Berry Appleman & Leiden Reviews

Updated August 28, 2015
53 reviews filtered by
  • Any Location
  • Any Job Title
  • Full-time
  • Part-time
Employment Status

Reset
3.0
Rating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
(no image)
Jeremy Fudge
5 Ratings

53 Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (1)

    Great place to work. Friendly coworkers, engaged management, and a dedicated-to-change HR.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Paralegal in Houston, TX
    Current Employee - Paralegal in Houston, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I have now been with BAL for 2 years. I started out as an Immigration Assistant and went though the typical year of learning to become a Paralegal. In the beginning I was concerned about the low-ish pay, but between the 4 salary bumps and 4+ bonuses I have received, the pay is competitive. Working hard and performing well does pay off here. I am lucky to be on a team that collaborates daily. We share information about our clients, so that we provide excellent service. We have monthly lunches and activities together. We participate in all the company-driven activities (Wellness Challenge, cubicle decorating for holidays, ugly sweater contest, Halloween costume contest, etc.). I believe that if you engage, participate, and collaborate at BAL, you will receive both a wealth of knowledge in immigration and a group of amazing teammates. I work with incredibly supportive people who make going to work fun. I joined this company with barely any knowledge of immigration. Through the help and training I received from the team I work with and the attorney I work for, I am now confident and comfortable in my position. I highly recommend BAL, to the point that I recommended BAL to a friend and the friend got a job here as well.

    Cons

    Unfortunately, not all teams are the same. I work with a group of incredible people who are supportive both with work and with things that happen in our personal lives. I can't say enough good things about who I work with on a daily basis. However, some teams are not so lucky. Not all attorneys are organized and can handle the incredibly high volume of cases we have. This job requires a certain kind of attention to detail, organization, and confidence that not everyone has.

    Advice to Management

    Keep the changes coming. The 9/80 schedule is awesome, please implement it (for those who want it) year-round. Accelerated advancement for high performers would we fantastic. Bi-yearly reviews were great and we should keep them. Some suggestions: pay for our parking, give better management training to new attorneys, give us an extra vacation day and holiday, and keep helping us balance work and life (i.e. take a note from Netflix's new maternity policy).


  2. law clerk

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Staff is very friendly and want you to learn.

    Cons

    the is no opportunity for growth.

    Advice to Management

    good as a learning experience


  3. Great company that is only getting better!

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The Managing Partner genuinely cares about the future of BAL and all BAL employees. The firm as a whole has a unified culture, and there are many new initiatives currently in the works to make the firm an even better place to work. I honestly enjoy going to work each day, and I would recommend BAL wholeheartedly.

    Cons

    Variation among teams can be a bit of an issue, but the firm understands and sees this and they are working on processes and ideas to mitigate this inherent con.

    Advice to Management

    Keep doing what you are doing! Visibility with the firm is essential and you are doing a great job.


  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. Great Teams to Work With

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Immigration Assistant in Dallas, TX
    Former Employee - Immigration Assistant in Dallas, TX
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great coworkers, positive team environment, good office location

    Cons

    case load is heavy and the managing/equity partner in the office is almost intolerable. Apparently he's the CEO now?

    Advice to Management

    That "work-life balance" you drill into everyone's head should be a real thing instead of an idea.


  6. Helpful (2)

    Typical corporate environment

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Immigration Assistant in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Immigration Assistant in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Most people are nice, supportive, and easy to get along with. Salary is decent. You can tell upper management is trying to push out more incentives to make the company culture more positive.

    Cons

    If you take a day off, expect your workload to bury you when you come back. People will take sick days but then have to come in on the weekends. Day-to-day quality of life is heavily dependent on who your manager is, and a lot of the attorneys (while very knowledgeable and good at being attorneys) are truly awful people managers. If you are not an attorney, this is a job that just requires you to follow directions and leave most of your brain at home. Most people are actively looking for another job while collecting a paycheck here because the work is relentless and mind-numbing, while the environment is isolating and soul-crushing. This is not a place for collaboration and personality; just fill in the blanks on your templates, keep doing your cases one after the other with no end, take your paycheck, go home, and do it all again the next day. Management keeps emphasizing customer service but at ground level they just want you to minimize transparency, answer the e-mail like a robot, and move on. There are too many cases to pretend that we care about each client.

    Advice to Management

    We don't need the same bagels every Thursday (mix it up a little bit, you know?) or sad little token bonuses. We don't *really* care about "OneBal" because it's obvious that each office has its own culture and processes. What we need are for more people to be hired so current employees aren't worked to the bone; for managers to actually learn how to manage people; for higher base salaries because THAT'S the core way to take care of your employees. Many of us joined this company to learn about immigration - teach us about the law, not just how to edit the pre-filled forms. Also - if you split bonuses up over three months and bar people from turning in notices early because they want to collect their bonuses, you screw yourself over because employees don't feel like they can give more advanced notice if they're leaving.


