I recognize that most 17-year-olds worked at Starbucks or the pool (and my own sisters still tease me over "working for Daddy"), but the hours were consistent, I wasn't flipping burgers, and I earned every penny of that $6.50 an hour.
Lest working for Daddy seem glamorous, let me paint a picture of my environment: I spent most of my time in the basement of one building or another with college student Sara, hunting for sometimes decades-old files among general basement grime and random home artifacts from the 1960s. The IT guy came down to reset something or other frequently. I craved sunshine. I tackled the receptionist role on Tammy's lunch breaks and rolled up to Dad's office to check my e-mail (or put a funny photo on his desktop background) on my own lunch breaks. Sometimes I'd be upstairs in the library, searching for this precedent or that opinion. I rocked the postage meter and hated the copy machine.
I was incredibly precise about my timesheet, and that probably drove Nancy nuts. Dad, of course, measured in tenths of hours. I went one decimal place farther, not realizing what a pain that would be for the books. Hey, I worked 8.32 hours, not 8.3.
I remember the day I got my first paycheck. I burst into my father's office and wanted to know why I'd been robbed. Then I learned — really learned — about taxes. ...Then I spent the remainder on a pair of Oakleys and figured work wasn't so bad. I worked at that firm during summers and holiday breaks for several years.
During college, I worked for the biggest firm in State College. I made dear friends, made copies, made contacts, made runs to the county courthouse, led the document digitization project, trained newcomers, played Rock Band in the parking lot (OK, just that once), and wrote. My work schedule was planned around my classes (amazingly enough, given the 8-to-5 nature of offices), and my transportation was subsidized — because my education came first, and my contribution to the firm was valuable. I learned a lot about what kind of employers and coworkers I wanted, how to prioritize my many obligations at work and personally, and the hierarchy of the law. I sobbed the day I quit.
My first post-college job was at a large firm of trial lawyers in Denver, in what was the Qwest Tower. My role was that of gopher and clerk. I assisted with exhibits, edited briefs, and organized case-related communication. The hours were beastly at times, and I had to be prepared to travel for trials, but I was much more involved in the legal process than I had been in high school and college, and I devoured it. I was lucky enough that the attorneys with whom I worked most closely were happy to explain the laws and procedures to me instead of just requesting that I go find a file for them. Had I not gone to the world of more editing-heavy jobs, I likely would have been on the paralegal path.
The jargon and formalities in legal writing can be rough on the eyes and the brain, frankly, but the smoke and mirrors don't have to be scary — simply growing up with Dad's dictations helped me get used to hearing terminology, and my work experience brought me closer to actually understanding and deciphering those things I had heard.
It is with great pleasure that I am pursuing paralegal studies now. There is the familiarity that encourages me to delve deeper into what is applicable in my own state, the pride I feel when I discuss famous cases with Dad, and of course the quest to snag a civil service job.
Aaron will begin teaching my future interns in September, Monongahela is assuming the role of legal beagle, and I treasure the opportunity to combine my legal and writing/editing experiences.
|Legal beagle keeps me company as I review jurisdiction.|