Berry Appleman & Leiden Reviews | Glassdoor

Berry Appleman & Leiden Reviews

Updated June 18, 2018
150 reviews

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2.5
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Jeremy Fudge
58 Ratings

150 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "The only perk is free donuts and bagels on Thursdays" (in 12 reviews)

  • "Competitive Pay; Varied responsibilities and tasks; Flexible work schedule (to a degree); casual work environment; great coworkers and support staff" (in 9 reviews)

Cons
  • "Work life balance is nonexistent" (in 11 reviews)

  • "Workload is unbelievable and you will work long hours" (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Awesom"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time

    Pros

    People are great to work with

    Cons

    Telephones systems sucks. Old dated phones


  2. "OK, but not great"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Immigration Advisor
    Former Employee - Immigration Advisor
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Worked with a great team
    Great pay
    Okay benefits

    Cons

    No career advancement
    Not a great HR department

    Advice to Management

    Listen more to employees and have a better system to file complaints as I know everyone in my office had complained about something to HR and nothing ever really got addressed.

  3. "Facilities Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Facilities Assistant in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Facilities Assistant in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Benefits, good work times, weekends off, casual, flexible.

    Cons

    Pay, can get pretty hectic at times, small annoyances


  4. Helpful (4)

    "Consular Services Advisor"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Consular Services Advisor I in Houston, TX
    Former Employee - Consular Services Advisor I in Houston, TX
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    -Hires recent graduates with little to no experience in immigration
    -More relaxed business-casual dress code (can wear jeans outside of Friday)
    -Great healthcare benefits and offers Roth 401(k)
    -Flexible schedule (provided that you get your work done)
    -Learned A LOT about immigration that can benefit my own life down the line

    Cons

    -Workload: When you are first hired as a CSA, the training takes 3-4 weeks (including your first week), so initally, it feels incredibly slow. However, things will pick up as you become responsible for your own cases, and that is when the REAL multi-tasking begins. Due to this multi-tasking aspect and BAL's over the top commitment to their client (see Culture point below for more info), this job then becomes a major stress point. The expectation to provide exceptional customer service and doing everything near perfection (NEAR since we are all humans and will make mistake) cause an emotional and mental toll on you. For people who really care about doing a great job every time, the job will follow you home. I was mentally exhausted to the point where once I recovered on Sunday, the Hell starts on Monday again. Lastly, this is TMI, but it was starting to affect the sexual relationship aspect with my significant other, and that is part of the reason where I decided that staying here long term wasn't going to benefit my personal life.

    -Culture: While watching Simon Sinek's interview on London Real, I realized that BAL's supposed culture of "One BAL" does not foster what they set out to achieve. One BAL is intended for all of their office locations to work together, but at the end of the day, everyone only wants to protect their people and themselves. The manager I worked under does protect his team, but the other managers (e.g. UK, China, etc) don't play with the same rules. They are just protecting themselves and their team members. It took me awhile to understand why after I left, but upon hearing Sinek talk about the psychological safety, I believe that BAL employees do not psychology feel safe working there. I can also attest to this sentiment because while we do get praised for doing a good job, my honest opinion is no matter how many exceptional survey feedbacks or praise you get, one mistake (boo-boo) will drop you back to start of point A. If this is the mentality that my other former colleagues share, it means that the culture is just a facade.

    -Management/Career Growth: Another observation made while working at BAL is how cliquey everyone is. Granted, office politics exist everywhere, but I feel like you either fit in or you don't at BAL. It was hard for me to be my true self, and I do not feel like questioning my opinions were 100% welcomed. I cannot attest to whether the employees' opinions were valued or executed by leadership once they had expressed them since I was only there for a year. In terms of career growth, it exists but is very between the lines. In my department, my manager did not reveal what I had to to do in order to be promoted to the Senior rank. I wasn't sure if that is something that I am supposed to ask? Another factor is you can grow horizontally, meaning by working at a different department, but it isn't explicity spoken about. A manager from another department had to approach me prior to my decision to leave in order for me to learn that. Therefore, the concern I have with this whole picture is do you really want your employees in general to grow regardless of which department they belong to?

    Technology - BAL is trying to distinguish themselves as innovators within the immigration sector. They have proprietary software such as Cobalt, but I feel like the transfer of systems made it very confusing to focus on work. The old system of VisaBase seems to make more logical sense, but they developed Cobalt. Cobalt, while it is new and supposed to be more innovative, took more time out of the job to either try to figure out or fight with how slow the server is.

