Twenty eight years ago a smart, hard-working mother-of-two from Elbridge, NY — Ellen Williams — sent a resume and cover letter into the law offices of Lee S. and George M. Michaels (our predecessor firm) . Her two daughters were now old enough so she felt she could go back to work. She had just graduated with an associate’s degree in paralegal studies from Cayuga Community College in Auburn, NY. Now she wanted to realize her career goal – a job as a paralegal at a local law firm.
Meanwhile, Lee S. Michaels (our senior partner) was on the hunt for a smart, ambitious paralegal. His personal injury practice was growing by leaps and bounds. He wasn’t finding the time to draft all his own pleadings, review and summarize the hundreds of pages of medical records that landed on his desk every month, set up and calendar his depositions, and reach out to his clients for additional information he might need.
Lee received Ellen’s application, met her, and hired her on the spot.
Twenty eight years later this past May, Ellen drafted her last pleading, fielded her last phone call, and summarized her last medical record. By that time, she was paralegal to four busy lawyers. Yes, she left us – for retirement – and headed off on a whirlwind tour of the USA with her husband of almost four decades – Tom.
One of the amazing things about Ellen was her steel-trap mind. You could buzz her at any time and ask her, “Ellen, what’s going on with the Jones case”, and she would be able to tell you, without referring to our computer database, exactly what was going on, what we were waiting to receive, what needed to be done, and, to boot, what she thought of the case.
More amazing still, you could buzz her and say, “Ellen, remember that case about 12 years ago where I briefed that legal issue of strict liability for scaffold accidents — I could really use that brief” – and she would tell me the case — usually without pause.
She had an uncanny ability to read a file, meet a client, and know exactly what the issues were going to be.
We aren’t the only ones who miss Ellen. Clients loved her, too.
To celebrate her many years of outstanding service, we regaled Ellen — and all our staff – with a meal at a fine Finger Lakes eating establishment – The Elderberry Pond — overlooking the orchards and vineyards that make our little corner of the world so special. We also tucked a gift away in her travel suitcase!
In the first photo above, Ellen is sandwiched by me (on left) and partner Jan Smolak on right. The next photo shows Ellen’s husband — Tom — and our whole staff. Partners Lee Michaels and Dave Kalabanka partook in the festivities, too, but somehow escaped the camera’s lens.
Ellen is still “on the road” with Tom, so she probably won’t be reading my blog posts for a while. Ellen, wherever you are, bon voyage, and by the way, could you tell me the name of that case about 7 years ago where I briefed the issue of liability for rear-end collisions?. . . I could really use that brief!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.