Thursday, March 18, 2010

What DOES a Twirly Girl do during the day?

When I was in high school, I was very concerned about what I was going to do when I grew up.  I didn't realize then that I would probably never fully grow up.  Anyway, when you took driver's ed way back then, you took a careers class in the other quarter.  I took an assessment that told me I should be a paralegal.  Well, okay then, I will do as I'm told.

I graduated from high school in 1994.  I worked for Sears Portrait Studio as a manager and went to college at LMC in Pittsburg, California.  I was making $12 an hour at Sears.  That was huge to me way back then.  My mom's friend was dating an attorney and she needed a file clerk.  I interviewed for the job and got it.  I was offered a whopping $6 an hour.  Oh man.  That made me sad, but I knew I wasn't going to make a career out of taking photos for asshole parents who scream at their kids to smile. 

I was 18 years old when I got into the legal field.  Fifteen years later, I am still here.  I got my paralegal certificate after I'd been in the field for a few years.  It was kind of pointless since I had learned so much on the job but I felt like I needed to have "something" to back up my experience.  But the legal field (for support staff anyway) is one of those fields where experience generally counts more than education.  I choose to work as a litigation secretary because the money and hours are usually better.  Plus, I don't have to bill my hours and be under constant scrutiny for my billable work.

Some of my family was very disappointed that I didn't decide to become an attorney (...but you're SO smart!!!!).  You're right.  I am smart.  And that is why I don't want to be an attorney.  You spend seven years in college and law school.  You can easily come out with $100,000 to $200,000 in school loans.  Then you have to work 60-80 hour weeks to "prove" yourself, bill your time and basically be some partner's bitch.  Shoot, at one crappy firm, my salary as a secretary was only $10,000 less than that of a first year associate.  So, I decided that being an attorney was NOT for me.  I know I have to work to support my life.  I don't want my life to be defined by my job.  You will never hear me introduce myself as, Lori, the super secretary.  I'm Lori, Twirly Girl.  Lori, Horseback Rider.  Lori, Viking Warrior Princess.  Lori, Chick Who Drives a Monster Truck.  Lori ... oh you're THAT girl (and yes I am THAT girl).  But never, Lori, litigation secretary. 

I have worked for my current boss for seven years now.  We started at a larger firm and he opened his own firm five years ago.  He has gone through a few partners, but is happily working as a solo practitioner with some contract attorneys to help him when things get busy. 

Until this latest downturn of the economy, I have always encouraged people to get into the legal field because it was almost recession proof.  In fact, when things got tough, lawsuits went up.  The San Francisco area lost three big firms within the last couple of years, which saturated the market.  So for the first time since I've been in the field, salaries are coming down a bit and there is more competition for the jobs that are out there.  Working for attorneys is a funny are often paid for your thick skin and not your skills.  Usually the money makers for firms, the rainmakers, are assholes and no one wants to work for them.  So, their assistants especially are usually grossly overpaid to deal with them. 

I have been very lucky to usually be directly assigned to really nice and funny attorneys.  My current boss is one of the best bosses I've ever had.  People will often hear me bitch about my situation, but it's usually me just whining to hear myself whine.  I couldn't ask for a better person to work for. 

So, there you go.  This Twirly Girl is a litigation secretary/paralegal/firm administrator by day and super twirler by night.  You gotta pay the twirly bill somehow! 


  1. Your boss is lucky to have you. I don't think too many jobs are "fun" that is why it is called work. As long as your life is balanced and you have wonderful supportive friends, than life is great.Thanks for making Wednesday nights so much fun. I had a rough couple of days and fter class the drama escalated. I am too old for this High School shit. Thank God for my Twirly Girl family. T

  2. Yuck. I'm so sorry you're still dealing with drama. You know, that's part of what I like about the legal field. It's fast paced and we're always under pressure and deadlines, and there is drama...attorneys are notorious drama queens! But it's also nice to leave all of that at the office and go home to a regular old life. :-) I hope things get better for you!!!

  3. All I can think is Super Fly(ing), Super Twirl, SUPER GIRL.-Lori Myers!


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  5. Perhaps I should have my own costume!! Like that new movie about homemade super heroes that is coming out! Hmmmm....this is something I will have to work on.

  6. Excellent blog, Lori! You're fellow legal chick gives it two thumbs up!!!