Connecticut has some of the nation’s oldest and most storied law firms, but attorneys at a Stamford firm say they believe they have many of their competitors beat when it comes to staff longevity.
Silver Golub & Teitell, which also has offices in Danbury, Hartford and Waterbury, was having a party for one of its longtime paralegals last year when firm leaders realized some impressive statistics. One member of the firm’s support staff had been with the firm for more than 40 years; two had worked there for more than 30 years; four for 20-plus years; and four more had been on for more than a decade. Three staff members—the relative rookies—had all been with Silver Golub for more than seven years. In sum, it was a good reason to throw another party.
Silver Golub senior partner Richard Silver said in an interview that keeping staff members is part of providing consistent service, “which is very important. We obviously pay people more because of their longevity, but we think it’s worth the extra cost because of the continuity and the relationships that our staff build with our clients.”
Silver, a leader in Connecticut litigation who has more than 40 years of experience himself, said he believes the appreciation his firm shows for support staff is reflected in happy employees who stay on board. “Our personal experience is if an employee is happy, it is reflected in the work. I think the atmosphere is important. Historically, we’ve given a raise to our employees every year.”
As a result, instances in which staff longevity pays off for the firm “happen all the time,” Silver said. Paralegals know the significance of cases that have been taken on over the past several years, and in court it is common for them to pull essential documents at crucial points in trial cases. “We have staff members when we’re on trial who are working until 9 or 10 o’clock at night. That’s vital to what we do,” Silver said.
Staff members who provide that support include Marlena Rustici, who started at the firm 35 years ago at age 19 and worked up to paralegal. Natasha Gioielli, secretary to senior partner David Golub, is approaching 30 years with the firm. Controller Emily Ku has worked with the firm for the past 23 years. Paralegal Jane Grein, who came on as a college graduate with high honors in 1988, has stayed for 31 years.
As someone who remembers the days of using carbon paper, Silver said despite advances in technology and the way documents are produced and sent, the importance of the documents themselves hasn’t changed. “When a judge says to a partner or associate, ‘I want that memorandum tomorrow morning,’ attorneys can do a lot of the work, but it’s very helpful to have a staff member who can assemble the documents and organize the memoranda.”
Silver Golub recently celebrated all staff members who have had long stints with the firm. They include Martha Jackson, who marked 42 years, Rustici (35 years), Grein (31 years), Jonathan Blauner (29 years), Gioielli (29 years), Natasha Gold (23 years), Ku (22 years), Sarah Nielsen (19 years), Michele Waggner (19 years), Amil Yanes (14 years), Lynn Douglass (11 years), Kimberly Wood (nine years) and Pamela Alfaro Loyer (seven years).
“We’ve always really had for the most part a very dedicated staff,” Silver said. “If you have talented people, the bottom line is you’ve got to treat them well, and you should compensate them well. I think it’s in the long-term benefit of the firm.”