With the announcement of Randi Mayes’ retirement from her role as Executive Director of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA), I have had all kinds of thoughts running through my head: some happy for her, some sad for the ILTA staff and community, and many nostalgic. Many people know that I have been active in the ILTA community for decades, but not everyone knows that Randi was my first legal IT boss when I was still in my teens!
Champagne is the wine of civilization and the oil of government. – Winston Churchill
Here’s how it happened: Over the winter break of my senior year of high school, I was hired to work in the file room of one of the biggest law firms in Austin. This was a big step up from my summer job at Dairy Queen! In those few short weeks, I was hired permanently to work in the bookkeeping department half days after attending classes in the morning. It was the height of the savings and loan days and a real estate boom in the mid-80s, so I typed a lot of real estate closing checks. How archaic our processes seem looking back now. I’ll never forget the day I was entrusted to go deposit a multi-million-dollar closing check. I was a nervous wreck thinking I would be robbed on the trip down to the lobby from the 26th floor – silly girl.
Randi arrived at the firm as the head of our Data Processing department, and it wasn’t too long after that when I moved across the hall to the Data Processing department, making Randi my first Legal IT boss. I did all manner of data entry and later became known as the “laser queen” for my skill at dealing with temperamental printers. I can still see the original glass-walled server room where the Wang mainframe and a slew of daisy wheel printers lived. Randi’s office was at the end of our long wall of cubicles. Her cheerful laughter carried down the row frequently.
I continued to work for the firm when I started college and even after I decided that paralegal school made more sense than college to my 19-year-old brain. Randi and I both survived a huge move to a brand new building, implementation of a new accounting system, and the doubling of the number of attorneys at the firm over those four years. The first training I ever did was showing the legal secretaries how to do time entry just before I left the firm. I must have done a good job, because Randi gave me a glowing recommendation letter when I left to pursue my career. When I see her distinct signature in the front of each Peer to Peer, I am reminded of that letter and how much her words of praise meant to me. Little did I know then that I would end up returning to legal IT work and our paths would continue to cross over the next three decades.
I learned a lot from Randi as my direct boss at the start of my career, and I have continued to learn more from her ever since then. There is no way I can possibly list all of the things I’ve learned from Randi, but I thought I would at least hit the high points in tribute to the boss who made an impression on me at the start of my career and someone I have considered a dear friend ever since.
8 Things I learned from Randi Mayes
- The mind of the group is stronger than any individual.
- Using proper grammar is important.
(I just pray that this piece has as few grammatical errors as possible.)
- There should always be room for fun and laughter at work.
- Do work that is meaningful to you.
- Step outside of your comfort zone. (You would never guess that Randi is an introvert when she takes to those huge stages each year at ILTACON.)
- Enjoy champagne with good friends as often as possible.
- Build a strong team and turn them loose to do great things.
- Grace and class will take you far and serve you well.