  7. Helpful (1)

    Paralegal

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Decent place for a first job and people are nice.

    Cons

    Compensation is very poor.


  8. Paralegal

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Immigration Paralegal in Dallas, TX
    Current Employee - Immigration Paralegal in Dallas, TX
    Recommends

    I have been working at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    This place is awesome. I honestly do not know why there would be a bad review. We have fun, wear jeans, have a flexible work schedule, and our management truly cares about it's employees. We celebrate all the little things, from birthdays and holidays to Monday Night Football. We work hard, we have a stressful job at times, but you're rewarded for your hard work and that's what really matters. It's nice to finally work for a company that really cares about their employees.

    Cons

    Downtown traffic can really be a downer, but we have flexible work hours. We even have a program during the summer that allows for every other Friday off. It makes the traffic worth it.


  9. Helpful (2)

    No respect and little regard

    Former Employee - Law Clerk in Dallas, TX
    Former Employee - Law Clerk in Dallas, TX
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time

    Pros

    Flexible work schedule; bagel/donuts on Thurs.

    Cons

    Do not work here as a law clerk. The firm hires licensed attorneys, or those with JDs, to serve as law clerks. Clerks are rarely regarded, treated very poorly, and given no respect. First, the firm sits all the law clerks in the training room where meetings are conducted. Some meetings that are small enough to be held in a conference room are still conducted in the training room. This shows what little regard they have for law clerks. Bigger meetings that logistically require a larger space are rightly held in the training room, however these meetings rarely (if ever) involve the clerks. During this time, the clerks cannot work because typing and printing will disrupt the meeting, yet those holding the meetings do not care when/if their meetings disrupt the clerks. Second, clerks are not properly trained nor do they receive immediate feedback regarding their work, and then faulted for generating mediocre or poor work product. Training is horrible. Clerks are either expected to “just know,” or talked about when they do something incorrectly. Third, clerks are talked down to and demeaned by both the attorneys and paralegals. Clerks are frequently referred to as "temps" and paralegals constantly give files back to clerks to revise minor things such punctuation marks, or printing documents that should have already been printed. Once a file is complete, the paralegal gets the credit and appreciation. This is especially true of CAP season. During CAP season, there are 4-6 paralegals for every 1 law clerk. While each paralegal does have a hefty number of cases, those cases roll up the clerks assigned to that team. As a result, the clerks are responsible for generating ALL the CAP documents for thousands of cases and yet the paralegals get all the appreciation. Fourth, the work itself is not rewarding or challenging. It basically amounts to document production and clerical work that does not require any specialized skill set. No analysis or writing or researching is involved. While this may appeal to some, those who want to actually practice law will find it extremely mundane. Coupled with the fact that the pay is extremely low and no respect is given, it’s no wonder why there is such high turnover for law clerks. Unfortunately, the firm is not concerned with the turnover rate as they acknowledge the position is not a permanent one nor one that would lead to permanent employment. The firm constantly holds meetings on how to improve work culture and environment, but nothing material to law clerks is ever implemented. When an attorney position opens up, management does not consider the clerks who are licensed, but opt to hire an external candidate instead. Attorneys constantly complain they are drowning in work, yet the firm has a (training) room full of licensed attorneys they could easily hire on permanently to help, but rather choose to keep them stunted as law clerks instead. However, given how the clerks are treated, who would want a permanent position there anyway? In short, as a law clerk you will be underpaid, under-appreciated, and (most of the time) unnoticed. Unless this environment is appealing to you, do not work here.

    Advice to Management

    Treat your clerks nicer. If the job is only for document production with no respect or advancement opportunities, then hire college students. Have better training. Train the clerks on how to do things correctly and give faster feedback, instead of waiting until a million files are done to advise it's all wrong.


  10. Helpful (1)

    Immigration Assistant

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Immigration Assistant in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Immigration Assistant in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    I seriously cannot think of a single pro. They overwork you but are so incredibly cheap to allow you to be paid for the overtime work. They want "excellence" but don't want to pay you for it. They expect you to come in over the weekend and sell your soul to the devil during CAP season with almost no regard to your personal career goals and/or work life balance. They offer you "Bagel Thursdays" which is as pathetic as it sounds.

    Cons

    Poor compensation, poor company culture, poor management. I highly recommend executive coaching for the partner attorneys here who are also managers.

    Advice to Management

    If you want excellence, give your employees enough time. How do you expect your employees to give this all-star service when you overload them with new cases each day? You set them up for failure, and that's not fair. Also, quit threatening them with performance reviews. That's not how you appreciate employees, which explains your high turn-over rate.


