December 28, 2006

Is the Devil the New Pretty?

Posted in Office Hijinks at 4:25 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Recently my job has morphed from legal assistant to helper-outer extraordinaire.  See, we are short staffed and during the holidays, with folks taking time off, we are even more so.  My boss, because he knows what a team player I am, asked me to lend a hand, and I, interested in getting on Santa’s “Nice” list said sure.

But here’s the thing, I am not really that good at the whole legal side of my job.

Sure, I can type and answer phones and file with the best of them. But when it comes to filing something in court I wouldn’t call myself an authority. Heck, I wouldn’t call myself, period.

And it isn’t as if all I do is tapes and time entry.I just have a very unique position with the firm; it is not as if the administrative partner is doing a whole lot of subpoenaing and deposing. We do more marketing and finessing.

Still, I wasn’t worried. Mr. Scares the Pants Off of Me has a whole team of crackerjack paralegals to handle all the motions and discovery and pleadings our floor can produce. Me, I am the one they come to when they need a new keyboard tray. Every now and again, they will ask me about converting something to Adobe.

So why did I get an email from New Partner asking me to draft Answers and New Matter to a Complaint? Yes he is new, but he knows who to turn to when you need this sort of work done. It was who I was going to turn to; Patient Paralegal.

She told me to just use the form Answers we had in the system. Really, I thought, this paralegal thing is a breeze.

Next up Subpoenas; turns out there is a form for those too. Persevering Paralegal emailed it to me. She also showed me how to use our medical records service. Amazed at how quickly I was accruing billables, I asked New Partner if there was anything else I could do for him, admittedly with a tad bit too much attitude.

He handed me the Answer with New Matter and asked me to file it.

Gulp.

Having already asked both Patient and Persevering how to do something that week, and not wanting to disturb Pioneering Paralegal, because sometimes she scares me a bit, I set oout to file this pleading on my own.

I called the Prothonotary, I stamped it with a notice to plead, and I even sent an extra copy for time stamping and then sent a copy of that to the plaintiff. I felt on fire. I ran over to where they keep the crackerjack team to gloat.

As I held up my refrigerator worthy pleading to Patient she asked, “Did you stamp it with the Notice to Plead?”

I pointed to the stamp.

Persevering walked in and I showed her what I had done, she asked the same question Patient asked and then followed it up with “Is that the right caption?”

I looked down, blinked a couple of times and said yes.

That is when Pioneering popped around the corner. “Is that the right term and number? Did you stamp it with the notice? What about a verification? Do you have two captions there?”

“Yes. Yes. Yes. No.”

Then they all laughed that they were all asking me the same questions, and started reminiscing about how other paralegals that came before had screwed up similar pleadings.

My mouth just hung open as it occurred to me, “Oh my god, I’m the new Pretty.”

They didn’t say anything. They didn’t have to. I could tell by the way they hung their heads. I wanted to argue and try to defend myself, but what was the point.

I slunk back to my desk, filed the pleading in the right file folder and dreamed of a time when we would have a full staff again and I could go back to doing what it is I do best – holding others to standards I can’t possibly be bothered to meet.

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December 14, 2006

And You Thought I Had My Tear Ducts Removed

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:38 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

As you know, I am typically really good at leaving my work at the office.  However, last week I had a very miserable day.  I can’t really put my finger on exactly what set it off, and even if I could I wouldn’t do it here.  It wasn’t even lunchtime and I was ready to call it a day.  I persevered, just knowing that once I got outside to the near freezing conditions, I would be okay.

But I wasn’t okay.  I kept running the events of the day through my head and asking myself why it mattered so much and then other things that didn’t happen that day came into mind, and suddenly I was wondering why I cared that my high school’s valedictorian can’t admit she is a doctor in front of her husband and my vision was getting dark around the corners. 

One time this happened before, I decided to go for a run.  Typically I run in the morning. It wakes me up and gives me a chance to organize my day and plan my outfit.  However, on this occasion I decided I could use some time on the treadmill to release my pent up frustration in a healthy way; and not in a way that would leave my roommates angry at me.

You may have heard in the past that exercise if a great way to get rid of aggression.  I am here to tell you, if you have a lot of aggression, this is a very, very dangerous practice.  I got to the gym, changed into shorts, climbed on my favorite running machine and started at an above average pace for myself.  And at first it felt really good. 

But then my mind drifted back to the events of the day and my finger found the pace increase button.  A few moments later that same finger found that same button. An hour and a half later I nearly fell getting off the machine.  Sure, emotionally my head was all clear, but the next day, I was limping around the office.

