Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Associate's potential bar complaint

Well, it has happened again. I try to explain the right way to do things, apropriately contradicting the majority, but they refuse to listen.

This time, Secretary X and Associate tried to execute on a judgment in another state. They generally followed procedure, except they didn't hire a pro hac vice attorney licensed in that state.

You see, you can not practice law in a state where you are not licensed.  It's illegal and you can get in big trouble, or disbarred. Instead, you hire an attorney in the state you need to practice in and ask for special arrangements from that state's bar association to practice under the local attorney for that case only.

I've done this many times. I tried to explain this to them, but they both insisted that it was a different procedure when you are registering a judgment. So she signed all these pleadings and filed them in another state (with Secretary's brilliant assistance - not mine). The local sheriff seized hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets in the last couple days.

Surprise, surprise, rich debtor guy lawyers-up when they boot his 2008 Bentley and freeze his bank accounts. That lawyer then contacted Associate and demanded they release the asset hold. Next thing, Associate and Secretary X end up in a closed-door hour-long marathon with B-Dub.

I imagine a bar complaint against Associate is forthcoming.

Come on people! When will you learn to listen?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Imagine my surprise when Secretary X almost assisted me - ALMOST!

I asked Secretary X for a copy of something last week and she hopped right up to go find it. My chair was so surprised, it tipped right over and knocked me on the floor.

She found what I was looking for and headed to the copy room. The Twilight Zone theme song resonated.

Cruise Director was at the copy machine. Secretary X asked Cruise Director if she had managed to get the copy machine to work. I asked them what was wrong with it (because Cruise Director was scanning documents just fine). They both huffed a big attitude and explained how Receptionist said she was too busy to replace the toner, which they emphatically emphasized was HER JOB!

I told them it was no biggy, and I would replace the toner [insert favorite super hero music here].  Looks of disgust and sounds of crickets filled the closet of a copy room. Really? You can't spend 2 minutes to change the toner, and it's so foreign for me to help out?

For a few minutes, all the bureaucracy saturated my head and I began to think I worked for the government. Then, I realized I didn't have very good benefits and was contented knowing I wasn't a slave to the man. Whew!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More work Secretary X doesn't want to do...

DISCLAIMER: This one isn't funny. I'm just venting.

Secretary X, as I am sure you have gathered, is one of the most lazy people I've met. In this economy, I would BEG to pick up paperclips if that was the job available. It astonishes me that she continually is so creative in the ways she tries to avoid, compress or eliminate the work required of her job. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't go unnoticed - it goes unDEALT with.

For you managers out there (especially TDH), who will say that it's possible these issues are getting dealt with behind closed doors - YOU'RE WRONG!  I'd like you to know that I have had very candid conversations with B-Dub and he has given me the overview of her good and bad "attributes," and exactly what her history of conduct and discipline has been. He's even gone so far to tell me that when he took her in after everyone in the office wanted her fired, he told her he expected she would be fired within the month. Well, that was two years ago. Everyone still can't stand her, but the story is that they have had a string of terrible secretaries, and at least she shows up to work.

Her latest "get out of work free card" was used on going paperless. She seems to think that scanning everything will negate the need to file the hard copies we receive in the mail. I tried to explain to her that it is actually an extra step, not a replacement step and that she needs to just do her work.

She also doesn't want to file emails (yes, she doesn't want to print emails - per an earlier post - AND she doesn't want to file them). Instead she thinks we should just save them electronically. Uh, HELLO McFLY, that would still be work you refuse to do yourself.

Utterly frustrated...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shh! Boss man is trying to work Facebook and needs to concentrate!

When I went in to talk to B-Dub about something urgent at the end of the day, I noticed he was enveloped in his phone conversation. So naturally, I took a seat (to emphasize how important I am) and  listen in. (Who doesn't like some good gossip? Not this chick!)

I waited about 10 minutes and the conversation bored me, so I decided to return to my desk and continue fixing crap I had no hand in screwing up (the story of my work life!)

About another 10 minutes later, B-Dub EMAILED me that he was off his call. (Does it really take LESS time/ energy to email someone than to pick-up a phone and dial an extension, or scream at me - 20 feet away? I defer to B-Dub's infinite wisdom.)

