What, Me Change?

Because paralegals have a different perspective on ground level operations in a law office they are often in a position to suggest changes that would improve those operations, client services, and the firm’s bottom line. The Empowered Paralegal, afterall, is well-equipped to recognize and analyze problems, identify solutions, and develop and implement plans for effectuating those solutions – everything from establishing procedures for time, docket, workload, and client management to utilizing advancements in technology to improve overall office operations (all discussed in The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional). However, getting the attorneys to pay attention, much less accept and adopt those changes is a frequent source of frustration for paralegals.

The Empowered Paralegal also deals with approaches to dealing with the difficulties of communicating with one’s own attorney and managing the effects of attorney mismanagement. In addition, however, paralegals may take some solace in the fact that they do not suffer this frustration alone. Today’sABAJournal.com includes a post with a headline that will come as no suprise to paralegals: Don’t Underestimate Lawyers’ Resistance to Change, Seyfarth Shaw Chairman Says. The story is about attempts to implement process management, but applies as well to paralegal efforts to effectuate changes as it does to management consultant’s efforts:

Seyfarth Shaw has learned a lot about lawyers and their resistance to change as the firm embraced Lean Six Sigma, a management approach emphasizing process improvement and efficiency in legal work.

Seyfarth Shaw chairman J. Stephen Poor outlines the lessons learned in an article for the New York Times DealBook blog. “Never underestimate the resistance to change from lawyers,” he writes. “Even more likely, never underestimate the ability of lawyers to describe virtual status quo efforts as revolutionary change. Working through a change management process intended to deal with that push-back has been a core element of our challenge for years.”

By the way, I’ve noted before that “In my view process managment is not just about developing efficiencies so paralegals can do more work formerly done by attorneys. Effective use of professional paralegals, who can manage time, dockets, clients and workload is process management. But if they won’t listen to their own chairman, what are the chances they are listening to me? And the chances that the chairman is listening to me is even less!

Maybe they’ll listen to David Bowie:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8v486aUYu0  or, for those who are a bit older, Jefferson Airplane http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOrb0G0tw08:

Life is Change
How it differs from the rocks

The alternative is

Soon you’ll attain the stability you strive for
in the only way that it’s granted
in a place among the fossils of our time.*

From “Crown of Creation” which is largely taken with permission from “The Chrysalids” by John Wyndham(published 1955)

Speaking of changes, it’s about time I learned how to actually embed YouTube videos. If anyone out there actually read this far and knows how to do so, please clue me in!

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