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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.