Combating the “Hire an Out-of-work Lawyer as a Paralegal” Trend

Grades are finally posted! I hope to catch up on some reading and make more regular posts over the next few weeks in between working on the new book.

There have been a number of posts here on lawyers taking jobs as paralegals, and how lawyers are ill suited for paralegal positions. Today I noticed a post on the Legal Assistant Today listserv discussion forum on this topic that states the case for “combating” this trend. It’s from Linda Whipple. Linda was recently awarded the American Association for Justice Paralegal of the Year Award according to Paralegal Today magazine. Congratulations, Linda!

I am hoping Linda will not mind me including her post here in toto:

Someone wrote that attorneys are signing up for paralegal jobs so that they can work since many attorneys aren’t being hired during the current recession. The way to “combat” this intrusion into our profession is to let the legal administrators and senior hiring partners know that attorneys know the law very well – that is what they are trained to do, but in order for a case to be MANAGED WELL and docketed thoroughly and discovery answered promptly – attorneys are NOT trained to do that – believe it or not they aren’t!! Let an attorney do case management and see what shape the entire case will be in very quickly. Those “attorney” paralegals also have to have an assistant – I finally have an assistant but only after decades of doing most of my work myself – I’m not training new paralegals who come into our firm and they learn by working side-by-side with me. Also, one GREAT argument to make is that if an Attorney can do paralegal work, then paralegals can do attorney work – hmmmmmm – that should make some legal administrators sit up and take notice. I guarantee you that I’ve seen 2 year associates come to me and ask me a question, “Linda, what do you think needs to be done next on this case?” I’m dumbfounded but never surprised because my cases are managed BY ME and I’m more than aware of what needs to be done every week. My tickler system in Outlook and my Tasks lists are extensive. I also work 30 days out from a deadline – got a pre-trial conference coming up? I’ve already set up the attorneys’ meeting, exhibit exchange (meaning I have my exhibits already prepared and ready for trial), and provided a draft of a pre-trial statement to my boss – this is a signal to Bob that we are now moving from “pre-trial” mode to “trial” mode. I also have his initial Trial Notebook set up with his witnesses, depo summaries, list of exhibits to be introduced by a particular witness. All this goes on Bob’s desk 30 days before the pre-trial and he can’t scream and shout he doesn’t have time to prepare. We just avoid all those kinds of problems from the get go. He likes how I work and he knows I ALWAYS have his back.

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