“Ask and you shall receive”

Paralegal Pie posts some advice on “Raises in an Economic Downturn.” It concludes:

If you expect to share in the rewards when the firm is having a good year, its only fair that the firm expect you to share in the leaner years too.  

If you feel your firm is taking advantage of you, which wouldn’t be the first time in history a law firm pulled that trick – think about what other “compensation” may be available. Sometimes extra vacation, parking or leaving early on Friday is an option in lieu of money.  Maybe just keeping your mouth shut is the only option.  Be patient, do a good job…it will get better!

Raises are just one of the many areas where the paralegal and attorney members of the legal team may be in conflict with one another.  Conflict is inevitable and must be resolved. Simply letting it simmer benefits no one. It helps to be aware of approaches to conflict. Such awareness will be beneficial not only in terms of your relationship with your attorney, but in all relationships.

Conflict arises between attorneys and their paralegals when they have wants, needs, desires or interests that not only are different, but it appears that only one set of those wants can be achieved in any given situation. For these purposes, I assume that both the attorney and paralegal are acting professionally, for example, that you are doing your best to earn your salary as opposed to doing the least you can possibly do to earn your salary, and the attorney is doing his best to utilize your professional skills even if he lacks an understanding of what those skills truly are. Even when that assumption is made, conflicts can arise between your desire for the independence and responsibility of your profession and the attorney’s desire for control; between your desire for supervision, guidance and clear instructions, and his desire that you just get the work done without bothering him.

In some situations one party may be, at least initially, unaware that the conflict exists. It is important that there be open communication between the attorney and paralegal not only in order to resolve conflict but to create awareness that the conflict exist. With a demanding, authoritative, perhaps bullying attorney, you will be well aware of his side. A way must be found to inform him that you are not happy without triggering a crisis. On the flip side, you must make it clear to the more reticent attorney that you are open to, even anxious to, be made aware of potential conflicts between his expectations and your performance.

This awareness can sometimes be difficult to achieve because of the approach used to conflict by either the attorney, the paralegal or both. Generally, people will favor one of five approaches to conflict: avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromise or collaboration. Of course, no one is so fully committed to one approach that they can be strictly compartmentalized. Often people will use a blend of approaches, or they may use one approach at home and another at work, and so on. Paralegal Pie‘s suggestion of seeking alternative forms of compensation when money is tight could result in a collaborative resolution to this conflict.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply