What happened to my secretary(s)

Rob asked whatever happened with my secretary--ask and ye shall receive.

There were actually three secretaries during my tenure at my firm. My first secretary, she-who-is-inept, eventually left, and then, shortly thereafter asked to come back, to which the hiring partner replied with a resounding "no!"

The shit hit the fan about one week before she left. Her ineptitude had continued for over one year (many lost files found weeks later in someone else's office, sloppy work, continuing screw ups and a deteriorating attitude) and one day I approached her and asked her a random, simple question along the lines of "where is the "Y" file?"

She replied in a very snippy fashion, and I snapped. I informed her, within earshot of other secretaries, that I treated her with respect and expected the same from her, and that in the future she was not to speak to me in that tone again.

Apparently, she made a big spectacle of crying, which was brought to the attention of the managing partner by another secretary. He spoke with me about it and advised that I should avoid chastising her in the hallway, which was certainly true. And, he told me that they were on the verge of firing her, but preferred not to do so simply in order to avoid creating waves amongst the support staff. He said they'd discuss it at the next partners' meeting and let me know. Fortunately, she quit in the interim, which was the perfect resolution for all concerned.

They then hired secretary #2, whom I fondly refer to as bleached-blond-poodle-hair-secretary-from-hell. Would you like to hear about her?


I'll post again soon

Life has gotten away from me and I've been delinquint in posting, I know. Sorry about that. I'm also running out of easy "material" so it's not as easy to dash out a post now. But, I'll keep trying to do so, but bear with me. Posts may not be quite as frequent as they once were. Check back soon...


Oh sure, why not?

I was in Asshole Partner's office at the end of the day, discussing an assignment, when Nice Partner stopped by. "Hey Asshole. I can't take you tonight after all. Wifey called and I have to go straight home."

"Thanks for the late notice, Nice. But, that's ok. Moi's here. You can take me, can't you?"

"Um, me? Maybe. When and where?"

"To the shop on Maple to pick up my Porsche. Right now."

"Right now? Well, I guess I can. I didn't actually have any specific plans." That sounded bad. It was only 5:15. I figured I'd pile it on thick, for the hell of it. "Er, that is--aside from lots and lots of work until say--oh--9 tonight." I grinned. I was pretty damn funny.

"Yeah, you and 9 o'clock, Moi. When was the last time that happened?" Asshole Partner cracked a smile. "So you can take me?"

"You're serious, Asshole?"

"Sure I am. How else am I going to get there now that Nice abandoned me?"

I shrugged. "Good question. I suppose I'm your only hope."

"Great! I'll meet you at the elevators in five minutes."

"Ok, Asshole." I walked out of his office, shaking my head. If this kept up, people were going to think we were having an affair. That was the last thing I needed.


No one told me there'd be days like these

My eyelids began to droop again. I shook my head and took a deep breath and then re-read the case for the fifth time. No wonder Mentor Partner had suckered me into helping with this brief. This stuff was dry. No, not just dry, boring as hell. Indemnification, subrogation, sub-contractor, subrogee. I can't even keep track of the parties, let alone comprehend the convoluted legal issues.

It was like Contracts class all over again. I'd always thought that the practice of law would be a lot more thrilling than this. Law and Order and all that.

Criminal practice hadn't been all that bad, all things considered. Sure, I was overworked and underpaid. But at least it was interesting. Maybe I should have stuck with that.

I sighed. I couldn't concentrate. I needed a break. I read over a few letters in my in-bin. Then I checked my e-mail and skimmed over the latest news headlines. All rightie then. Enough procrastinating. Concentrate Moi!

I picked up the case again. It was as if the teacher from the Peanuts was reading it to me or I was the dog from this Far Side cartoon--blah blah subrogor blah blah sub-lessee blah blah blah indemnitee. My eyes glazed over, all thought processes ceased. Aarrgh!

How is it that no one-- none of my law professors, mentors, strangers on the street--ever told me that the practice of law could be so mind-numbingly dull.

I closed the research folder and stood up. I needed coffee. More coffee. Strong coffee. And lots of it.


Closing argument

For your reading enjoyment, here's a typical closing argument in a circumstantial evidence case used by many prosecutors. Anyone out there who is/has been a prosecutor will recognize it:

Ms. Olson would like you believe that since no one actually saw the defendant steal the necklace, you don’t have to convict him. Well, you and I both know that just because no one actually saw it, doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.

