. But that delicate, anxious, fragile heart of me still told me this wasn’t for me.

To give you a better idea, look at how puffy and sick I looked at the age of 30 (that’s my sister btw). And  how I look now at age 35. Only photos can speak a thousand words:

leena-yousefi-sick-healthy-secret-life-lawyer

Bullied by Females at the Work Place

Tell her we are at cross-roads. Tell her she needs to leave the firm. We do not need a lawsuit. She wore a short skirt today. Smokes. Her assistants don’t like her. She is not on top of her files. She is a saleable commodity but is a liability.

I was the highest billing associate at the firm. The founder of this firm and I were like two peas in a pod. We were the dynamic duo. We won every case we did together. I would gladly stay up until mid-night multiple times a week to work on cases with him and we would always win those cases together. I was his right hand. I loved being around him and working for him. I had no plans to move or leave that firm. I was complimented and commanded by multiple judges. My clients were happy. I was happy where I was. Life was good.

The Two Females Who Started a War Campaign

Then one day he hired a female associate close to my age on my insistence. I loved her and thought she was unique so I vouched for her. I told him to hire her over two other qualified candidates. A couple months after her, he ended up hiring a COO which is a fancy name for a  manager. I didn’t have a good feeling about her but I respected his decision. A few months later, I found out these two women engaged in a massive  campaign to get me fired. They stopped at nothing to ensure I am out. I had no idea this was happening until I noticed that my own assistants had turned against me.

Look, I am neither a victim nor a saint. I am as imperfect as the rest of us are. I must have said or done something that may have annoyed them one way or another. But I promise you, I did nothing to hurt them, I did nothing to undermine them, did nothing to damage them and certainly did nothing to deserve the war campaign they started. That campaign was based on pure jealousy because they didn’t like my relationship with the boss and wanted to replace me. They succeeded in the short term, but in the long term they both lost.

The Pink Employment File

Every day at work felt like walking on egg shells. I felt like I was being watched and criticized all the time. There was a silent air of animosity. The vibe of the firm had changed from fun and  funny to pure evil. One night after working until 9 p.m., I went and looked at my employment file. The COO kept a pink folder for people she didn’t like. I had a pink folder. I looked inside of it:

“LY” was the subject line of the email chain between that female colleague and the COO. It stood for Leena Yousefi. That email chain contained a massive campaign with details and planning on how to get me fired. The email thread contained disturbing and untrue comments against me. Those two females who constantly talked about feminism, love and the power of women, conspired to have me gone at any cost. Even at the cost of losing their own integrity.

Lately I would be called in to these meetings with him and the COO. He would hold up a piece of paper in his hands with type-written notes which I found out later were written by the COO. He would read those notes to me and criticize me for things I hadn’t done. He would always begin by saying “we are at cross roads“.  I will never forget those words. My jaw would drop and I would say to him:

Look at me. This is not you. This is not who I am. What is going on?

He couldn’t look into my eyes.  I didn’t think he was serious because him and I had a different connection and I knew in my heart these words were not coming from him. They were coming from someone else. He read them like a robot. I needed him to stand up for me. I begged him. He never did.

If I defended myself, that was taken as me not taking responsibility. When I didn’t, they would put me down and encourage me to leave. That was all fine and dandy except I had cases to deal with. I had people’s lives in my hands and I needed to focus on my clients. That focus was taken away from me because I had to deal with a bunch of females, my kind, who were actively trying to undercut me. I had instead empowered them and supported them. He himself was caught in a crossfire.

Tell him you need to focus on your files and you can’t with this civil war at the firm. Do not engage.

My dad would pick up the phone in the middle of the day every time I would call him in tears after another painful meeting or hearing about a bunch of females bad-mouthing me. My confidence was at an all time low. I had difficulty focusing. Waking up in the mornings was becoming more and more difficult.  My assistant one day came to my office and told me no one would ever work with me because I was so terrible and was a bad person (thanks for coming out, I and Victoria just celebrated 5 years of working together as lawyer and assistant). I internalized it. I was a failure. A bad human being. Undeserving of love or appreciation. It was OK to be abused because I deserved it.

The Petty Tyrants that Helped Me Fly Away

In those moments of hopelessness and despair, the only thing that told me that they were wrong and unfair, was my heart. Fragile and vulnerable, it still spoke the truth. No matter how much they tried to make me believe I was terrible, my heart told me I was not.


My heart also told me that I had to get out. They tried to get me to listen to them instead of my heart. This time I chose to listen to my heart as weak and afraid as I was. As much as I believed I was a failure.

I had the choice to move over to another firm or start my own. I had no plans to do it but those two females, while being dead set on making me fall, actually gave me the strength fly higher than I (or they) ever imagined. They pushed me out of my comfort zone and I am forever thankful to those horrible human beings for my success.

I had three weeks to either find another job or start my own firm. I decided I would start my own firm because this time I wanted to create a better environment and not be given one I could not control.

The Resignation Letter

As I typed up my resignation letter, my heart was at peace but filled with sorrow because I loved him so much. I was going to miss him so much.  As I wiped my tears, I pressed the ‘send’ button attaching my resignation. The next day, him and I went for a ‘secret’ lunch because he was afraid they would find out.  He was devastated. He offered to fire my assistants and mediate the situation but it was too late. I hugged him, told him I would never forget him and said goodbye.

For my goodbye party, all the females who loved and supported me made shirts and we went to a happy dinner followed by many drinks.

The next day, the COO fired the females who supported me. She said making those shirts meant they were ‘bullying’ her. Within months, almost all the lawyers I worked with there also left. A few months later, the COO was fired. After that, the firm was never what it was and hasn’t been to this day.

Victoria,  I can’t feel my face.

I said those words to Victoria, my assistant at my new firm and we both laughed. I was going through Wellbutrin withdrawals. I had brain zaps. My mind was clouded and my body was reacting so severely that I could hardly function. But I was determined to get better. And I did.

When I opened my law firm, he sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers but never mentioned his name or who sent them. In my heart, I knew I would always love and cherish him.

Victoria and I started from a tiny office sharing space. She worked out of a box and I had a tiny room which barely had space for clients. But we were so happy. 5 years later, we are still happy. Here, despite now 15 people working at YLaw, there are no war campaigns. There is love and laughter. As for those two females who were a part of why I am here, one disappeared into nothingness and the other to this day acts like she didn’t do what she did which is natural reaction when someone is two faced.

Female animosity and bullying at work place is something most of us females have experienced but do not talk about. It can severely damage reputations, weaken the targeted person, and create a toxic environment devoid of growth and positivism. It is a form of adult bullying which needs to stop by appropriate guidelines and education. Let’s follow and act on the empowerment we want our society and other males to give us. Where we start that empowering and support is in our own family or work place. 

To read how this all started go to Part 1: click here.

To read part 2 on addiction,  click here.

For Part  3 on the climax, click here.

For Part 4 on pleasing, click here.

For Part 5 on how it all ended, click here. 

For Part 7 and my transformation, click here.