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7/27/17

EB1 Green Card Case Manager: A Date with Mahrooz

Late last night Mahrooz texted me:

"Hey Tomas do u want
to go out to lunch
tomorrow?"

To which I replied:

"Hi Mahrooz. I'd love too."

Frankly, I was surprised at the invitation. Mahrooz has been aloof with me at times.

In the morning, when Mahrooz arrived to work a few minutes after me she came to my desk to finalize our plans. She was wearing a floral printed dress. I looked forward to our lunch the entire morning.

At noon on the dot I went to her desk.

"I'm ready when you are."

"Okay. Lemme clock out," she replied.

As you may remember, Mahrooz is Afghan. Born there. She speaks with an endearing accent and occasional odd syntax. I like listening to her.



"Me too," I said to her.

She chuckled because since I had come to her office to tell her I was ready she assumed that I had already clocked out.

Our cars were parked next to each other in the lot and she asked me what car I'd like to go in. I didn't hesitate to say mine.

"Ooh, you like to be in control. Don't you?"

I capitalized and replied, "Yes, and that goes for the bedroom as well."

To which she giggled like a 16 year-old.

It's summer so I blasted the A/C as soon as we were in the car. We took off and got held up at the first traffic light where I decided not to rush on an amber light.

"It's okay," she said to me, "we'll catch the next green light."

When we had just left the office I congratulated her on getting promoted to full-time work.

"It's good for you, right?" I said to her.

She affirmed and proceeded to tell me how her other boss at the Veggie Grill where she works doesn't want to let her go and so she's currently working 14 hour days. She leaves the office at 5 and reports to the restaurant at 5:30, leaving at midnight.

Internally, I hoped she would stop that to make some time for herself but also to provide opportunity for us to socialize more often. On the other hand, I also admired her scrappy work ethic.

Once we were settled in on the Chipotle patio, with a burrito for me and a veggie bowl for her, we began chatting in earnest.

Mahrooz is competing for another job: Internship Coordinator at National University, a salaried position. The hiring process last six weeks so she told me she wouldn't be leaving Dick's office for a minute yet. She also expressed some concern over how Dick would take her leaving.

I helped her get control of that situation by asking her, "Who cares how he will feel?"

To which she laughed. When Mahrooz laughs her face becomes oval and her eyes become slits like she was suffering but instead she is in stitches. She laughs with true joy.

I made her laugh like that a second time when I told her why I was still working with Dick.

"I'm going to unionize the office," I said.

She laughed at the gall of it all.

Once she was done laughing, she asked me if the job was worth the trouble.

"If I succeed in unionizing the office we can get some real things: a living wage, vacation time, health insurance, and maybe even a pension. It would be a different job, a job worth committing too."

She got it but not completely. She still thought it was better to just move to another job.

"The problem is not this office or Dick. The problem is capitalism. Wherever we go we're going to be exploited."

She didn't understand this.

So I explained.

"Say you get a job where you make four times what you make here. Well, that just means that your new boss makes four times what Dick makes. Your still being exploited because you're boss is still getting the lion's share of the profits. You're just a more expensive slave but a slave nonetheless."

To which she said, "So you want to go back to communism?"

"Go back? America has never been communist."

We talked about the old USSR, Cuba, and Venezuela.

We talked about how America has always meddled in other people's democracies and destroyed them.

Once the food was gone she asked me, a bit coquettish, so are you ready for some Jamba Juice.

To which I replied in the affirmative and she bought me a small Matcha Tea. I had bought the food.

It was a nice date. 

7/8/17


John Henry DaysJohn Henry Days by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. What a great book.

Whitehead takes a folk tale -- that of black steel driver John Henry -- and brings it to a life that spans the beginning of the age of the railroad to the 1990's. It's not because John Henry lived that long. Actually, Henry died quite young since winning a steel-driving contest with a machine cost him his life. Whitehead does it by bringing to light the life of various characters whose lives intersect somehow with the folk hero.

There is J. Sutter, the hack who is sent on a junket to cover the inauguration of the "John Henry Days" in the Midwest town that has laid claim to being the birthplace of John Henry. There is Pamela, the daughter of a man who spent his life collecting John Henry memorabilia and ran a museum dedicated to the railroad worker out of his apartment which no one ever visited. There is the stamp collector whose crowning jewel is a stamp of John Henry and who, inexplicably, begins shooting his gun at a John Henry Days event and is shot down by police. There is, of course, John Henry himself toiling on the West-ward railroad alongside many other poor men of that era.

The novel is not written linearly or chronologically. We don't start at the beginning of John Henry's life and end at the closing of John Henry Days. Instead, in each chapter, Whitehead narrates a different slice of the American tale of John Henry from the perspective of a different character. While at times this device can be slightly disorienting it also keeps the novel alive -- saving it from a plodding linear narration.

I am edified by the reading of this novel. I had never heard of John Henry. Now his name, story, and legend are meaningful to me. His life is American and modern history. He represents the generations who died to bring humanity the railroad. His death -- in competition with a steam machine to drive steel -- is a sacrifice to "progress."

Whitehead's writing style is mesmerizing and entirely original. His descriptions seems to defy the laws of narrative gravity.

