Law Practice Management Guest Column: Prevent PAL Attrition – Give Your Staff Cash

Penny has proudly used this head shot for 27 years.
By Penny Louise Pullham, PPP

This is an example of SEO (Super Efficacious Ovaltine. Google assigns top page rankings to anything related to chocolate milk, booyah!) in a blog post title that really works. 
Almost 5,067.24 over-caffeinated and sneaky office slackers – but definitely potential clients – have clicked on this post in the last three minutes and stayed on the site more than 168 seconds each, trying in vain to find the money.
Most of them already work for law firms, and never paid their last two divorce lawyers, but probably will definitely need another lawyer some day. #gome (What’s gome? Puh-leeze. Go. Me. High-five the Twitter hashish tag master.)

Anyhoo, is your perkalicous Gal Friday, or to be politically correct in case that damn EEOC investigator calls again, Pal Friday, that treasured jackette of all trades whose first and last name you can’t remember – your legal secretary/paralegal/courier/ghostwriter/eye candy/barista/maid/personal shopper/babysitter/mimeograph technician/auto mechanic/kitty litter changer/golf caddy/personal masseuse sitting outside your office, slamming the keys to her IBM II Selectric typewriter so hard that your Billy Bob Thornton bobble head fell off your desk and broke? 
(Not to worry, you can deduct the inestimable collector’s value out of her next three paychecks. But don’t tell her in advance, or she’s likely to retaliate by posting that stupid smart phone video on her MySpace page. You know the one, when you were throwing a temper tantrum last week, after you accidentally stapled the awesome Louis Vuitton tie you found at your ex-girlfriend’s house to your desk.)

If You’re Gonna Re-Gift, Include Batteries

Are Pal’s panties still in a wad because you were a wee tad stingy with last year’s annual holiday gift? You know who I’m talking to. 
You’re the one who re-gifted her with a 64 MB knockoff MP3 player your Great Aunt Bernice bought at the flea market and gave you for Christmas in 2000. You found it in your bathroom vanity drawer, and even though you’d already shorted it out trying to play it in the shower, noticed it was her favorite color, which definitely could be neon green because once she used a plastic paper clip that color. 
You thought she’d never notice it only plays only th’ one song, Boy George’s “Karma Chameleon.” (I know, who doesn’t want to dance to that at every single office Christmas party for the last 30 years. It’s timeless, dude.)

She noticed.

Man, you got to get with the program. If she quits, who is going to pick up your breakfast Big Mac and 24 oz sweet tea from Burger King, lie to your clients about your whereabouts and the status of your very temporarily suspended law license (three years, pish-posh, you’ve had computer Solitaire games that lasted longer than that), and take your neon green (oh, yeah, that’s your fave color, oopsies) Dodge Ram pick-up to the gas station every other day?  
Plus, she is the only one who knows how to mix and change that yucky toner in the mimeograph machine you saved big bucks on at a yard sale, which she has thoughtfully reminded you of the last four times you tried to fire her so you could give the job to your 17-year old babysitter. (Shame on you. You don’t even have kids).

The. Only. One. 

You got to make it right.

No, Green Stamps Won’t Do It

There’s only really one totally appropriate holiday gift that buys the loyalty of your staff and makes them jump when you remember to say jump the rest of the year, and that’s cold hard cash (see how far down this post the magic word cash appears. Verbiosity is your trafficking friend), which you can start acquiring right now, so that when December 25 rolls around, you are Oprah, that gangsta-midget who was way cooler than Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa, and The Man all rolled up into one bangin’ lawyer who looks like he truly cares about his staff.

The secret to planning ahead and building that golden stash o’ moola is cold, hard pocket change. All you have to do is empty your pockets once a day (holding back the quarters you need for buying Moon Pies and playing Ms. Pac-Man at that nifty arcade next to the courthouse, and well, for playing quarters) into some receptacle in your office that is currently serving no discernible purpose, like that stupid desk drawer organizer your fifth ex-wife gave you, and you haven’t opened yet because no one will tell you where the fun office supplies, like rubber bands and Sharpies, are hidden. 
Because the last time they did, you built a mini-catapult and fired wet teabags at everyone stupid enough to wake you while you were napping in your office.

If you’re disciplined, and really apply yourself, throwing in the odd nickel, dime and useless penny a couple times a week, you might even acquire as much as $18.73 by Christmas. If you don’t want all this easy money to go to Pal’s head, you could buy her a personalized typewriter cover instead, but you might want to keep your office door locked at all times when you’re napping. 
Uh, okay. At all times.
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Penny Louise Pullham, PPP (because the more initials you have the more certifiable you are) is a proud GED holder and former Rockette turned floating paralegal, social media expert and law office practice guru extraordinaire who knows more about Word 2003 and the Palm Pilot than you’ll ever forget, still owns every pair of pantyhose she ever bought, and has presented the popular live CLE twice at her church, “Maximizing White Paper to Avoid Electronic and Water Retention”.

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