Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Secret Santa" - Thank You? No, Thank You?

It's the most wonderful time of the year.  Or not.

I'm not a Scrooge. Really, I'm not.  But sometimes I could just do without all the office parties and "Secret Santa gift exchanges."  

And whoever thought "re-gifting" was appropriate?  And what about that stupid game where someone gets to "steal" the gift from the other person who just got the reindeer cork screw?

Honestly, it's enough to make me overdose on egg nog.

There are still some gift ideas that are "politically correct," and not such a piece of junk that they're downright insulting.  

Here are my top five ideas (in no particular order) for gifts under $10.

1.  Coffee gift card

2.  Panera gift card

3.  Desk Calendar (preferably not one with dirty jokes)

4.  Ink Pen

5. Mug (a decent mug - not the 99 cent store variety)

Here are my top five ideas (in no particular order) for gifts under $25

1.  Coffee gift card

2.  Movie tix (2)

3.  Bookstore Gift Card

4.  Nice stationery

5.  Collectible ornament

What are some of the favorite/least favorite gifts you've received at the office over the years?

I'd love to know.  


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Have a Seat. How About a New Chair for Christmas?

While sitting in my comfortable SOMA Ergo chair the other day at work, I started thinking about whether I would want a holiday bonus or a new chair, if given the choice.

While sitting in my office chair at home this morning, which is so NOT a SOMA Ergo chair, I was prompted to write this post.

We spend a lot of time in our chairs at work.  Especially if your boss is like mine who prefers his secretary be close-by at all times.  It's not an unreasonable request.  He's a busy guy and doesn't have time to field calls from salespeople who pretend they're close friends.  Not to mention the fact that I'm on company time.

That said, I realized just how much more comfortable I am at work now than when I had just a "standard-issue" secretary's chair.

I'm not so sure that companies give enough thought to the importance of a good chair.  The wrong chair can lead to serious consequences, including back and neck pain, which can result in less productivity and loss of time at work.

Now, here is a shameless plug for SOMA Ergo.  

Not only does SOMA offer a variety of chairs, including the "court reporter" chair, which I actually use, every chair is customized to suit your needs (height, weight, etc.).

This year, you might want to casually "hint" to the office manager that you'd love a new chair for the New Year.  In fact, it wouldn't hurt to casually send your boss the link below and while she's at it, she might want to get one for herself.

Life is short - we need to be comfortable in the chair we're in.

(oh and the answer to the question - a bonus or a new chair?  I think if I had to pick one, I'd say the chair - it's the gift that keeps on giving)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "Creole Belle" by James Lee Burke

"Creole Belle," is Dave Robicheaux and his side-kick Clete Purcell at their brave best.

It's also James Lee Burke doing what James Lee Burke does best as he takes you on a Louisiana adventure like no one else can.  

Burke's descriptive narrative in "Creole Belle" plops the reader right smack down in the middle of the Louisiana Coast.  

His mission is to find Tee Jolie, a barroom singer who has mysteriously disappeared and whose cryptic phone messages to Robicheaux leave Dave's family thinking that he has finally lost it.  This time for good.

What develops is a story of secrets, sex, lies and videotape.   A trip into Louisiana's history that will find you both intrigued and appalled.

It took me longer than it should have to read this book because I found myself "living an adventure" that I wanted to escape and yet didn't want to end.

As I thought out loud, "this couldn't be happening, could it?" I remembered, it was, after all, Dave Robicheaux.

Another great read.

"Languishing in a recovery unit on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, Dave Robicheaux is fighting an enemy more insidious than the one who put a bullet in his back a month earlier in a shootout on Bayou Teche. The morphine meant to dull his pain is steadily gnawing away at his resolve, playing tricks on his mind, and luring him back into the addict mentality that once threatened to destroy his life and family."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Holiday Bonuses – Will They or Won’t They?

Well, it’s not 2008 anymore.  And while there are still many people out of work, the market is a lot better than it was four years ago this time.

That said, how many firms are giving holiday bonuses this year?  Most of us have long since stopped anticipating how we’re going to spend our holiday bonus, because most of us haven’t seen one in a few years.

However, this year, while “listening carefully” to colleagues chatter about what people at various firms are getting, I’m starting to think that maybe the Grinch did not steal Christmas this year.

You can’t help but look around and compare the work you’ve done all year to the work of others.  Are holiday bonuses typically based on your contributions for the year (the people who always offer to help or stay late or come in early) or simply across the board and standard for all.

I’m not encouraging anyone to get their hopes up, but with the election behind us, it might be a good time to run down and get a cup of Starbucks for your boss.

