NEW YEAR: New Beginnings


january new beginnings

NEW BEGINNINGS.  Isn’t that what the New Year offers each of us, or is that what each of us hopes the New Year will offer us?

It’s (choose one or all of the following words) exciting/frightening/overwhelming/sad to think about what can happen when you are standing on a starting line of new beginning.  So many possibilities lay before the horizon; some successes and some failures, but each a risk.  It takes faith to put effort into the unknown, change, something new and unfamiliar. Many times a new start is simply to stop. It takes courage and determination to stop, to quit a habit, to give up the thorn in your side or turn and walk the other way. What will fill that place in your day, your life?  The unknown, the new?

Newness and change are necessary and unstoppable for each of us. Growth and understanding would not be words, if change could be avoided. We can, however, find and take some control over the new, that unfamiliar that lies at the starting lines on which we find ourselves.

There is much we will never control, but we can consider those things we can choose to change, what we can commit to changing, to building or to learning.  And choice at least may make us feel ready to approach the starting line and attempt the new beginning.

So whether we view the New Year as an opportunity for a new beginning or we are hoping the New Year offers some new beginning, each of us has the choice to recognize and search for those opportunities, seize them and step over the starting line.

Each step will hold scents and shadows of familiarity, and familiarity, after all, is what erases the unknown. Before long, a comfort zone is created from the newness that in the beginning had us so excited, frightened, overwhelmed and/or sad. Make a choice and step over that line.  You can do it. And maybe only you can do the thing opportunity is offering.  Wear the crown, even if it’s a little heavy at first.  And rule those choices and opportunities this year!

Until next time,

dtHA Balloon Teal


A BEAUTIFUL TRADITION: Christmas at Phillips Parker Orberson & Arnett

2018 PPOA Christmas Tree

I have worked as a legal secretary for most of my life now. I don’t think I need to tell many of you that one can get lost in this role. We transform someone else’s words into correspondence and pleadings. We turn factual summaries and arguments into red and blue booklets that are read and considered by high-court justices. We take pride in bringing the thoughts of others into perfect physical existence, leaving little room for any expression of our own thoughts and ideas.   

I have recently been part of a law office tradition that subtly confirms for me, though, that no matter the role, each individual is a part of the whole, and the whole is marked by the individuals who play a role within it.

Since 1999 PPOA has paid for each year’s new employees to blow a glass ornament to hang on the firm’s Christmas tree. Each year Flame Works Gallery offers slightly different color and pattern choices. Like the people who blow the ornaments, no two are alike.

Christmas seasons task new associates to work together to select, install and light a live tree in PPOA’s main lobby.  Each employee then hangs his or her ornament from the branches of the massive and fragrant tree.

The ornaments, every one uniquely crafted from the very breath of the individuals who have been a part of the PPOA whole, belong to PPOA, and every ornament remains a part of the PPOA Christmas tradition.

The light of Christmas, the scent of tradition and the baubles of individuality all make for a warm and wonderful holiday atmosphere here.

Until next time. . .



Legal Support: The Roles We Play

Lady Justice

Legal Assistants of Louisville is a professional association for those who work to support the Louisville legal community.  But what roles or positions, other than legal secretaries and paralegals, are there in legal support?

In a solo law practice, the legal secretary may play the only role in legal support.  But within the legal community, there are many roles and positions in addition to secretaries and paralegals. However, unless you work within the community, you may not know these positions exist.   In this post I’d like to give you a brief tour of the legal services community.   

Of course, there are attorneys.  Some are solo practitioners, some are partners and some are associates working in law firms and some are in-house attorneys working for corporations.  Attorneys practice a wide variety of law.  

Attorneys are most closely assisted by legal secretaries and paralegals who will provide support for the attorneys as needed.  