By the end of the novel J. Sutter has gotten his story but it's not one that he was expecting. It's not the fluff that, as a regular junketeer, he's hired to write. He's found something much more meaningful and he must choose between which story he will bring to the light and what life he will live from then on.


View all my reviews


7/3/17

EB1 Green Card Case Manager / Produce or Perish

I've pasted Dick's latest email verbatim so the audience may see what an ass he is and also so we can all laugh at his poor grammar. 

From: “Dick / Law Offices of Dick C. Baxter” dick@baxteresq.com
Sent: Monday, July 3, 2017 8:01 AM
To: EB1 Writing Staff
Cc: "Setareh" setareh@baxteresq.com
Subject: Dick to EB1 Writing Team - July a New Month

Hi Team,

Yes, losing Britney was an awful blow to the the entire firm and it has taken us a few weeks to find our bearings. However, in order for this firm to thrive we, individually have to be extremely mindful of our own productivity. The entire EB1 backend team made $24,260 in June. To put that in perspective Evie, made almost that amount by herself in June. Whatever the reasons for the EB1 backend team overall poor performance in June and I'm not laying blame here, I want to put it behind us and draw a line but moving forward I really have to consider whether we have the right people or systems in place to make the EB1 backend team successful. July will be your month to shine.

So here is what I need from each of you.

1. You need to deliver at least 12 arguments per month. That's just three per week. I don't mind if you spend Monday thru Thursday just working up evidence and then on Friday just writing as much as you can, as long as you can get to three by the end of each week, that's all that matters. 
Leisha - your quota will be pro-rated due to you working on the AOS Training Manual this week. 

2. I've discussed with Akhiljeet that your (Tanís and Leisha) goal should be to work up six arguments per week, and then draft at least three arguments per week so you've never stuck without arguments to write. 

3. Delmira Roble will be starting on July 10th. Delmira's role will be as a ghost writer. What that means is, that Akhiljeet will devote time every day working up evidence for cases that Delmira will write for her. Delmira, will also be available to provide writing support to Leisha and Tanís, if Akhiljeet cannot keep her busy all of the time.

Delmira will not be known to the clients at all, she will be a ghost. Here is the rationale. Writing arguments is far easier than working up the evidence. To work up evidence you have to deal with the clients, chase in the evidence, review the evidence, go back to the client for more and better evidence until you have everything you need. The writing part is certainly the fun part and the easiest part.

What I'm finding is that when I had experienced staff working evidence and experienced staff writing arguments, the client's got mad because the person they spoke to the most was the evidence (Discovery) specialist and if that person was inexperienced it simply frustrated the client. When the Discovery Specialist has the responsibility of Discovery and Writing the case (Trial), everything gets muddled and progresses very slowly indeed - too slow for the firm to thrive. 

I need Akhiljeet to use her brain power to work up evidence as outlined above and to ensure that Tanís and Leisha do the same. 

Minimum Productivity Requirements

Tanís - I need 12 completed arguments written by you by the end of July. 

Leisha - I need 12 completed arguments written by you by the end of July. (pro-rated)

Akhiljeet - I need you to feed Delmira at the very least 1 argument per day that she must complete every day. Ideally, I'll be expecting Delmira once, dialed in, to write one argument in the AM and one argument in the PM.

If anyone cannot manage 12 arguments per month, then I'm not going to be able to keep them in that position as to do so would be bad for the firm. I'll need to figure something out.

So do what ever you can and need to do hit the above minimum numbers. If you feel for any reason you cannot hit those numbers first talk to Akhiljeet, then Akhiljeet will talk to Setareh, and if neither of them can get you there then I'll talk to all of you.

The bottom line is that in order for this firm to thrive, there must be an absolute minimum level of productivity that must be delivered in order to justify that person in that position.

At present I'm working almost all of my waking hours in order to fill in here, and fill in there. I'm constantly exhausted and it's not from having fun. I cannot sustain this. So, in July, I'm going to be looking to see who can really deliver consistently what they need to.

Support 

1. I'm expecting Bully Sullivan to be releasing new features to the IPC  this week to help us work more efficiently. 
2. I'm interviewing two additional part-time programmers to work on the IPC to add more features to help both Intake and Backends. I hope to get one or two of them started July 10th also.

Failure is Not an Option 

The law firm has come a long way over the years. It's not been a straight line up, it's zig-zagged for sure, but the trend has always been up. Sure, people have come and gone, but still the firm has grown. Why? because I have an obligation to every employee who shows up to work and produces to make sure we're all provided for, we all have a very secure job, so we can have a life outside of the job. I cannot fail in this regard. However,  to do so the majority of the staff must be able to hit their numbers otherwise try as I might we will fail overall and I'm not going to let that happen.  
I'm sure by the end of this month, we'll all have a lot to celebrate because I have every confidence that July will be a great month for all of us.

Cheers,
Dick C. Baxter, LL.M., ESQ

Attorney at Law

EB1 Green Card Case Manager / Optional Overtime

Dick is feeling the heat of not having Britney around. The work is oozing out of the range of our capabilities within an eight-hour work day.

Dick's answer is overtime and he expects -- though he would be hard-pressed to admit this to himself -- his employees to work extra hours when he asks.

He asked Leisha and Akhiljeet both of whom rebuffed him. Akhiljeet has wedding-planning activities scheduled on the weekends and Leisha wants to spend time with her daughter.

When Leisha says no to Dick he says to her, "But Vanessa is on vacation!" Dick is suggesting that because Vanessa is off school for the summer Leisha no longer needs the weekends to spend time with her since the little girl is home the entire week. Never mind that Leisha is at work until 5 PM every day. However, Dick is only privy to his self-serving logic.

Later in the day Dick comes into the office and after he leaves Leisha wonders if I noticed that they didn't talk to each other. Evidently, Dick is upset with Leisha because she refused to work overtime that weekend.

Leisha explains to me, "Dick doesn't understand that I am a single mother. I have no one to help me. When I work on Saturday I don't have a spouse to leave Vanessa with. I need to hire a babysitter and I lose time with my daughter. Dick sacrificed his family as he built up his business but he could afford to because [his wife] Enid was at home taking care of his children. I can't do that."

The subject of Britney -- who Leisha visited at home a few days after she left -- comes up.

"I talked to Britney. She told me that she left because she wasn't going to give up her marriage for the firm. That's what Dick has done. Britney told me. Dick and Enid are still together but they're just going through the motions."

Dick attempted to manipulate Akhiljeet into working overtime as well.

According to her, after declining overtime, Dick said to her, "You know? Most attorneys work overtime," suggesting that -- for Dick's convenience -- Akhiljeet should do like "most attorneys."

Akhiljeet's response to this was, "Yes, most attorneys work overtime but they make much more money."

Dick responded, "Most attorneys are paid salaries and they're expected to work overtime."

Akhiljeet finished him off by answering, "I don't have a salary here. I don't even have benefits." 

EB1 Case Manager / New Hire

June 14

Management has been interviewing candidates for Case Managers, referred to as "Writers" at this firm.

One candidate shone on paper. Her name is Delmira Robles. She's no more than two years out of college. She presented a slick résumé and cover letter but she didn't interview as well.

Setareh and Akhiljeet didn't like her youth -- the fact that she said she wasn't sure what she wanted yet in life.

Dick, along with Setareh, interviewed her too. Setareh says she was suddenly nervous so Dick didn't like her at all.

Nonetheless, the firm is so desperate for another case manager to deal with the well over 100 cases -- and counting -- that she has been offered the position.

She's starting on July 10th.

6/14/17

The Law Offices of Dick C. Baxter: Quantity Over Quality

Britney is gone for good.

Evidently she's moving to Arkansas with her husband to be a housewife. We all think it's a bad idea.


With Britney gone though there's a lot of slack that needs to be picked up. She left a big hole and she gave no warning of leaving.

That slack has fallen on Akhiljeet and Evie. Akhiljeet is the new EB1 Department Manager and Evie the new Intake (Sales) Manager.

Suddenly, Akhiljeet is starting work at 7 AM and leaving after 5 PM and Evie has gone from working 30 hours to well over 40. Yesterday she stayed in the office until 7PM and today she was still there when I left. The work that has been dumped on them is overwhelming.

They both gripe about their situations and at the same time follow all orders without wavering. They both complain to each other but not to Dick.

Evie supervises Harry and Irene who don't respect or listen to her. For the salespeople there's much more to the job than working. They must write reports, they must keep records on their leads, and so forth. And Harry and Irene refuse to do these other things. Evie and them butt heads about it.

I told Irene today, "Get Setareh and Dick's support. Tell them what's going on and have them tell those two who is boss."

Evie nodded.

A little later in the same conversation Evie got teary about not spending more time with her husband and small son because she has to work.

"Adam is a wonderful little boy. He's only going to be that wonderful little boy for a brief moment, then it's gone forever," she said before shedding tears.

Then she added, "Nathan is going to deploy in two months. What if he gets killed? I would feel so guilty that I could have spent so much time with him before he left. Instead, I'm spending that time here."

I said, "Give only as much as you receive. It's not like Dick is paying us a living wage. Well, he's not paying me one."

"Oh, me either. Who here is?" she asked.

I added, "I have pressure too, to write more and more arguments. And now with your team selling more and more cases I'm going to have four times as much work. But I'm not even going to try to complete all of it. I will work at a reasonable pace and finish what I can. The work that isn't done, the cases that are delayed or neglected? Those will be Dick's responsibility. He's the one selling all of these cases."

Akhiljeet, who in addition to carrying out supervising duties also writes EB1 case arguments, talked about the struggles she's experiencing with the case of an actor. His case is very weak.

In response, Evie said, 'I wasn't comfortable with retaining that case! I told Setareh but with Dick pushing her to make $100,000 in monthly sales, she brushed me off and said, "Ah, they'll get the evidence later"'

6/9/17

Anniversaries

Today we celebrated Setareh's fourth anniversary and Desma's twelfth.

Desma is Dick's daughter and she has worked for the family company since she graduated from high school.

"We used to work out of a 1,200 square feet house in Valencia. Dick and I used to work out of an office the size of Britney's and Desma used to work under the stairs," said Enid, Dick's wife, nostalgically.

Then they mythologized Setareh.

"Imagine moving to Tehran without knowing a word of Farsi. Then you get there and go to school, learn Farsi on the side, and then get a job at an all-Farsi-speaking law office and within four months you become manager. Well, that's what Setareh did but in reverse!" said Dick.

As Enid and Dick told these stories, we all sat or stood around a coffee table topped with plates of food. There were wraps, a salad, croissant sandwiches, and quinoa. The quinoa was specifically for me.

Three weeks ago, when Akhiljeet, Leisha, and I came to work on a Saturday morning, Dick announced that as soon as Costco opened he'd bring us food. Certain that he would forget that I'm a vegan I texted him about it and after some deliberation between my co-workers and I we decided to ask Dick to look for quinoa at Costco. So when he arrived with food later in the morning, there was something I could actually eat.

Today, when he first arrived in the office, he stopped by our office. I saw him approaching from a reflection on a window and I resolved to keep my eyes on the computer. I'm still angry at him and I try not to look at him.

However, once he was in the office, he called my name. He was getting my attention to announce that he had brought quinoa for the anniversary meal. I felt grateful.

"Thanks Dick," I said.

I felt better about us after that. However, I was already feeling better in general because even earlier in the morning Setareh took me aside and told me that I would be receiving my bonus anyway. Setareh, apparently, had advocated for me.

I'm glad that I'll be receiving my bonus. I appreciate Dick making sure that I can participate in the group meals that are had at the office. However, at $16 per hour, with scant benefits, I am still being underpaid. And after what happened, I don't think that there will be a bonus to be eligible for.

I still have an issue with Dick.

As we ate, I avoided making eye contact with Dick or socializing with him. At one point he sat on the same couch that I was on but then quickly moved away.

Dick and I still have beef for his underpaying me but also for all the things said recently, including his threat to fire me disguised as a "company warning."

6/8/17

Dick's Lieutenant Quits

I arrived at the office at 8 AM on the dot. As usual, Britney was already in her office and she was on the phone and I was the  second person to arrive in the office. I put my lunch away, greeted Britney as I walked past her office, and went to my desk to sign in.

Britney spends a lot of time on the phone because Dick relies so much on her. However, Britney also spends a lot of time on the phone with her husband with whom she has a troubled marriage. I've seen her storm out of the office after talking with him, cry on the phone, yell at him on the phone, and leave the office to continue a conversation with him.

Soon after I sat down and clocked in, Juliette and Poli came in, and right behind them, Akhiljeet, who usually arrives no earlier than a quarter after because she lives forty minutes away from the office. She sat down and signed into her computer. In the meantime, Britney continued on the phone. Her voice penetrated clearly--if you paid attention--through the wall into Akhiljeet and I's office.

I was not listening. Akhiljeet was.

Then there was silence.

I paid no mind until fifteen minutes later when Evie came in and announced, "It looks like we're going to sail without Britney this morning," in her thick Australian accident. Right behind her came Poli, who was dressed in a navy blue dress with white stripes and an open white sweater.

Poli said, "I want to pray for Britney."

Then she looked around and added, "I know not everyone here is a Christian but for those that are comfortable, please join me."

Everyone was agreeable and so we sat in the office and listened to Poli's prayer. In her prayer, Poli asked for Britney's safety and Dick's understanding.

I thought her request for Dick's understanding was rather funny because I couldn't imagine Dick not understanding. Not because he's a compassionate, empathetic man but because he would have no choice but to understand. Britney is nothing less than his lieutenant. If push came to shove, Britney could run the firm.

Later I heard Akhiljeet say that Britney had announced, "I'm done," as she stormed out of her office.

As I mentioned in "The Cast," Britney is the firm's senior most employee. She has nearly six years of experience, can do every job from selling a case to preparing the label to ship it to USCIS to everything in between, and is like the office's oracle. When I'm stuck on a case I can  go to her and get an answer. No one other than Dick--who is seldom in the office--has her level of expertise. The firm is hobbled without her.



6/5/17

The Law Offices of Dick C. Baxter - The Cast


Tanis - Myself. I am an EB1 Visa Case Manager and Argument Writer. Right now I have nearly 30 cases. I am not an attorney. Prior to working here I drove for Uber and prior to that I was an editor at a marketing agency. 

Dick- The boss. He's a European of African descent by way of the Caribbean. He's bald and overweight and is much less funny than he thinks he is. He has a low voice. He insists on his staff dressing professionally everyday but shows up with slacks and a long-sleeve shirt untucked most of the time. When he does show up in a suit his shoes don't match. He comes into the office once a week for a couple of hours at the most. He's a slave to his business. He purports to love his employees, calling them his "peeps," but doesn't put his money where his mouth is. 

Setareh- Dick's lead manager. Officially the Practice Manager. She's Iranian. Has big brown eyes, is in her mid-thirties, and has pale skin. Setareh is Dick's eyes and ears. She blindly obeys Dick and does his dirty work. She has a law degree but has not passed the Bar and shows no indications at this point of doing so. 