It can’t hurt and you might get something this year besides a fruitcake.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Introduction to Legal Calendaring - $99.00 1.0 MCLE Credit Offered

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. - This seminar explores the structure, details and management of the litigation calendar. Topics include CCP and FRCP references, calculating due dates, dealing with conflicts and managing the master calendar.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Moment That You Jolts You Back to Reality

We're always so hurried and harried in law firms.  Especially in litigation.

But once in a while that moment happens that makes you put everything in perspective.

If I'm rambling, it's because I've just experienced such a moment.

I sent a panicked email to my favorite legal service's owner because I have a filing on Monday.  I've trusted him with my work for years, and while I do use other vendors, from time to time, Mike has never failed me and has saved my you know what on more than one occassion.

When I recieved his "out of office," message, I picked up the phone and frantically dialed the company's number.  I blurted out how I had a filing next week and I needed to have this and that happen only to find out that Mike isn't coming back.

Unfortunately, he passed away yesterday. 

And, suddenly what seemed so important actually isn't important at all.

Rest in Peace, Mike.  I'll say a special prayer for you and for your colleagues.

They say the good die young.

Friday, October 19, 2012


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as you know, and for every purchase of this "Special Edition" of Ronni Feuer's Funky Chunky Popcorn, 10% of all sales will go to the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation.
It's a win/win!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


A friend told me about a survey her firm conducted in which the results revealed that the majority of people thought the lunch room at their work was simply a place for people to gripe about their jobs. 

It went on to say that a large number of people had started to eat elsewhere because they didn't like the "negative energy" of the lunch room.

Another friend and I chatted about this over lunch (outside the office), the other day and he said that he thought the purpose of the lunch room was to have a place to commiserate and "vent" with your colleagues.

I do notice that at my firm, most of the people in the lunch room are staff.  There is one obvious reason for that - staff people (i.e. secretaries and support staff) don't have offices.  Paralegals usually do - but they sort of fall in the "gap" somewhere between secretaries and attorneys. 

Anyway, it made me think .  Should the lunch room be a place where you have an hour to "let loose," or should we have to be on our "best behavior" and mindful of what we say regardless of where we are on company property?

I, for one, have noticed that office lunch rooms often take on the feel of the "middle school cafeteria," with different groups of people sitting together and lending itself to "cliquish" behavior.

For me, when the weather is nice, I like to get outside and at least take a short walk to clear my head.  If I have a particularly busy day I do tend to eat at my desk, although I think most office managers frown upon it, as they want to ensure that you take all necessary breaks as mandated by law.

I'd love to hear from you.  Should the lunch room be a place simply to eat lunch or an unofficial therapy lounge, so to speak.

Monday, October 15, 2012


I'll begin by saying that after you read this book, you may appreciate your job a lot more.  If you thought law firms were brutal, you ain't seen nothing yet.

In Jordan Okun's first novel,  the narrator is the 23 year old son of a studio head, newly graduated from USC and has just landed a job in the mailroom trainee program of THE talent agency in Los Angeles.

I don't think I would describe this as chick-lit.  It reminded me a lot of "The Devil Wears Prada," and "The Second Assistant," except it's darker - much darker.  At times, it was a little too, shall we say "descriptive," but I couldn't stop reading it!

Honestly, I might have to celebrate "Boss's Day" this year because now I know - there's always someone who's got it worse!!

And if you're star-struck like me, this is just the ticket.

A Simon and Schuster novel.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Martini Lunches – Should You or Shouldn’t You?

I have never been one to enjoy a cocktail at lunch.

And, you may call me na├»ve, but I pretty much thought the days of “Three martini lunches” were over. I know some firms that have specific written policies that forbid drinking during work hours, even if you’re outside the premises for lunch, etc.

Of course, there are those exceptions when the office is having “happy hour” to celebrate a big win or holiday or partner promotion or “just because.”

That said, after talking to a couple of secretaries in the last few weeks, not in my office, of course, but colleagues of mine, who like to enjoy a little “liquid lunch” every now and then, I think that a better option is to drink after work. It’s called “Happy Hour” for a reason.

Remember – loose lips sink ships.

Don't drink and type.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Nothing Up My Sleeve, Presto!" Webinar on Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Modifying Styles & Generating a Table of Contents in MS Word 2007 and 2010 - $49

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. - Learn how to format a pleading using Heading Styles and Multi-Level Numbering and to automatically generate a Table of Contents.   Register at:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: "Going to the Bad" by Nora McFarland

In her follow-up to "A Bad Day's Work" from the Lilly Hawkins mystery series, Nora McFarland brings back a few of my favorite characters, including Uncle Bud, Rod and "The Twins."

It took me about 1/3 of the way through the book to actually engage with the story. But, true to Nora McFarland and "Lilly's" style, there were quite a few laughs, a bunch of surprises and some unbelievably dangerous, though fun escapades.

