I spent most of my career at Pallett Valo LLP, a medium-sized law firm in Mississauga, Ontario.
On my first day at the office, I met Mindy Dodds, a young woman who was initially assigned to be my Legal Assistant, but who soon became my Corporate Clerk.
In the early days, I taught Mindy about how to be a Corporate Clerk. In very short order, being exceedingly sharp, she became my right hand for everything related to minute books, corporate procedures, and corporate reorganizations. It was not much longer before she started teaching me things, and by the time that I retired I relied upon Mindy not only to do her work, but to be my second set of eyes on all sorts of things and to keep me out of trouble.
I was always grateful when Mindy considered my instructions and asked me, “are you sure you want to do it that way?” which was her polite way of saying, “you are making a mistake.” Most of the time she was right.
When the firm grew and we needed another senior clerk, we had Mindy take one of those behavioural assessment tests to help us understand why she was so good at her job. We then had all of the candidates take the same test looking for someone who had similar attributes, which is how we ended up hiring a second phenomenal law clerk.
I remember one time that I was closing a transaction with a senior lawyer at a large Bay Street law firm. I had opposing counsel deal directly with Mindy on a number of issues. At the closing meeting opposing counsel said to me, “we have no Corporate Clerk at our firm who is as good as your Corporate Clerk.”
Sometimes when people are interviewed for a job and asked what their faults are, they reply in a manner which suggests that their negatives are actually positives. Had Mindy been asked about her short-comings, she could reasonably have said that she was a perfectionist who did not know how to say no; that she did not suffer fools gladly; that she could not help herself from taking complete responsibility for every task given to her (an attribute which was abused by some of her supervisors); that she worked way too hard; and that she devoted herself to her work at the expense of her health.
Of course, Mindy was productive and profitable as all get out. She was a resource to many of the lawyers and clerks in the firm and a mentor to the junior corporate lawyers and law clerks. She was a law firm super-star.
I am referring to Mindy in the past tense because she recently passed away at the age of fifty-nine, just a few months short of a retirement which she had been planning for quite a while but never got to enjoy.
Melinda April Dodds (her full name, which I called her from time to time when I was of the mind to annoy her) was a great Corporate Clerk and a marvelous human being. I am honoured to have been her friend and thankful that I kept up with her following my retirement, speaking to her about once a month.
In some ways Mindy and I were very similar. We both put our work before our health. I survived doing that, and Mindy did not.
I miss her already.