Those of you with children know what I mean. When your children sneak cookies from the cookie jar, you know it happened, even if you don’t see them do it, don’t you?

Why, we’ve all walked into the kitchen to find our three year olds sitting at the table with a pile of crumbs in front of them, crumbs on their hands and face, the lid to the cookie jar askew, met with adamant denials of guilt, haven’t we? But, we’re not fools—we all know what happened, even though we didn’t see it, right?

Or, to put it another way, you can figure out the big picture even if you’re missing a few pieces. That’s what circumstantial evidence is like, although the judge will instruct you more about it later. It’s like a puzzle when you’re missing just a few pieces. You’ve put all the pieces together that you have and you can tell that it’s a picture of a cowboy on a horse in front of a mountain. The puzzle pieces for the cowboy’s hat, the horse’s tail and the top of the mountain are missing, but you don’t need those pieces to know what the big picture is; just as you don’t need an eyewitness to tell you that a crime occurred.

Now, a few minutes ago, I went over each and every piece of evidence in this case with you. And, when you deliberate, I am confident that you’ll agree that the evidence clearly shows, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant forcibly ripped that necklace from Ms. Andrew’s neck, fled the scene and was apprehended just one block away within minutes, with the necklace in his possession. Members of the jury, on behalf of the People of the State of New York, I would, therefore, ask that you return a verdict of guilty; the evidence demands it. Thank you.


Your tax dollars at work

Here's a true story about a poor schmuck with a thick Southern accent.

The scene: Your local prosecutors office, Anytown, USA.

Fade in:

Alicia, one of the newer ADAs jumped in. “The funniest thing happened at arraignment part today. This little old black man was charged with Falsely Reporting an Incident. According to the accusatory, he called 911 and claimed that ‘there was a bomb in his house.’ Cops show up, no bomb, so they charge him since they’re pissed.”

“And?” prompted Tom.

“So they call his case for arraignment and this stooped over little
ancient guy slowly hobbles up to the podium, cane in hand. He finally gets there and just as Judge Smythe starts to arraign him, he gets all excited and starts talking in a really thick Southern, dialect, declaring his innocence. He was such a polite, elderly Southern gentleman and was obviously really upset that he’d been arrested.”

“Yeah,” said Sarah, one of younger ADAs. They all leaned in expectantly.

“So the judge says: ‘Mr. Washington. You’re out of line. Let me speak. It says right here that you called 911 and told them that there was a bomb in your house, sir. And when the police got there, it wasn’t there.”

“And….” said another ADA.

“So this poor old guy says: ‘Right, Miss. I tol’ ‘em der was a bom in my house, but she left before dey got der. Dey was too slow!’ At this, the judge looked up from the accusatory in front of her. ‘She?’”

The ADAs grinned eagerly, anticipating the punch line.

“’Yah. Rita,’ he said.

The judge looked down at him. ‘A bum, Mr. Washington? Is that what you called the police about? A bum in your house?’

He looked up at her and said, earnestly, ‘Yah, miss. Dat’s what I said! A bom in da house!’”

They all laughed appreciatively, shaking their heads. “The charges were the dismissed, I hope.” said Tom.

“Yep,” replied Alicia. “The poor guy got to go home."


True 'dat

I walked into the dump with Mike and Sue. Although I was friendly with the other associates, I was closest with these two. Mike threw his tall, lanky frame into a chair and ran his hands through his short, dark brown hair. His hazel eyes sparkled roguishly. “Whew. I sure needed a break. It's Friday, right?” He winked.

Sue sat down and grinned, “No kidding. If only.” She was a short, shapely woman whose suits were, by choice, almost always one size too small; some might call them snug; others, unseemly. Although somewhat vertically challenged, she wasn’t at all short on personality. Sue cleared her throat and then said, “Drum roll, please.”

We looked at Sue expectantly. “I got the judge’s decision yesterday on the Morgan file.”

“And?” Mike asked.

“We won, of course! What did you expect?” she laughed, her blue eyes lighting up. She absently wrapped a blond curl around her finger as she spoke, “I e-mailed Ron right away to let him know about the decision.”

“What did he say?” I asked.