It's great lunch-time/coffee break reading. If you're expecting John Grisham, you'll be disappointed, but, if like me, you need a break from the mundane work day, Nora McFarland is a breath of fresh air.


Newshound Lilly Hawkins is back, and this time the story she’s chasing is her own.

Working as a TV news photographer at her hometown television station, Lilly has documentedBakersfield’s most violent crimes and tragic accidents. To stay sane and avoid burnout, she’s developed a wicked sense of humor and a very thick skin. For her, a vicious shooting is just another day on the job. But what if the victim is someone she loves?

Thrown off balance by the brutal attack of her Uncle Bud in her own home, Lilly decides to handle the tragedy the only way she knows how. Using all her TV station’s resources and her own considerable skills, Lilly dives headlong into the investigation.

But even with the assistance of her well-meaning but eccentric co-workers, this story may prove her last. Because as Lilly untangles a history of her uncle’s misdeeds and betrayals, a clever killer is preparing to strike again. Can she break the story in time to prevent another murder or will Lilly be the next victim?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hello, San Francisco! DAVIDsTEA now open in Russian Hill!

It's tea time!

2313 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA

(415) 567-8373

The selection is huge. More tea than you can shake a spoon at!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Nail Check! Everyone Notices Your Hands - Julep Nail Polish

"SOPHIE" Chic truffle mushroom creme. Launched in September 2012 as part of Julep's Trina Turk Fall Nail Wardrobe.

Most law offices are closed today. Including mine.

Perfect day to spend a little time away from labor and pampering one's self - right?

A good place to start is with the hands. Not only does Julep (R) offer a complete line of nail care, the Julep Nail Polish collection will leave you with nails to impress.

There are too many colors for me to list. You'll want to check them out for yourself on Julep's website, but two personal favorites are Amber and Sophie (part of the new fall collection which debuted this month).

They dry really quickly and leave none of those "air bubbles" that you get with some nail enamel.

Available at Sephora and online at

The nails have it!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Balance Bar (R) Mini-Bars

Sometimes you need to take the edge off, but you don't want a regular-sized energy bar because you're not that hungry.

Balance Bar to the rescue.

Balace Bar(R)'s new Mini Energy bars come in two flavors: Cookie Dough and Double Chocolate Brownie (my personal favorite).

Each mini-bar is only 100 calories.

Get a box of 10 for about 8.99.

Available now wherever Balance Bar is sold.

Certified Kosher.

(And they fit perfectly in my Sachi Lunch Box!)

Friday, August 24, 2012


Eating in is the new eating out.

I look forward to carrying my lunch in this fashionable and functional Sachi (R) Lunch Bag.

The blue "Cool Gems" really work. Just freeze them and pop them in your lunch bag in the morning and your lunch stays cool.

Although this particular style is small, it easily holds one sandwich or Lean Cuisine(R), a Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit and an energy bar (okay, a cookie now and then).

Why should the kids have all the lunch box fun?

* Insulated interior keeps food and drinks cold or hot

* Easily wipes clean inside and out

"Grey Plaid" is just one of many styles offered by Sachi. Visit their website to see the entire collection.


Receive a 20% discount on their purchase only at until 10/31/12 when you enter promo code: LEGAL

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Nail Files - Season Two Is Here!

This show is a great way to de-stress - one of life's harmless "guilty pleasures."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Davidson Legal Staffing's Introduction to Litigation Training for Legal Support Staff

Davidson Legal Staffing's Introduction to Litigation Training for Legal Support Staff is coming to Los Angeles in September and San Francisco in October! Sponsored by Davidson Legal Staffing and taught by Karyn Beyer, the course provides a thorough, introductory overview of the litigation process.

Intro to Litigation Training for Legal Support Staff

This 2 ½ -day seminar introduces legal secretaries and support staff to the complex world of civil litigation, including:
• Federal and California State Court structure
• Commencing a legal action
• Discovery procedures
• Motion practice
• Complexities of calendaring
• Alternative Dispute Resolution
• E-filing in California Federal Civil and Bankruptcy Courts
• Close up on legal calendaring
Choose from one, two, or all three sessions, based on individual needs:
• Introduction to Civil Litigation - 10.5 CCLS credits
• E-Filing in Federal Civil & Bankruptcy Courts - 2.0 CCLS credits
• Introduction to Calendaring in State & Federal Courts - 2.0 CCLS credits
Los Angeles: September 18, 19 and 20, 2012
Early Payment Discount thru August 24th!

San Francisco: October 9, 10 and 11, 2012
Early Payment Discount thru September 14th!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Monday Morning Blues - But Wait, It's Only Sunday

Ever get a case of the Monday Morning Blues on Sunday afternoon?

Happens to me all the time.

But today, is the day, that I attempt to change it.

