Friday, April 29, 2011

Casual... Thursday?

First, read this quick old blog from about five months ago: http://superlegalfun.blogspot.com/2010/11/casual-fridays.html

Now, here's what happened yesterday:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Take Your Child to Work Day

Tomorrow is "Take Your Child to Work" Day.

The nation-wide event has its own website and sports a full line of its own merchandise. Translation: It's a big deal.

If you go to the website at http://www.daughtersandsonstowork.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=936, you'll find the following mission statement:

"Designed to be more than a career day, the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work ® program goes beyond the average "shadow" an adult. Exposing girls and boys to what a parent or mentor in their lives does during the work day is important, but showing them the value of their education, helping them discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life, and providing them an opportunity to share how they envision the future and begin steps toward their end goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success."

Our oldest will come to work with my husband and me, but after reading the purpose behind the program, I'm not sure I qualify to participate.  I think my child is more likely to learn the following:

1.  Education value: Everyone has a boss. Bosses still treat you like crap when you have an education. However, with an education, you will understand the words they are using when they yell and scream at you.

2. Balanced work and family life: I still have yet to discover the solution to that neverending problem. My idea of balance: neverending paid weekend. My boss' idea of balance: working on the weekend. Hmmm, guess who wins?

3. Envision end goals: My child is too young to drink tequilla, my end goal.

4. Achieving success: Undiscovered hiding place for said tequila? I still don't think that's appropriate for a child.

Now that I think of it, perhaps we should change the day to "Take Your [insert favorite liquor] Bottle to Work Day."

Administrative Professionals' Day

Here is your reminder that today is (drum roll please...)

ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONALS' DAY!

I'm sure your calendars already reflect the momentous day, but does your boss' calendar? Likely not. So, in the spirit of celebration of OUR day, my fellow administrative professional friends, I offer the following quote from this country's boss of the past:

"When things haven't gone well for you, call in a secretary or a staff man and chew him out. You will sleep better and they will appreciate the attention." —Lyndon B. Johnson

Have a fabulous day, and remember to appreciate whatever attention you get today from Bossy-Poo!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Discovery excerpt of the day

I asked Secretary X to type the client's draft answers to interrogatories. Here's one summarized example of SEVERAL answers:

Interrogatory No. 1: Have you ever been involved in litigation prior to the subject lawsuit?

Answer: No.

Interrogatory No. 2: If your answer to the preceeding interrogatory was in the affirmative, please list the lawsuits you have been involved in prior to this lawsuit.

Answer: [CLIENT LEFT THIS ONE BLANK.]

I guess the client is smarter than Secretary X because she knows how to READ!

Monday, April 25, 2011

What you should know before you become a paralegal: 10 points of caution

I love doing what I do. I recently accepted two mentees to mentor. These are the things I will be telling them as words of caution:

1. The bigger the firm, the more rules there are. Usually, some of the rules make no sense and are there to serve one purpose: make people follow rules.

2. If you have experience fixing electronics, and you are hired into a firm without an IT department, you will become the IT department.

3. In most jobs, lunches and breaks are mandatory and overtime is a luxury when you need to earn a little extra cash.  In a law office, lunches and breaks are luxuries, and overtime is mandatory.

4. You will not like everyone you work with, and not everyone will like you. If that's a problem, move on to the next job. Paralegals are intelligent, strong-willed, territorial, and mostly all are Type A perfectionists. You will be eaten up if you don't fit in with the right personalities.

5. Law is a rewarding profession if you love it unconditionally. The law is not fair, and sometimes judges' decisions, although legally correct, can make you sick to your stomach.  You need to be able to endeavor through those days and come back the next day unphased. If it is something you think you might enjoy, you need to shadow or adopt a mentor to ask questions before you get in over your head. Most local Paralegal organizations can help you contact an established Paralegal. Ask hard questions, like "what three things would you change about your job."

6. Benefits are not what they used to be. Law firms are offering less and less to their employees for retirement, healthcare, and work-based incentives.

7. This job is very stressful. Burn-out rates are higher than ever. You cannot handle stress by "coping" with it, you must be able to "deal" with stress. Do not deal with stress by ignoring it. That won't work.

8. You must be in it for the long haul. You don't get the exciting privileges until you have the experience to handle those tasks. In the first five years of your career, you will learn legal procedure and how to comply with deadlines. If you work near a state border, you'll likely learn multiple states' laws and local county rules and how to apply them. Once you learn the rules of the road, you will be entrusted with more and more complex responsibilities.

9. Organization and multi-tasking are necessary. You will be lost without your own perfect system.

10. Most importantly, in this economy, people are looking for a job with lots of earning potential. No matter how much they pay you, the money is NOT worth it if you don't love the job.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Legal joke: Creative Defense

A lawyer defending a man accused of burglary tried this creative defense:

"My client merely inserted his arm into the window and removed a few trifling articles. His arm is not himself, and I fail to see how you can punish the whole individual for an offense committed by his limb."

"Well put," the judge replied. "Using your logic, I sentence the defendant's arm to one year's imprisonment. He can accompany it or not, as he chooses."

The defendant smiled. With his lawyer's assistance he detached his artificial limb, laid it on the bench, and walked out.

[Not written by Superlegal.]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bad economy = job security for Secretary X?

Y'all might be surprised to know that Secretary X started as a temp-to-hire with my firm. I wasn't there at the time to witness such reckless abandon of all sanity. Thank goodness I wasn't, because my screams of horror probably would have gotten me fired. Employers keep people for a number of reasons, such as being on the hook for unemployment, or keeping a warm body in a chair. But Secretary X? Nope, they had no reason to keep her except that she did awesome work. Obviously, if that were true then, it's certainly not the case now. 

What is with employers these days? If it is such a terrible economy, and there are so many good people looking for jobs, why is it that employees who obviously don't deserve or like their job manage to keep their job?!?!?!?!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quote of the Day

Superlegal: "I saw the file copy of our Response to Plantiff's Request for Production that went out the other day, but I didn't see the file copy of the production that was supposed to be attached. Did the documents get attached to the Response?"

Secretary X: "No. No one asked me to or gave me the documents, and I didn't read it."

Well, there you go. Lesson learned. From now on, I have to ask her to READ documents she sends out. (Nevermind that I marked the documents with stickies that said "PRODUCE." I guess she doesn't read stickies either.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Excited intern + warm sun = renewed happiness with my job

I spent a little time today talking with our file clerk, who is graduating with a Paralegal degree in June.  Her excitement to start her career and her love of law, coupled with the first semi-warm day in many months, brought me some much-needed motivation and renewed my sense of happiness that I am in a career of my choice in a job that affords me a great deal of freedom.

Here are things I enjoy about my job:
1. Days off without much/any notice to my bosses;
2. Skylight above my desk;
3. Tardiness does not mean I lose my job. I am ALWAYS late. I wouldn't last in a job where I needed to be on time;
4. Lunch whenever I want;
5. I get to pick what I work on and when I do it, so long as deadlines are met;
6. I am challenged;
7. I am never bored and the days fly by (usually); and most of all (drum roll please)
8. I get to eat lunch with my hubby everyday!

I realized halfway through writing this, my happiness is also probably due in part to Secretary X's absence today. Oh well, I'll take it!!

Awesome blog to check out: A Paralegal's Life

Grumpy Humbug writes this fantastic blog. She's witty, charming and realistic. Check her out at http://aparalegalslife.blogspot.com/

Here is her self-written blog summary:
"Tales from the BigLaw trenches.  This is a humorous and sarcastic blog written by a paralegal in a mid-sized law firm in a mid-tier market. The goal is to share some of the pitfalls and foibles encountered in my own day-to-day experiences."

Thank you, Grumpy for all your blogging! I'm sure I'm not the only one who enjoys reading. Keep on keepin' on!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Purgatory: a place for friends!!

