I am once again looking for a job. There is no drama, no crisis, it's just that the current job isn't working out. It sometimes happens.I am sure the right position will come along. I actually have an interview this morning, so who knows?
I knew I was going to be jobhunting before Christmas but I didn't want to share it because, well, it was Christmas.
I didn't tell Michael until after the holiday. I saw no reason to upset him.
The last 3 1/2 years have been turbulent for me job-wise, to say the least. I blame the economy.I saw an ad for a paralegal this morning, and this is a quote from it:
"Also the body of the email should contain a short written narrative responding to the following scenario: describe your approach to talking to clients on busy days when you feel you don't have the time and a client insist on an update of his or her case and the attorney is unavailable?"
First of all, the word "insist" should have an "s" at the end, so whoever wrote the ad needs a good editor. Secondly, these are the sorts of questions designed to trip you up in interviews.If you have time to do research and answer them in writing with great care, you can totally rock the answer. So what's the point again?!
I interviewed a couple of years ago at an office where three different attorneys asked in a multitude of different ways how I would handle people screaming at me over the phone. I am kinda glad I didn't get that job. Those were the most uptight people I've ever been around.They must get screamed at over the phone a lot.
Their only client was an insurance company. I hope they had good medical and could all afford a big dose of Xanax.
I was also asked in an interview once, years ago, "Why do your friends like you?" - which almost made me giggle uncontrollably. It was THE biggest firm in Atlanta. I just popped out with "Because I pay them..." and smirked. Then I saw that the woman interviewing me was writing that down with her purple pen and I had to quickly say "UH - just kidding!!" I realized in a flash that the woman had no sense of humor whatsoever.
Back to the question about how to handle the client when the attorney isn't available. Here are some possible scenarios:
[DISCLAIMER: If you are one of the unfortunates born without a sense of humor, please stop reading now. I am being flippant here but I will give the real answer at the bottom of this post.]
Tell the caller the attorney has the file in his office, and you're not really sure of the latest developments. He has the door closed and can't be interrupted. You will call later. If they ask if you can look in the electronic file, just tell them it hasn't been updated. The filing is a little bit behind.
Assure the client that the best way to get the attorney's attention is for them to send the attorney an email. "The attorney always makes client emails a priority, and as soon as he's done in court / out of the deposition etc. he'll respond." Then of course you have to followup with the attorney. Some attorneys will be annoyed, others will applaud you. Best to actually set up the right response with the attorney ahead of time.
You can always opt for more drastic measures, though...
Start making clicking sounds with your tongue and hold the receiver far away, while saying in a panicked voice "OMG the phone is not working! I am SO sorry! The whole power grid around here is shutting down! I see black clouds rolling in from the west. DO you hear that siren?? We'll call you tomorrow, KK?!"
Say in a very sweet voice, "As soon as the attorney is available I will have him call you and update you. I'm not familiar with that case. What's up with you?" Then put them on speaker and let them ramble on and on, which will be therapeutic for them. Send the attorney a quick email and then turn to your regular work and get it done. Meanwhile the client rattles on and on and on, and you just occasionally say soothingly "Uh huh," / "Really?" / "My goodness, what a mess!" / "I see." ETC.
I used to do that with long calls from my mother. Got a lot of housework done that way.
Then they have vented and you've gotten work done. Win win.
It's always good to say "The best person to ask is the attorney and he/she is in court this morning." Everyone knows you can't just blithely contact an attorney in court. It's the ultimate right answer. I never tell civilians that many attorneys check messages on their iPhones while sitting in court. As far as anyone knows, court = Mars. Totally inaccessible.
OK SERIOUSLY... There really is no right answer to this. This is exactly the type of thing that varies greatly, from attorney to attorney. Some attorneys like paralegals or secretaries to take these calls, but some attorneys always want to handle client calls themselves, personally. Some would want you to drop what you're doing and help the client as best you can. Some would want you to put the client off for a while until they are available to talk to the client. Some would want you to get another attorney to just placate the client.
If I were working in an office and this happened and I had not discussed this with my attorney ahead of time, I would have to just make a quick judgment call, depending on the client and the size of the case. The danger for a support person is that there can be developments that only the attorney knows, based on a piece of mail or a phonecall they haven't shared with the assistant. For instance, there could be a settlement offer that nobody knows about but the attorney. Probably the best answer would go something like this: "I am so sorry but all I can do is put you on hold and review the file, or call you back in a few minutes. I assure you, as soon as the attorney is available, I will ask him/her if my status report was accurate, and if not one of us will get back to you later today [or tomorrow or whenever]."
Most attorneys will acknowledge that calls from the client trump most everything else, but attorneys' opinions on this subject vary widely.
I should teach a course in this...