Controlling the Scream II

Yesterday I did a post  on one paralegal’s response to a question posted on the Paralegal Today listserv:

What do you do to relieve your stress level when all you want to do is scream, set your desk on fire and run away??
 I liked that post because it worked in well with the concept of an empowered, professional paralegal taking control of that which you can take control. In many circumstances all  you can control is yourself. Realizing that and managing the consequences is, however, far better than any alternative. 
Today, I am following up with a response posted by Tina Brower Medlock, ACP:
Kimberly:  I’m going to take a stab at this, because it sounds like you are dealing with some of the same issues that I’ve dealt with before. Yes, some of your stress is that you’ve been out, you’re still recovering from being sick, and it is tax time.  That one gets me every year.  However, it sounds like a bigger issues for you are that (1) no one is listening to you when you raise a concern; and (2) you don’t like that things are going out when they’re incorrect.  The biggest thing I can suggest is to cover your behind.  If you think something is wrong, copy the reason you think it’s wrong (statute, rule, case note, etc.) and attach it to a WRITTEN memo or email to the attorney.  “I’m not sure if you saw this on x client’s file, but . . .”  Then, if she ignores you, you can put the memo in your file and move forward, knowing you did what you could.  And, if anyone calls you on it later, you can pull out exactly what you told her and when.  It takes a little time, but you will save yourself tons of worry and stress. 

I have the hardest time remembering something very simple:  it is the attorney’s signature, and the attorney’s work product.  If I do what I can to call something to their attention, and they choose to ignore me, then I am not at fault.  It’s not easy to do as a professional, but sometimes you have no other choice.   

This comment also demonstrates taking control of the situation to the extent possible, but adds the element of protecting the record and acknowledging the attorney/paralegal roles on the legal team. It takes two to make the legal team dance. When one member is not engaged in that dance, the other should both take steps to change the situation to the extent they can, manage the consequences when they cannot change the situation, and make a record of their efforts to protect themselves when (and if) the need arises.  

I’ve written in previous posts, KNOW: The Magazine for Paralegals. and The Empowered Paralegal about some steps to take with problem attorneys. When those steps do not work, or while you are attempting to get them to work, take heed of Tina’s advice.

Thanks for allowing me to use your comment, Tina!

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