Issues of Identity (Race/Gender/Disability/LGBT) Are Important, But Might Not Always Be Central.

Three people sought conflict coaching because they were miserable at work. Can you guess the conflict?

  1. Derrick is a Gay, Latino man who works in finance.
  2. Terry is a Caucasian mother of two in her 50's who's a project manager at a marketing company.
  3. Na'Keshia is an African American woman with lupus; she's also a social worker.

Each of us is a melting pot of identities, histories, and experiences. And these interact in surprising ways. When a client walks in the room, it's tempting to assume that the identities that WE see are the ones at the center of the problem. But this is a shortcut. We must be open to exploring what our clients bring and where they go. Acknowledge and respect their identities, then look past them, to their individuality.

Back to Derrick, Terry and Na'Keshia.

  1. An easy assumption is that Derrick was being harassed at work because he's a gay man in a bro culture. But Derrick sought help because his friend at work was in a violent relationship. As the oldest sibling in a single parent household, he feels protective of her and somewhat responsible for what's happening to her.
  2. One might assume age or gender discrimination is at play. But Terry was accused of sending an racially insensitive email. She's mortified, hurt, and frustrated. She feels isolated and angry that no one wants to talk to her about it.
  3. Na'Keshia's new job with the homeless community has been triggering for her. She hears stories similar to the abuse her mother suffered as a child and she's having a hard time setting appropriate boundaries.

Do you want to explore more about how identity, history and context interplay in conflict? For yourself and others?

Then join us for a powerful new workshop, Context in Conflict. Sign up at fisherlawpractice.nyc/

Want​ ​a​ ​Better​ ​Work​ ​Experience? Learn from the ​Golden​ ​Girls!

Want​ ​a​ ​Better​ ​Work​ ​Experience?  Learn from the ​Golden​ ​Girls!

Having trouble in your workplace? Here are some tips from the four ladies in Miami.

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Why workplace conflict resolution? To help people like Rene...

1 hour every weekday. 5 hours a week. Roughly 250 hours each year.

That's how much time Rene loses with her kids every year.

Rene leaves home at 6:00 a.m., when it's still dark and her two children are sleeping. She gets to work hours before others on her team so that she can work in peace.

Come 9:00 am, when the office starts to bustle, stress also creeps in. Rene is one of a handful of women at her the engineering firm. Comments about about her body, the constant interruptions during her presentations, being told to "chill out" when she objects to sexist jokes, watching men with less experience skip over her and get the choice offices. Rene puts up with this sexist environment because she uses every spare moment to learn and grow professionally. Despite her positive disposition, it wears on her.

This brings us to the 250 hours a year.

When Rene gets home from work around 6pm, she's in a tough headspace. Angry, frustrated, and emotionally drained, she's an exhausted shell of herself. She needs to spend an hour alone in her room, to recover and be her best self. Time to take off the armor and get rid of the negative energy. At 7pm, she emerges from her room with the smile. She has just over an hour to spend with her 3 year old before bedtime and her teenager (now free of babysitting responsibilities) is catching up on homework.

Rene's story isn't an anomaly. Many people wade through caustic work environments and spend their free time recovering and missing out what's most important to them. But what would it look like if they didn't have to decide between recovering from work and family time? What would it look like if Rene worked in a respectful environment and came home with smile on her face? She'd get that 250 hours back.

I started Fisher Law Practice to help people like Rene. We provide the space and support to help folks process their workplace experience and figure out a way to move forward. We're hired by a range individuals, organizations, and businesses with one thing in common: a desire for a respectful, communicative workplace that allows employees to excel.

20 years old, tall, strong, and crying so hard he couldn't speak.

When I met DJ, he was crying so hard that he couldn't speak. His head was buried in the fold of his arm, shoulders shaking. He was 20 years old, but fear and anxiety made him seem much younger. I wanted to pat him on the back, to tell him that it was okay. But there were bars between us.

DJ was accused of robbery: pushing a woman near the Coney Island boardwalk and running off with her purse. This happened two weeks before he was arrested. DJ swore that he didn't know anything about the accusations. He didn't know the woman, and only went to Coney Island to work. According to the prosecution, he had been picked out of the police photomanager program (an electronic repository for mugshots). I was in court to represent him; and this is how we met.

The sobs slowed down. He lifted his head to look at me and used his white t-shirt to wipe his face clean. DJ put a hand in front of his mouth. He apologized for crying so much, and for his breath; he hadn't been able to brush his teeth since he was arrested 23 hours earlier. We talked about the next steps; what to expect when we went in front of the judge, how we could fight his case, and what I needed from him and his family.