Anywho, when I went to his office, he apologized for having to continue his call. (You know it's a good day when the boss is apologizing to you -- rightfully so, I should say.) He explained how he was looking up someone on Facebook and couldn't figure out how to use it.

Now, he has asked ME to get him Facebook info on someone, but I didn't realize it was because he was so disabled that he didn't know HOW to do it himself.

Welcome to the real world, dude! He has an iPhone. I told him to get the app -- Maybe I'll send him an email about how to get it, along with info about the moon landing and other advancements of man.

I think sometimes I'm in the Truman Show, except, instead of real people, they threw in those cavemen from the TV commercials, just to see if stupidity is contageous. I hope not!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Super (dumb) questions from JD, The Law Man

1. He asked Secretary X for a sample dismissal order. I guess typing "The parties having settled all claims, the Court being fully advised, this matter is hereby dismissed." is way too much for him. I can't wait until the case gets dismissed for want of prosecution because he doesn't know you need a dismissal order AND a general judgment!

2. He also asked Secretary X today how to schedule a telephonic deposition. He wondered if he needed to schedule a court reporter. GEEZ! I guess everyone will just agree at trial about what the deponent said for impeachment purposes. I really can't wait for the inevitable question: Transcript? What's a transcript?

Attention law schools: please teach these baby lawyers something useful, like how to practice law!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fire drill

JD was on a tele-hearing this morning when the fire alarm went off.  I can't imagine being a fish out of legal water and then throw in some mind-numbing fire alarm screaching. He didn't know what to do and hung up on the Judge. HA!

There was a fire in the elevator, by the way. Three fire trucks, a sweet nonfat chai, good coffee house chatter, and an hour later, I finally got back to work.

Did I mention JD lost? [DOUBLE HA!]

Passing the buck

You're all going to be SO surprised, but secretary found yet ANOTHER way to get out of admin work.

She sent an email to B-Dub and Associate (with a cc to Vannah and me) asking if Vannah and I could start printing emails if we are copied on them.

That's right, she doesn't want to print emails either.  I responded that I like the way she does the printing/ filing, and I don't want to screw up this great thing we have going for us. I added a little kudo to Secretary that she has been able to keep up with it all.

I wonder if the person who said "Kill them with kindness" was laughing as hysterically as I was.

I hit send on the email and left as quickly as I could.

Cheers to ending Friday on a good note!

Isn't the internet wonderful?

JD asked Passive Aggressive Paralegal how to get a copy of a DMV accident report today. Then he asked if he could get one online.

Office Quotes #1

PARTNER'S DAUGHTER: Is it hot in this room, or is it just me?

PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE PARALEGAL: No, it's hot in here. It's a real deoderent tester!

[Neither laughed!]

I think Mean Partner might be diagnosably Bipolar II

Having recently "studied up" on some mental health disorders for a case, I'm reasonably certain I have the credentialing ability to diagnosis Mean Partner with Bipolar II, which differs from Bipolar I because it includes more than one episode.

The dude was mean to me (nearly running me over in the hallway without acknowledging my existance, making totally inappropriate comments about how I was dressed - stop it, it wasn't sexual harrassment-type comments, et cetera). Then, I started coming in earlier (a kid cooordination decision for TDH and me), and he starts saying hello to me in the hall on his morning intimidation rounds around the office.

I didn't mind that change, of course, but now he's back to his mean ways, reinforcing my decision to nickname him "Mean Partner." Yesterday, in an attempt to be nice, I said "Good morning!" He averted his eyes from looking DIRECTLY at me, and walked away without a peep.

If there is something universally known, it's that you should, as a matter of common decency, say, ACKNOWLEDGE someone when they make an effort to wish you a good morning.

Please help me decide how to torture this dude silently until he breaks down and begs me to forgive him (which is when my timely raise will take effect - I'm psychic, you know).

New plan #1:
Ignore him. (So, that one isn't dramatic, but it is easily executable.)

New plan #2:
When I see him walking around, I'll secretly go to his office, sit in his chair, prop my feet up on his desk and read a magazine. When he asks me what I'm doing, I won't acknowledge HIS existance.

