Joe: Preparing for Work in a Law Firm



Joe describes himself as smart and friendly. He works as an administrative assistant at Hardy, Wolf and Downing, a law firm in Lewiston, Maine. He found this position with the help of Aaron, his job developer. Aaron helped Joe look for jobs that might be interesting to him, and thought about ways that Joe could help an employer. Then Aaron set up a chance for Joe to work for a specific business so they could see if the job was a good match.

What's important:

Joe had early work experience doing community service with his family. After he finished high school and was beginning to look for a job, he went to a day program and volunteered doing administrative work for a community center. Through these opportunities, Joe learned that he enjoyed clerical and office work. In fact, he turned down the first job in the community he was offered because it did not give him the chance to do this kind of work.

The vocational rehabilitation (VR) office Joe was working with offered Joe and his family the chance to choose an employment service provider. They chose Work Opportunities Unlimited because the staff there were clear that they would help Joe find work he would like. Work Opportunities Unlimited connected Joe with one of their job developers, Aaron.

First, Aaron conducted a customized-employment planning meeting to talk about job possibilities. The meeting included Joe and others who knew him well. Next, Aaron approached a law firm where he knew there might be a need for Joe's help with office work. When he talked to the firm's partners and secretary, they discussed the secretary's workload and decided that she was dealing with too much mail and filing. The firm agreed that they could use someone to help with these tasks. They also agreed to interview Joe.

After the interview went well, Aaron suggested setting up a work assessment. This is a short period of time during which an employer and a job seeker can see if they would be a good match. Joe and the law firm's director agreed, and a 20-hour work assessment began. With Aaron as a job coach, Joe worked a few hours each day at the law firm sorting mail and filing. During this period, Joe was paid through VR funding. This was a good opportunity for Joe and the employer to get to know each other, and was also a chance for Aaron to see what Joe's skills were. The work assessment was a low-risk way for the employer to understand the type of skills Joe had to contribute to the job, as well as his support needs.

What happened

Joe works on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at the law firm and earns $7.50/hour. He does a variety of administrative tasks, including handling mail, distributing newspapers, shredding documents, and putting together promotional materials. Joe has had this job for two years and only has job coaching one day a week.

Joe enjoys his job and has supportive, friendly relationships with the administrative staff and the attorneys. In turn, he has reduced the secretary's workload, which lets her be much more efficient. His employer says Joe is very helpful and enthusiastic about all his tasks, which is a morale-booster for everyone working at the firm.

Lessons learned:

  • Through Joe's early volunteer experiences and employment-planning process, his strong interest in clerical and office work became evident.
  • Once Joe's job developer understood Joe's requirements for a job, he pursued an office environment for Joe, resulting in a good match for both the employer and the job seeker.
  • Joe's work assessment was a good way for Joe's job developer to get to know his skills. With his job developer on site for support, this work assessment was a low-risk way for both Joe and the employer to see if the job was a good fit.

For more information, contact:
Aaron Stone: