“I’m Not A Lawyer”

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By now you have probably figured that for a long time I had to cobble jobs together, especially in the summer, to make sufficient income. For several different summers, this meant doing paralegal work for a Portland attorney named Carol Hewitt. Carol recognized that the research skills developed studying English literature and the people skills developed teaching adults would be useful in some of her cases.

The first case she hired me for was against Princess Crystal brought by a class action of some of their sales reps. Princess Crystal was an operation much like Tupperware and Avon at the time. Individual women(they were only women) sold crystal dishes and knick-knacks in a “party” setting in their homes. At each “party,” the hostess would try to recruit other women to host similar events. The hostess usually got a “free” gift for having the”party” and discounted prices on other items. When she recruited someone new, she also got a discount on future pieces and a percentage of the sales at the next event.

The details of their specific legal complaint are blurry to me, forty years on. I remember talking to individual women, however, to record their experiences. Carol had hired me to try to get specifics from each woman about her experience with the company. In general, women felt used by the company. They felt they had bought product so that they could have their own successful businesses. But, as in any scheme that requires recruiting new sales reps, they quickly ran out of people to recruit. Then they were left with a lot of crystal that they had no use for.

Princess Crystal settled out of court and the class action members were satisfied with the outcome. I became determined to steer clear of any such “opportunities,” no matter how much I needed the money. “Party Hostess” is one of the few jobs I never held in my peripatetic career history.

 

 

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