Britney- The most senior employee. Has been with the firm at least five years. She has done every job available at the firm except for Administrative Assistant. She's an expert in immigration law but is not an attorney. She has a bachelor's degree. She's a tall, big, white woman about the same age as Setareh, with commanding blue eyes. She's generally emotionally cool. Our relationship is uneasy. She appreciates my work but not my assertiveness when I challenge Dick. 

Evie- An Australian white lady. Relatively new employee. Just took over Britney's old position, Intake Manager. "Intake Manager" or "Specialist" is a euphemism for "Salesperson." So Evie is now in charge of the sales department. She's very talkative, brings the office donut holes every other weekend, and flips you off if you say something anti-Evie. 

Harold-A white salesperson. Big guy in his mid-thirties. Relatively new at the job. Deep voice. Successful salesperson. He has taught himself law and only needs to pass the bar now. He's a fan of MMA. Works part-time. 

Irene-The third salesperson. Like Harold, she works part-time. She speaks loudly and will say things like "Did you listen to anything I just said?" to her leads. Irene looks to be in her mid-forties. She's a blonde and is skinny like a twig. She began working at the same time as Harold. 

Poli-African-American administrative assistant and main receptionist. She's a devout Christian and singer. Has been treated poorly by Setareh, Britney, and others. She answers "Yes, sir" and "Yes, mam" to all requests, including those from me. Terrified to lose her job. Early fifties. My best friend and confidante at the firm. 

Juliette--an administrative assistant, hails from the East Coast, very pleasant to be around, humble, also a devout Christian. She schedules appointments for Sales. She goes through one pack of gum daily. White but only in skin color, not in spirit. Mid-thirties.

Leisha--Green card specialist recently promoted to Case Manager and Argument Writer. So she's a close colleague. Fourth generation Chicana who bleaches her hair and is a single mom. She's thirty and bitches and complains a lot. Nearly the whole day. 

Akhiljeet-Case Manager and Argument Writer. Bone fide attorney. Sikh. Been with the firm a little over one year. Talks a lot about leaving. Favorite adjective for Dick's policies: "stupid!" Quiet, kind, gracious, 26 years young.

Daphne- Twenty-something, married, former military, 5'2", part-time administrative assistant since April of this year. 

Mahrooz-recent college grad, tallest person at the firm at 5'10", assertive, intelligent administrative assistant. Also at the firm since April of this year. 




6/4/17

The Law Offices of Dick C. Baxter - Immigration Law / EB1 Visa

The names of the innocent (and not so innocent) have been protected.

Call me Tanis. I am a paralegal at the above-referenced law firm. I've been so since August of 2016. Prior to that date I had never worked in law. I thought I had applied for a writing job. Instead, this position is much more than that, including being a case manager.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is nonfiction. However, for my own protection, as well as for the protection of the law firm that I will discuss, I have changed all of the names--including that of the law firm and my own.

The purposes of these blog posts are to document a sliver of what work in America is like, to demonstrate to EB1 Green Card applicants how one law firm handling their cases works, to exact a degree of revenge on my boss and my managers for the injustice they practice on me and my co-workers, and to lampoon whoever needs to be.

What is the EB1 Visa?

The EB1 Visa is the Visa for foreign nationals with an extraordinary ability and sustained national or international acclaim. In addition to persons with extraordinary ability the visa is also available to outstanding professors or researchers or high-level executives.

At the Law Offices of Dick C. Baxter we specialize in building cases for EB1 Visa applicants of extraordinary ability only. In my time working at the firm I have never built a case for an outstanding professor, researcher, or high level executive. The EB1 Visa for individuals of extraordinary ability with sustained national or international acclaim is a self-petition. In other words, you don't need an employer to sponsor you.



To qualify for the EB1 Visa the applicant must either prove that she has won a major international award like the Nobel, the Pulitzer, an Oscar, or a Grammy or prove herself in three of ten other categories: Lesser International or National Award, Invited Membership, Published Materials, Judging, Innovation, Scholarly Articles, Exhibitions and Showcases, Leading or Critical Roles, High Salary, or Commercial Success in the Arts.




The Boss's Response: Email Chain




From: Dick
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 9:04 AM
To: Tanis
Cc:
Subject
You do not get to lecture me about what is an acceptable argument, so calm down. 
If I say I'm not happy about an argument or that an argument needs further investigation, you do not get to disagree, you're not the boss I am - it's that simple.  
So like I said, I need you to sit with Britney, who is extremely experienced and she will go through this argument with you, step by step. 
I have to say - your tone towards me is worrisome. It may be that you do not mean to come over as offensive as you do, but believe me when I tell you, you are very thin ice, you are way out of line here. 
All I need you to do is follow my lead in all things, so that you can learn how to be good at this job. If this is too much, then maybe you need to find alternative employment. 
Please take this email as an official employment warning. 
 
Cheers,
Dick
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tanis
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 3:49 PM
To: Dick
Cc:
Subject: Awards Argument / Sourcing Photographs


Hello Dick, 


I have always been aware of the challenges of Matheus's Awards argument. This is why I took my time to make sure I had all the tools necessary to link Matheus to the awards. So I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the argument. I believe that two factors act as a strong foundation for the validity of our argument.