1. I will say a nice little prayer before I go to bed tonight, asking God to give me a new attitude tomorrow morning.

2. I am grateful to be employed. I will repeat this mantra at least four times when I wake up.

3. I will brew a special cup of coffee (maybe Jamaica Blue Mountain or some other rare blend)

4. I will get off one stop early on the train and walk the extra way to work to clear my head.

Wish me luck.

It's all about attitude.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Chair Is Still A Chair - Except When It's More Than a Chair - SOMA ERGO

OMG. What a difference a chair makes.

I "test drove" this chair a while back. However, when I changed firms, the chair went back to its rightful owners. Soma Ergo.

And even though this particular modeled is designed with court reporters in mind (you'll notice the cut out in the seat for the steno machine), it's just the perfect fit for me.

For the last ten months, I've been sitting in a chair that is too small, too low, too hard, too uncomfortable to sit in all day.

But, now I'm one happy camper. The cool thing about SOMA Ergo is that they customize their chairs and equipment to suit your individual needs. I like to be different, so my chair is two-toned. "Extreme Makeover - Chair Edition."

Check them out at:

A chair is NOT just a chair.

Enjoy your Hump Day!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "Discretion" by Allison Leotta

Allison Leotta's second novel does not disappoint. It's every bit as thrilling as her first book, "Law of Attraction."

Her work is so descriptive and contemporary and well-written and plausible.

First rate - once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down - literally. I almost missed my stop on the train a couple of mornings.


"When a beautiful young woman plummets to her death from the balcony of the U.S. Capitol, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis is summoned to the scene. The evidence points to a sexual assault and murder. The victim is one of the city’s highest-paid escorts. And the balcony belongs to Washington, D.C.’s sole representative to Congress, the most powerful figure in city politics.

The Congressman proclaims his innocence, but he’s in the middle of a tough primary fight, and the scandal could cost him the election. For Anna, the high-profile case is an opportunity. But as the political stakes rise, she realizes that a single mistake could end her career.

At the same time, her budding romance with Jack Bailey, the chief homicide prosecutor, is at a crossroads. Determined to gain respect in the office, Anna wants to keep their relationship under wraps. But the mounting pressure and media attention that come with the office’s most important case will inevitably expose their relationship—if it doesn’t destroy it first."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer Reading: "Creole Belle" by JAMES LEE BURKE - On Sale July 17, 2012

Call me crazy but there is nothing that relaxes me like a good mystery.

Super excited about the latest in the "Dave Robicheaux Series" by James Lee Burke.

"Creole Belle" is set for release on Tuesday, July 17, 2012.

From Amazon:

"Languishing in a recovery unit on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, Dave Robicheaux is fighting an enemy more insidious than the one who put a bullet in his back a month earlier in a shootout on Bayou Teche. The morphine meant to dull his pain is steadily gnawing away at his resolve, playing tricks on his mind, and luring him back into the addict mentality that once threatened to destroy his life and family.
With the soporific Indian summer air wafting through the louvered shutters of his hospital room, and the demons fighting for space in his head, Dave can’t be sure whether his latest visitor is flesh and blood or a spectral reminder of his Louisiana youth. Tee Jolie Melton, a young woman with a troubled past, glides to his bedside and leaves him with an iPod that plays the old country blues song “My Creole Belle.”

What Dave doesn’t know is that Tee Jolie disappeared weeks ago, and no one believes she reappeared to comfort an old man with a bullet wound. Dave becomes obsessed with the song and the vivid memory of Tee Jolie, and when he learns that her sister has turned up dead inside a block of ice floating in the Gulf, he believes that putting the evils of the past to rest is more urgent than ever before.

Meanwhile, an oil spill in the Gulf brings back intense feelings for Dave of losing his father to a rig explosion years ago. As the oil companies continue to risk human lives in pursuit of wealth and power, Dave begins to see links to the Melton sisters, even when no one else shares his suspicions. Dave’s expartner Clete Purcel helps him search for Tee Jolie, though Clete fears for his friend’s mental health and safety. But Clete has his own troubles, too; he’s discovered an illegitimate daughter who may be working as a contract killer—and may have set her sights on someone he loves.

Creole Belle is a resurrection story for the ages, with James Lee Burke at the peak of his masterful career and Dave Robicheaux facing his most intense and personal battle yet, against the known and unknown forces that corrupt and destroy even the best of men."

If you're not hip to James Lee Burke, all I can say is - you've got some reading to catch up on!!!

(Can't wait to read this one and review it for you!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

They're BACK! Balance Bar ORIGINAL Recipe Caramel Nut Blast!!

Some days at the office are "nuttier" than others. Which is why I was so excited to see that Balance Bar has brought back their ORIGINAL Recipe Caramel Nut Blast Bar.

Pick up two or three or four and keep them in your desk drawer. BREAK open in case of emergency (when you need a blast of nutrition and energy).

These are so much tastier than most nutrition bars.

You'll feel like you're getting away with something, but you're not. They're an excellent source of Antioxidants and 23 other vitamins and minerals.

Take a Balance Bar Break. You deserve it.

*(Balance Bar provided me with free samples of the Caramel Nut Blast for purposes of preparing this review)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"Binder Girl" - Could This Be You?

Talk about the ever-changing role of the legal secretary.

Did you ever make so many binders in your life? What's up with that.

In 1999, the "word on the street" was that in five years, the law office would be paperless. Would somebody mind telling my attorneys?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining - well, sort of. I like knowing the documents and the cases, but what happened to the days when binders and document management was part of the paralegal role? I guess clients don't want to be billed for such tasks these days.

So, add one more thing to my laundry list of things to do.

Yes, yes, yes, I'm very glad to have a job. And I do enjoy my work. Most of the time.

But binders make me paranoid. And what about when you have those tabs going the wrong way. That always gets my boss ticked off. Then next thing you know, there's your review with the word "BINDERS" written all over it.

And what about those binder covers? I mean, is there really a right or a wrong way? And don't you just hate the secretaries who swear that the attorneys like their covers the best? I mean, really - a cover? Isn't it what's inside that counts?

This binder world is constantly evolving and has morphed into a classification all its own.

Can't I just "take a letter?"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Swimming in the Steno Pool" by Lynn Peril

After reading Lynn Peril's book (author of "Pink Think" and "College Girls"), you will probably never look at yourself or your fellow secretaries the same way. The illustrations and retro ads alone will either make you laugh or spike your boss's coffee (just kidding - don't do that).

Her humorous, yet incredibly factual, "Swimming in the Steno Pool" (A Retro Guide to Making It In The Office) might make you want to actually give your boss a present on "Boss's Day."

To quote the old cigarette ad, "We've come a long way, baby."

I've always considered being a secretary an honest living and a good way to support one's self. It takes more than just a pretty face. Lucky for me. Unfortunately, it hasn't always been that way.

Lynn Peril starts from the beginning and brings you all the way to where we are now -which is a darn sight farther from where we've been.

"Yours truly" learned to type on an IBM Selectric (TM). Yes, I was a baby typist :)

(Did you even know there is a retirement home for secretaries?)

Available at

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: "Wallflower In Bloom" by Claire Cook

Deirdre Griffin lives her life in the shadow of her famous brother. She works for him, works with her family, and even lives on her brother’s property; her life is not her own. In a moment of unexpected bravery, she becomes a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. She enters seeking her own moment in the spotlight, but instead finds herself along the way. has given her main character many of the self-doubts and confusions many of us have felt in our lives. Deirdre’s leap of faith proves not only to change her outlook on her life, but gives her the power and confidence she needs to finally go from being the family’s “wallflower” to a Wallflower in Bloom. I found this book to be thoroughly enjoyable, with laugh out loud scenarios and warm, tender moments.

(Reviewed by Pamela N.)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Are Notaries More Valuable At Work?

A friend contacted me and asked me whether or not I knew if notaries received extra compensation from law firms.

Good question. No clue. I'm not a notary.

When I was interested in becoming a notary, it was very early in my career, I was not working in the legal field, and I was eager to add more skills to my resume.

It's always a smart idea to make yourself more marketable, right? But, does having a notary public license make you more marketable or valuable to your firm?

I've heard "rumors" that some firms offer an annual "stipend" shall we say for the secretaries who perform notary work in the office. I'm also told that some firms offer no additional compensation.

I know that the office notaries do tend to provide services for work that is not firm-related. Perhaps the individual pays them out of their own pocket for their service?

I'd love to know. If you're a notary, in a law firm, does your company provide additional compensation? Leave an "anonymous" comment.

Inquiring minds want to know.

And, if you're interested in becoming a notary, here's a link that will point you in the right direction.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just Throw It In The Bag!

Brown is the new black. For me, anyway.

I am so tired of carrying the same old leopard print tote. Sure, it was sort of 'chic' at first, but it's been six months now, and I have a feeling I may be described in parts of the FIDI as the "lady with that beat-up leopard tote."

Unfortunately, a tote bag isn't in this month's budget, so in the meantime, I decided to make lemonade out of the lemon of spending 2 bucks a day (at least)on coffee .

I am now recycling my Starbucks bags for use as a work-bag. It neatly holds two newspapers, a yogurt, a bag of trail mix and a book. Okay, I fit a small pack of Oreos in there too.

I don't have to give up my coffee habit and I'm never carrying the same tote for more than a week.

Win/win - wouldn't you say?

