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Dove Daniel talks about her life and her sims. The sims are more interesting.

Dodge & Burrow: Sloane has a law degree

8
Dec 2017

I had been working for Dodge & Burrow and Ken the Bullying Lawyer for a month or so when it became blazingly apparent that Nina was incubating spawn.

Nina worked for Ellen, the other probate lawyer. Ken was an Associate, and Ellen was a solicitor. After only a few months in, I could already tell that working for Ken was not good.

He treated me like I was stupid, he made terrible jokes, he would ask for things in the most roundabout way and then complain that I didn’t understand him – see my previous post where he wastes about six minutes asking if I have a file, which he can clearly see is on my desk. He constantly ate garlic, scratched his bum, picked his nose and farted – not to mention all the times he sneezed hard on me and bits of his snot would land on my face.

Also, he would frequently fuck up and blame me. An urgent letter landed on his desk, I chased him three times and when he missed the deadline, he called the client and said that his secretary had accidentally shredded it, “But she’s still on her probation period, so don’t be too hard on her.”

He lost original wills, misplaced files, overcharged clients, and everything he did, he blamed on me.

On the plus side, literally everyone in the firm hated Ken. On the downside, management couldn’t be arsed to deal with it.

Joy was my manager at this point, and she was largely set decoration. I’m not saying she was picked because she was pretty – because she wasn’t. She was picked because she was best friends with Shirley, the queen Senior Secretary – but she was very good at looking smart, walking in heels and having very shiny hair, not so much on the dealing with people or doing work. She had a fleet of office juniors doing her work for her, and then she would sweep past and say incredulously, “I don’t have any work outstanding, it’s not that hard!”

(And her fleet would follow her, looking close to tears.)

Nina organised her mat leave, and I finally plucked up the courage to approach Joy and ask if I could move to Ellen, and Nina’s mat leave cover could take Ken. Joy said no. For once, she wasn’t snappy with me, the whole conversation had an unnerving tone of amused exasperation, as if we were great friends. I found Joy’s moods alarming.

I was stuck with Ken.

Without Nina’s acidic observations to get me through.

Enter Sloane.

Sloane had just finished law school and was slumming by taking a secretarial job as she couldn’t get a training contract. Sloane was tall and slender, probably very beautiful if you could get past her personality, but had the minor flaw of, to quote one of my beloved apprenti, “walking like she’s been gang-banged hard.”

It fell to me to train Sloane.

Unfortunately, everything I tried to tell her was immediately cut off with, “Oh I know that, I do have a law degree, you know.”

“Law degrees cover which way round the headed paper goes in the printers specific to Dodge & Burrow?” I asked.

“Oh, you!” she giggled.

And then she started applying her makeup.

I couldn’t get her attention past that, and work was piling up. It became clear that Sloane wasn’t going to do any secretarial work, not when her lashes needed another coat of mascara, so I headed back to my desk and started clearing the urgent work for both Ellen and Ken.

Jodie, who was on the other side of Sloane, separated by a partition, dropped by my desk to check out the new girl. “What’s she done so far?”

“Lip liner, four coats of mascara, and now she’s drawing an A4-sized heart with ‘Sloanes Desk’ written on it. Without the apostrophe.”

Jodie, who also works in my current firm with me (not everyone left Dodge & Burrow to go to my current firm, but a lot did) was suitably offended.

On one of my trips to the printer, I said to Sloane, “You missed the apostrophe.”

On the way back, it read, inevitably, “Sloanes’ Desk.”

I emailed the other Sloane in the building and told her that all desks to my left belonged to people of her name, and would she please swap with the vapid numpty that I had to mentor? Other Sloane – who I will refer to from now on as Tiny, because she hates sharing a name with Sloane – sent me a new stapler by internal post as her response. I still don’t really get it, but I appreciated the gesture. Tiny is still one of my closest friends.

Ken, naturally, was utterly charmed by Sloane. He spent hours chatting to her and – to my delight – farting on her. Sloane didn’t really enjoy being farted on, but she did like being pandered to and listened to. And she really liked being able to say, “I’m sorry, I’m in the middle of a discussion with the head of department,” any time anyone asked her to do some work.

Sloane sent an email on her first day, introducing herself, telling everyone that despite the fact she had a law degree, she was “kwerky” too. It took Jodie and I a few minutes to figure out she meant “quirky”.

At this point, Ellen and I went rogue. Ellen started telling Sloane that she was too good to be a secretary, and she should apply for the first available paralegal job that came up – no matter what department it was in. I covered Sloane’s work so she looked fairly proficient, although there was no way of hiding she was always touching up her lipstick whenever anyone walked past.

