Tuesday, December 21, 2010


It was so quiet today - like eerie quiet. I realized at about 11:30 AM that Secretary X never came to work.  It turns out she was sick and didn't let anyone know.  By the end of the day, everyone was making comments about how nice it was today to have the office so quiet.  I finally told Associate the only difference was Secretary X wasn't here. I saw the lightbulb come on.

The art of avoiding responsibility

If there's one thing Secretary has mastered (other than the art of keeping a job she doesn't deserve), it's avoiding responsibility.

We dropped a client for "conflict" reasons (because our duty to tell the truth "conflicted" with her lies). The client asked to pick up her file. Secretary X was responsible for copying that file.

For hours she ping-ponged back and forth asking questions of Associate and me as to what she should copy. Associate and I individually gave her the same general instruction not to produce work product (anything we created that hasn't been sent out of our office). That is a pretty clear guideline, even for those who are the superpower Secretary X. Unfortunately, she continued to ask over and over again because she didn't want to make a decision all by herself and take the blame if she was wrong.

When I told her I didn't have the time for this [insert explitive synonym for "nonsense" here], she just threw her hands up in a huff and exclaimed her frustration with Associate and me and how she "really SHOULDN'T be making these kind of decisions by herself!" She went back to her desk. Does she really think we all don't know she shouldn't be making decisions by herself? Does she really think we care?

People who are afraid of making decisions are afraid because they don't believe they are making the right decisions. In Secretary X's case, it is compounded because she never wants to take responsibility for her own actions. Beyond frustrating!

ALTERNATE ENDING #1: Tell her she should probably just give up and go home for the day, and we'll get her work done for her so she doesn't have to do any work. Afterall, we are there to assist HER.

ALTERNATE ENDING #2: Go to Associate's office and scream at her for not making all decisions of every kind for Secretary X. When she starts to tell me SHE doesn't have time for this, I'll interrupt and tell her Secretary X can't be expected to make these kinds of decisions by herself -- it's not her job. When she tells me it IS her job, I'll tell her the only thing that is her job is to annoy us about things she is supposed to do, but can't for one reason or another. I'm sure she'll understand.

ALTERNATE ENDING #3: Poof- I disappear. Just up and vanish into thin air and never come back. Let them head for malpractice without me. YAY!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Update: "Then don't ak for my opinion and waste my time!"

This is an update to my November 15, 2010 post entitled "Then don't ask for my opinion and waste my time!" It's worth (re)reading. Link: http://superlegalfun.blogspot.com/2010/11/then-dont-ask-for-my-opinion-and-waste.html

Today, I overheard Secretary X on the phone arguing with the court clerk about the fees required for her motion - the same fee I explained was necessary long ago, and which she argued was NOT necessary. Her conversation with the clerk was 10 minutes long. ONE FEE requires a 10 minute conversation. Of course she was successful in arguing legislature reform with a government employee. Government rules and bureacracy are absolutely negotiable. She probably wasted the equivilent amount in tax dollars arguing about the fee as the state actually makes by collecting the fee. At least our tax dollars are hard at work, right?! She explained "in all (her) years of experience (all FOUR of them) she has NEVER had to send in those fees." I guess that confirms she hasn't done it right in YEARS. The conversation ended when she finally acquiesced and decided to send in the fee.

One day, I'll discover the secret potion to make her listen and sprinkle it all over like pixie dust. Yep, that's just about as practical as holding out that the partners will magically come to the realization that she is far more trouble than she is worth.

To summarize, I was right. She doesn't know I know, but I know she knows I was right, and that's what matters most.

PS. I wonder if the tax payers would benefit from Secretary X being on unemployment rather than wasting the court tax dollars. Of course, it is hard to do a cost benefit analysis without an unemployment cap. It might help balance out the Oregon budget by deferring that expense federally, thereby forcing further debt to be owed to China. Well, it's a thought anyways.

Monday, December 13, 2010

JD gives legal advice

JD advised Paralegal-Clerk about how to do something today, the same something HGL Partner recently yelled at him about doing wrong.

I looked for the nearest exit, and it was UPSTAIRS. Ahhhhh! I'm truly living in a horror film!

Quote of the Day #2

ME: I guess we're sharing this copy room a lot today.

JD: Yep, at least you don't smell bad.

[Quick exit by me]

Quote of the Day #1

After HGL Partner chewed-out Passive-Aggressive Paralegal and JD, he made a special trip to my desk. This conversation ensued:

HGL: JC (who works with my husband, TDH) told me your husband is one of the most credentialed and brilliant guys he knows.

ME: It's true; he's brilliant.

HGL: I've heard it runs in the family. I've heard great things about you, too.

ME: Thanks. That's so nice to hear.

So, I guess I'm some kind of inbreader who marries within the family...  ???

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Double win for me!

JD got pulled into B-Dub's office - closed door style - today. JD does not work for him, so I was intrigued.

Turns out, JD is preparing Happy-Go-Lucky Partner for trial and it's JD's first one. My, how he is growing up! Brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

Well, Vannah was assigned the lovely supervising Paralegal position. Thank goodness. I got super lucky because I had to supervise the last trial over Partner's daughter, whom I really like, and I would have hated - HATED - having to deal with JD's wanna be know-it-all, better-than-everyone-else attitude. I just hope the next trial isn't one I get assigned to with him. Poor Vannah!

He went back to his desk, like the eager back end of a beaver that he is, and started an audio CLE on how useful diagrams are at trial. ( Did you know there are lots of different kinds of diagrams? No, it's true.) He turned it up so loud that the whole office could hear it and one of the partners told him to turn it down. Come on, didn't you go to law school? I think diagrams are the least of his worries.

Secretary also got assigned to help JD. DOUBLE WIN FOR ME! How many people does it take to assist one person? Seriously? It's not a big trial. She came to me later with the Jury Instructions I drafted for my last trial and handed me a marked-up draft and a book. She asked me if I knew why B-Dub handed her the book.  "Yes," I said, "and I also know why you didn't bother to ask him when he handed it to you." Two mysteries, solved!

In any event, I was not assigned to supervise the trial, and couldn't be happier about that.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ain't karma grand?

Today I asked Secretary where she put the filing heap. It was moved earlier this week when her daughter was in the office doing her job for her.

She gave me this unnecessary sob story about how she "is no longer going to have any help" per the partners, and that she had to move it off her desk because it was too big.  (It seems to me that she is MY designated help, and my "help" left me to do all my own admin work by myself long ago.)

I told her she might have to start working some overtime at nights and/or on weekends like the rest of the office. Then I dropped the filing I had in my hand onto her desk and moseyed on back to my desk.

Ain't karma grand?!

Friday, December 3, 2010

UPDATE: I think Mean Partner might be diagnosably Bipolar II

A couple days ago, he almost ran me over with his car.

Today, he waved "hi" to me from his car.

You'd think he was a teenage girl or something!

Screwing around with Associate can be so much fun!

I was preparing Associate for an arbitration the other day. I was asking her simple questions about how she liked things organized for her hearing. I could tell I was making her really uncomfortable because she didn't know the answers to the questions. I decided to ask her whether she wanted a witness copy of the exhibits (the answer is ALWAYS yes to that question, otherwise, you have to show the witness your copy with all your notes when you ask them questions). She said she didn't think that would be necessary...
Okay, so that probably wasn't a very nice thing to do, but it was SUPER funny inside my head, and why NOT have a little fun every once in a while? Right?
So I then explained to her that she actually DID need a witness copy. Thank goodness she didn't ask why I asked her that question, or I probably would have had to spill the beans about how inexperienced she is, and how much fun I have screwing with her.
Anyways, she was very gracious about it, and candidly told me this was only her second arbitration. Really? Gee, I would have never guessed.
So, because she was honest, I briefed her on how things go in the arbitration, and we did a little role playing so she would know when to hand up exhibits, how to impeach the morons you are questioning who lie, and, most importantly, what the evidence rules are with respect to arbitration hearings.
I then asked her if she wanted to include a couple specific exhibits. When she said no, I just told her "Yes you do," and went and made the exhibits. Did she really learn nothing about our little exchange?
PS. I don't want to hear "You should go to law school." I have heard that way too much. I enjoy my job as is (especially the teaching opportunities), and I want to be able to work only 50 hours per week instead of 100 hours per week, like an attorney does. Also, I have now paid off my student loans, and really don't feel like incurring $100k+ in new debt right now!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Malpractice: Secretary X's synonym for Thursday fun!

Secretary X came to me today with an Attorney Fee Statement with a note from Associate for Secretary X to schedule the other attorney's deposition. I explained that was not the process, and instead we needed to file a formal objection, schedule an evidentiary hearing, and have an expert testify that the amount they are requesting - $20k - was unreasonable for 3 months of work on a $500 claim. 

I then saw the faxed date at the top and asked her if we had responded. She hadn't even calendared our objection (which is due within 14 days of service), and it was already overdue - the time for response had passed. She wasn't sure if their Statement had been filed. I told her she needed to look up the filing date on the court docket ASAP because this could be a major disaster.

She refused because she was told by B-Dub to use the court docket program sparingly because it costs money when you use it. I assured her this was a necessary and important use of $2.00 and that B-Dub surely would not contest said expense. She refused again.

Ignorance may be no excuse for the law, but it is an excuse not to PRACTICE law, people!!!


Hand her $2.00 and express my interest in not losing my job because our malpractice premiums get too high to continue the firm.

Pull up the court docket on her computer while she is at lunch and leave it up for her to find when she returns (we get charged by the minute to view the court docket). Watch from my desk as she looks from desk to desk for the culprit. Chuckle wildly.

Make a spit ball launcher from her favorite pen. Lock. Load. Launch!

Quote of the Day

"My, you're looking old today!"
-Partner's Sister (attorney) to ME!

JD defends his awesomeness

Two court reporters showed up to take a deposition of OUR client at our office. Surprise, surprise, JD was the one that scheduled the extra court reporter. Unless you hear otherwise, it is ALWAYS the opposing attorney's office's job to schedule the court reporter to take the deposition of your client. This is because the person who schedules the court reporter is responsible for the bill. AND, what do you care if the opposing attorney screws up their own deposition? YOU DON'T! Let people fail, that's my motto. There are exceptions to the rule, but this case was no exception.

Now, everyone makes mistakes (JD more than others), but when you are confronted about your mistakes, under NO circumstances do you defend your decisions/actions as JD did, as follows:

1. Explain that there was nothing in writing about the other side scheduling a court reporter (though, he should have called opposing counsel if he was SO worried about it);

2. Explain to your attorney boss how awesome you are because you took [unnecessary] initiative; and

3. Tell your attorney boss they should be grateful because it's "better two court reporters were scheduled instead of none."


Happy-Go-Lucky Partner brushed it off and explained to JD the correct way to do things. He should have told him it was better to get it right than to cost the firm all the cancellation fees (that can't be billed to the client).

And the cherry on top: Passive-Aggressive Paralegal chimed in to let everyone know she had no hand in this mix-up. Awesomeness!