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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.
Bob Davidson said:
Classic! This jackass has it coming. If he is who I believe he is, classic brilliant attorney. So smart, yet so stupid, and who obviously believes the world revolves around him.
Jamie Collins said:
Well, my initial response to his post was, “Dear lawd, please help me to keep my hand over my mouth and my fingers off of the keyboard.” That clearly didn’t happen.
Bob – I think it has a lot to do with the personality of the attorney(s) for whom you work. I’ve always had good bosses. Great ones, even. But that’s not to say I haven’t worked for a few challenging ones here or there along the way, and heard some war stories from friends.
**I’d like to give a public shout to Adrian James for editing my post.
My partner in crime, Krishna, for designing my fabulous campaign button. And to my first (private) readers on this piece: Angela L., Tracey W., and Daphne. Thank you for encouraging my ridiculousness.
WOW and to think that could be an attorney representing me/clients 😮 He should be barred for life!
Bob Davidson said:
I’d add one more point. The individual may describe Big Law but it’s no different in Small Law.
Bob Davidson said:
Correction: Small Law attorneys are no different than Big Law attorneys when it comes down their worlds revolving around them.
Rachael Stanley said:
You mean that was for real?
Jamie Collins said:
As far as I can tell. I can’t imagine they let a non-lawyer hold himself out to be a lawyer on a lawyer blog. But I’m just “the help,” so what do I know?! Maybe tongue in cheek, written for shock value, penned under a screen name, or all of the above. But I read the words. You did, too. They exist.
Joseph Panozzo said:
Paralegals are the Rodney Dangerfield of the legal profession. They get no respect.
Pingback: “Here’s Why You Should Hire Me.” | Recovering Paralegal
I notice, in his blog, that Mr Bigshot is too big of a chicken shit to send out an office wide memo under his own name suggesting to sum up the titles of all the paralegals and secretaries under the title “the Help”, but would circulate it as an “anonymous” memo. Typical strategy of a bully, remain blameless. What he really doesn’t understand is the entire office, partners and associates included, will know who the memo came from. At least he’s established who HE is in the office hierarchy.
Melissa P said:
Problems with the “Help”? Really?? What about the attorneys that constantly change their minds about procedure and nit pick for every little thing that is done or isn’t done (mainly because they’ve previously told you not to do it)? Oh! And how about “do not follow up with me because I have more important things to do then check my email” but then snap all over me because I didn’t follow up with my annoying email… And don’t get me started on the blame game. The inconsistency is as dumbfounding as it is exhausting… Yea, let me run out and grab you that Chinese food because I don’t have YOUR deadlines to meet.
Lesley Neff said:
Outstanding once again, Jamie. Real job ad or not, the message is true and clear. We are plagued with individuals in our society who think the letters after their name give them the right to treat others with blatant disrespect. Sad!
Ha!! This is probably one of the best posts I’ve ever read! I have to say I have a little bit of word envy happening right now. Thank you for that. 😉
You know, seeing this made me actually Google his name, then I narrowed it down to name + lawyer. If I was any of the folks with the same name in the legal field, I’d be worried. I looked up the “about” section of Bitter Lawyer, and they say it’s a humor site (now part of “Bitter Empire” for those curious). I’m certain that they thrive off of the controversy and hate, and get paid well for the page views. However, I’d be real nervous having anything like that original article tied to my name. Clients do use the interwebs well, and this will come back to bite. Jamie, thanks for a fantastic response!
Deborah Larson said:
You are amazing Jamie!! thank you for putting your response to the Bitter Lawyer in such profound words, I would hate to be in this guy’s life, he would make anybody’s life miserable.
Ha, this is great! Well said!
Wow. This is an on-point deconstruction of the effete self-aggrandisement that we all have experienced from attorneys(not all, to be fair). Thank you for preaching truth to power.
Darlene Michaelis said:
THAT is brilliant! I LOLed in several places, including the microphone drop. Even if it was written a number of years ago, the attorney in question is likely still an asshat who hasn’t made partner yet.
Having worked for attorneys like that one, I truly enjoyed your well-written response. The only defense against someone like that is to document everything. Good CYA memos, emails, calendar notes and written confirmations of their actions will eventually lead to their downfall, even if you aren’t there when it happens.
WE all know what happened when Hilly pushed Minny too far in “The Help.” This guy doles out the “chocolate pie” with such ease that he needs to have his pie and eat it. too. I’ve worked with lawyers who had the same view and, at one time, one told me to take his specimen to the urologist to have it analyzed for swimmers. I’m so glad that I work for an attorney and a firm who value my abilities and contributions and not merely expect me to be a minion because I really don’t look good in yellow
What a PERFECT response! I’m lucky enough to work for a larger insurance defense firm where every attorney is the exact opposite of that a–hole. My boss WANTS me to focus on billable work (not that we all don’t help look for files, sometimes) – what a concept! He also recognizes the importance of his staff and serves as a mentor. Just this week, he took me with him to a meeting with a big client. He introduced me to everyone taking part in the meeting; and, in front of them, he actually gave me credit for some the prep work and research I did on the case. I wasn’t looking for credit (all paralegals know it’s our job to make the attorneys’ work product look amazing), but that was a nice surprise! If you are stuck working for anyone remotely like Mr. Richardson, GET OUT. I promise you can do better. I wonder how many poor secretaries and paralegals have asked for an assignment change within 2 hours of working for this guy. “The help” he needs is in the form of medication.
I just was let go frm a revolving door firm. I was hired to warm the chair. Got to get away from law and lawyers
Bob Davidson said:
Definitely…….no question about it…….
Angeline O'Bara said:
Jamie, I believe we just matched on Tinder! (kidding)
I am almost finished with my Associate Degree in Applied Science – Paralegal Studies; for my assignment, I was to find a Paralegal Blog. I am to inspect this Blog, read about the mission statement and the creator and “talk about it”. I aimlessly searched for one single article and chose this article. I am now hooked! Your words are like crack to a crackhead! I will be sharing this article with all my classmates and I will tell them this is proof that we all cannot forget that while doing our best to be our very best, life will never be worth the disrespect.