Paralegal Stress

Several readers have arrived at this blog by searches including the words “paralegal” and “stress.”  Certainly paralegals, like all professionals, are subject to multiple professional stress factors in addition to those arises from private life such as spouses, children and finances. This is especially true in situations where they are overworked.

Stress factors include time pressure, workload, docket control, client management and relationships with co-workers including attorneys. The bad news is that there is no way to eliminate these factors. They are part of any profession and of many non-professional careers. The good news is that they can be controlled by paralegals rather than the paralegal being controlled by them.

The primary factor in controlling stress lies in the way the paralegal approaches any and all aspects of paralegal practice. It is a proactive rather than reactive approach. It seeks to understand and manage even those aspects of practice that the paralegal cannot control. This principle involves taking a rational empowered approach to time, file, workload, calendar, client and attorney relationship management.

While the specifics are different with regard to each stress producer, the paralegal can identify the areas of concern, analyze each aspect of that concern, set priorities that address those concerns, obtain a greater understanding of the area of concern, investigate solutions and barriers to those solutions, and establish procedures for implementing solutions and removing or overcoming barriers to those solutions. This can, and should, be done in a direct, rational and professional way – a way that honors our own need to be efficient, effective and empowered, and honors the interrelationships and responsibilities of the legal team.

When a paralegal applies these principles, that paralegal becomes empowered. The empowered paralegal is an essential member of the legal team in any office. In particular, the empowered paralegal not only survives, but thrives in the American law office.

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