Corporate Lawyer Rob Bilott Goes Rogue on DuPont

No, but we can make damn sure that people who put poison in our environment get prosecuted.


Maybe lawyers should have less discretion than the other professions?

For example, the Preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct contains a statement of responsibilities typical of what can be found in different jurisdictions:

“[1] A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.”

Sales is an exercise in lying. I know this from working several different sales jobs. If you’re completely honest, and answer all customer questions in a straightforward way, you’ll never sell enough to actually run a business.

I’m glad I don’t have to be a professional liar anymore.

Really, I never was any good at it, because I have too much of a conscience. I can’t just say “sure, it’ll do x and y” when I know it can’t do x reliably and y was never in the design spec so there’s no telling whether it’ll do y.

I also always had a problem upselling. People told me what they wanted, I led them to it. Then I remembered my upsell, and would suggest a warranty, or a case, or some cables, or batteries. But of course nobody wanted that extra nickle and diming shit, and I never felt okay trying to convince people to buy something they didn’t want and I knew they didn’t need.


You behaved like a professional. No amounts of sales commissions and premiums can add up to true professional commitment.


Well, yeah, but acting professionally, treating people as if they aren’t total morons, and taking them at their word doesn’t sell Sprint contracts when there’s a $50 phone with prepaid that’s actually a better service. Prepaid didn’t make the store any money. Contracts did. The only problem was that prepaid offered $50/month UNLIMITED voice+text. None of the contract carriers had anything remotely approaching that. At the time the best you could have gotten was a 2 year AT&T contract, where you paid $140/month for 2000 minutes, and 1000 texts.

It was such utter bullshit, and so badly mismanaged.

Manager: “I want you to sell more contract phones”
Me: “You know that’s the first thing I offer. Then they see the CLEARLY better alternative right there hanging on a peg on the wall.”
Manager: “Doesn’t matter. We need those contracts.”
Me: “Those contracts are a ripoff. We both know it. And anyone who can do basic arithmetic knows it too. What am I supposed to do?”
Manager: “If you want to stay employed, sign up for a contract phone once a month, and refund it in the 4 day grace-period. Once that runs out, have your family do it for you as well.”
Me: “That’s fraud.”
Manager: “Enjoy having no unemployment benefits, COBRA, or savings, or final paycheck, since, you know, I only give you 13 hours a week and you earn minimum wage.”


“Will I be able to set up this wireless printer on my own?”

“Yes.” [If you’re remotely competent with computers, reading instructions, and/or Google. If not, it’s not really my problem and you’re probably going to get stuck using a cable no matter which printer you pick because you’re not “a computer person” as you told me when you walked in the store, and we only sell wireless printers anyway, so it’s not like you’re getting scammed when you get this one in particular. You’d probably have just as much trouble with any other printer on the market, and what you really need to do is find someone who knows what they’re doing to install it for you.]

Frankly a lot of people don’t know what they need and expect way too much of the product. If I answered them all honestly, they would just go to the next store where they’ll be successfully lied to and none the wiser. I do try not to sell people things they don’t need.

I always just ask, “Do you need X or do you already have one?” That way it’s literally a question of what they need and it keeps the boss off my back.

Actually before it went under I always used to laugh my ass off at RadioShack’s upsell. Every time I walked in they wanted me to buy an insane amount of batteries. I did once and I haven’t needed to buy batteries in the past three years. [ETA: Based on your last comment… maybe I should ask: Too soon? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:]


The story I relayed was actually from the time I worked at the nasty old RatShack. There was never anything to do there. It was small enough to have all the upkeep chores done by 1pm, then you just had to stand around and wait for customers, who came in most often looking for something very specific, like a charging cable or one of those funky proprietary USB cables that were so common in digital cameras back in the late noughties.


There may be a consumer class action claim there.


Go ahead and try suing Radio Shack.


Agreed. See also the number of chemicals that have been outlawed for business use/sale. Hint (to those not reading the OP article): it ain’t a large number.

And I am tempted to add with no small amount of snark: “Yeah, but Congress has that whole microbead thing COVERED.” Perhaps this will change as the old guard continues shuffling for the door.

Could it be said that, with the green movement starting back in the 70s, policy, practice, and public outlook are finally starting to make headway in a positive direction?

Sorry, that previous comment was total snark and in reply to another comment–as an outdoor enthusiast of multiple stripes (horizontal, not vertical), let me be the first to throw away the cell key for people who allow or enable such wanton and destructive corporate tendencies.


This fiduciarily imposed focus on profitability and share value is a phenomenon that a concept like hegemony helps to explain. Even “nice people” don’t feel free to disregard their duties. They feel pressured to go along … like there’s often not a “realistic” choice to be made.

And many of the professionals advising those making decisions feel constrained by a combination of “banality” factors … mortgage and student loan payments, child support, groupthink, lack of non-risky alternatives, etc.

Few if any identify as evildoers or appear to others who know them as evildoers. They give to charity, tip the waiter, love their spouses, get awards … and don’t quite get around to working cooperatively to resist or disaffiliate from corporate culture.


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