And after only a couple of months, a paralegal position came up.

The moment Sloane applied, I got Ellen to run over to Joy and demand I be her secretary should Slone get the position, and why wouldn’t she? She had a law degree.

I think even Joy put in a good word for Sloane. Everyone was so desperate to offload her they were moving heaven and earth to get this barely literate moron a better job.

At the six month point in my job, I had managed to swap away from Ken, get rid of Sloane, and I thought everything was getting better. Especially when Joy called me into a surprise meeting to announce that she was making me management – I was going to be a Deputy Assistant Senior Secretary – a DASS.

I felt like a winner.

It lasted all of three hours.

The Wacky Law Firm: Dodge & Burrow , , , ,

Dodge & Burrow: Never call in sick

7
Dec 2017

Dodge & Burrow has this fantastic upside-down thing going on. The hierarchy goes:

Lawyers

  • Managing Partner
  • Equity Partner
  • Partner
  • Associate
  • Solicitor
  • Paralegal
  • Trainee

Support

  • Senior Secretary (SS)
  • Assistant Senior Secretary (ASS)
  • Deputy Assistant Senior Secretary (DASS)
  • Secretary
  • Office Junior / Apprentice

Now that seems to make sense, right? Looking at those job titles, you might wonder how else a law firm might possibly arrange its workers. (But you’d rightly wonder what kind of moron makes up a job title where the acronym was “ASS”? The answer is Shirley, Queen of the Senior Secretaries. You’ll meet her soon.)

Stay with me guys. Now I’m going to merge all of the job titles together so you can see who is most important in the building.

  • Managing Partner & Shirley, Queen Senior Secretary
  • Senior Secretary (SS) (other than Shirley)
  • God
  • Assistant Senior Secretary (ASS)
  • Equity Partner
  • Partner
  • Deputy Senior Secretary (DASS)
  • Associate
  • Paralegal
  • Trainee
  • Secretary
  • Charles Manson, Jimmy Saville, any other person ever…
  • Office Junior / Apprentice

The Office Juniors / Apprentices (known by me collectively as “Apprenti”) all were under the age of eighteen. You got a cup of tea every time you made one cry. You got promoted if they needed to go off sick with the stress. I was told to step down from management because I kept bounding off the company line, by calming them down when they cried, asking management to be kinder to them, and giving them straightforward instructions with no hidden tasks, so they could actually complete their tasks without someone leaping forward and going “A-ha! But what about this thing I never told you about? How could you be so stupid as to not do that?”

Naturally, in an environment like this, you find yourself getting ill very often, because in an environment so stressful, you’re always run down, so everything hits you like a tonne of bricks.

To call in sick, you must speak to a Senior Secretary. Why? Because when you’ve got a Senior Secretary, you don’t need an HR department. And if your managing partner is an employment specialist, they really know how to sidestep all of those pesky human rights.

As you can tell from the above list, a Senior Secretary is better than God (whether you believe in God or not is irrelevant, I’m simply using “God” as a placeholder for any supreme being that could have theoretically created an entire universe in six days). Seniors know better than you the state of your emotional, physical and mental health, so they were advised by Shirley, the Queen Senior Secretary, to argue if someone tried to call in sick. The way to argue? Give alternative medical advice.

(It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: not a single person in Dodge & Burrow had any kind of medical qualification beyond being a Fire Safety Official… and I’m not sure telling people not to run down stairs really counts as a medical qualification.)

Here are some examples – all but one of these happened to me. I can’t remember which Senior I spoke to each time – some are burned into my mind, some are not.

I bet you can’t wait to read more »

The Wacky Law Firm: Dodge & Burrow ,
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Dodge & Burrow: Setting the Scene

6
Dec 2017

I’ve been meaning to write up the next part of this. I have told multiple ridiculous stories of my job at Dodge & Burrow of late, so I really should write them down too. I wondered if I should tell you just the funny stories, or do some groundwork setting up recurring characters.

I have set up a page which details all recurring characters in this farce, but you will get spoilers, so… wait. Can you get spoilers from my life? Especially over ten years after the fact?

Hrmm.

Moving on.


Probate means Dead People

Probate means Dead People

When I joined Dodge & Burrow, I was assigned to the probate team. On my first day, Joy the Ironically Named Secretary (who can’t spell) tried to scare me off by informing me that probate meant we dealt with dead people.

At the time, I didn’t realise that she was being territorial, I just thought she was stupid (she’s actually both). So I gave her a big smile and said, “Yes, I know. I worked for a funeral director for two years. I used to have to arrange baby funerals. I’ve seen the deceased.”

This probably creeped her out, come to think of it.

