Nancy Herzberg, Temporary Legal Secretary through Legal Northwest
by Douglas May
Herzberg also notes that, as a temp, one is exposed to many different areas of law, all of which enrich both one's personal and professional life.
Herzberg spent the majority of her life in Hawaii and began her adult years working in the arts while living there. She danced in a ballet company, taught and performed jazz, sang as a solo guitar act and with bands, as well as with the Honolulu Symphony, and also sold her paintings of the islands. ''In fact,'' she says, ''I married the bass player of one of my bands thirty happy years ago. I eventually ended up as a litigation paralegal, as the television show L.A. Law, popular at that time, was an enticement into the ‘exciting' world of law! My husband left music to become a psychotherapist, which proved a valuable asset in assisting me in dealing with the stressors of litigation!''
The majority of Herzberg's legal experience has been as a litigation paralegal in Hawaii. She says that although she had college business courses, her paralegal training was a natural evolution from legal secretary to paralegal based on experience. She adds, ''I worked at small and large firms in Hawaii, gaining much from all. Although the litigation aspect of law is imbued with the most stress of nearly all the legal fields (and quite naturally so, as it's very nature implies conflict between parties), it also generates a plethora of both interesting scenarios and a sense of assisting clients with issues that are emotionally charged and desperate for resolution.''
Herzberg and her husband left the sunny climes of Hawaii for a ''brief jaunt'' to California for ''show biz'' endeavors, but soon returned to the islands. In November of 2003, Herzberg took a trip to Oregon for the first time with two girlfriends who had bought her a ticket there as a birthday present. ''I immediately fell in love with the Northwest, and within one month had sold my home in Hawaii, purchased a home sight-unseen in Washington, and moved here on December 30, 2003. My husband joined me two months later, and one of my girlfriends and her husband bought a home one minute from ours.''
Portland, Herzberg says, is about an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive each way from her home in the little mountain town of Stabler, Washington, nestled in the Gifford Pinchot national forest. ''Instead of the beaches of Hawaii, I swim in the icy Wind River, which runs through my back yard. The six feet of snow we experienced this last winter was a delicious playground for someone accustomed to baking in the Hawaii heat in December! I am so impressed with the beauty and history of the Northwest that I have written a novel (currently in the editing process) about the pioneers of the 1800s who settled this land.'' Her story has a fairy tale quality as she adds, ''It is wonderfully stimulating to venture periodically to the vibrant, bustling city of Portland and its many law firms, but equally delicious to return to my little house in the forest. Brave or foolish, the story of ‘love at first sight' and an impulsive move across miles of ocean ends happily!''
Although most of her legal experience had been as a litigation paralegal in Hawaii, Herzberg says that she now has a new career as a ''professional temp'' for Legal Northwest, a staffing agency in Portland, Oregon. She says that she has the privilege of assisting a multitude of highly skilled attorneys and paralegals as a legal secretary in various Portland law firms. Herzberg maintains that the obvious benefit of this new career is the ability to schedule the amount of time she wants to work — and play — each month. With a more flexible schedule, she can enjoy the amenities of married life with aplomb. She says that, as a temp, ''the subtler, but nonetheless equally significant, reward is the wealth of information and experience I glean from each office, and the universe of diverse personalities I encounter.''
Herzberg also notes that, as a temp, one is exposed to many different areas of law, all of which enrich both one's personal and professional life. ''Litigation provides reminders to enter carefully into contracts, to be proactive in health issues, to drive defensively, to conduct thorough research in the purchase of real estate, and so forth.'' She adds, ''Assisting bankruptcy attorneys reinforces the need to proceed wisely in the areas of finance. Family law causes one to reflect on the need to evaluate potential relationships prior to commitment and the need to proceed with dignity and restraint in conflict. Every law firm, and each type of law, teaches and/or reminds you of the importance of utilizing intellect, rather than emotions, when proceeding with business and relationship issues in life.''
Herzberg has led a diverse and interesting life, and seems to have found a balance between having an adventurous heart and a practical mind. She has lived in many beautiful places with enchanting surroundings and has found the uniqueness in all of them. She undoubtedly lives life to the fullest, and, when asked about giving any advice to others in her profession, states, ''I've consistently noticed that the first and foremost quality an attorney looks for in his/her assistants is speed in executing a task. Second, accuracy, and third, exuding a sense of calm and confidence in a profession which is inherently stressful — particularly when the attorney is exhibiting stress.''