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Memo from the Front Desk…

Jan 13, 2015 | Estate Planning

going the extra mile“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile” – Roger Staubach

Note: This week’s blog post is by Chelsea Burnett who is the new administrative assistant for our firm. But as you’ll see from Chelsea’s account of a recent day in her life, in a small law office everyone ends up getting involved in a variety of ways.

As the resident “newbie” and coffee-maker extraordinaire, it’s not often that I find myself thrust into the midst of a legal emergency. My days are more typically filled with general offices duties and topped with a heaping spoon of listening and watching the attorneys practice their craft.

The other day started like any other, really. The phone rang and I answered with my usual greeting: “Brinen and Associates this-is-Chelsea-how-can-I-help-you?” I transferred the caller into my boss for what would prove to be a day with a certain knife-cutting tension.

At 11:00 AM it was decided that our firm would accept a new emergency assignment of both constructing and executing a will for a man undergoing a brain operation the following morning. The attorneys spent the day whizzing by my desk with files, and drafts, and redlines, accompanied by yelling and the reply back – “I’m-not-yelling-I’m-just-raising-my-voice!

More than once that afternoon I said to myself, “Who wants this job?”

When 4:15 PM rolled around, I squeezed myself into the backseat of my boss’ little “midlife crisis” car and officially added “Emergency Witness” to my repertoire and job description. Joshua, Joshua’s best man (as he informed me on the walk to the car), and I then proceeded to sit for three hours in, what I would consider, the most unbearable traffic I had ever experienced in my life, as we slogged our way through a sea of brake lights along the Long Island Expressway.

But honestly, nothing could have prepared me for what I felt when we finally stepped into that hospital room. On paper I was Chelsea Burnett – Witness. Inside, I was Chelsea Burnett – witness to one man’s life, one man’s legacy, one man’s … everything.

In a room full of attorneys, a former attorney, and a man surrounded by his wife and children, a strange wave of emotion washed over me. It was a feeling of insignificance coupled with astonishment that I was one of three people witnessing what could be this man’s last signature.

His son, red-eyed and sleep-deprived, walked us out of the hospital and looked at us as if we were superheroes.

Sliding back into the car I thought to myself, “Me. I want this job.” This is a place where even as a resident newbie and administrative assistant I’ve already had a chance to make a difference.


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I formerly worked as a satellite employee from my home state of New Jersey. I ended my employment with my former employer in 2016. In 2018, I was sued by my former employer for $1.1 million in Illinois State Court. I was referred to Brinen & Associates, LLC by a friend who is a client of the firm. Brinen & Associates, LLC came highly recommended. I contacted Joshua Brinen and then had a consultation at his office with his colleague Mark White. Together, Messrs. Brinen and White explained my options...

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