    Sense of fulfillment: Overall, during my one year at BAL, I did not see a bright future outlook for myself. This is a personal opinion since I didn't dream about joining immigration while growing up. I actually did like the industry for what I was about to learn, but I started feeling that I was becoming stagnant. As CSAs, we wouldn't be the ones who attend conferences nor will we have the time to explore other areas within immigration since we have soooo many cases to work on. Towards the end, I feel like a hamster on the wheel doing the same thing - just different situations or more last-minute requests.

    Promises to clients: BAL is on the right track about providing exceptional customer service. However, somewhere along the line, it became confused with at the expense of the employee. At the forefront, we can deal with some really unreasonable and demanding clients. If management really understood, they would take actions to do more things to show that they value our hard work (Starbucks and Amazon gift cards do not last in the long term). My personal opinion of why the turnover rate is so high is because we are expected to go above and beyond while the pay and hours do not justify each other. I was told by my manager that they want us to have work life balance (personal opinion: that doesn't exist in general, even outside of BAL), but my question is how can you balance life and work without just dropping and go? You can literally stay all day to work at the office, and we have to pick & choose on what matters, what needs to be done THAT DAY. This sounds easy, but when you have a crisis, all of your to do list gets pushed back, so tell me, how can you truly achieve work/life balance without accepting the fact that you have to simply leave for the day?

    Salary: They pay you just enough to survive but not more to where you can save and eventually have the extra cash flow for investments. There is no doubt that you can survive when budgeted well, but it is not a place to make massive amount of money (unless perhaps if you are the equity partner [EP]).

    Advice to Management

    -Allow CSA the option to work from home. When we have to take a day off or are recovering from a major illness but can work, working from home can help ease the workload of when we come back.

    -FIX YOUR CULTURE. Most employees, as senior management knows, talk badly about certain aspects behind the scenes. There is no trust in management nor does the culture really show true appreciation of the employees. Like many other corporations (private or public), it currently feels like one is dispensable.


  5. "PL"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time

    Pros

    Co workers and snacks on Thursday. Thats it.

    Cons

    Worst firm to work with. To much politics and favoritism, I have seen paralegals getting panic attack, They don’t know how to treat employees. Very low salary. If you are planning to work there just leave as soon as you gain some experience. Zero work life balance. Random hires.

    Advice to Management

    Please listen to employees, don’t treat them as slaves.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "The poor reviews here are justified. Be extremely careful when deciding to interview."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time

    Pros

    Livable wage

    Nice staff

    Decent office

    Decent location

    Employee benefits aren't bad

    Cons

    Horrible workload and nowhere near enough time to feel accomplished. It feels like an uphill battle and overtime is discouraged.

    Poor training, delegated to experienced but busy coworkers who will fall behind on work themselves

    Poor management

    High employee turnover

    Unrealistic expectations

    Poor work-life balance

    Noticeably miserable employees therefore low morale

    Constant IT issues

    Does feel like a sweatshop like some reviewers have said

    Advice to Management

    Invest more in employees and their training especially if the company is so worried about customer/client service. Don't just use sink or swim or learn as you go training when there's too many deadlines and clients competing against each other for our attention. Hands on learning is good depending the job's expectations and so it works very poorly for this job. Employees are being set up to disappoint and anger clients while simultaneously demanded to please them.

    Poor reviews here definitely has some truth them. I tried not to take them seriously when researching and interviewing since I was used to being really busy and eager to learn. I thought only bad employees bother to leave reviews so the disgruntled employees here are just a small sample size. Unfortunately I noticed that turnover was rampant even though no one slacked off. People tried to hide how miserable they were but eventually it became obvious. Really disappointed and thought it would be a good fit since high workload and deadlines is nothing new but there were not enough employees or time to handle the workload.


  7. Helpful (4)

    "Legal Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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 (More than a year)

    Pros

    Co workers, co workers, co workers. They’re a set of extremely talented, supportive, and friendly people and the #1 reason you want to go to work every morning. The stars are only for them.
    Informal environment

    Cons

    Mid level management is mostly a joke, comprising inept people who gossip like high schoolers with paralegals, are incapable of giving clear instructions, and are often too confused themselves to be able to function well.

    HR does not act upon complaints and it seems that they are just wishing the negatives away rather than acting upon them. No managerial training is provided for mid level management. There are issues in plain sight that the current HR does not even seem to be aware of.

    Partners are detached from the day to day happenings although their intentions are good.

    Advice to Management

    Monitor your HR, fire ‘rotten’ mid level management and hire efficient managers.
    Appreciate your staff more if you do not want the exponential employee turnover that you have

  8. Helpful (8)

    "It's "Baahl"."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time

    Pros

    Free "food" a la carbs, decent views of the city, and close to a ton of bars - which really takes the edge off at lunchtime.

    You will make good friends. This is partly because BAL (baahl) has its own margarita machines which are generally up and running by 10am on a fairly regular near-to-weekend schedule.

