Public Interest Office Makeover

No, not a public defender office, but a Legal Aid office in upstate New York.

My favorite part is the first line: The day Catherine Linnemann interviewed to become an intern in the Binghamton office of the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, she wanted to cry.

So, the Cornell law student, "who was born in Switzerland and maintains residences in Binghamton and Manhattan" and "is an interior designer by trade," decided to give the office a makeover.

"Linnemann, who has clocked more than 500 hours on her renovations," (does this count toward her credit hours?) "has dipped deep into her own pockets to buy supplies. Now she's looking for local companies to supplement her efforts so the second and third floors can receive a similar facelift (although "emergency surgery" might be a better analogy)." She's looking specifically for a mason and furniture donations.

Part of me thinks, "Couldn't that 500 hours and the money she's raised be better spent on client services?" But another part of me thinks, "That's right, don't public interest lawyers deserve a pleasant workspace too? Hey, my office could use a makeover! Maybe she could help me get some pink curtains."


  1. Exsqueeze me, but most normal law students don't just "maintain" residences in several cities (one of them being manhattan).

    Logging 500 hours decorating when she should be helping them with their legal cases is a little too "let them eat cake" for me. Is rings of the what the noblesse oblige do for the little people.

  2. Well, Linneman's obviously rich but I don't think she is completely off base on this. I think that the quality of an office work space can have an effect on office morale and recruiting. Sure, I hope most people wouldn't choose to work at Legal Aid BECAUSE it has a chi-chi workspace, but it adds to the professional image. It has a positive and very significant subliminal effect.

    I worked as a prosecutor for five years in a really dilapidated and cramped workplace. I loved my job, but the fact that my county wouldn't spend any money on my office bothered me and made me and my co-workers feel less valued. I think it was also hard to make witnesses, victims, and defendants take us seriously when they saw us struggling to function in a sub-par office. It detracted from our credibility.

  3. I think that was the decoration equivalent of a fashion emergency!!

    I think it's great that she donated her services and money like that. If it boosts morale, then I say go for it. People can contribute in many different ways. That's what makes diversity and individuality so valuable to the workplace..

  4. I work in a cave. Last weekend I was lucky enough to chance upon a going out of business sale at a local poster store. Now my cave is decorated with "mugshots of the rich and famous." Cost of emergency facelift: 20 bucks (most of which went on the frame from Target) and five minutes work banging two nails into the wall.

  5. I am also a fellow cave dweller. I just wanted to say that those frames from Target can get friggin expensive! I think I went there about a month ago looking to frame a large poster I came across and it was like 59.99 for a wooden one with a black finish. I believe I ended up scrounging one from a local Salvation Army.