First is the definition of the role of a copywriter. I clearly establish, from the beginning, that in a creative operation such as Matheus works in, the Copywriter is the originator of all ideas and the rest of the work revolves around this idea. Therefore, the Copywriter is critical to an award won for a television commercial. Second, I get two executives to go on the record about the central importance of Matheus's labor towards winning the awards. I think their words really speak for themselves. 


In the case of Hristos's argument for his Project of the Year award the evidence was much weaker. As with Matheus, Hristos's award did not have his name on it. The strongest evidence we produced to link him to the award was the testimony of two of his colleagues. Matheus' letters come from established industry executives (much more persuasive testimonies than co-workers'). Second, when Hristos' witnesses do link Matheus to the award their statements are tepid as contrasted with Matheus' witnesses' statements which are unequivocal. 


In light of Hristos' case I don't understand the skepticism about  Matheus' argument. Perhaps the wording and presentation of the argument should be tinkered with but I think the argument itself is sound and as good as it gets considering the circumstances. 



Lastly, please clarify which photographs in the Matheus argument need links. Except for the photographs of the awards themselves (which don't come from links but directly from Matheus) and that of the Fox logo, the rest of the photographs in the argument are all properly sourced--as usual. So I don't see where I'm failing to source when necessary. 


 
Best, 


Tanis Lobo, B.A. 

EB1 Specialist




From: "Dick / Law Offices of Dick C. Baxter"
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 12:31 PM
To: tanis@baxteresq.com
Cc: "Leisha" "Akhiljeet"
Subject: Dick to EB1 Writing Team - Citing Links to Evidence Used in Cases


Hi Tanis, 


I'm currently reviewing Matheus Sousa. This is a tough one. When a person's name is not on the award itself it's very difficult (not impossible) to tie the client sufficiently to the award. From reviewing the argument as is, I'd need to spend an entire morning or afternoon trying to convey the message you're trying to convey here. Before I invest that amount of time. I've asked Britney to go over this argument with you one on one to make sure this argument is indeed viable. 


Message to Team


1. When drafting arguments always be sure to put links to pictures you use for evidence. Tanis, I notice you no longer doing that from the arguments I've been reviewing. 


2. If you have any doubts about an argument because it's not straight forward in some way, before you invest hours into it, please set up a sit down with Britney to go over your strategy so that she can make sure the strategy is viable. 


BTW - Evie, is taking over Intake from Britney, so that Britney can now spend more helping staff individually with issues like this. 


So Tanis, I've now referred this argument to Britney as outlined above. 


 
Cheers,


Dick C. Baxter, LL.M., ESQ

Attorney at Law












5/30/17

May 30, 2017: Beginning of the End

Let me tell you about last week.

But then I have to tell you from the beginning.

1. Until recently, I had been thinking a lot about asking for a raise.

2. About a month ago, my Practice Manager beat me to the punch by asking for a raise on my behalf.

3. The Boss came back with a $1 raise to $16 per hour from $15 per hour.

4. About a week later I asked the Boss to have a word with me and I told him that his $1 raise was a slap in the face and I deserved more. We talked about it, like civil people, and after an hour he said, "Let's continue this talk next week." It was Friday afternoon.

5. The following week, instead of returning to the office like a man and picking up the conversation with me, he had his Practice Manager present me an "incentive program." If I wanted to make $17.50 per hour, I had to write 14 arguments per month.

6. Last week, with four working days in the month, I had thirteen arguments and was starting on my fourteenth.

7. To avoid ponying up the bonus I would easily earn, the Boss made up new Bullshit Rules, and had his Practice Manager present them to me.

8. I pointed out the obvious, the PM got defensive, and we yelled at each other.

9. The Boss got wind of it and admonished me--by e-mail.

10. In much more civil language, I told him he was full of it.

11. That same day, I returned to the PM and apologized if I had raised my voice, pointing out that this disagreement was between the Boss and me and too bad she had got caught in the middle of it.

12. The next day, a Friday, I told my co-workers about it and they supported me, advising me to claim  my bonus when we turned in time sheets.

13. Today

The Boss came in to the office--a rare occurrence--to meet with a client. I became tense. After what happened, I can't pretend to be cool with him anymore. He peeked into our office to introduce us to the client and I kept my focus on the clients, refusing to look at him.

Later, he came to say good-bye and my co-workers responded by I kept my back to him.

Later, I opened my inbox to find an email, from the Boss, arguing that a recent argument of mine was untenable. I pointed out why  it wasn't, including reminding him of a similar argument we had sent out a month before which had a weaker argument than the one in question.

I wonder what the Boss will respond?

3/21/17

What Is the WhatWhat Is the What by Dave Eggers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book really amazed me. I'm amazed at how the author, Dave Eggers, completely embodied Valentino Achek Deng's--the protagonist--voice and told his story. This book is a novelized account of Deng's real life story. Deng belongs to the Lost Boys of Sudan, a generation of Sudanese boys who were displaced by war, some of whom were relocated to America. The novel narrates the Lost Boys' odyssey from wherever they had lived during peace to refugee camps across Africa (if they didn't, literally, get eaten by lions along the way.) Deng's African story, alone, is riveting but we also learn about his odyssey once in America. He arrives in Atlanta convinced that he will soon enroll in a four year college and finds that goal much, much harder to achieve than he ever dreamed. As in a Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Eggers' writing is nothing less than excellent and compelling. This book was all at once inspiring, engrossing, and heartbreaking.