So, when I got home, I went to my room, turned out the lights and got into bed, shoes and all.  I thought maybe if I could trick my body into thinking the day was over, it would get over the day.  No such luck.   

Lauren came up to let me know that she was leaving to pick up her brother.  I heard the door close and that is when it happened.  I started to cry. 

Yeah, this might not seem like such a big deal to you out there in cyberspace but it is a huge deal for me.  I hate crying.  It probably goes back to my ancestors in Russia who I am sure got frostbite on their cheeks from crying and subconsciously, the hatred has carried down through the generations.  Well, that and my sister once told me I was an ugly crier and I hate looking ugly.

So to say I am not much of a crier would be the runner-up for “Understatement of 2006.”  Is this the first time I have cried? Certainly not. I just told you my sister thinks I look ugly when I do it, so clearly I have done it before.

This was the first time I didn’t fight it, though.  And you know what, it actually worked.  Not only did I feel better, but it is more efficient than exercising. By the time my roommate returned with her brother for dinner, my make- up was re-applied and I had a fresh outfit on and a glass of wine in my hand.

Why am I sharing this with all of you?  Because over the next few weeks, you may find your life is really out of control.  You may feel anxious and overwhelmed. You may not be able to concentrate. You will need a release and my suggestion to you is to cry out loud.  Whimper, sob, moan, groan, dirty a dozen Kleenex. 

Just make sure you do it when no one is around, because if you are caught, they will point and laugh and that will only make you cry harder.  Unless your friends are kinder than mine.

December 7, 2006

Young, Single Attorney Seeks Same

Posted in Office Hijinks at 5:00 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

In his most recent effort to keep me stimulated from 9 to 5, my boss asked me to re-write attorney biographies for our firm’s new Web site.  While I appreciate his good intentions, I don’t really consider figuring out 72 different ways to say “so and so is licensed in Pennsylvania” the best use of my creative talent. 

The other problem with this task is the limited amount of information available about most of the attorneys in the office.  Most don’t volunteer anything more than where they went to school and where they are admitted to practice. 

But marketing our firm is important to my boss.  So I buckled down and got to work; except I didn’t know what should go into an attorney profile. What are perspective clients looking for beyond education and bar admissions? Publications and lectures or personal information and hobbies?   I decided to do some investigation. I checked out the Web sites of other firms that pay big bucks to public relation firms to do this work. 

Somewhere between the fifteenth and sixteenth Web site I viewed, I became convinced that a) firm Web sites are great ways to check out hot men and b) clients don’t actually read attorney profiles. 

Combining these two revelations, I wondered if it wouldn’t be a better idea to turn our firm’s site more into a dating site.  I mean, can what a person looks for in a litigator be that different from what they are looking for in a mate?  Well, that and I was bored out of my mind and making up personal profiles was a heck of a lot more fun. 

You guys know how much I like making up things. 

After entertaining myself for two days, I presented the new and improved biographies to my boss.  He was not pleased, although he did laugh out loud at what I had to say about the firm’s oldest, living member. 

There went my theory that nobody read these things and any hope of getting this stuff posted to the new and improved site.  Still, I couldn’t let my efforts go to waste.  So I included examples of what I have been doing at work this week below:

Mr. X is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and when he is not at work he enjoys long walks on the beach, cuddling up with a good book next to a fire and French style cooking.

Ms. B graduated from the University of Notre Dame. She earned her JD from West Virginia University College of Law. When the Fighting Irish battle the Mighty Mountaineers on the gridiron, Ms. B refuses to take sides. 

Mr. G attended Duquesne University for undergrad. His number one pet peeve, is people who cannot pronounce the name of his undergraduate institution. 

Chortlette is the ranking Quiz King of the firm as he can tell you everything you would want to know about absolutely nothing at all. And even stuff you don’t want to know.

Partner A in the firm’s Orlando office doesn’t hold any particular opinion as to whether or not the Florida alligator should be named a protected species; however she does enjoy a mock-crock pocketbook as much as the next gal.

Our oldest living member has been with the firm since Christ wore short pants. As such, he only has to come in once a month or so –he is that good. He earned his B.S. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and his Juris Doctorate from Harvard University Law School. When the other partners are especially good, he lets them touch his degrees. 

A partner with the firm’s Allentown Office believes he could go the rest of his life without hearing someone sing “Allentown” by Billy Joel, to him, again. Sarah E. Klem seconds that motion. 

Oh, and feel free to use any of these quips in your own attorney or dating profile.  All I ask is that I be mentioned in the toast at the wedding.