Posts Tagged ‘work management’

Is being a paralegal stressful?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

A recent viewer of this blog was brought here by the search, “Is being a paralegal stressful?” The search also brought the viewer to a number of forums and other discussions indicating that it can be, and often is -even to the extent of causing some practitioners to abandon the career. I hope, though, that the searcher read far enough to understand that being a paralegal need not be excessively stressful. Certainly there are aspects of the job that can lead to “paralegal unhappy.” While stress cannot be eliminated from any profession, it can be managed making the rewards of the profession far outweigh the stress toll.

The key is to manage your work and your career, rather than let them manage you. As is often stated here and explained in The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient and Professional:

  • The effective, empowered paralegal manages time well. Generally, a lawyer sells legal services, rather than a product. The value of those services is measured by the amount of time spent fulfilling a client’s legal needs. It is essential, therefore, that both the paralegal and the attorney organize themselves and their time to maximize efficiency. In addition, they must keep track of, and bill for, their time in a way that makes sense for the law office and the clients.
    • The effective, empowered paralegal manages the calendar well. Missed deadlines result in dissatisfied clients, malpractice claims, and attorney disciplinary procedures. It is essential that both the attorney and the paralegal be aware of upcoming deadlines and have a system in place to meet those deadlines without last-minute pressures that increase the likelihood of mistakes.
    • The effective, empowered paralegal manages files well. The best crafted deeds, contracts, wills and pleadings are worthless if they cannot be found when needed. None of them can even be created if the necessary information cannot be located in a timely manner, or was never obtained in the first place. It is essential that the both the paralegal and the attorney have a system in place, and use that system, for organizing, identifying, indexing and tracking files and the materials contained in the files.
    • The effective, empowered paralegal manages clients well. The client is part of the legal team. Without the client there is no need for either the paralegal or the attorney and no money to fund the law office. However, the client is the member of the team who knows least about the law and her role in the team. It is essential that the paralegal and the attorney keep the client informed about what is being done for her and why, and what she needs to do for the outcome to be successful.
    • The effective, empowered paralegal manages the paralegal’s relationship with the attorney well within the legal team. Both the paralegal and attorney must know, and respect, their roles and those of the other; their abilities and those of the other. It is essential that the paralegal understand what the attorney expects of him and the attorney understand what the paralegal can and cannot do for her.
    • The effective, empowered paralegal knows and applies the principles of professionalism and thereby gains recognition of his status as a professional.

    In addition, it is possible to manage happiness. (See Planning for Happiness: The Happiness Project Finally, keep in mind the role of humor and a sense of humor in managing stress. Depending on your sense of humor, you may find some help with Paralegals on Trialor in Paralegal Hell,or both. I’d be interested in hearing of other sites and other ways paralegals work humor into their days.

    Delegating your way to effective time management

    Sunday, February 28th, 2010

    As discussed in The Empowered Paralegal, time and work management requires analyzing the work you do and the way you use your time to do it. Once the work is analyzed, it can be prioritized and managed. Sometimes tasks are best managed by being eliminated.  (Yes, some of what you are doing may simply be a waste of time with no real purpose. It only feels like most of it is.) Often, tasks are best managed by being delegated to others, even if this means convincing your employer to higher an “other” such as a high school student willing to do filing after school for a couple of hours. Delegation only works, however, if done properly.

    All this is just a lead-in to an article you should read by Vicki Voisin, The Paralegal Mentor. It appears in the most recent issue of her newsletter, “Paralegal Strategies.” Vicki not only lists, but explains, five important steps to successful delegation. Here are the steps:

    1. Plan.

    2. Decide to whom you’re delegating.

    3. Give clear directions.

    4. Follow Up.

    5. Reward success.

    Head over to and sign up for the “Paralegal Strategies” newsletter for the full article.