Researcher ready with helping hand when clients need it
Helping people just seems to be in Donna Artechi’s DNA.
It’s always been in her nature and she says it’s her favorite part about working as a receptionist and office assistant at Howell, Buchan, & Strong, Attorneys at Law, Attorneys At Law.
“I like the satisfaction of knowing I’m able to help these people even if it’s just to get them to talk with a lawyer, to get some relief from their problems,” the Los Angeles native says.
Artechi has improved the lives of people all across the United States. As a Certified Nursing Assistant she’s worked with disabled adults in nursing homes in California and Texas; after earning an Administrative Assistant Certification at Lively Technical Center (now College) in 2003 she worked at the Florida Music Educators Association to help members; and as a mother she raised four children to adulthood.
Her main role now is at the Howell Firm, researching through state records and then requesting specific records pertinent to legal cases the Firm has taken on. Those concern current and past arrest records, prior case resolutions, disciplinary decisions, and medical licensing details.
When Artechi makes such requests, she tries to understand the significance of the information for both the Firm’s client and the state agency worker who’s pulling the file. Some state workers at times feel under appreciated, she says, while law firm clients can feel ignored. With that in mind, she seeks to balance in her attention to both sides.
“I try to be the ‘nice’ person,” Artechi smiles, adding, “I try to be very customer-oriented.”
While clients could make those calls for case records themselves, she asserts that she receives better response from state agencies because she knows the people and represents a law office. She also can nudge more successfully when response is slow.
Then she stays in contact with various clients so they “know that they’re being paid attention to and that we’re not neglecting them and not forgetting about them.”
Although sorting the wheat from the chaff from among background records can be tedious, Artechi says she’s “come to appreciate how much Florida does for its elderly and its children.” Most other states are not as strict on background checks on people who work with people in need. Florida sometimes goes back 40 to 50 years as it mines applicants’ backgrounds.
State agencies make such deep checks on job seekers because they “want to make sure that they’re not going to harm someone they’re taking care of.”
That can make her job tougher because sometimes she has to best several obstacles to obtain the necessary records. “At the same time I appreciate the fact that they care.”
In Texas and California, Artechi says, background checks aren't so strict. Florida checks very closely to see whether people have rehabilitated themselves. Applicants for jobs from a maintenance worker to a professional position must provide minute details about their character. That protects the elderly, children or mentally impaired in state custody.
Artechi points out that even just the minutia requested by a state job application can unsettle clients filling out the forms.
“It’s not personal,” she insists. “They want to make sure the people they're responsible for are safe.”
When she has free time Artechi stays in touch online with friends from high school. They read books and play Dungeons & Dragons. She also has two tuxedo cats — Sky and Smoky — who are walked on leashes. Then she crochets and sews blankets and clothing. “I like to keep busy,” she says in an understatement.
Having her daughter-in-law, Casey Campbell, at the Howell Firm also makes her glad to come to work.
Plus, Artechi says, the Law Clerks amuse her: “I love the clerks. They work really hard and they make me laugh” when they joke to ease the tension.