And, here's a true story: a few months ago, I saw a picture of Oprah carrying a Starbucks bag. Now, I can't say what was in it, but the point is, she was carrying it!!

I can't wait to read in the Times in a few months how plain brown bags are back!!

Enjoy the rest of your work-week.

Friday, May 4, 2012

After The Love Is Gone. . .Securing A New Job Before It's Too Late

The last several years, the economy has been in a downward trend. Of course, you knew that. And with that downward spiral, has come the demise of many law firms and the subsequent loss of jobs.

No industry has been left unscathed, including legal. What were once considered lifetime firms are no more.

This week, we are hearing grumblings of another BigLaw firm on the verge of collapse. No need to name names, it really doesn't matter.

What does matter though is what you do before you're handed a pink slip.

We all know that these jobs are pretty much "at-will," which means that nothing is guaranteed.

However, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that if you are dealt an unavoidable blow, you will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Some useful tips.

1. Network.

It's always good to make a few friends. It's a small legal world, and people move around. Join your local chapter of LSI. Get together with a former colleague for lunch or after hours.

2. Hone Your Skills

No one does everything well. We all have our areas of strength and weakness. However, it doesn't hurt to take a class now and then to brush up on software applications that you don't use often.

3. Do Your Research

Subscribe to industry trade magazines and blogs. A good site to peruse weekly is

4. Find A Good Recruiter In Your Area

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck. If you see a mass exodus of attorneys at your firm, chances are, staff layoffs are looming. There are many good recruiting firms nationwide. One good resource is Davidson Staffing, which offers not only placement but training seminars and webinars.

None of us want to "move our cheese," (TM) but sometimes we don't have a choice.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!

I hope you're all getting treated especially well this week. I just came back from a mini-vacation to discover that the folks in my office enjoyed breakfast on Monday and a special treat on Tuesday. Today is a pizza lunch.

However, you're celebrating, I hope it's fun. You deserve it. And if the company doesn't spring for anything this year, make sure you treat yourself.

In this economy, we're lucky to have jobs.

Happy Administrative Professionals Week!

Friday, March 30, 2012

DAVIDSON STAFFING PRESENTS: "Best of Automation and Timesavers in Word 2007 and 2010 - A Webinar

Best of Automation and Timesavers in MS Word 2007 & 2010 - $49

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. - Increase your efficiency in Word 2007/2010 and save valuable time creating documents! This class will show you how to use Automation tools, including, AutoCorrect, AutoText, QuickParts, Building Blocks, Customizing the Quick Access Toolbar, Creating PDFs, etc.

For more information, go to:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Proud To Be A Secretary" **

By Carol Ann Wilson
(Reprinted with Permission)

A voice on the telephone recently asked me, "Are you his secretary,
or do you prefer to be called his administrative assistant?" I told
him, "I am his secretary and very proud of it." You could hear the
relief in his voice as he replied, "Thank goodness I can deal with a
real person the one who really runs things and I don't have to
deal with a prima donna who takes offense at the least little thing!"
Now, I'm serious. This really happened. And I think he voiced a common
feeling, because people know that a secretary, especially a legal
secretary, is close to the boss, can be trusted with information, and
will handle all matters correctly. (But we know who really runs
things and it's not the secretary.)

The United States of America is the leader of the free world and its
President is the most powerful individual in the world. And what are
the President's cabinet members called? Secretaries!.

Confidential Communications

Yes, I am very proud to be a legal secretary. I am proud of the
knowledge and experience I have gained from my 29 years as a legal
secretary. I have met famous people, worked on important cases, been
given important responsibilities, and learned more than I could from
any law school. I have been trusted with information that is so
confidential that, had I been working for the government, I would have
had the highest security clearance. And some secrets I will take with
me to my crematory urn. For what is the base of the word "secretary"?
It is "secret".

Webster defines the word "secret" as an adjective, it is "kept from
the knowledge of others," such as a secret agreement. As a noun, it is
"something kept from the knowledge of others," as to keep a secret is
to refrain from communicating a secret to others. Legal secretaries
understand, appreciate, recognize, and honor the value of
confidentiality in communications. So our position in the office where
we work is one that inspires confidence, because third parties know of
the confidential nature of our business.

Special Traits and Skills

The legal secretary must possess skills and traits far above average,
such as excellent keyboarding, transcribing dictation, general
knowledge about computers and other office machines, and ethics.

In addition to all that, the legal secretary:

Must be an expert at time management, juggling many activities and
roles at the same time;
Must possess psychological skills, dealing daily with many
Must possess excellent judgment to make dozens of critical
decisions; and Must have talents as a travel agent, personal shopper, living
calendar, telephone directory, and mentor.