New plan #3 (my personal favorite):
Make socket puppets of him and me, then, in preschool style, go to his office, act out how to be polite in the adult world, and teach him what his mommy never did.

Which do you think would be the most effective? I'm certainly open to other effective solutions...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Priorities, priorities!

I think rule #1 in law school or paralegal school is: Don't do your trial prep if the filing isn't up to date.

I'm not your mom!

Somehow, the firm has chosen our choice experts from the shallow end of the organized gene pool. When I have to call them weekly/ daily to follow-up on conversations and meetings they can't remember even happened, that is probably the time to reassess the business relationship. I'm not their mom! They need to start taking notes when I talk (another step to learning how awesome I am) and actually accomplish what I tell them to do.

I think I'm going to tell them I am going to deduct money the client owes them in proportion to the amount of time I waste being their mother. I wouldn't be this patient with my own kids, yet grown men/women have never learned to do their own work, and TIMELY!

Someday, I'm going to act like I don't know who they are when they show up for a meeting with B-Dub. I'll tell them I don't know what they're talking about. When they refuse to leave, I'll threaten to call (or actually call) the cops. I'll tell the cops this guy/chick must have some psycotic disorder because they are dillusional! I will surely recommend they be put on a psych hold because they are a danger to the legal field and all of my clients.

I guess I am just THAT scary

Why do people insist on apologizing when they give me mark-ups back?

Am I really that scary? I mean, you go postal ONE time and everyone treats you with kid gloves like you're some zombie or something.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why did you tell the Judge that?

B-Dub reported for trial assignment the day before trial. There weren't enough judges for all the cases that were ready, so the assigning judge asked who had cases close to settlement. To B-Dub's amazement (and mine), the opposing attorney told the judge our case was nearly settled. (See my older post called "Why don't I stop preparing my case for trial so I can get yours ready for you.")

Now, this is not THAT unusual. So, you might be wondering why it is noteworthy...

Because the two-faced, lying attorney who reported the case settled REFUSED TO MAKE ANY SORT OF SETTLEMENT OFFER at anytime during the litigation on a clear case of liability on his client's part. (Not to mention prepare his own __________ case for trial!)

When B-Dub returned to the office and told me what happened, he told me they scheduled the case for a settlement conference instead. I was pissed beyond pissed at that point because:

(1) I had been working my _____ off for two months because the moron before me knew only how to screw things up;

(2) I had been working excruciatingly long hours getting everything ready while he was in Florida the two weeks immediately preceeding trial; and

(3) MOST IMPORTANTLY, I suggested a settlement conference to force the other attorney to put some money on the table in good faith ON MY FIRST DAY AT THE FIRM BEFORE I HAD REVIEWED ANYTHING IN THE FILE! (Negotiating in good faith is required by state law.)

So then it was off to the races to reschedule the cop, our experts and witnesses (some of which were out of the state).

Now, it's not B-Dub's fault the case didn't go to trial, but come on people, listen to me in the first place and these things won't happen. THAT, my friends, is not only a hard lesson to learn, it's impossible to teach!

One day, everyone will gain a sense of intellegence and make me their queen. Until then, I will nag and throw out the "I told you so"s like the gracious awesomeness that I am. 


A lesson on billable hours

A disclaimer: this one isn't funny, but will give you some basic insight into my job, if you're interested in knowing.

It is an ever itching topic for attorneys and paralegals alike - billable hours.

Attorneys typically are paid one of two ways: (1) a meager base salary and a percentage of all billable hours they collect (hours they bill AND the client pays for); or (2) a percentage of what they collect only.

Paralegals are usually paid hourly or salary, and their bonuses are based on their paying billable hours.

Those attorneys and paralegals who consistently fail to meet the billable requirements are fired.

Both attorneys and paralegals have a huge drive to increase and maintain high billables because they want more money and they want to keep their job.

Time spent on administrative work (copying, reception duties, mail, and other secretarial duties) and on contingent cases (cases that pay the firm a percentage of the money awarded only if the client wins) do not count towards your total billables.

