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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