(It’s actually true though. I really did have to arrange baby funerals. They take less doing than adult funerals, so if you’re making the move from Office Junior to Girl Friday, it’s a good way to learn.)

I met the lawyer I was to work for, enter Ken the Bullying Lawyer. Ken constantly had the same look on his face as Joey from Friends describes as “smell the fart acting”. This is probably the kindest thing I can say about him. (But it is worth noting that Ken frequently passed gas, loudly and stinkily, without a hint of embarrassment.)

On my first day, I heard Nina, the other secretary in probate, yell, “For god’s sake, Ken, in a minute!”

By the time I looked up, Ken was walking away from her desk, shrugging helplessly.

Given that I had worked in one of the most toxic work environments – think of every movie or TV office in a sit-com written by a guy, emphasising how woman need to stab each other in the back – I worried that once more I had joined somewhere that fostered a bullying environment. I was right, but for the wrong reason. Nina wasn’t being a bitch. Nina was, for the hundredth time, trying to get Ken to get out of her personal bubble of space.

Also, she’d been on the phone when he had been pestering her.

Nina loathed me. She was helpful enough, but she made it clear she had no interest in being friends. Until I wound up standing behind her in the queue for the midnight release of the final Harry Potter book. At that point, fandom trumps personal rules – and her decision to no longer befriend any more of Ken’s secretaries, because they never lasted any longer than four weeks, quickly got torn up.

(I lasted five years. Nina left before me. We now both work for the same firm again.)

I want to make it clear, Ken wasn’t lecherous, he was just… creepy. He would always stand in your bubble of space; he would lean in to talk to you; he would spell out the most obvious words (and always explained homophones on his dictations, despite me repeatedly telling him I got that down in 1992); he would talk to any secretary/admin (underling) as if we couldn’t possibly comprehend his astounding knowledge; he couldn’t read a room; and he would always pester, even if you were on fire.

He also made the most astoundingly unfunny and uninteresting witticisms.

Here is one such example:

Ken: Dove, do you have broadband?

Me: *takes out earphones and stops working on dictation* Sorry, what?

Ken: Do you have broadband?

Me: At home? Yes, don’t most people?

Ken: Are you sure?

Me: *eyes urgent dictation and tries to keep calm* Yes, Ken, I’m sure I have broadband at home.

Ken: So you don’t have anything else?

Me: Like what? *dictation is not doing itself, hurry the fuck up.*

Ken: Like for example… Cable! *grabs the Cable file from my desk*

Me: Oh… *fake laugh*

(The fake laugh was obligatory. If Ken thought you didn’t understand his marvellous jokes, he would explain them. In great detail. While leaning over you. And reeking of garlic and farts.)

Nina waited until Ken left our desk, then spat out in an acidic tone, “Dickhead.”

Nina was awesome to work with.

The Wacky Law Firm: Dodge & Burrow , ,

Dodge & Burrow: The Start of it All

19
Nov 2017

The first thing that I have to tell you about Dodge & Burrow, the wacky law firm I spent five years of my life at, is that they didn’t want me.

When I first interviewed with them, they turned me down stating that I didn’t have enough experience.

Two months of unemployment later, I interviewed again. This time it was set up by a recruitment agency, and after they showed me to reception, it dawned on me that I’d been here before. Still, too late now, I’d just go along with it.

Unlike the first time around, I had to take a basic comprehension test. It was easy as pie and I finished with fifteen minutes to spare. When I say it was easy, this is not me being arrogant, it was very basic: how to use apostrophes, correct use of homophones, spellings of basic words. I’ve done these tests at every law firm interview – they have always been more complex, and the spelling tests have been specific to legal words, not just long words that happen to be in the English language.

I had to wait a further twenty minutes for them to find the answers booklet.

I’ll not lie, I was rather incredulous at this point, because if you don’t know which version of there/they’re/their to use without checking the answers, you shouldn’t be interviewing me. Or anyone, for that matter.

Then we were thrown out of our room. Knowing what I know now, I know I was being interviewed in Room 5, which was the designated bollocking room. Yes, you can infer that I spent a lot of time in there over the next five years. I can only speculate that someone’s telling off trumped the potential hiring of a probate secretary.

We galloped through the interview, and I thought it went pretty well. I’m generally terrible at reading a room during an interview. Every time I think I tanked it, I get the call. Every time I think it’s in the bag, I have to chase them just to be rejected. This I was on the fence about. I named a figure that I thought was lowball for an annual salary, but I was desperate to get back to work.

They called me the next day to agree.

I later found out that my lowball salary was £3,000 above what most secretaries were earning in their firm.

They were astounded by my experience.

This entire experience should have been a warning.

The Wacky Law Firm: Dodge & Burrow