My law firm requires huge billables. Here is the math:


Yearly: 1800 hours
Monthly: 150 hours
Daily: 7.5 hours

Now, those requirements don't seem terribly difficult to achieve, except you need to also consider the following:

About 15% of my cases are contingent cases, so those do not count. I spend about 20 hours per month on those cases.

Administrative tasks end up costing me about 20 hours per month. Which include 2 hour case review meetings every week or every other week.

So now, I really have to bill 190 hours per month (2280 per year, or 9.5 per day).

My salary is based on 8 hours per day, meaning that the firm needs to pay me, and I have to work 1.5 hours extra every day to meet the minimum requirements (which is approximately 16.5 hours extra per pay period).

Now, if I were to exceed the requirements, I would increase my bonus that much more. If I cut back on 0.2 administrative hours each day (12 minutes), I could increase my billable hours by 4 hours each month or take a half day off each month without cutting into my billables.

Now you see just why I get so cranky with Secretary X for wasting my time because she's not willing to do her job and for complaining about how overworked she is. She doesn't have to bill her time, so it is no big deal to her, and she doesn't have to work 10 hour days to keep her job.

I'd like to switch places for a month and see how that works out for her. Maybe she would appreciate how underworked she is in comparison.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Secretary X's newest super power

I was so inspired today by Secretary X, I simply have to tell the world the newest super power she possesses:

Refusing to do tasks completely within her job description and remain employed. (Where is some good super hero theme music when you need it?)

Here is a nonexclusive list of her version of "I don't do windows:"

*Make copies of exhibits. Note: I noticed ONE HOUR before the end of business that she failed to calendar today's deadline to file a court document. I scrambled to get the pleading drafted in that hour, which included a review of about 10,000 pages. When I asked her to make copies for the exhibits, Secretary X said she was going to have to find someone to make the exhibits and that I "might just need to do it myself because that's really [my] job." How about it's really YOUR job to calendar crap so I don't have to handle deadlines at the last minute to save YOUR bacon! I ignored her and walked away.

She gave the FIVE minute job to Secretary's Daughter, who is - get this - happy to do it and doesn't give me lip about it either. How novel - doing an assigned task WITHOUT an attitude. She later came to me to further explain her PERCEIVED job description, which, contrary to my experience, and to my shock and amazement, did NOT include wasting my time and refusing to do assigned work. Okay, you can pick up your jaw too - the floor is dirty. That little dramatization of her woeful, overworked life cost me 12 MINUTES of billables. I said nothing to her in an attempt to cut short her daydream about a world where she is paid to do nothing. I think I'll ask B-Dub for some clarification on her job description and try to bring the line of reality back within the confines of her disaster of a cubicle.


*Review any rules or statutes to ensure she calendars things correctly (even when I have directly instructed her to do so). She just looks at me like I was asking her to kill a baby or something. If I wanted to waste my time on non-billable work, it sure would not be spent doing her work.

*Set meetings with clients prior to major scheduled court events so the attorneys can prepare them. Instead of her doing so when she sets the event, I re-do the whole process to schedule the prep meetings. Ridiculous!

*Calendar certain events (she randomly chooses which ones aren't important enough to add to the calendar).

*Update filing the day before trial on a case that is 2 months behind on filing. (Wait, that must be my job, too.)

*Assist with trial prep whatsoever.

*Make copies of research in time for B-Dub to review on the plane when he has told her he needs it before he leaves.

*Inform me when she fails to do something or to do something timely.

*Make copies of a package that is 1/2 inch thick with no clips or staples. She says "those kind of projects just need to be sent out because I will never have time for them."  She obviously fails to realize the prep time it takes to send things out and in that amount of time, could actually complete the job.

Casual Fridays

Listen up, you rule makers!

Casual Friday is one way you can pep up your employees after dealing with your crap all week. Believe me, we don't enjoy standing out in the cold, freezing our you-know-whats off just so we can look nice for you. We do it because it's a requirement of the job, and we don't want to hear more complaining from you than we already ignore.