View all my reviews

2/14/17

A Lift Up

I feel a lot better about work today. I have recovered a lot of my confidence. 

Last week, when we were told that we would take on our own cases again I panicked and I dreaded this week because I was afraid that I was not going to be able to cope. 

It's not like I hit it out of the ballpark today but some things did go well. I finished an Awards argument for a Turkish client and I wrote the Intro and Final Merits argument--albeit not to the best of my abilities because for a good while in the afternoon I was falling asleep. 

I made some significant progress in providing feedback on Critical Role letters. I am in the middle of devising the best way to approach the case of a Latin American  copywriter working for Fox Latin America. He's applying under the Awards and the Critical Roles categories and one of my challenges is establishing a link between his work and the awards that the network has garnered. 

This morning before work I was struggling with anxiety and I struggled again during my lunch hour when I spent the majority of it talking with the healthcare system to get the medication I recently ran out of. 

After lunch, my black co-worker and I were in our office alone when I sighed and said, "You know, I wish I didn't have to depend on drugs to deal with my anxiety."

She told me that I didn't have to. She told me that she prayed and she told me about her own struggles with anxiety, with depression, with loneliness, frustration, and pain. Her speech was uplifting to me and I was happy that she was there at that precise moment and that she has a magnanimous, sharing heart. 

I'm going to pray too. I want to have the kind of faith that she has. 

And earlier in the day, early in the morning, she was humming some beautiful tunes that lifted up the heart. I could tell that she was feeling pain herself. She was in the kitchen and i went in there and I rubbed her shoulder and I said, "Thanks for humming those beautiful tunes. They mean a lot to me right now."

The Boss came in today. He was wearing a dark suit and a pink shirt but no tie. She came with three trays of food and a large chocolate cake. There was a Caesar salad and an assortment of sandwiches. I had some salad but none of the sandwiches because of my nutritional preferences. I did, however, have some cake. 

The new Australian employee who is very chatty kept us entertained as we all ate around the coffee table in the waiting room. 

I stared at another of the new employees, this one a very small white girl who is an Admin Assistant. She's very cute and nice and I wouldn't stop looking at her. 

After our treat, the Boss stuck around for another couple of hours as she made the rounds catching up with each of us. 

Lowering the bar

It's day two of working after the big change that the boss made. Previous to February 13, the work was divided according to type of argument. Since I'm still a beginner, I was assigned the more straightforward arguments like Judging, Invited Membership, Awards, and Exhibitions and Showcases. This worked for me for the time it lasted. We worked under this model for about three months. It was put in place to help me with the transition of beginner to intermediate EB1 Visa petition writer. 

Last week, though, one case after another began blowing up in the Boss's face. Clients began calling the office angrily, demanding that they get immediate attention or that they get their money back. In some, if not most, cases, I wholeheartedly agree with the client. One such example was Bethany, an entrepreneur. She was told during intake that she was qualified as an EB1 Petitioner under the categories Invited Membership, Critical Roles, and High Salary. After she was retained, after several weeks, I discovered that, in fact, she didn't qualify for the Invited Membership category because she only had one example in her résumé of belonging to an "Invited Membership." She needed at least two. Naturally, the young lady blew up, and she is demanding her money back. 

There's nothing the Boss dislikes more than giving money back. It doesn't matter if his office's practices are responsible for a client being disgruntled. In the case of Bethany, the salesperson should have informed her that she needed two Memberships to qualify for the category. The Boss will go to great lengths to avoid returning money. The Boss hates losing money. The Boss lives for the Bottom Line. I don't know what's happened with the Bethany case. 

Last week about three clients had a Bethany reaction. Instead of acknowledging that a major reason why we are failing to satisfy our clients is that we have too many clients, the Boss doubles down. The Boss made up his mind that the problem was the system we were using to divide up the work. He decided that we would divide the work not by category arguments, but by clients. Each of us would have a case load of clients. 

In an of itself, this is not a bad change. However, it was the way that we were working when I first came on the firm. It should have never changed. And the root problems are still not addressed. The root problems, as far as I can see, is that we bring on too many clients and that too many of those cases are not legitimate EB1 material. 

In other words, the firm, in my opinion, is engaging in unethical behavior. It's a heavy charge, right? I think I'm justified and my argument is that the EB1 Visa is designated for "Aliens of extraordinary" ability, foreign professionals or artists that are at the top of their game. So an ethical practice on the part of the firm would be to vet their potential clients and set a high standard for who they will retain. However, in order to increase profits, the bar for who is retained is lowered and I, as a writer, end up with cases that are difficult to argue. It's frustrating, demoralizing, and stressful to put together cases and argue for people that have no business petitioning for the EB1 Visa. 

2/11/17

I don't have to cooperate

We have too many clients. Around 75. There are three of us, ostensibly, who are in charge of handling those 75 cases. So I have too many clients to handle. 

