Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Baffling & Bewildering

with 6 comments

Total Black: $776.32
Total Red: $235,242.50

All day today I’ve been fielding a number of emails from the associate at the law firm I’m currently temping with.  The emails commenced this morning while getting ready for what’s become my Sunday morning routine: hawking at the theatre.  Nearly every request or question left me baffled and bewildered because much of the emergency could have been avoided had people actually read the emails other sent.  But what can I expect.  I’m Just a Temp, right?  

Actually, I’m just a paralegal—just as in that post.  Again today the associate referred to me and the other contract attorney as paralegals.  She forwarded me an email but failed to delete the earlier emails in the chain wherein she expressed frustration to another law firm associate that her “paralegals” didn’t come in today.  Infuriating.  It’s one thing to refer to contract attorneys as sub par or substandard lawyers—or some other gross over-generalization.  But to refer to us as paralegals is even more insulting because it strips us of our professional achievements and reduces us to unlicensed aides.  According to, the prefix para- refers to roles “considered ancillary or subsidiary to roles requiring more training, or of a higher status.”  Subsidiary?  I suppose, given the status of contract attorneys.  In need of more training though?  Hardly.  And today highlighted it.

Since the matter I’m working began to heat up—since the trial commenced—I and the other contract attorney have had to take on more responsibility for the day-to-day preparations.  Pretty much we’re the only people on the team who aren’t in court each day.  The problem, however, is that the other contract attorney is the primary go-to person.  And sometimes I’m not copied on important emails.  That’s fine, except for times when she’s not around.  See, she’s on a firm email account whereas I’m using my personal email account.  I get “work” emails on my iPhone whenever they’re sent; she gets them when she’s in the office.  And this weekend she wasn’t in the office.  And she told everyone.  But either they just ignored the information, or forgot it, I guess.  Not sure.  But neither are marks of high intelligence.  Tasks sent to her—and only to her—didn’t get taken care of.  Suddenly Sunday morning the associate realized and then tried to re-route everything to me.  Except I was on the way to the theatre.  And since the day before had been pretty quiet—so much so that I made some money on the side, as mentioned in Working & Moving, and took on another shift at the theatre, ushering at tonight’s performance of White’s Lies—I wasn’t available until quite late tonight.

I don’t understand a whole lot about attorneys today.  But mostly what I don’t understand is how no one sees that the delegate mentality becomes crippling after a time.  See, today’s emergency, which the associate tried to re-route to me, was to print out documents cited in a proposed cross-examination script and deliver them to the partner.  Seriously!  That’s it.  And when I finally got in to the office tonight and looked over the script, there were about seven or eight documents to print out.  Total.  Insanity!  Truly crazy.   How is it that attorneys get so dependent upon others that they become helpless?

The practice of law is increasingly becoming inextricably interwoven with the need for high-level computer skills.  Being able to prepare, process, and present information in Microsoft Excel or to know how to OCR a document and render it searchable—vital skill-sets to possess.  I can’t count the number of times the charts I’ve made that were praised by my colleagues and superiors alike.  And it’s not that complicated.  Thousands of computer short-cuts exist that people should know.  For example, if working with a PC, hold down the ALT key and then hit the TAB key.  You’ll see a window pop up.  Keep holding the ALT key down and hit the TAB key to switch between the programs you have open.  When going back and forth between two windows, if copying from one and pasting into the other for example, you’ll shave off some time by eliminating the mouse altogether.  The number of computers users I see relying on the mouse to switch between screens, or to copy and paste—especially when I seem them going up to the task bar to click on “Edit” and then “Copy” and then move to another screen with the mouse, and then back up to “Edit” to click on “Paste”—it makes me want to scream, especially when it’s an attorney!  Yes, I expect advanced computer skills from lawyers.  Next time—may as well continue on my soap box and give another “lesson” to my readers—put the cursor in front of what you want to copy.  Hold down the SHIFT key and use the arrow keys to select whatever you want to copy.  Once finished, let go of the SHIFT key.  Hold down CTRL and then hit C.  You’ve just “copied.”  Next, put the cursor where you want to paste the text you just copied.  Hold down CTRL again and hit V.  For Viola!  Y0u’ve just “pasted.”

Off the box.

I suspect many people know such short cuts.  But it’s the lack of inquisitiveness into functionality with technology that incenses me about attorneys, especially when it delays completing some task.  Or when it means you’re emailing me at 10am on a Sunday morning with an urgent request to print up ten documents because the partner doesn’t have them and neither he nor you know how to search folders on the hard drive to find them.  Call me an iSnob.  (Yes I just invented that term.)  I don’t care.  But your tech crisis is not my emergency.

Baffling and bewildering what I have to endure to get myself out of debt.

Total black is up.  Pay from jobs came through, minus a few bills getting paid.  The two thousand dollar check from the Colleague hasn’t cleared yet so it’s not showing in total black.

6 Responses

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  1. I’m old and tired, so maybe I just cannot see your “Working and Moving” post that you mention above. Is it my age playig games with me or did you forget to post it?


    April 27, 2010 at 21:44

  2. Nope. It’s not up yet. But like always, the post is written in my mind before it’s posted.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    April 27, 2010 at 22:33

  3. That’s ok. Just checking. I gotta learn to be patient!


    April 28, 2010 at 00:46

  4. I worked as an associate for a dysfunctional small law firm where there was a paralegal who had no computer skills, but still thought he was the boss of the place when the owner wasn’t there. What a tool this guy was. He could barely operate a computer, and pretty much sat in his lair all day and typed out forms on his trusty typewriter. The guy had no idea that he was a dinosaur in a dying profession. What made it worse was that he thought he was my boss when the owner was not there, and then needed to ask for my help to open word documents.


    April 28, 2010 at 13:36

  5. Hahaha . . . I burst out laughing when I read that he had to ask you for help opening word documents.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    April 28, 2010 at 13:38

  6. I know someone who got reprimanded for continually calling the help desk because the printer was out of paper. For. Reals. Y’all.


    April 28, 2010 at 16:52

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