Wow! What a collection! Perhaps that is why J. Wiedemer in his
textbook," Real Estate Finance", says in the chapter on "Analyzing
Borrowers" that "the top legal, professional and executive secretaries
not only command good salaries but are virtually assured of continuous
work today."

Highly Employable

Merriam-Webster's "Webster's Legal Secretaries Handbook," which is one
of the resources for our specialty certification examinations, is an
excellent work and reference for new legal secretaries.

In discussing "Employment Opportunities," it cautions legal
secretaries who are contemplating becoming legal assistants, because
"competent and experienced legal secretaries are becoming a rare
commodity . . . . As the need for good legal secretaries continues to
increase and their numbers decrease, each one becomes more valuable."

Legal secretaries belong to one of the most employable groups in the
world. One important reason is that the skills necessary to be a good
legal secretary carry over to many other positions, professions, and
businesses. Have you ever noticed the admiration from those outside
the legal community when you say you are a "legal secretary"? I have,
many times.

Legal Secretaries International Is for Legal Secretaries

The LSI association has been established:_

* For the beginning legal secretary or one reentering the legal
secretarial field
* For the legal secretary whose work is a lifetime career
* For the legal secretary whose skills convert to other positions in
the law office or elsewhere
* For the retired legal secretary, whose vast experience can benefit
so many
* For the legal secretary who is a mentor, teacher, and role model

How can we best help legal secretaries? By being the best we can be.
By living good ethics. By being dependable. By being honest and never
making excuses, but learning from our mistakes. By increasing our
competencies every day. By being good examples.

I close with a poem my dad memorized when he was a child. Both title
and author are unknown.

"I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I'd rather one would walk with me than merely show the way;
For the eye's a better pupil, and more willing than the ear.
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear.
And the best of all the creatures are the ones who live their creeds,
For to see the good in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it, if you let me see it done;
I can watch your hand in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather learn my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you, and the high advice you give,
But there's no misunderstanding how you act, and how you live."

May we be good examples and show that each of us is "Proud to Be a
Legal Secretary."*

*About the Author
Carol Ann Wilson holds several certifications, including Certified
Legal Secretary Specialist in Civil Trial Law. A charter member of
, she currently serves as Director of
Outside Program Development. Carol lives in Houston.

(**This first appeared on my blog in August 2009 - I thought it deserved reprinting)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Review: "FEAST DAY OF FOOLS" by James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke’s “Feast Day of Fools” is 463 pages of the kind of stuff a full semester of an English Lit course is made of.

Mr. Burke uses allegory, symbolism, and personification whilst interjecting bits of armchair philosophy and Freudian psychoanalysis as secret ingredients to this entirely movable feast of a highly seasoned literary delicacy. Burke revisits his main foil, Sheriff Hacberry Holland who has just enough baggage to make him step right up to but not cross the imaginary line; of which on the other side, proudly sits the villainous Preacher Jack Collins.

These two characters brilliantly move along parallel paths illuminating their moral compasses in word and deed until the final climatic showdown at what symbolically could be Hades.

But what about the showdown and the lesson learned from this vividly and intensely written thriller/drama? Do we have a wildly action packed adventure culminating to “the more things change, the more things remain the same” or is it as Burkes alludes “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”

In the end, I find this quote by Burke’s namesake quite appropriate as an epilogue:
"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."
-- Edmund Burke

Reviewed by: JRS

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

When Email Goes Wrong, Terribly Wrong

We've all done it. Hit "reply all," when we only meant to hit "reply," letting the entire office know that we have an appointment with our podiatrist. Or written, "please find attached," and forgotten the attachment.

But what about that blooper of all email bloopers when you rant about a co-worker or your boss in a heated moment, you just wanted to vent, and the email accidentally goes to EVERYONE - meaning all the people who weren't ever supposed to see it?

It can happen.

In fact, it happened to someone I know very recently.

The repercussions can be disastrous. Might even get you a reprimand or worse.

This is a good time for us all to remember before you hit send - stop - look and re-read what you wrote. Actually, some things are better left unwritten. Just pick up the phone and don't memorialize your feelings. Period.

It's so easy to make a mistake. We're facing tight deadlines, we're multi-tasking (that's another post) and we're just plain frustrated.

I'm actually speaking to myself more than anyone else.

We want to be productive and get it all done. But, sometimes, you just need to slow down.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Monday Morning Blues on a Sunday Night

This always happens to me. First of all, THANK GOD I HAVE A JOB.

Okay, now that we clarified that, why is it that I always leave work on Friday evening feeling so upbeat? It's like I could conquer the world. Or, like I'm really going to be able to recharge my battery, do laundry, have a fun-filled weekend, go to church and go back just two days later feeling like a new woman?

The last couple of weeks, I started playing this little mental game with myself. I pretend that I actually look forward to Mondays.