    Cons

    Both the management and staff are so openly expressive about their national political leanings and the details of their personal lives that it interferes with daily business operations. They can be resentful and ostracizing if you happen to not be on board with or care much about the popular topic of the day, which should not even be discussed in an office setting yet is routinely brought up in meetings and at coffee talk. "Teambuilding activities" have on many an occasion been vocally centered around preferential beliefs rather than on maintaining a shared focus of professional bonding. Office camaraderie should be based on a neutral sense of communal work motivation, not on anyone's private philosophical inclinations or associative clique.

    This place gets a gold medal for having some of the worst "managers" in the industry, as incompetent but otherwise appearance-correct individuals are given jobs far beyond their ability to handle or to delegate tasks effectively. Vague, partial instructions are routinely given to each team member and while a completely seamless and specific outcome is then expected, the overlapping functional details of the end product are never discussed to any useful depth, which leaves the team so fragmented across offices that it can barely communicate well enough amongst itself to get all of the individually-designed parts fitting together. If someone is out, the whole thing just tends to fall apart on itself in about two to five days. It's the equivalent of a handing a blindfolded group of people a bunch of random auto parts, telling them to design a car, and then endlessly scolding them when their otherwise working product does not match the uncommunicated blueprint that the leader had in mind. Perhaps this is because management is usually too busy gossiping in the next room about Australian snack foods and the news to thoroughly convey their expectations or teach critical preferences to the team.

    Sorry BAL, but trying to be "the cool office" just makes everything about you hugely insufferable.

    ***If you need any special accommodations due to cognitive or sensory processing issues, forget about it. Those aren't real. You're a complaining, picky defector in the group, not defective, so prepare to enjoy being raked across the coals for asking for help that "doesn't make any sense" or for "causing a scene" while continuing to have ongoing problems in the environment that may significantly impact the quality of your work.

    Advice to Management

    Figure out what you want and then be clear about it.

    Getting a little formality into the dress code won't hurt anyone. House shoes aren't meant for business meetings.

    Quit pigeon-holing employees with a battery of arbitrary strengths and personality tests. They are baseless wastes of time that create tension and falsely aggregate skills exclusively to certain people while dampening your ability to see any breadth of capacity within them.

    Also, the rebrand was heck on earth. Stop insisting that everyone say "Bee-Ay-Ell" - it's a mouthful that no one wants to bother using because it's inefficient... well nevermind, on that note it's perfectly appropriate.


  9. Helpful (7)

    "We are all waiting to get let go."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Berry Appleman & Leiden full-time

    Pros

    I learned a lot while working here but didn’t realize the firms plans were to go to Texas when I started. Being truthful and offering retention incentives would be appreciated. We all read the Managing Partners recent interview and their mind is made up.

    Cons

    Poor communication and obvious lack of interest in their employees as opposed to their interest in themselves. Few perks, or recognition unless it is for something negative. Learn how to manage and treat people

    Advice to Management

    Be truthful. Don’t use your SF employees and then get rid of us with no notice. We have lives and families too and work our butts off for you all


  10. Helpful (9)

    "Great experience but a learning lesson"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great relationships with coworkers
    Semi-casual dress code
    Graduates or those new to the industry are welcomed and will learn many skills very quickly
    Challenging and fast-paced work
    Diversity in the workplace (nearly all ethnicities and genders identities are represented)

    Cons

    Case management system (Cobalt) is inefficient and has a plethora of issues, both internally and externally.
    Overtime policy and impossible caseload hinder those who care about their jobs from actually doing it properly, especially when confined to regular working hours.
    No employee retention. Many valuable employees have come and gone with seemingly no regard for the talent, information, and experience that they take with them.
    Some managers are either too hands-off or they are micromanaging you; there is not really an in-between.
    Do not be fooled by all of the Great Places to Work (GPTW) benefits that BAL touts. BAL is only a GPTW if you have the free time at work to participate in said activities in the office.
    Performance reviews based on data completion is unreasonable considering that the Cobalt system does not function properly when capturing the inputted data.
    HR does not listen to your formal complaints or take action on them. Several colleagues have filed HR complaints about coworkers' behavior/language and nothing has been done about it.

    Advice to Management

    *Mid-level Management* - Please listen to your employees and bring their valid concerns to upper management. Lower tier employees need to feel like they are being heard, especially in a larger firm like BAL, and that simply is not happening.
    *Upper-Management / Partners/HR* -
    Trickle-down communication is not a sustainable practice. Transparency only comes about when you poke and prod since most people hear the possible impending news via gossip.
    PROMOTE INTERNALLY! If you want talent to stay at BAL, give them a reason to.
    Stop overpromising to clients.


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