Law Firms

Law firms will have office managers or practice administrators to oversee the day-to-day operation and finances of the firm.  These roles may be supported by administrative assistants, HR personnel and/or accounting/billing clerks.  A receptionist will greet clients and guests and court messengers or runners will physically get documents, people and other necessities to/from one place to another. Some firms employ file clerks to open, maintain, close and archive the case files.  Many firms fill positions for other types of litigation support such as scanning and document management.

Like all businesses, law firms now run on technology, and some firms employ IT specialists while others outsource these positions from local vendors.  Either way, confidentiality and an understanding of the culture of the legal industry is necessary for these positions.

Lawsuits are filed in court.  Courts all work as a part of the legal community.  


Legal positions exist in both state and federal governments.  An official court reporter often serves a dual role in state court by recording and preserving the official court record for hearings and trials as well as maintaining the court’s calendar, drafting and preparing orders and other documents.  Court clerks record the intake of legal documents, maintain the court’s files and notify the parties of court dates.  The court’s bailiff may attend hearings and trials and maintains the jury process and court decorum.  And again, IT specialists trained on the electronic filing systems of federal and/or state courts are roles within the legal community that at one time did not exist. 

Courts are run by judges and magistrates. These are both positions normally filled by a licensed practicing attorney, either by election or appointment.  Many court cases are ordered to mediation in hopes they can be settled.  Therefore, the role of mediator is a role that is far more in demand now than it once was.  

Other Government Agencies

Most state and county elected officials oversee government offices that are a part of the legal community; assessors, treasurerrecorders, etc.  Each of these offices will need administative assistants.  Prosecutors, public defenders, probabion officers, paralegals and secretary/clerks are roles found in governmental criminal law offices. 

Outsourced Vendors

Other roles in the legal community are found in services mostly outsourced by lawyers and firms.  

Court reporters, are independent and impartial persons who take down verbatim sworn testimony, either by stenography or digital recording, and make a transcript for the record.  

Legal videographers may record testimony such as a witness’ deposition or they may provide a day-in-the-life type video for demonstrative purposes.  

Jury consultants assist an attorney with jury selection.

Document services providers copy, scan and digitize large-volume documents.  These vendors will also assist with visual aids and trial presentation.

Experts provide analysis of evidence and testimony.  Some common expert roles whose opinions are sought after include computer forensics specialistsmedical specialists, and accident reconstuctionists.

This post is just a sketch of the legal community, but I hope it helps you see how many roles/positions/people make up the legal industry.  If you are thinking you would like to work in the legal industry, please look through a broader scope than the scope that only sees attorney/legal secretary/paralegal positions.  

And if you are working within the legal community and would like to join our association, please contact Legal Assistants of Louisville.   


HA Balloon Teal








Freebie Friday: Desktop Wallpaper

Screen Mockup - Love in Purple

This week we’re going with a simple and lalovely wallpaper in purple. 

I made five sizes of the wallpaper to accommodate some of the most common screen resolutions.  You can check your screen resolution by clicking here.  Then click on the image size below that is best suited for your screen resolution.  The link will take you to  Drop Box.  Once the graphic loads, make sure it is 100% full size and either right click and choose “Set as Desktop Background” or download the image via the download button in the top right corner, and set it as your background.

800 x 600     1024 x 768    1280 x 800     1440 x 900     1920 x 1080

Peace and love!


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Workday Intermission: Haute Couture ala Cafe Society

Magnificent Mona Bismarck
Violet Balenciaga gown with asymmetrical hemline designed for Mona, who can be seen in the background portrait by Beaton photographed at her Paris apartment. The colorful shoe exhibit is also on display at the Frazier History Museum and will run through July 29, 2018.

Do you ever take an intermission from your work day? Last week a few of us from PPOA traded our habitual lunchtime routines for a workday intermission. We spent an hour tasting delicious morsels of haute couture served up cafe society style at the Frazier History Museum. We were introduced to Kentucky Countess, the former Margaret Edmona Strader, who was born right here in Louisville and became a world-renowned fashion icon.  We oohed and ahhed over the designs, images and artists who dressed and documented the legend.

