Posts Tagged ‘stress management.’

Managing Stress the NFPA Way

Friday, September 7th, 2012

I’m just now making  my way through the August/September 2012 issue of NFPA’s Paralegal Reporter which you can subscribe to here. I subscribed during a special offer. I don’t know if the offer is still special, but the Reporter is well worth the regular subscription price. This issue has a number of good articles including one on Cloud technology, Estate Planning in the  Digital Era, Retaliation in the Workplace, and Medicaid: Estate Recovery and others. I was particularly interested in “Stress Management, A Plan for Working Paralegals.” The article works off the same premise as The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional, i.e., that stress in best managed by managing your work (and personal life), rather than allowing it to manage you. While TEP discusses time, workload, workspace, client, and attorney relationship management, this article focuses on time management. It has quick, concise, clear suggestions for ten steps to follow and suggests following them for 28 days to establish their bona fides: 1. Assessing How You Spend Your Time, 2. Scheduling, 3. Setting Reasonable Goals, 4. Prioritizing, 5. Evaluating Tasks Once, 6. Learn to  Say No, 7. Delegating, 8. Limiting Interruptions, 9. Investing Time (an interesting concept), and 10. Maximizing Rewards.

Check it  out. I best the time it saves will outweighs the time it takes to read it!

The Secrets to a Stress Free Career

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I am on the OLP Advisory Board so of course I attempt to read everything that come from OLP. However, May was a very busy month and then June was spent in a cabin in Maine where I limited by work mostly to Working with the Elder Client.  So it is somewhat strange (and embarrassing) that it was only be following a link  back to an Australian site that led one viewer to this blog that I found myself reading, “The Secrets to a Stress Free Career – What Your Employer Doesn’t Want You to Know,” by Chere B. Estrin, the Chairperson of the OLP Board of Directors. So after doing my truly great posts on stress, I find Chere writing,

Article after article has been written about stress. It’s the same old, same old: manage your stress, have a plan, stay positive, visualize your last trip to Hawaii in the sun-soaked terrain, exercise daily and get regular hot rock massages. That, or have a glass of good merlot, get in the bathtub with lots of Evelyn & Crabtree and listen to old Doris Day songs. I don’t know where some of these authors get this stuff, except to say that they must live in Dreamland, somewhere east of here. Have they ever worked in a law firm?”

Of course, she’s not the only one noting the particular stress of working in a law office as readers of Paralegal Hell are already aware.  But as usual Chere goes well beyond such observations and provides invaluable insight.

Normally I might just post a link to her article, but I fear that some readers might feel my ability to accurately judge Chere’s insight has been unduly influenced by the wonderful things she said about Working with the Elder Client. So I am going to take a minute or two to cull out some of that insight in hopes that you’ll follow the link and read the whole article. Then you can judge for yourself.

First, Chere dispels some of the foremost myths about stress:

Myth #1: Stress is normal for anyone working in the legal community.
Myth #2: Stress is caused by working too much.
Myth #3: Stress is cured by working fewer hours.
Myth #4: Stress is cured by working more.
Myth #5: Stress is cured by focusing on stress.

Then Chere gets to the truth about stress:

Work does not give you stress. Feeling bad about work gives you stress. This means that changing your work hours, responsibilities, priorities or work environment is meaningless, unless it also changes the way you feel at work. Those stress management courses will not do the trick either, unless they can achieve just that.

Fortunately, she ultimately seems to agree with me (which does have something to do with why I think her insight is invaluable):

Most common sources of stress for legal professionals undefined deadlines, lack of control over time, difficult clients, escalating intensity, no margin for error – are outside of a paralegal’s personal control.  What truly determines how much stress these circumstances cause paralegals is the degree to which these “givens” are perceived or interpreted as threatening. Any perceived threat – real or not – triggers our body’s “fight-or-flight response.” Over time, it is possible to modify how your body reacts by paying attention to how you perceive situations as threatening. Ask yourself whether an issue really justifies your current reaction to it – or, whether or not it will matter at all a month later. Practiced regularly, you can keep matters in perspective so that stress is relative to the importance of the situation.

In the end the one thing anyone can control is how they manage the things they can’t control! Anyway, take a few minutes and read the whole article here.

Paralegal Stress

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

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.

No one said it would be easy…

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

but no one said it would be this hard. (My apologies to Sheryl Crow ):

In what is characterized as an emotional appeal a Colorado Springs D.A. plead for more money to run his office including $58,302 for a second paralegal in the special victims unit, noting inter alia, “. The unit’s only paralegal juggles 390 cases at once for six attorneys, prepares for trials, lines up witnesses, files motions and tracks court schedules.”

Many paralegals experience a great deal of stress at work.  I like to use this video to illustrate the way may feel at the end of a typical day. The professional paralegal can and does learn how to minimize the stress through time, file, docket, client and attorney management techniques. In the end, though, it doesn’t hurt to have sound stress management techniques among the arrows in your quiver.

Note: As an attorney I suffer from “Latin Phrases Disorder.” We depend on paralegals to understand us when we use terms like “inter alia, ” but not to use them yourselves. Someone has to be able to speak English to the clients.

Note 2:  If one of you knows how to embed youtube videos into a blog post, please take a few moments to instruct me. You can leave a comment or email me at

Note 3: Here’s a link to Sheryl Crow doing “No One Said It Would Be Easy” in concert.