Let's fast forward... His family was present in court and they were inconsolable, Despite a clean record (save an arrest for having a joint), and his family being present, the judge set bail. The family couldn't pay it so DJ remained incarcerated for 5 more days until the grand jury hearing for his case.

During that time, my team investigated his alibi. We made a dozen calls to his family and friends. We spoke with his boss and got his time sheets and pay stubs. When we traced back that night, we put together that he had been playing video games with friends and later left to meet up with his girlfriend. We verified the video game party. And his girlfriend met with us in the courthouse to show the text messages that corroborated they spent time together.

On the 6th day (the day where the grand jury has to vote for an indictment to keep the defendant in jail), I met with D.J. in the cells near the courtroom. He looked tired and hopeless, his shirt was now grey, stained and stretched out. "Please miss, please miss, I don't belong here!. You have to get me out of here!" l had good news. He was going to be released! We were able to convince the ADA to do further investigation before moving for an indictment, in light of the alibi witnesses and favorable statement from his employer. Even though the case wasn't over this was a major development. He put his head down and cried.

The case ended on a good note. We subpoenaed his cell phone data to triangulate his location during the incident. He had been in his neighborhood, 6 miles away. That plus the text message proof that DJ had personally been in possession of his phone was enough to convince the ADA.

The charges were dismissed.

So what happened? How did DJ get caught up in this? He was arrested based solely on basis that the victim picked him out from that photo array program. When victims look through the Police photomanager program to look at suspects, they look at hundreds and hundreds. Scanning for an hour or two at a time to find the face that looks like the perpetrator.

During summers, DJ worked as a ride operator in Coney Island. Because of his experience and good job performance, he was promoted to team leader and was there at least 5 nights a week. DJ's picture was in the system because he was caught with a joint when he was 16. The woman who was robbed was a Coney Island resident who lived just blocks away from his workstation. We believe DJ looked familiar to her because she probably passed him on the street regularly.

This happened 5 years ago. But I share this story because DJ stays with me. I became a criminal defense attorney to help kids like DJ, professionals who get accused of bullshit crimes, and the folks who messed up, but don't want their lives ruined because of a mistake. It doesn't matter if it's robbery, a domestic violence accusation, a DUI, or a summons ticket. Everyone deserves a vigorous defense, an honest attorney, and compassion.

If you know someone who was arrested or received a summons ticket, make sure they have a good lawyer. And if they don't, you can call us. Fisher Law Practice: 917-819-5656.

Someone I Care About Was Just Arrested! 5 Things You Can Do Right Now

1. Collect Information.

If you're present when your friend or family member gets arrested, it means you're an eyewitness. Write down the names of the people present and get their telephone numbers. This will be helpful for the attorney and/or investigator. If visible, write down the Officers' badge numbers and vehicle number. DO NOT approach them to demand this information; you can make matters worse for the person in custody or for yourself. I've represented several people who were arrested for yelling at the officers or demanding information about someone else's arrest.

2. Call an Attorney Immediately.

The earlier an attorney gets involved, the better. Attorneys speak with the arresting officers, to find out what the charges are. For very serious crimes, we might go to the precinct to remind the individual not to talk about anything, other than their basic contact information. We meet with the family at the arraignment so that, when we get in front of the judge, we can make them aware of our client's place in the community. And we work hard to get our client released so that he or she can keep their jobs while fighting the charges.

3. Bring Your Loved One Some Food at the Precinct.

Jail food sucks. Within 3-8 hours of the arrest, bring your loved one a good, hot meal. Chances are, the officers will let them eat it. (keep it simple, like a burger and fries). Bringing food does three things: 1. your loved one gets a good meal; 2. your loved one is reminded that he or she is not alone and people care; 3. the police officers know the individual is part of a caring community. Be friendly with the officers but DO NOT answer any of their questions about the individual or their case. You never know what information could be harmful. 

4. Coordinate Family and Friends to Be Present At The Arraignment.

Make sure at least a couple of people are present at the arraignment. Keep in mind there is not way to know exactly when they will be seen, so you may be waiting in court for 4-8 hours. It's worth it, though. When he or she steps out of the cells and sees their family, they don't feel alone anymore. (I've seen grown men cry). Support in the courtroom also makes it more likely that the Judge will release them. 

5. If It's a Serious Crime, Know Which Bail Bondsperson You Want to Use.

If you know your loved one is being charged with a felony and/or they have a lengthy criminal record, decide which bondsperson you want to use before you get to court. That way, if the Judge sets bail, you can be on the phone right away to get the process moving. 

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You may feel helpless when someone you care about is arrested. But you aren't. Put your stress to good use by writing down witnesses, hiring an attorney, bringing them food, and coordinating with your community to make sure people will be there in court.

If someone you care needs help with a summons ticket or open case, give us a call at 917-819-5656.