Mona Bismarck portrait by Horst P. Horst

Mona was born Margaret Edmona Strader in 1897 here in Louisville.  Her parents were divorced when she was a small child, and she and her brother were raised in Lexington. She was married five times; widowed three times  and divorced twice. She likely had an attraction to the “est” set (I may have just made that up), as her first husband reportedly was the son of the richest man in Wisconsin. Mona’s second husband, at the time of their marriage, was said to be the handsomest man in America. Her third husband, Harrison Williams, was one of, if not the richest man in America. Mona  herself, in 1933, was voted the world’s best-dressed woman in the world by Paris couturiers Molyneux, Lanvin, Vionnet, Chanel and Lelong. But Mona was not made by Mona alone.  The wealth and notoriety her husbands shared with her allowed her access to the world’s brightest luminaries, locations and possessions. Mona’s favorite fashion designer by far was was Cristóbal Balenciaga, who was her friend for many years. He was a master of proportion, often cutting a neckline or a sleeve a fraction of an inch to enhance the beauty and shape of the woman and her accessories.  Mona loved to garden and is said to have had Balenciaga make her gardening clothes.  When Balenciaga closed shop in 1968,  Mona locked herself in her room for three days.  Later she turned to Hubert Givenchy to clothe her.

Mona was a close friend to Cecil Beaton, a brilliant photographer who photographed and sketched Mona for years.  She was photographed and painted by Steichen, Horst and Salmoovador Dali. Photos of Mona appeared in Vogue approximately 60 times. This exhibit is filled with phenomenal photography.  The snapshots I took for this post do not show Mona’s signature silver hair and brilliant aquamarine eyes, but these traits, her poise, her clothes and how she wore them made her a muse for the artists of her time. The Vionnet evening gown displayed in the diorama below was probably my favorite.  Place cards depict Mona and her third husband, Harrison Williams at dinner with friends who included The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich and Cole Porter.

Dinner Table Diorama - Mona wearing Vionnet halter-top gown.

Mona and Harrison Williams owned the largest private yacht at the time, and they sailed around the world more than once, many times accompanied by friends such as Aristotle and Jackie Onassis. Eduard von Bismarck, the son of  Germany’s Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, met Mona when she dove from the yacht for a swim and began to scream. She was not in danger, but the top of her swimsuit had malfunctioned.  They became friends then and there.  The Williamses owned homes on Fifth Avenue and Long Island in New York, Palm Beach, Florida, Paris and a villa in Capri.  When Harrison died, Mona married her friend, Eddie von Bismarck, who was suffering from stomach cancer.   They spent a good deal of time together and when he passed, she married Eddie’s doctor, who was later killed in a car crash.

This short one-hour intermission from the normal workday has fed me, I feel, for a lifetime.  I have researched just enough about these people to get this blog post written and to get a list started for biography reading, but I have literally lifetimes of fascinating people to explore. Perhaps, though, the best part of this intermission is I that I was able to share a non-work-related experience with these gals I spend my days with.  

Frazier Girls
Shanecha, Julie, Paula and me.

I encourage you, too, to take an intermission from your normal workday once in a while.  Feed  yourself something other than food.  The admission was no more than an average lunch at any downtown eatery.  You can split the cost of an Uber ride, if you need to, but go and do something different in the middle of a beautiful Louisville weekday.  It’ll do you good!

The Magnificent Mona Bismarck exhibit at the Frazier History Museum runs only through July 29, 2018.  If you’d like make this your intermission, plan now!

Until next time. . .





Friday Freebie: Desktop Wallpaper

Screen Mockup Louie in City

Today’s desktop wallpaper is memorializing Louie the Legal Llawma and his move to Louisville. Louie is certainly a likeable llawma, and I thought you might like his bright eyes and frisky face greeting you as you start your work day. If you like this week’s freebie, let me know in the comments below, and download the size you need for free!