Paralegal Hell has created a Purgatory Panel. It's awesome. Please check it out at http://board.paralegalhell.com/

Friday, April 15, 2011

Five [Not So] Exciting Changes to Superlegal Fun

1. I made it to 3,000 page views yesterday!! Thank you all for reading, and thank you to all my fellow bloggers for adding a link - please know that sending your readers my way does not go unnoticed.  In the spirit of paying that favor forward, I will add a new Awesomeness series featuring my fellow bloggers.

2. Added email. Send me an email at superlegalfun@gmail.com.

3. Added subscription options. Sign-up to get an email everytime I post something new! (Please contain your excitement.)

4. Added "Most Viewed Posts."

5. Discontinued the requirement to type the verification word when posting a comment. That requirement was annoying. If I get spam, I'll add it back in.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No-Bake Recipe to Make a Law Office

Ingredients:

1. 2-3 jerks with JDs who think they can do it better than their last firm;

2. 1-2 paralegals who believe the lines the 2-3 jerks fed them to leave the last firm for a paycut and very few benefits;

3. Office space with corner offices for said jerks and no space for staff (paralegals don't need room to work, they just need computers, right?);

4. 20 rich clients to suck up to until said jerks have too much work.  At that point, the jerks will ignore their clients and route all contact through their paralegals while they go golfing;

5. A conference room and table big enough to feed their enormous egos;

6. Sock puppets (need I say more?);

7.  Doors on all rooms for secret meetings;

8. Very expensive pens (key to ego proliferation);

9. A letterhead design that shouts "WE ARE MSSRS. FANCY McFANCY-PANTS!"

10. Liquor cabinet and paper shot glasses (for the staff);

11. Cubicle golf for every attorney's office with monogramed clubs and balls;

12. Gold name plates that include their middle name and "Esq." (that's how fancy they are);

13. A cool name.  They will undoubtedly argue over whose last name comes first on the door (you know, the important things that are not at all childish);

14. Employment posters that have been crossed out in big fat black marker and read "just quit if you don't like my stupid rules."

15. MORE LIQUOR!!

16. Lots of stickies so the paralegals can write instructions on all the new office equipment the jerks will continue to break and jam and then leave for the staff to fix.

DIRECTIONS:

1. Chill jerks until they are as cold as can be and will not warm-up for the remainder of their career.

2.  Put staff "in-charge" of all tasks so they will do all the leg work to set up the firm, but don't let them actually make any decisions.

3. Move into said office.

4. Stir up the ugliness and watch the mess unfold.

  * Pairs well with a lifetime supply of the liquor of your choice.

Awesome Email from Secretary X, Part 3

Here's another awesome email exchange yesterday with Secretary X.  Note: rescheduling a trial is HER job, which she decided she would assign to me yesterday for some unknown reason.   It's funny, she is MY secretary and she is now assigning HER work to ME.  What is wrong with this picture?   [MY COMMENTS ARE IN CAPS.]
------------------------
To: Superlegal
From: Secretary X
Please coordinate and handle trial reset, if it is going to be reset.
------------------------
[CAN I GET YOU A CUP OF COFFEE AND SCHEDULE YOU A MASSAGE WHILE I'M AT IT?]
-----------------------
To: Secretary X
From: Superlegal
It's my understanding that there is a conflict with the ABC v. XYZ case and that Associate already talked to you about getting it reset. Is that not the case? This needs to be dealt with ASAP to avoid an ex parte appearance to reset.
------------------------
[ASSOCIATE HAS BEEN TELLING HER TO DO IT FOR MONTHS AND MOST RECENTLY LAST WEEK DUE TO THE CONFLICT WITH THE ABC V. XYZ TRIAL. SHE HAS TWO DAYS LEFT TO DO IT.]
-----------------------
To: Superlegal
From:  Secretary X
It is not a conflict with the ABC v. XYZ case. And I can't deal with it ASAP. Maybe opposing counsel can since he failed to do so last time.
-----------------------
[WELL, SHE'S WRONG. THERE IS A CONFLICT. I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW SHE DOESN'T THINK THERE IS A CONFLICT WHEN THE SAME ATTORNEY HAS TWO TRIALS SCHEDULED ON THE SAME DAY. DOES B-DUB HAVE A CLONE I'M NOT AWARE OF?]