“Nothing! I never heard back from him!” she exclaimed. “So I ran into him this morning and told him about the decision. He said he’d accidentally deleted the e-mail without reading it and asked me to re-send it to him. I told him that it was still on his computer and to look in the “deleted e-mails” folder. He looked at me like I was speaking Greek. He didn’t even know what I meant! I still can’t believe that most of the partners don’t even understand how their computers work. It constantly amazes me.”

“I know,” said Mike. He took a sip of his coffee and leaned back in his chair, stretching his long legs out in front of him. “You’ve got to remember that most of these guys are over fifty. It’s a generational thing.” He grinned mischievously, “Most of them don’t realize is that we can search the firm directory and read any document that was created on the network. Makes for interesting reading on the weekends when you’re bored, but you didn’t hear that from me!”

I laughed. “I bet it does! Anyway, congrats Sue. You worked hard on that case. And, just think--you made Morgan Enterprises even more money. Way to fight for the downtrodden!”

She smirked, “Yep, that’s why I went to law school: to make the rich richer! It’s pretty pathetic, isn’t it?”

I shook my head. “No. We’re all in the same boat. We’ve got to pay back our student loans somehow. What choice do we have? Not everyone can afford to fight the good fight."

Mike nodded. "True 'dat."


Additions to blogroll

Since the creation of this blog, I've added a number of blogs to my blogroll and many of the same blogs have also added Sidebar to their blogroll. Here's a brief round up of the blogs that I've added:

Big Law Associate-As the name suggests, it's a blog about the trials and tribulations of working as an associate in Biglaw.

Color of Law-A blog about the life and times of a law student.

Fresh Pepper?-An amusing blog written by an associate in a law firm who lives in his parent's basement and aspires to be a professional chef.

The Happy Feminist-A blog about mostly feminist issues written by an associate in a law firm.

knownunknowns-A group blog written by a few lawyers about a variety of interesting issues.

La Dolce Divas-Another joint blog written by two attorney fashionistas about style, fashion and all that good stuff.

teahouseblossom-A blog written by an associate in a New York law firm about her life experiences.

Wandering Bell- A blog written by a lawyer in San Francisco that consists of his musings on life as a sole practitioner as he trains for his first Ironman.


In the blink of an eye

As I've mentioned, I was either an ADA or APD prior to becoming an associate in a mid-sized firm. During the middle of my tenure at that position, I was assigned to a judge that was known for making the lives of the APDs and ADAs in his court sheer hell. Judge Hardass was an equal opportunity offender in this regard, and was hard on both APDs and ADAs.

But, I was ready for him. I'd been at my job for a few years at this point and had experienced all sorts of judges, so I was pretty sure that I could handle him. But, I also really wanted to get off on a good foot with him and show him that not only was I was a hardworker, but that I was good at my job.

The first few days of non-stop arraignments seemed to go just fine, so I was caught completely off guard on the fourth day when, out of the blue, Judge Hardass said, in a perfectly calm, quiet and measured tone, "Moi, everytime I make a decision on bail that you disagree with, I noticed that you roll your eyes. It's very subtle, but evident nonetheless. If you continue to do that, I'll hold you in contempt."

I could feel my face blanche and my heart dropped like a bowling ball into the pit of my stomach. I'd never had a judge make that sort of comment to me about my demeanor, let alone in open court. I was mortified. And, I was terrified, since I knew he'd do it; I'd heard stories of him holding attorneys in contempt in the past.

I stood completely still and tried to regain my composure. I took a deep breath, glanced up at Judge Hardass and murmured, "I apologize, Judge. I had no idea that I was doing that. It won't happen again."

For the rest of the morning, I was afraid to even blink, lest Judge Hardass interpret it as an eye roll. I barely moved my head from that point on. We were only about 45 minutes into arraignments and had at least another 2 hours to go and I wasn't sure how I was going to get through the next two hours without either crying or unknowingly rolling my eyes. Somehow, I managed to complete arraignments without doing either one.

Later on, when I thought about what he'd said, I realized that he was right. I was rolling my eyes, albeit unintentionally, and it was disrespectful. I learned a lot from Judge Hardass, although the time spent in his courtroom wasn't the most enjoyable, by any means.

But, apparently we had a mutual respect for one another as I later learned after accepting my next job as an associate at a law firm. Apparently, Judge Hardass had provided a glowing recommendation on my behalf when approached by one of the partners. Maybe he wasn't such a hardass after all.