By: Jamie Collins
It was on this day, March 5, 2016, that I awoke and came to the sudden realization that I have apparently become the self-proclaimed Jackass Whisperer for the legal profession. Then I hit the “publish” button. And smiled.
Dear Mr. Matthew Richardson, Esq.:
I recently came across your captivating blog post on The Bitter Lawyer entitled “Problems with ‘The Help’ ” I would have shared a hyperlink with that last line, but felt compelled to share it more accurately as “I view all staff at my law firm to be my personal minions.” (Ah, there’s the link. My hyperlinking skills are second to none, I assure you.) Your post drove me out of the darkness to write.
For starters, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to share the hierarchy there in Big Law with the rest of us. Let’s make sure I get this part right. You described it as follows:
- IT Guy
- Cleaning Crew
- Paralegals and Secretaries [and those damn para-taries]
You also went on to define a clear set of tasks that all of your paralegals and secretaries can expect to complete:
- Dressing Like a Professional
- Handling of a Closing
- Social Interaction
- Dry Cleaning Pickup Speed
- Deciphering My Date’s Voice From Other Whores With My Work Number
- General Reaction to My Abusive Ways
Wow. I feel so inspired.
This part was also noteworthy: “…If I say we’re going to Jersey to bury a dead hooker in the Pine Barrens, my para-tary better be ready with a shovel and change for the tolls…Here’s what I’m saying when I ask you to run out to the deli and buy me lottery tickets: I’m a lawyer. There are certain people I can boss around. You’re one of them.”
You had me at “bury a dead hooker.” I am so down.
You may wonder why I’m writing this open letter to you today. It’s because I would like to publicly declare my candidacy as…drum roll, please…your next paralegal. I’m pretty darn sure I’m the woman for the job.
I want you to know that I’m super clear on the proclaimed hierarchy. It is as follows:
THE L1’S GATHERED AROUND THE KEURIG,
SNICKERING WHILE READING YOUR BLOG POSTS
I’ve spent two decades in the legal profession working as a paralegal. I handle personal injury and wrongful death cases and love me some jury trials. (Rumor has it my demands bring all of the adjusters’ dollas to the yard.) I’ve worked with a former president of the American Trial Lawyers Association, several highly-respected trial lawyers (one of whom was featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal), and currently find myself working for a prominent litigator and one of the top attorneys in the state. (Impressive fellow.) I’m also one of the leading paralegal writers in the country.
While I know your post was written in 2009—and nearly 7 years have lapsed since that time—I am more than sure paralegals all across America are likely clamoring for the opportunity to work as your paralegal (Read: the gal who picks up your starched shirts, orders your Cashew Chicken, and enters into verbal exchanges with your “whores” (definitely your words, not mine). I’m here to vie for the job. Hell yes. Sign me up. Who wouldn’t want to work for you?
I appreciate you sharing your candid thoughts on “the help.” I agree that when you ask your paralegal, secretary, or this new hybrid you’ve created, a para-tary, to perform a certain task, so long as it isn’t unethical or illegal (I should throw immoral in there, too, considering your historical choice of verbiage), she or he should actually do it. If he or she does not comply with the performance of said menial task to your esquired satisfaction, then you should immediately verbally reprimand him or fire her. It’s that simple. (We are clear that it has nothing to do with your delegation style, management ability, or the fact that your paralegal is hiding beneath her desk in a fetal position, or in the third restroom stall in an evasive maneuver to escape your menial [unbillable] requests, or may be emotionally exhausted after repeatedly being addressed in a tone that can be nothing short of condescending, based on your publicly shared views and formal declarations regarding those peons—you know, the legal minions rocking suits, ties, and high heels, but no goggles, otherwise known as: “the help.”)
I share your frustration. It is irritating when your paralegal and/or secretary refuse to do what you tell them to do. (They shouldn’t.) And then they have the gall to argue that you should assign that particular type of task to the other one. (They shouldn’t do that either. We’ll get to that shortly.) I’ve worked with these types in the past. The “that’s not my job” delegates. I’m familiar with the quorum.
Over the years, I’ve overheard other paralegals balk when they are asked to bring a requested file to their attorney. I’ve also heard the words “that’s not my job” ring out into the air around me in a disgusted, agitated tone by one of the office’s dark clouds a/k/a Keepers of the Misery. I need you to know that this will not present an issue for me.
I am the candidate. I will quickly rise from my desk and approach the first perimeter for the search party—your desk, because in my experience, that is where I will find the file you are looking for. (I will find it and victory will be mine, and yours.) On day one, I promise to arrive with a manila folder in hand, stuffed with an array of extraordinary eatery menus galore for your esquired perusal. I’m your girl. In case it isn’t clear—I am your number one candidate. I would love nothing more than the opportunity to watch you crawl over the backs of your brothers to ascend that legal mountain and hoist your arms in victory. Truth be told, I’ve always dreamt of working alongside a man who could make Frank Underwood look like an altar boy.
I find myself thinking: Why would I want to spend my days writing million dollar demands, working of case strategy, or preparing clients for trial, when I could fetch your laundered suits and order your Kung Pao Beef? (I mean, I can’t imagine why any staff member isn’t meeting his or her billable hour goals working for you at the firm. Order an L24 with egg drop soup and swing by Lowe’s for a vial of arsenic—.7; field phone calls from ladies of the night—.5; trip to VP for lottery tickets and a bag of Skittles—.2, secure burial plot and I-Pass for the lord of law, along with a Xanax—.9. The month is really coming together fast.)
So today, I’m here to tell you that I’d love to be your paralegal. My candidacy is real. Why would I want to work for an attorney who actually admires me, respects me, trusts me, pays me really well, and thinks I’m the greatest paralegal on the planet, when I could work for you, instead? Actually, that’s a pretty damn good question.
On second thought…no thanks.
And best of luck hiring your next para-tary.
Share buttons are conveniently located below this post, paralegals. You know what to do! (Far. And. Wide.)
And if you haven’t already checked out my brand spankin’ new personal blog, Just Being Jamie, click the link, scroll to the bottom of the site, and enter your e-mail address to subscribe. No spam, just semi-brilliant blog posts. I promise not to hit the blank page lightly.