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Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two Wrongs, But It'll Be All Right

I don't know why I focus on my mistakes, but I do. One simple, completely fixable mistake can ruin an otherwise perfect day for me.

Today, I realized that I have been making the same mistake over and over again. The clerk's office called to let me know that we had errantly filed an oringal Quitclaim Deed with a noncontested divorce package. "The attorney usually keeps the deed," she explained kindly, "and records it in Probate once the divorce is finalized." I was hesitant, but I accepted her offer to send it back to our office for safe-keeping.

The thing is, I remember a very specific conversation with the Boss from the first time I prepared divorce paperwork that involved a transfer of interest in real property. The settlement agreement referred to the "attached quitclaim deed" when addressing the conveyance. I clearly remember asking him if I should attach the original deed. I remember all of this because it didn't make sense to me to file the original with the other paperwork, but I wanted to make sure of what we needed to do. In this memory, the Boss explains to me that there is no recording fee for a Quitclaim Deed that is filed with a divorce package, so filing it with the divorce docs would basically kill two birds with one stone.

However, when I told the Boss about my conversation with the clerk's office, he merely said, "Yeah, the original stays here." I wanted to respond with "Are you absolutely sure?" I did mention that I remembered a conversation about this very subject during which he explained why I should attach the original deed. He looked at me with a blank expression. I felt lost, perplexed, and a bit ashamed. You see, I have filed not one, but two of these packages with an original deed attached. The Boss didn't seem to think of it as a major mishap. He simply suggested calling the court to retrieve the other original deed I admitted having filed. He warned that they might have already shredded it after scanning it into their system, but thank goodness the ladies at the clerk's office knew right where to find it. I will have both deeds back in a matter of days. (This goes back to being on good terms with the clerk's office. They were so patient and kind to me as I bumbled through this situation today.)

With the situation almost fully resolved, and with a new lesson learned, I still do not feel settled with this matter. I am uncomfortable with the strange memory of a conversation that may never have occurred. If the Boss were egotistical or the kind of guy who passed the buck, I would trust myself more. But he has never seemed to have a problem admitting his own mistakes. If he thought he had told me something wrong, he would say so. Thus, either he does not remember a conversation we did have, or I remember a conversation we did not have. I'm leaning toward trusting the memory of the person who has been working in this field longer than I, who obviously knows not to file an original deed with a divorce package. But I have a hard time letting go of the memory of a moment that I can almost see and hear.

No major harm having been done, I will have to let go and move on to tomorrow, where no doubt more imperfections and mishaps await. However, I will take two lessons with me as I go forward: Original deeds do not get filed with the circuit court - ever, that I know of - and I seem to have a very active imagination.


  1. I love both your imagination and your creativity. :) And don't worry, it happens sometimes, and will happen again. Because I have been subject to many of these "imaginary" attorney conversations myself over the course of my, er, long, career, here's two tips for figuratively pinching yourself after any conversation with an attorney:

    1. Always, always take good "CYA" written notes and keep them in a place that you can lay your hands on them later; and

    2. Follow-up any attorney instructions with a confirmation email, such as "Per our conversation of this morning, I am attaching the original deed to the divorce package."

  2. Great advice, Lynne! Because our office is so small, just the Boss and me, we tend to pass assignments back and forth in a very casual, conversational way. This has its benefits, but it also has its downfalls as shown above.

    As a follow-up, the Boss apparently also dwelled on this conversation that never was for some time. We discussed it this morning, but neither of us could figure out where I misinterpreted his instructions, when we would have had the supposed conversation, or why I would take it upon myself to do what I did. He remembers a conversation about saving filing fees by attaching a document to another document, but neither of us remembers what documents we were talking about. Clearly not divorce docs.

    Mark my words, I will be double-checking conversations and recording instructions in a written format from now on. :^)