Posts Tagged ‘empowerment’

KNOWing When It Isn’t Working the Way It Should

Friday, February 24th, 2012

The basic premise of The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional is time, file, calendar, client, attorney, and self management should be an integral part of everyday practice. But how do you know if the management is effective? Self-assessment is critical and the sooner a problem is noticed, the sooner corrective action can be taken. This is the point of an short article in a recent KNOWnewsletter: “15 Warning Signs of Poorly Managed Assignments.” Here are the first three and the link to the rest:

1.          Missing deadlines because you are handling too many matters.
2.         Receiving assignments from more than one attorney and cannot prioritize them.
3.         Consistently receiving assignments you don’t know how to complete.

Empowerment does not come from the outside. It comes from within. It is not granted, it is earned. The empowered paralegal gains that power  and the confidence that comes with being professional, and by being a competent, effective and efficient member of the legal team. The paralegal who self-assesses, indentifies problems, and develops a plan to overcome those problems will recognize in themselves the ability to manage their practice, gain self-confidence and the respect they deserve, and feel the satisfaction and gratification of being a legal professional.

Empowerment and “De-stressing”

Monday, September 27th, 2010

I have just gotten to reading the most recent edition of The East Coast Paralegal, a magazine for paralegals published in Nova Scotia, Canada, where paralegal practice is on a different basis from that in Ontario, which has been the subject of many posts here because of its experiment in licensing paralegals through the Law Society, the same body that oversees attorneys. The magazine, sent to me by Ann-Marie Allen, Editor-in-Chief, is well worth the read. In particular, there is an article entitled, “DE-STRESSING YOUR LAW FIRM BY DE-STRESSING YOUR LEGAL STAFF” that consists of answer to questions posed by ECP to Estelle Morrison M.Ed. C.W.C., Director, Health Management Ceridian Canada Ltd. 5th, who recently wrote an article on de-stressing law firms for The Lawyer’s Weekly.

I’ve written frequently about diminishing the stress associated with the paralegal (and legal) profession, so I’m always interested in solutions proposed by others. I’m particularly taken by Morrison view that de-stressing the law office must include being aware of, and doing what can be done to decrease, the stress placed on the legal staff, most especially the paralegals.

I can’t reprint the entire article here, but the first exchange will give you a good idea of the approach:

ECP: What specific areas can lawyers improve on to help destress their staff?
EM: One of the most important areas for lawyers and other professionals to be concerned with is workload and worklife balance. This issue has become critical in recruitment and retention efforts, employee engagement and of course, employees’ personal experience of stress. Understanding what is appropriate in terms of job demands, time frames, setting reasonable expectations for hours of work and supporting efforts to set boundaries between work and home are some of the ways that Lawyers can foster healthy work environments and working conditions.
Where possible, encouraging staff to exercise control over their work or have input into decisions is another way to reduce stress and elevate job satisfaction. Rewarding and/or recognizing efforts or accomplishments at work, even if only verbally, can send the message to staff that their efforts are noticed and their hard work is appreciated.
Depending on the nature of the practice, the legal work environment can be pressured and laden with negative interactions. Many clients seeking legal services are doing so for situations that may involve significant stress, conflict, fear or sadness. To offset the heaviness that this can bring to the staff, lawyers should find ways to bring a sense of fun or playfulness, where appropriate, into the workplace.

The primary premise of The Empowered Paralegal series is that paralegals can, and should, take control of their work, their work place, and their career. I believe that this kind of empowerment must come from within and can be developed through implementation of techniques that enhance management of time, workload, calender, docket, workplace, clients, and relationships with attorneys. However, this is not to deny that law firms can, and should, provide an environment that encourages paralegals to take that control and internalize that empowerment. It is not just a matter of respect (although that is a large factor.) Doing so de-stressing paralegals, which de-stresses the law firm, which increased both the quantity and quality of productiveness by the entire legal team.

Melissa’s Magic Paralegal Wand

Friday, April 9th, 2010

I do hope you have been following Melissa at Paralegalese as she goes through her (somewhat painful) transition from an one-attorney firm in a small Alabama town to a larger firm in Memphis. Her most recent post, The Calm After the Storm,  records some of her efforts to adjust. I am sure her adventure will end well. Here’s the part of her post that most supports my confidence:

Back to my original point in the above paragraph: I have realized that I have the power to make my job mean more. After all, it is what it is, and perception is subjective. If the task doesn’t have inherent meaning beyond completing step 42 of steps 1,894, then I will grab my magic paralegal wand, wave it in the air, and remind myself that every step in the long litigation process is one move toward the end game. 

The Empowered Paralegal concludes with this thought: “Empowerment does not come from the outside. It comes from within. It is not granted, it is earned. The empowered paralegal gains that power and the conficence that comes with being a professional, competent, effective and efficient member of the legal.” Melissa realizes this (realized it before reading the book) and, as a result, will do fine whether she stays in Memphis or moves on at some point.

In any case, we’re rooting for you, Melissa. Hang in there!

Will without action is an impossibility.

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

The title makes more sense in the context of a quote from a 91 year old woman who just received her paralegal certificate:

“Will without action is an impossibility and that’s what I’m passing on to you ladies out there. You can do it. If I can do it, you can do it. Just don’t wait as long as I did,” said Costrini.

More in a story from WTOC in Savannah, Georgia.

This applies to all of use, male and female, young and old. Anne Constrini clearly understands what it means to be empowered.

Who is in charge of your career?

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Chere Estrin of the Estrin Report and Know: The Magazine for Paralegals has an interesting article on Examiner.com entitled “In Search of the Rest of Your Career.” It is well worth reading in its entirety, but my attention was drawn to her statement,

I am emphasizing career-changing rather than changing careers. This means taking charge of your present career and changing it around to best suit your needs rather than switching careers all together.

This attitude is the essence of empowerment. Empowerment does not come from the outside. It comes from within. It is not granted, it is earned. The empowered paralegal gains that power  and the confidence that comes with being professional, and by being a competent, effective and efficient member of the legal team.  The primary benefit that accrues when a paralegal learns to manage time, files, workload, clients and their relationship with their attorney is that the paralegal can take charge of these essential elements of their profession. The paralegal controls their time rather than time controlling them, and so on.