April 6, 1996


Mr. Rod Welch
The Welch Company
440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111 2496
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ŽOY5F Subject: Payment Policies for Overtime During Holidays Secretary Support Multiple Attornies Information Management on Computer Disk

Dear Rod,

Hear is information on issues recently discussed with our manager of Administrative Services concerning....
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  1. Payment for overtime during holidays.

  2. Memo prepared by staff attorney....


    ...concerning secretaries assigned to support among multiple attornies reduces productivity and earnings by diluting service to customer; requests secretary be assigned full-time for Richard's work.
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There is also an explanation of a discussion with Richard Information management on computers complex because meaning changes based on context.
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I recently met with Pam about overtime pay policy. I felt that I should have gotten full overtime pay regardless of the holiday. Because of the holiday, I was paid straight time only. So I lost about 11 hours. Pam said that the law states that you have to work 40 hours in order to get overtime. I said I have no control over holidays. In this case, I agreed to work overtime to assist the firm when an attorney advised that work was critical and no else was willing to give up time off with their family. If the work did not justify extra payment for extra effort, then the firm should have disclosed this when I volunteered to work overtime. Pam said it's the law. She said that her husband doesn't get paid for holidays or sick time, and noted that when you need a job you take what you can get. I said there is no law against telling people they won't get paid extra for working overtime when nobody else volunteers.
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Pam mentioned that she has to re-write the Policy Manual to reflect these recent changes in the law. She also said she was working on a few things and I asked what. She mentioned holiday pay for people who work during Thanksgiving. I said I was one of those who worked and didn't get overtime pay on a similar ocassion, and stated that you lose the incentive to work the time, especially if nobody says you won't get paid. If it is not even in the manual, we should be able to rely on the past history of getting paid for overtime on holidays.
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Pam said that all secretarys are required to work overtime when requested, so the firm doesn't have to tell everybody about changes in policy when the law changes. I had to laugh inwardly because half the staff does not work overtime under any circumstance. Pam said she knows my reputation that when my boss(s) need me I stay no matter what, so that is probably why she was asked on this occassion.
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Also, somewhere during our conversation Pam stated that the firm can do whatever it wishes. I thought if that is so then pay secretarys overtime for incentive to perform mission critical work on holidays. It the work is not critical such the cost cannot be charged to the client, then don't waste everybody's time coming in on holidays. However, if these are client charges I should get the benefit of that.
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That's all I remember of this event.
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We discussed Richard's memo asking that I be assigned full-time to support only his practice.
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Pam feels Richard's memo illustrates how assigning secretaries to "serve two master" can be stressful for both the secretary and attornies. In this case, Richard feels slighted if I don't tend to his requests immediately. I explained the transcription incident in that Richard feels that he wastes time filling in a lot of things in documents that other secretaries leave out because they don't know his work style, but I do, and so can he leave things out that I fill in automatically. Also, Richard doesn't like being put on the back burner. Some of it is a prestige and power thing, but often work has to get out by a certain time. When this happens with multiple attornies the burden is with the secretary to determine whose work gets done first and that's not fair because secretaries don't have authority nor the first hand knowledge about value at risk to make these judgements.
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Pam mentioned that Richard really wants a dedicated secretary and feels he can accomplish more with someone closer to his office.
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Pam said that company policy now is that none of the attornies get a dedicated secretary. In fact, each secretary will eventually have three attorneys. I stated that you're going to lose the quality of the work and create tension and conflicts among attornies because it is impossible for one person to accomplish tasks within the time requirements of multiple attornies. Each needs, or feel they need, their work done immediately and get upset about loss of customer service, like Richard mentions in his memo, when a secretary is forced to make judgements on which tasks to do first. Getting unrelated tasks from multiple people reduces productivity because doing the work loses the effectivness of context and knowledge of practice, as Richard mentions in his memo. Asking secretaries to assign priority for the attorney reverses the normal way for the boss to direct the work, and so will cause conflict. I didn't say this but it seems clear that Richard's complaints about delays getting his work done will increase. I did mention that his complaints will affect our performance evaluations.
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Summary, it didn't matter what I said, Pam didn't get the picture. Pam said that she and the managing parnter attended a seminar that said all the top law firms and other big companies are changing to assign a secretary to support two or three people, because everybody has computers so there are cost savings by using fewer support staff. I left the meeting with a feeling of nothing accomplished. We just had a conversation.
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Conversation with Richard on finding a document on his computer and firm's data base.
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Richard recently asked me to find a document that he prepared on his computer and sent out via fax to confirm understandings from a client meeting some time ago. He wanted to use the document on the prior meeting to prepare an agenda for another meeting tomorrow. He had already asked Shirley and Marlene to work with network services to search the firm's data base system, and they couldn't find it, but he really needs the document, so would I try?
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I asked what subject did you fill out in the form to save it?
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He said he didn't remember but said to do a search for "Ling" and use the wildcard (*) to search for *ling*. Richard said he would be out the office, and that I should use his computer.
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I did this and no documents came up. Later, I asked Richard what "matter" did he use? He said SPL001.940995, but that he had faxed the document to a number of clients. I tried the SPL001... matter, but no documents came up.
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At this point Richard seemed frustrated and said this is why he recommended in his memo that there should be a secretary for each attorney so that enough time is invested to organize files instead of asking attornies to do filing.
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Richard was angry. He asked me to try to think of something because this document is very important to his work.
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On a hunch I spent an hour or so looking through a huge list generated by searching for just "fax" and eventually found the document Richard had saved as "fax to Tan," which turned out to the Ling matter for our account SPL001.940995.
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Richard was pleased and relieved. He thanked me for plowing through all the faxes, and was sorry he didn't remember where he had filed such an important document. He said that "fax" seemed logical at the time when he was in a hurry to get the letter out, but nobody thought to look there today, including him. Richard asked why I thought of fax? I said it was just a desperate guess, because we tried everything else, and he had said he faxed it out to a number of clients.
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I said we should have some sort of structure so that finding things doesn't take so long. Although we have a saving factor of 38 or more characters it is too complicated to do a search because we can't remember how we saved the document. I asked how he wants to save the Ling document so that he can find it next time? Richard said he doesn't have time to think about it right now, but said we should keep it simple, like one word. He said now that he knows it is a fax to just use that like did the last time, except change tan to Ling, because he will know it when he sees it. I suggested saving the document based on the "matter" account might make searching quicker. Richard said there are too many other documents under the "matter" account. I reminded there also a lot under "fax" so it took over an hour to find the document under "fax." Richard didn't want to hear anymore. He feels because he remembers now that the document is saved under "fax" he will remember later and wanted me to save the Ling document as "Ling fax" so I did what he requested but wonder what will happen the next time when he is looking for the "fax to tan," which is now saved as "Ling fax."
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We are having a Technology meeting on Wednesday to find out how things are going and where we are going. This committee wants to have input as to how everyone feels about the system.
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This experience points out a bigger problem everybody in the office has searching for documents. Especially when they are saved by other people, there is even less chance of knowing how to enter a keyword to make a search. We should have some sort of structure whereby it is consistent within the firm. In Microsoft 5.1 we had subdirectories and extension using the last three digits of the matter. This helped trememdously in searching for documents. Now we have no structure. Everyone's work is put into a common database.
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I recall early on that a member from each group was to put their heads together and figure out a structure. That hasn't happen. We have over 25,000 documents throughout the firm. Good luck. Since we have over 160 attorneys and staff, each with our own idea of how to save things and even at that it is not consistent, we need a structure. It's like having a place for things and everything in its place. The mind can't remember everything. Example, put your keys in the same place and you'll always find them. My question is, How to get a group of people to think in the same vein? I may put my keys in the top drawer. My neighbor puts her keys in the bottom drawer. We are both right. We have to have a consensus where we decide to put the keys in the same place. Predetermine where the keys should be placed and agree on that as the place to put the keys. Same with documents.
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Sincerely,



Millie