  11. Helpful (6)

    Firm Culture

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Dallas, TX
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Dallas, TX
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Nice office location, decent facilities, free food. The firm could be an option while looking for other work, but see below.

    Cons

    The firm has an issue with culture, specifically the culture surrounding their law clerk/temp program. At most other companies, having a bad culture surrounding temporary workers would not be an issue worth caring about, but BAL actually depends on their clerks to do work that is important to the proper functioning of the firm and, at the same time, has expectations for clerks that aren't congruent with what the firm is offering. So the program's culture is worth mentioning. First of all, BAL insists on hiring recently graduated/barred attorneys to be temporary law clerks at the firm. They then place them all on one side of a conference room and have them report to paralegals. The work consists mostly of clerical tasks and sometimes involves correcting simple grammatical errors of paralegals. This structure alone is enough to irk a lot of the law clerks. Many of the clerks do not like having to report to paralegals (who are either not from any law background or are currently in law school) and really do not like having paralegals hand files to them just to change one typo or add a period. The way they structure the paralegal and clerk programs is just how they choose to do business and is something that clerks should know about when they get hired. The structure has inherent downsides and, unsurprisingly, results in morale issues right off the bat; but the fact that they have attorneys reporting to law clerks shouldn't be an issue by itself. The paralegals obviously know more than temporary law clerks about immigration law and about how things work at the firm. The issue lies with how the structure functions. One example, among others, is how paralegals will often hand files to law clerks to just change one typo or add a period, when it would be easier and faster for everyone if the paralegal just did it themselves. Scenarios like this haven't just happened once or a few times, it has happened countless times. It's scenarios like these that really bother and degrade the clerks. Problems with culture also serve to exacerbate the issues mentioned above. There were a number of times that permanent employees or attorneys would make some comment implying how unimportant the clerks are, either directly to the clerks themselves or within earshot of the clerks. Also, the firm will often hold meetings about the firm's OneBAL culture and about how the firm takes care of its employees. These meetings are held in the same conference room that the clerks work in, but clerks are generally excluded from the presentations. This is already kind of awkward, since most of the time the initiatives simply don't apply to temps. But what makes it worse is that permanent employees will sometimes drop comments to the temps about how the presentation doesn't apply to them. The employees are obviously joking, but this turns an already awkward situation into an unpleasant one. There are a few more examples of issues like the ones mentioned above (like how attorneys and employees don't even bother learning the names of clerks), but I think the examples mentioned are enough to illustrate the point. It's the general lack of awareness (or outright indifference) of how temps are being treated that causes morale issues. Second, BAL doesn't offer any form of incentive for clerks to work hard. The nature of the work is inherently unrewarding to most people already, but the firm doesn't bother to provide any sort of incentive for clerks to care about working harder. A clerk can exceed what is expected of them and do five times more work than another clerk and no one will notice or care (this isn't hyperbole, there is close to no supervision). The lack of acknowledgement is coupled with a low wage and a lack of financial incentives. What results is a general lack of motivation on the part of clerks. This might be fine for temps normally, but there are examples of attorneys calling out temps for bad attitudes, so it seems that the firm isn't aware or doesn't care about the work environment its created for clerks. Additionally, another lack of incentive example is that the firm very rarely hires attorneys from within; so clerks, paralegals, and other employees have little opportunity for advancement. There are examples of employees, who are well-qualified and have been there for many years, who have been passed over time and time again for outside hires. The firm will occasionally offer permanent law clerk positions or paralegal positions to temporary law clerks, but this doesn't affect the firms hiring practice for attorneys. These are all business decisions by the firm, but again, the culture and morale is not great as a result. To wrap things up, the firm's culture is kind of terrible. Whether the partners and attorneys are aware of the work environment they've created or not is unknown. At worst, the firm has purposely set up a work structure to churn and take advantage of recent law grads looking for work. At best, the firm has unknowingly created a bad work environment. Either way, it definitely needs improvement.

    Advice to Management

    Improvements to the law clerk/temp program would go a long way. I think providing some form of incentive for law clerks would make their work at least somewhat rewarding and therefore would improve their attitude/morale. Also, being more conscious of the way clerks are talked to or treated would be something that wouldn't be difficult to do, but would improve morale considerably. And if the work culture can't be changed for whatever reason, be forthright about the position and the work to eliminate contradictory expectations. If the position is a job for law grads while they look for other work, be honest about both the firm and employee's expectations. This way, temps know exactly what they're getting into and are less likely to have bad attitudes about the work.



Showing 53 of 57 reviews
Reset Filters
RSS Feed </> Embed

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.