I even try telling myself that Monday is actually the best day of the week. I make really great coffee when I wake up on Monday and I walk really, really fast and purposeful on my way to the office. Okay. I'm running late so I have to hurry. But, still, it's all mind over matter, right?

The good news is that my boss is so high energy and works most weekends, so that when I get to work on Monday mornings, I usually have a ton of work to do which means the day flies by quickly (if I'm lucky).

If you have tips for beating the "Monday Morning Blues" I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Friends" At Work

How many people actually have what they would consider to be real friends in the workplace?

I've had a few jobs, and in my experience, if you leave a place of employment with even one true friend, someone you would want to be a part of your life forever, you're lucky.

For the most part, it seems that friends at work are people you spend a lot of time with (approximately 8 hours a day) and eat lunch with or take a coffee break with, even talk about your personal lives with. But how many of those people would you actually invite to your home or include in your activities outside of work?

My guess is very few. I've collected friends over the years, in my various jobs, but I can count on one hand the people that I still keep in touch with some 20 years later.

I think the commonality that you have with friends at work is that you work at the same place. You have the same gripes, the same highs (if you're lucky) and the same lows. But once you're gone, it's like out of sight, out of mind. Your former co-workers are on to the next person who replaces you. And you're sitting around wondering "what happened to my friend?"

A few months ago, I started a new job, and at first, I kept in touch with my old colleagues. They kept in touch with me.

But as time goes on, you keep in touch less and less. Oh, sure, you say when you leave, "I'll stay in touch." Or, "You're not getting rid of me!" But, I think there's something about the people that leave versus the people that stay that make for a fundamental difference in your philosophy on not just work, but life.

It seems to me that some people only make friends at work. Or that their life is work. So, the idea of forging relationships that go outside the bounds of the 9 to 5 is not something that really happens for them.

For me, I'm only interested in like-minded individuals. Eight hours a day might make you think you have more in common with a person than you really do. In fact, you might be more different than you are similar. Or, maybe like me, you believe it when people say they really like you. They might really be full of it.

That said, I am in the process of accepting that some people come into your life for a season, others for a lifetime. The key is to know when to cut-bait.

Oh, and be wary of people who have more than 300 Facebook friends. Those are usually the ones who use the term "friend" loosely.

In fact, I think that I'm going to blame Facebook for the demise of human relationships. Yep, that's it. Works for me.

Now that I've made everyone depressed, have a great weekend! ;)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Put On Your Power Suit! Dotmine Day Planners Are Ready For The Boardroom

I love technology. I love bells and whistles. But when it comes to staying organized and on top of my day, I still rely on a paper planner. Oh, I use Outlook(R) but I still want to be able to have something to hold that looks good with my manicure.

And what if your computer crashes? Hey, it could happen!

I stumbled upon this line of planners that are perfect for keeping everyone organized. Dotmine has a planner suited for everyone from soccer moms to CEOs.

For my purposes, I chose the "Power Suit." Perfect for the professional woman - "sleek on the outside with a fun design on the inside."

January is rapidly coming to a close. There's no time like the present to get back on track.

And here's the kicker - when placing your order, simply enter the code "LEGALCHICKS" for 50% off all of the TimeMine planners including Power Suit, Renee and Granny Smith.

Get going ladies. The Board Room is calling your name!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's A New Year! EXPAND YOUR KNOWLEDGE - Davidson Academy Announces New Class Schedule

January & February Webinars

Modifying Styles & Generating a Table of Contents
in MS Word 2007 & 2010 - $49
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Learn how to format a pleading using Heading Styles and Multi-Level Numbering and to automatically generate a Table of Contents.

E-Filing in Federal Civil Court - $99.00 1.0 MCLE Credit Offered
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
This webinar will introduce the CM/ECF ("e-file") program being used in the Federal Civil Courts. Topics include an overview of the system, variations in local rules, document preparation and tips on integrating e-filing and electronic document management into daily work responsibilities.


Adobe Acrobat X Professional - $49.00
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Increase your efficiency in Adobe Acrobat X Professional. This webinar will show you how to convert PDFs to Word and/or Excel, create bookmarks, links, add headers/footers, combine PDF files, redact information and sequentially number documents with Bates Numbering.



Intro to Litigation Training for Legal Support Staff

This 2 1/2 day seminar introduces legal secretaries and support staff to the complex world of civil litigation, including:
• Federal and California State Court structure
• Commencing a legal action
• Discovery procedures
• Motion practice
• Complexities of calendaring
• Alternative Dispute Resolution
• E-filing in California Federal Civil and Bankruptcy Courts
• Close up on legal calendaring
San Francisco - March 6, 7 and 8, 2012
Los Angeles - April 10, 11 and 12, 2012
Register Early to Receive an Early Pay Discount