Yesterday in conversation with my fellow EB1 writer he pegged the ideal number of cases one person should handled at 15. 25 is on the higher end of reason and possibility. 

For each case I am expected to communicate with the client via email and the phone, pursue and evaluate evidence, compose coherent, persuasive arguments according to an established format, work with a slow virtual case management system, check cases before they're filed, set up online file systems, guide and coach the client through the whole process. 

I am being pushed too much, too fast. The original plan was to ease me into the position. At about the time that I came in, however, about four people quit, including the case manager. After that, the Boss has refused to hire a case manager and so, in addition to my writing duties and expectations, now I had case management duties to handle. 

I am not qualified for the quantity and level of work that I am doing. The Boss has given me the title of "EB1 Specialist," but it's misleading. "Specialist" conveys the idea that a person is very well-versed and expert on the subject. This is not the case with me. 

My boss is insane, unhinged by greed, and the workplace is dysfunctional for trying to do too much with too little, for cutting corners. 

This job is crazy-making, but I don't have to allow myself to be crazed. 

I can ask for help each time I need it, I can work at my own pace, I can keep the rest of my life balanced, I can give the client the honorable service she deserves, I can throw perfectionism out the window, 

I can do this as long as I keep my head, my poise, and my unwillingness to subsume myself. 

Fuck that Boss. 

2/10/17

Fear and Pain

I'm home from work. I left late today because I arrived late. I am not looking forward to next week. The Boss has determined that we're each going to handle whole cases now. For the last two months the work has been divided by categories. I was in charge of Judging, Exhibitions and Showcases, Invited Memberships, and Lesser International or National Awards. My colleague wrote arguments for the rest of the categories like High Salary, Critical Role, Scholarly Articles, Published Materials, and so forth. Now the work will be divided by cases, not by categories. So I will be responsible for writing all category arguments. 

This is the way it was when I first joined the firm about five months ago. 

Each of us will be responsible for about 25 cases each, which is a lot. 

 

2/9/17

Change (Again)

Things are going to change at work. Today the Boss called us into a meeting.

There was a reason for it.

Clients are very angry. One client tore him a new asshole, well deservedly.

My boss's practice has a bad habit of retaining clients that have no business petitioning for EB1 visas, which are intended for "aliens of extraordinary ability." So naturally, their cases fall flat. By the time they realize this, they've already paid up to $4000 believing that they have a shot.

Here is someone that has a shot at the EB1 Visa: He's an international relations expert who brokers peace agreements between warring religious groups. He's been so successful at it that he's won a major prize for it. In addition, the executives of the organizations he's worked for are willing to write glowing letters on his behalf. This person's expertise is renowned and he has been invited to judge his peers in formal settings on several occasions. And all of this, he can document. Now that is "an alien of extraordinary ability," someone who has a bona fide shot.

Here's someone who has no shot and should never be retained: She's a has been model and actor who never made it big in the first place. She's been on some magazine covers in her home country a long time ago and she's been interviewed on makeshift celebrity gossip shows that air exclusively on YouTube. Some magazines have written feature stories on her but they have no clout whatsoever. She persuades herself that she's EB1 material because she's delusional and my Boss's salespersons reinforce that notion to collect a retainer fee from her. 

The problem is that the firm retains too many clients, too many of which don't really have legitimate cases because they simply are not extraordinary or because they don't have the evidence to prove it.

My Boss, though, would never recognizes this. In his eyes, we simply have to become more efficient.

2/8/17

I don't know what happened today, but after a certain hour I was feeling kind of depressed.

Yesterday I began working on John Doe's Lesser International or National Awards argument. John Doe is a copywriter for Fox Networks in Latin America. He has won many awards for his work. For example, he has won a few Promaxdba awards.

However, his awards are not individual prizes. They are won as part of a team. He works on a crew, they make things like commercials, and sometimes they win industry awards for them. So this is the first challenge in writing his argument. The awards cannot be directly attributed. But this isn't the only challenge in preparing his argument.

Another obstacle is that he lacks photographs of himself receiving his award. I don't think this is an essential lacking but, then again, a good picture goes a long way.

Thirdly, the third award he's presenting doesn't seems like a very good one. It's a "New York Festivals" award for Copywriting. It's a legitimate award, to be sure. However, it doesn't seem to carry much prestige and the people who give it away don't seem very serious. For example, one of the things I, as an advocate, need to explain is the mission of the organization giving away the award. After exploring the New York Festivals website I found no information about this.

What kind of an award-giving organization doesn't have a mission statement?

Another problem with the New York Festivals award is that the franchise does not have any significant press coverage. Performing a routine Google news search to find articles on a subject is what we do. When I Googled "New York Festivals news" I found nothing except a self-serving press release.

So I am thinking about scrapping the New York Festivals award and either arguing only two awards or finding a third award for John Doe. Finding a third one seems like a lot of work I don't want to do. Yet, if I am ruthless about it maybe it won't be so bad.

It was very difficult for me to concentrate today because two of my co-workers were very noisy today. Actually, between the three of them it's very distracting and difficult to concentrate on the problem solving I needed to do today.

I could have discussed my challenges with my co-workers, get their advice. I didn't want to do that, though. I didn't want to bother them, among other reasons.