Law Practice Management and Technology

The Bottom Line Volume 37, No. 3 June 2016

Disabled Attorney, Dead Attorney: It Happened to Me

By Mary Lou Floyd, CCLS, Paralegal

On July 24, 2013, my career was turned upside down – more so than it had been in the previous six months. Since January 2013, I had been working for a Family Law attorney in Oakland, CA. I knew when I was hired the attorney was disabled, but her reputation was that she was a pit bull in the courtroom and was a highly sought after attorney. My journey began well and this seemed like a good fit for me. There was one associate attorney working at the firm and another would be hired soon. The attorney envisioned having a powerful team comprised of three associate attorneys, myself as the paralegal, and a receptionist/legal assistant.

The first turn in my journey occurred on April 3, 2013, when the attorney was hospitalized. She was a very demanding attorney but had a viable practice. At this time, there were two associate attorneys working at the firm. Due to the tremendous demands the attorney placed on one of the associates, she quit. The other associate remained a few more weeks but then she quit too. I was the lone survivor. I worked by myself, under the attorney’s supervision, for two and one-half months.

The attorney remained in the hospital until May 18, 2013, when she was transferred to a healthcare facility. During this time, she anticipated being discharged and coming back to the law office to continue her practice. On July 15, 2013, she was released from the healthcare facility and sent home. One telephone conversation is still crystal clear in my mind – she was excited and said “I’m back!” and I said I didn’t know whether to run for the hills or not. She chuckled and proceeded to give me instructions about things that needed to be done. The morning of July 24, 2013, I received the phone call everyone dreads – the attorney had died the night before.

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