There are five sizes of the wallpaper to accommodate some of the most common screen resolutions.  You can check your screen resolution by clicking here.  Then click on the image size below that is best suited for your screen resolution.  The link will take you to  Drop Box.  Once the graphic loads, make sure it is 100% full size and either right click and choose “Set as Desktop Background” or download the image via the download button in the top right corner, and set it as your background.

800 x 600     1024 x 768    1280 x 800     1440 x 900     1920 x 1080

Have a great weekend!  Be safe and hydrate. It’s gonna be hot!


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Up Your Game: Follow a Leader


After graduating in 2012 from Indiana University in Bloomington, Kirsten P. began her legal career in Kentucky as an assistant for a workers’ comp defense firm. She currently works as a Consumer Finance Litigation assistant at Stites & Harbison.

Last October, Kirsten was named Legal Assistant of the Year.  The announcement was made at LAL’s 2017 Boss’s Day Luncheon by D. Scott Furkin, Executive Director of the Louisville Bar Association.  Excerpts from the letter nominating Kirsten are:

Kirsten distinguishes herself from the others and has taken her position to an entirely new level of excellence… Kirsten’s pride in her work allows me to focus on business generation and working my cases.

 …Kirsten ensures that the work we produce is technically flawless. [H]er work product is exceedingly creative. Without fear she conquered the steep learning curve of my complex banking litigation practice… [S]he immediately took an active role in the Metro United Way campaign leadership.

We felt she was the right person to feature in the first article spotlighting an LAL member in the 2018 newsletter.  Following is our brief Q&A with her. 

How long have you worked at Stites & Harbison?
I’ve been at Stites for 2 years and 4 months!

What did you most want to be when you were a kid?
An Egyptologist.

What do you think is the most important quality one needs to be successful as a legal assistant?
I think attention to detail is extremely important in this job.  I always try to go above and beyond with my projects so that my attorneys don’t need to worry about much and can concentrate on the things that they need to do.

What do you value most in a job?
In a job, I value the feeling of being needed and necessary.  I’ve worked a few jobs where I felt that I was not being held up to my potential.  Here at Stites, I feel that I am valued and trusted, and it is nice to know that I make other people’s jobs a lot easier, just by making sure that I am on top of my own work.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I sing and play lots of instruments!

What do you consider your greatest achievement (personal or professional)?
I’m pretty proud of what I have achieved with my music so far. I have been on multiple tours and I’m getting ready to release my third album!

If your life were a tv show, what character would best represent you?
This is a tough one.  Maybe April Ludgate from Parks and Recreation because she’s dark and sarcastic, but deep down she really does care about her career and the people that she loves.

What three songs are on the playlist of your life?
This is also a really tough one for me… maybe: The Beautiful Ones – Prince; Green Eyes – Erykah Badu and My Baby Just Cares for Me – Nina Simone

What one bit of advice would you offer a new legal assistant?
I would tell a new legal assistant to make lists in order to avoid getting bogged down. In this job you have so many tasks pile up, and I always make sure I have some sort of to-do list so that I can focus on one thing at a time but still keep in mind what else needs to be done. It helps me to keep my priorities in line and stay organized.

What do you enjoy most about being associated with the Legal Assistants of Louisville organization?
My favorite thing about being a part of the LAL is the opportunity to help the community. I know at our last meeting we talked about getting more involved with volunteer work, and I’m really looking forward to that.

Kirsten may be young, but she exhibits leadership qualities that shine and demand recognition.  From this post alone, we can see that she is confident, understands her role, reaches for the high end of the role, expects to be held to her potential (I love that), is unafraid of challenges and is creative in meeting them, and she builds outlets for her personal skills, talents and social conscience.  I would guess without seeing it her resume is impressive.  Would your resume impress you?   

Until next time. . .