I shared an elevator trip with Mean Partner one time on a Friday (probably about my fourth Friday with the firm). The awkward  silence was unbearable. So I made small talk - wrong move! I was obviously out of my mind that afternoon because I asked him where his jeans were. I am surprised the smoke detectors didn't shut down the elevator right then because his head turned bright red, and smoke started pouring out of his ears. He said the firm doesn't have a Casual Friday policy and that you would never see attorneys in jeans. (Which is total BS because everyone in that office wears jeans except him!).

I just said to him, "Aren't I embarrassed in my jeans." He told me that if I was comfortable enough wearing them to the office, more power to me. Seriously?! How about if you're comfortable enough wearing that mismatched all-sorts-of-ugly outfit, more power to YOU!

I wore a dress last Friday and we shared an elevator ride at the end of the day.  He asked why I wasn't wearing jeans. I told him I dressed up just for him. Silence. A win!

Why don't I stop preparing my case for trial so I can get yours ready for you

I was recently preparing for trial on a case (same case as my post entitled "Some people should not practice law").

I was instructed to send useful documents to a different opposing attorney on issues that our case aligned with his on. I fed, and fed, and fed them records they failed to gather themselves when I could have been spending that envaluable pretrial time preparing my own case.

At one point I told her I would email the important parts of a package and mail the rest (because trial was two days away). She said I could just mail them all because she probably didn't need them until NEXT WEEK. I reminded her trial would be over by then. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Then don't ask for my opinion and waste my time!

Secretary X just loves to ask me questions. She stutters the lame questions out of her fat head, and when I tell her what the answer is, she tells me I'm wrong. Why waste my time then, you might ask? Well, I ask myself the same question - daily.  I guess it's because I have to because she's my secretary.  She is such a moron!

One day I told her to make sure she submitted a check for a particular fee with my motion. She told me "In all my 4 years of experience, that's never been the case." (Yep, FOUR years, she is just beyond experienced.) She looked at the court fee schedule, and when she saw I was correct, she still continued to argue with me.
(Maybe moron isn't a strong enough word for her complete lack of reality-based sanity. Accepting suggestions for a better adjective...)

I told her to call the court if she still was unsure. She just took a deep breath and put her head down on her desk. I stood there staring in shock for a moment, then walked away whistling the Hi Ho, Hi Ho theme song from Snow White, then giggled to myself when I finally got back to my desk.

I asked her later what the court told her (hoping to have another reenactment of first grade throwback heads-up 7-up). She told me she didn't call the court and she "doesn't have the time to double guess everything she knows." I said nothing and walked away.

Announce to the entire office that we can all go home for the day because Secretary X knows everything and there is nothing she can't handle. She does have a ton of experience, after all.

Put my head down on her desk and, yep, you guessed it, proudly erect one thumb.

ALTERNATE ENDING #3 (my personal favorite):
Faint in front of her and when I wake up, ask her what her superhero name is and when she gained the power to change state legislation. I'd certainly ask what other super powers she has, just for curiosity's sake.

Synonyms #1

Draft paper = cheap paper

Some people should not practice law!

I recently visited a law office three days before a trial to review documents they refused to produce. It was a one attorney/ one assistant office. The attorney brought me ONE INCH of paper. We produced about 12 inches of his own client's records they we were forced to subpoena. Again, they wouldn't produce records they were required to produce, even after a motion to compel. RIDICULOUS!

At one point, I attempted to explain the organization for their client's records that I was producing. She had no clue what I was talking about and looked at me like I was speaking greek.

A while later, the attorney, whose office was next to the room I was in, came out of his office screaming that he just couldn't take it anymore and left to take a break.

While he was gone, the legal assistant had several visitors who were talking with her LOUDLY about highly personal things (including her sex life with her new boyfriend).

When I was nearly finished reviewing the records, she came to me (at 11:30) and told me she was going to lock me in and leave for lunch. She thought it would be an awesome idea to leave an opposing attorney's paralegal in their office, unattended, with all their confidential files. Two thumbs up for her!

I couldn't leave until the attorney got back (because the legal assistant locked me in). When the attorney finally returned, he threw his jacket in front of me on the table and asked if I found any surprises.  Seriously? Your legal assistant left me here alone, you are an obvious mess, and you ask ME if there were any surprises? How about my total shock that you are practicing law?!