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Tenured Staff Highlight: Veronica Leichter, Litigation Secretary, 38 Years at BT

Veronica Leichter began her work as a secretary, now holding the title, Litigation Secretary. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Veronica received the Jack H. Skirball Community Justice Award at the 2020 Bet Tzedek Gala as an acknowledgement of her dedication, hard work, and mission-driven mindset. We are beyond grateful for Veronica’s decades of service and commitment to helping others.

This is Veronica’s story, in her own words:

When I first started working at Bet Tzedek, there was a secretarial pool. There was a main secretary, who was our supervisor, and we were in one big room with dividers to separate the four total secretaries. The main secretary would distribute work from a basket on the shelf. When the secretaries were done with the assignments, the main secretary would give them to the attorneys. 

At one point, we were assigned to different attorneys and each attorney would give their assignments to their assigned secretary. I prepared paper files both for direct representation and for the Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic. I used a Dictaphone to type up pleadings on the computer. I would be sharing floppy discs when I had to type up a pleading. As for conservatorships, I would be typing all the court forms on the typewriter. It would take half a day. I had to make a copy for the attorney to proofread. If there was a mistake, I had to use Wite-Out and make the correction and give back to the attorney to proofread again. That would take a whole day.

There was no such things as e-filings back then. I would call the messenger service to file the court forms. It would take within a week to get them back from the Court about whether or not the documents were accepted. There was also no such thing as appointments. The reception area was full of people who were seeking legal assistance. If a client came in and it was the last day to file an answer on an unlawful detainer, I prepared it that same day.

There was a special scanning machine to scan documents for the Holocaust survivor clients, which would always take a long time. I typed up wills on the computer and the client would come to the office and sign them. Many times, I would be a witness when the client signed their wills. I also typed up Social Security pleadings.  The volunteer would write it in long-hand on a yellow pad. The paper was all wrinkled and she would not write on the lines, so her sentences were in a slope, and it could be difficult to read; but I still did it.

We had holiday parties at the office. They were usually potlucks. Management would bring the mains and the staff would do the side dishes and dessert. We would make the library really festive at the Fairfax office. One paralegal would collect $1 from all of us, and she would buy a cake to celebrate our birthdays. Those were the days… of long ago.”