(SUPER-ASSOCIATE COMES TO THE RESCUE [INSERT AWESOME SUPERHERO MUSIC HERE -- DUH, DUH DUH DUH, DUH DUH DUH DUH!!!])
------------------------
To: Secretary X
From: Associate
Superlegal cannot bill to reschedule the trial. Please contact opposing counsel and find a mutual trial date so that we can get a date certain trial date. Then, please get the trial reset. Thanks.
-----------------------
[THANK YOU, ASSOCIATE, FOR EXPLAINING TO SECRETARY WHY IT'S HER JOB IN THE FIRST PLACE. NOT THAT IT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE, BUT IT MAKES ME FEEL BETTER TO HAVE SOMEONE ON MY SIDE BACKING ME UP AGAINST THE EVIL THAT IS SECRETARY X.]
-----------------------
To: Associate
From: Secretary X
I can't get into this for awhile because I am too backed up. I don't see billing is an issue.
------------------------
[TRANSLATION: ASSOCIATE OR SUPERLEGAL NEED TO DO IT IN THE NEXT TWO DAYS, OR ASSOCIATE WILL HAVE TO MAKE A COURT APPEARANCE AT EX PARTE TO RESET THE TRIAL.]
[ALSO, SECRETARY X DOESN'T SEE BILLING AS AN ISSUE BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T BILL HER TIME. SHE DOESN'T HAVE A BILLABLE HOUR REQUIREMENT TO MEET. SHE WON'T LOSE HER JOB IF SHE DOESN'T MAKE THE YEARLY REQUIREMENT. RIDICULOUS!!]
[LAST THING: SHE PROBABLY CAN'T DO IT ASAP BECAUSE SHE TOOK A ---FOUR---HOUR---LUNCH---- YESTERDAY. NEED I SAY MORE?]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Awesome Email from Secretary X, Part 2

Associate asked me to send an email to Secretary X. Here's another awesome blast from Secretary X:

Dear Secretary X:
Per Associate, please confirm you have our expert lined-up for the hearing next Wednesday, April 20. Thanks!
Sincerely, Superlegal

Dear Superlegal:
Did you open up the calendar for this hearing?
Sincerely, Secretary X

I guess I was supposed to know that's where she decided to randomly put that information, even though it's not normally there.

Oh, and it is obviously painful to give someone a direct answer to a reasonable question.

HOW DARE I EVEN ASK AND FOLLOW ASSOCIATE'S INSTRUCTIONS!!!

Awesome Email from Secretary, Part 1

This is a follow-up to my post Monday called "Beyond Frustrated." Here is the link : http://superlegalfun.blogspot.com/2011/04/beyond-frustrated.html

Just so y'all can get a little taste of what I deal with daily, here is a summary of one email with Secretary X today:

Dear SecretaryX:
Please make sure you tell the insurer about the new court date.
Sincerely,
Superlegal

Dear Superlegal:
You really don't need to keep emailing me to do things I routinely do. And, just so you know, I have not had a confirmation call back from our client yet. Thanks.
Sincerely,
Secretary X

(She already confirmed with the court and I called all the witnesses. I see another reset. WHY would you confirm with the court before you talk to your own client?)

Wikipedia: Paralegal definition

Wikipedia's definition of a Paralegal:

"Paralegal is used in most jurisdictions to describe a paraprofessional who assists qualified lawyers in their legal work."

A couple thoughts:

1. Qualified? I guess that means they passed a bar exam. The sad part is that unsupervised newby associates are also considered "qualified" to make independent legal decisions (and we have to happily assist in their near malpractice).

2. "Assist" does not mean the following:

  * Do your work for you. I am not an underpaid associate.

  * Cover for you or reschedule hearings and meetings to accommodate your sport of choice. Instead, I will start informing opposing attorneys/ judges/ clients that you couldn't make it because your wife just left you after finding you in bed with another man in her underwear. Yes, I'm pretty sure that will be the last excuse I need to make for you.

  * Do all the work to prepare you for trial while you're enjoying the Florida sun the week before trial (true story). Perhaps I'll assign the same level of interest to that case and hire a camera crew to capture your surprise that I didn't bail you out. Oh, and then I'll refuse to work the weekend on trial prep because I already promised your wife I would help her move everything out of your house while you did your own work!!

  * I am not your walking task list or babysitter. It's not my job to tell you what your priorities are, when to do something, where you're supposed to be, who to call, or give you a briefing about a case when you get a call because you can't remember what a case is about. I think, instead, I'll start "accidently" getting the cases confused, and give you random facts about several cases. Besides, Secretary X makes worse mistakes. It works for her.  Maybe I'll give it a shot. Who knows? I might get a raise.

I think the definition should be:

Underpaid, overworked people who loved the law before the attorneys around them disabused them of the idea that paralegals assist and contribute to bring a case to conclusion.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beyond frustrated...

Secretary X is at it again!

I asked Secretary X weeks ago to reschedule an arbitration. She is in charge of ALL scheduling/ calendaring. She scheduled it, but didn't check with our witnesses or opposing counsel. At that point, I told her I would handle communication with the witnesses so she wouldn't screw it up (witnesses who agree to voluntarilly appear to testify must be carefully handled so you don't piss them off). I told her to communicate with everyone else (the client and client's family, arbitrator and opposing counsel).

Tips for interviewing for a Paralegal position (can be adapted for other professions)

Late last year, I interviewed for a Paralegal position at a new firm. I guess it's like riding a bycicle (one where the seat goes up your butt no matter how you position yourself). No matter how good you are at interviewing, it's so uncomfortable to act like you're not begging for a job, and to act like you WANT to feed the interviewer's ego. So here are some common interview questions for a Paralegal and some suggestions for responses (adapt to your profession as appropriate):

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Awesomeness, Part VII: Reasons to embrace your awesome haters and hate-mail

I have reached another thrilling milestone. I have hate-mail!! Yippee!!

Y'all may have noticed a recent post by a reader in response to my post entitled "Dear JD: What exactly did you learn in law school?"

The hate-mail comment read:

Fort Worth 8L said...
Perhaps if you werent's so full of yourself, you could see that you also have issues. For instance, you misspelled "dilute." It only has one "l." If JD has just passed the bar, it is quite likely that they never taught him to use the acronym LR for local rule in law school. Our local highly rated law school factory is pretty academic and plus we don't use LR in Texas. We have local rules but refer to them differently.
April 7, 2011 12:37 PM

Now, before you all go hatin' on the hater, you need to understand why I appreciate his/her comment. Here are the reasons haters and hate-mail are awesome:

1. It means people who don't know you want to read the crap you write, even though they hate it.

2.  Haters like Fort Worth, who is likely a lawyer since he/she didn't defend the Paralegal profession, don't realize that they are carrying on the oppressive behaviors I am criticizing behind closed doors because it's not allowed in the office.

3. Forth Worth blindly criticizes me without knowing that typos happen, likely because the only time I can blog is on my two hour commute each day on public transportation on my "smart phone" with the great unwashed. Isn't it awesome that s/he's jumping to conclusions just for me? (So sweet!) Maybe I'll start incorporating tyops just for him/her. (Oops, I did it again!)

4. Haters are good for laughs sometimes because they don't read the other crap I've been dealing with and make uninformed comments without reading my whole blog. Just so y'all know, JD has been licensed for several years and "practicing" for almost a year. The fact that he hasn't looked at our local court rules is indicative of his incompetence, and likely why he couldn't find a real lawyer job.  Further, we aren't in Texas, Todo, and we do use LR all the time here.

5. Haters get to pass judgment on others. Haters, afterall, are so awesome they are above everyone else. Again, s/he's probably is an attorney, so s/he's used to exuding his/her awesomeness everywhere.

6. They give us great blog topics!

Well, I have a big smile on my face. At last, ladies and gentlemen, we paralegals get to speak out against the collective group of attorneys we work for.

For you, Fort Worth: Yee Haw!!