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Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt’s Manager of Secretarial Services: Virginia Zingg [By Robin Salisian] Some people know at the age of nine what they want to be as adults-a doctor, a teacher, a journalist, an athlete. Virginia Zingg, however, wasn’t one of them.

“When I was a kid, I never knew what I

Having exposure to the legal field and having

her experience in management, and made

wanted to be when I grew up,” she said.

experience in it, however, are two different things. Of the latter, Zingg had none. So when she interviewed with Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, “a multi-service law firm serving the needs of businesses in the Pacific Northwest, as well as U.S. and international clients,” according to its website, she had to “convince the hiring committee [there] that [she] had transferable skills.”

the position her own.

What the extroverted Zingg did know was that she liked being in charge. So she gravitated towards management. “I always had my eye on the management positions and was surprised when I discovered not everyone felt that way. I do not mind the personnel issues involved, and I think I am a good sounding board for others. People tend to tell me their problems, and

“They have a lot in common,” she said. “Both

over the years, I have become an advisor or

are professional and technical, and they are

coach.”

made up of a similar demographic. Neither field requires a minimum education level,

For 25 years, Zingg worked in the insurance

and both develop by on-the-job training; the

industry, working her way up from file clerk.

longer you do it, the better you get.”

“Insurance offices are great for developing a

Although Schwabe had concerns about her

career path,” she explained. “I experienced

lack of law firm experience, Zingg convinced

the steps on the corporate ladder that

the firm to hire her. She landed the job, took

lets you go from one position to another. I enjoyed working towards the next level.” While working, Zingg began taking courses at a Tucson, Arizona, community college. And although free time was rare, Zingg squeezed those courses in-she began studying to become a paralegal. Then a supervisory job opened up. Zingg took the job and dropped the courses. But the exposure to the legal field was enough to whet her appetite. Once she left the insurance industry, Zingg was convinced she wanted to manage either a law office or a medical office.

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Q. What do you do for fun? A. I like to read or play around on the Internet. I enjoy going to the local farmer’s markets and cooking what I buy. I enjoy the company of my family. Q. What CD is in your CD player right now? A. Miles Davis. Q. What is the last magazine you read? A. Portland Monthly.

“I could follow a format,” said Zingg, “but it is really an opportunity to be creative.” And the position seems to be working out. As the manager of secretarial services at Schwabe, Zingg currently oversees around 80 employees, most of whom are legal secretaries. Of Schwabe’s five offices, Zingg oversees the employees in four of them and works closely with the fifth office in Seattle. “When I tell people what I do and that I work with the number of people that I do and that most all of them are women, I get very interesting comments and looks. Attorneys supervise the day-to-day duties of a secretary; I oversee the big picture. That means I get to determine what is needed in the way of help, training, and teamwork.” But Zingg’s involvement doesn’t end there. One of her most memorable career moments was creating a program called “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day,” which has evolved into “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” because “boys need to see what work is like also,” she said. Zingg, who not only developed the program but takes part in it every year, teaches the kids about work life. The session begins

Q. What is your favorite TV show? A. Lost.

with class time, followed by parent activities

Q. What’s the last book you read? A. Jesus.

talks to the kids about work, what they want

and lunch, and ends with a mock trial. Zingg to be, and the best and worst jobs they can imagine. Then it’s game time.

continued on back


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LEGAL STAFF PROFILE

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1. 800.973.1177

“This year, we played ‘Meet the Manager,’

“how to treat others and how to perform my

So, did Zingg’s uncertainty as a child affect

where I had placed good and bad work

job in a highly professional yet personal way.”

her future?

came forward to select one. As they did,

“When I do something that they disagree

“It is the best job I have ever had,” she said.

we role-played how they would meet with

with, they talk to me. None of them are

the manager about it. Then, as a group,

egotistical. It is great to work in a place

we would decide if the person should get a

where you feel respected and cared about

verbal warning, written up, or fired, if it was

both personally and professionally.”

behaviors on a piece of paper and each child

bad; if it was good, they got a raise, a bonus, or some other kind of recognition.”

On the Net Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt www.schwabe.com

Taking what she’s learned and applying it to not only her own work but also the advice

Tucson, Arizona

she gives others, Zingg had this to say:

www.visittucson.org

good behavior at work,” she continued, “but

“Employees have a right to gripe. Expect it,

when you do not, you respond reasonably.”

listen to it, change things that make sense,

Portland Monthly Magazine www.portlandmonthlymag.com

“I think it is important for kids to see how much of a difference it can make if you have

and get over the rest. It is impossible to get While Zingg has guided and taught the

everyone to like everything you do. Make

younger generation, others have guided and

decisions based on your best judgment, and

taught Zingg. She gives credit to three men

do not be afraid to make adjustments. If you

in particular: Dave Bartz, Don Williams, and

are wrong, say you were wrong and fix it, but

Dick Templeman, all of whom have shown her

do not dwell on it.”

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Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt's Manager of Secretarial Services: Virginia Zingg