Saturday, November 06, 2004

Sex, Dogs and Audiotape

While we are on the subject of summer law clerks, I have a cautionary tale for all you prospective interns out there.

My first job in a law office was in 1986 as a legal secretary for a toxic tort associate in a medium size law firm. My boss had two paralegals who did most of his work so I only had a caseload of five or ten insurance defense litigation cases that were my responsibility. Therefore, when the summer clerks came to town, I did a lot of their tape transcriptions.

One of the duties assigned to the clerks who had only finished their first year of law school was the indexing of depositions. This task involves doing a brief summary of each page of a deposition which can sometimes be hundreds of pages long. This was before everyone had their own computers so the clerks would dictate the summaries and we would type them on our word processors.

Indexing depositions is mind-numbing work. Most of the depositions are horribly boring, especially those of the experts. These guys can ramble on for fifty pages on the design of a warning label. I am not exaggerating.

As mentioned in my previous post, after a couple of weeks of working and hanging out with the clerks, you begin to become very comfortable working together. There were two clerks who I became close friends with because I transcribed most of their tapes and we all had the same sick sense of humor. These two guys shall remain nameless because they went on to become successful attorneys and, despite our past friendship, would have no problem suing my ass. We shall call them Dumb and Dumber.

When they would dictate their summaries, they would add funny comments about the deponent or about something the deponent said. In the beginning, these comments were pretty tame. However, after a couple of months of this, the comments grew more and more vulgar, disgusting and hilarious. It really perked up my day when I had to do one of their tapes.

One day, I sat down at my desk to begin one of Dumb's tapes. I was typing away as he described the hobbies of the particular gentleman who was being deposed. (If you've never transcribed a tape, they tell you where the punctuation goes as they go along):

"This gentleman is a 43 year old man from Denver (comma) Colorado (period). His hobbies include model airplanes and having sex with dogs(period)."

I could hear Dumber snickering in the background in a Beavis and/or Butthead kind of way.

I let out a little yelp (much as the dog in question would have) and my boss, who was in his office right next to me said, "Laurie?" I said, "Yes, sir?" He said, "Are you okay?" I said, "Yes, sir. I shut my finger in the drawer." He said, "Okay." (He was a very laid back guy.)

In the meantime, on the other side of the office, the secretary to the senior partner had announced she was quitting her job and had given her two-week notice a couple of days earlier. Word traveled fast that "Mr. N" was going to be raiding the secretarial staff of the associates for a new secretary. He wanted someone he knew, didn't want to go through the interview process and wanted someone who could become familiar with his cases immediately since his secretary would be leaving soon. He wanted me.

I had no sooner regained my composure from the dog-sex-tape incident when the office manager came into my office and told me to go to "Mr. N's" office immediately and she would find someone to handle whatever I was working on at that time. Even in my panic over the job change, I had the presence of mind to grab all the tapes (including the dog-sex-tape) that Dumb and Dumber had given to me and brought them with me until I could give them safely back to those two goofballs.

My new desk faced the door and my new boss's office was behind me. As "Mr. N's" soon-to-be-ex-secretary was showing me the ropes, Dumb and Dumber suddenly appeared in front of us in the doorway with stricken looks on their faces. They began a frantic pantomine trying to determine whether or not "Mr. N" was in the office right behind me as well as the location of the pornographic tapes.

I indicated that "Mr. N" was indeed in his office (he wasn't) and pretended that I didn't understand what they were trying to ask about the tapes. "Mr. N" is a wonderful man but to a summer law clerk, the senior partner can make or break you and send you back to the law school from whence you came in utter shame and humiliation in the blink of an eye.

I tortured Dumb and Dumber for a few more seconds and then produced the offending tapes from my purse where I had thrown them. I've never seen such looks of relief. I really thought they were going to pass out.

I have always wished I had kept the man-dog-sex tape. I'm sure their current staffs (and summer clerks) would love to know how their bosses spent the summer of 1987.

1 comment:

hatteraspainter said...

I can remember making a mistake or two back when I was a young man. Having just graduated college one of the first jobs I assisted with was just a mock up. But I wanted it to be perfect. As the first deadline came and went the boss cried of costs over runs and how some people make a "big deal out of a little project". I was furious with the bosses attitude. So on a duplicate blue print I drew in characters of the boss beating, and humilating employees. The corporate headquarters resembling some horrible war zone equipped with electric fences that could kill an elephant, land mines, laser guided missels, SS guards, and gas chambers. I would have submitted that as my completed project had it not been for the watchful eye of our CAD engineer.