In The Paralegal Society’s “social club,” which is hosted on LinkedIn, we decided to have a little fun one day (actually more like a week), and we compiled the following Paralegal Bills of Rights. We wanted to share it with all of you, so you are well-versed in all of your paralegal rights! Remember, as a paralegal, you have the right to…
1. To read the minds of attorneys for the power of all that is good in the legal kingdom.
2. The right to food, family and free time — so long as there isn’t a trial this month.
3. The right to a lunch break, so long as your attorney doesn’t have a deadline.
4. You have the right to utilize the scissors on your desk as a makeshift weapon, so long as you’re willing to do the jail time associated with said usage
5. The right to telepathically give supervising attorneys and clients the ability/suggestion to provide all the information/facts/paperwork needed to successfully draft documents.
6. The right to stamp the head of the supervising attorney or client with the “DRAFT” stamp if number 5 cannot be delivered.
7. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect by each member of your firm.
8. You have the right to help clients with difficult situations and in turn, an opportunity to earn their respect, trust and gratitude.
9. Pretty darn good pay, decent benefits and some great colleagues.
10. The right to be loomed over by your own, personal dark cloud a/k/a the keeper of the misery (we all know every office has one).
11. The right to an opinion or suggestion about a legal problem, so long as it is the same opinion or suggestion your attorney has about the situation.
12. The right to wonder “how did they DO this before computers??”
13. The right to answer your internal phone line on Fridays with: “The paralegal you have reached is no longer in service. If you feel you have reached this recording in error, hang up and wait until Monday.”
14. The right to mentally answer the incessantly ringing phone “Grand Central Station. Which train would you like? They all jumped the tracks!”
15. The right to tell a rude attorney: “By the power vested in me by the State of Sanity, I declare thee stupid and unruly. You may now kiss my…”
16. The right to always be asked about the one task you didn’t quite get around to performing yet.
17. The right to have an attorney (or three) fighting over who gets to use you today!
18. The right to a very fulfilling career.
19. The right to participate in pro bono work to make your resume stand out during your next job search.
20. The right to turn out work that meets or exceeds “the standard” each and every time.
21. The right to meet some of the best colleagues and develop relationships that you will carry with you for life.
22. The right to do 12 hours worth of work in an 8 hour work day…did I mention you get that right “every” day?
23. The right to help pull others along once you make it onto the paralegal mountain.
24. The right to remain silent when you are internally SCREAMING as though you are a tea kettle sitting on the surface of the sun!! I believe your last minute pleading is now “ready,” sir. Thank you for the opportunity to be of service.
25. The right to receive another rush assignment that was due yesterday on top of the [fill in the blank] assignments you are handling already.
26. The right to mentor.
27. The right to be mentored and advised on your career development.
28. The right to have a sounding board/a shoulder to cry when you are frustrated and can’t fulfill your Rights Nos. 1-27.
29. The right to call clients from your home, while enveloped in a blanket of illness, to make sure they arrive at their scheduled mediations (today).
30. The right to locate the missing document or file your boss cannot seem to locate on his own desk that are within an arm’s [his arm’s] reach.
31. The right to have the day off for opening day of baseball season….(if you’re lucky).
32. The right to have your attorney take the same week off year after year to go deer hunting.
33. The right to have your supervising attorney look at you like you’ve lost your freakin’ mind when you advise him that you will be utilizing one of those “fake” vacation days they give you for personal time!!
34. The right to be hospitalized without banker’s boxes and a lap top computer…even if they try to mix them in with a big bouquet of flowers and a nice greeting card.
35. The right to answer your phone “I’m sorry, but the paralegal you are attempting to reach is no longer available. Please try your call again later.”
36. The right to be promptly informed when a case you’ve worked on has settled…and not when the settlement check actually arrives at the office, but prior.
37. The right to use those valuable vacations days AS YOU DECIDE without having to answer calls from the office; alternatively – the right to leave your cell phone at home when on vacation!!
38. The right to know the outcome of the hearing for which you spent untold hours preparing the attorney and supplying appropriate documents, research, drafts, notebooks, etc.
39. The right to keep a four-gallon bottle of aspirin on your desk.
40. The right to answer your phone: “City Morgue, you kill ’em, we chill ’em.”
41. The right for professional training during the internship time period.(l know that in some offices it exists already as an informal right, but how about to make it an official rule for all law firms?). Just a thought.
42. The right for being more involved in different assignments as an intern.
43. The right to ask for a raise when the supervising attorney tells you how hard it was in the office while you were on vacation for a week
44. The right to listen to your supervising attorney tell you about how hard it was in the office while you were on vacation for a week….lol
45. The right to be treated as an equal and not be called incompetent and stupid. (Why yes, I have a bachelor’s degree and I worked my a** off to get it. I don’t have to be treated like this.)
46. The right not to hear about your divorce client’s sex life – every day when they call.
47. The right to make a run to the nearest store for a “chocolate fix!”
48. The right to NOT be hit on by your client’s wife, while being deposed.
49. The right not to be left at court with the client to talk to the judge about the case by your attorney because “it’s family court” and he doesn’t like family court.
50. The right to walk in the rain to pull your Mustang around while 2 attorneys (wearing Armani suits that apparently disintegrate when wet) wait under a nearby cafe awning.
51. The right to have your attorneys’ poor planning become YOUR emergency!”
52. The right to remake ALL of the exhibit binders when you don’t really look at the first one I give you and decide they are not quite right after they are ALL DONE…all 12 of them. [insert paralegal slamming head down on desk here]
53. The right to be the legal equivalent of a ninja — minus the weird mask.
54. The right to make someone you come into contact with a “special success project” as your own, personal way of giving back to the legal community at large.
55. The right for your boss to act as though a limb has been severed from his body when you are out of the office (for any reason).
56. The right to know exactly where every attorney and/or file is at any particular moment. I’m voting for a smartphone app that operates like the Marauder’s Map.
57. The right to an hour long lunch break with no job-related requests asked of you during that hour.
58. The right to know exactly where the document your attorney needs is located (within the multiple bankers boxes) during trial so your attorney can prove a witness is lying.
59. The right to have your attorney’s calendar linked to your smartphone.
60. The right to impress opposing counsel during a meeting at their office when your attorney asks you what his schedule is like on Monday and you look it up on your smartphone.
61. The right to gain a client’s trust when they have to talk to you instead of the attorney (who is busy) and you can answer their exact question.
62. The right to say, “No, I don’t want to work on that case that smells like a dead fish. Give it to another paralegal.” Oh that’s right, I’m the only paralegal working here.
63. The right to have forgotten my “Kreskin the Amazing” hat, and know, like everyone in the office, that my Partner goes to Florida every year, the same week, after Christmas, and that even though it is not on his calendar, I should have instinctively known not to schedule a mediation for that week.
64. The right to join The Paralegal Society and help other paralegals on their journeys (and in turn, myself) by contributing, writing, networking, sharing, helping, e-mailing, mingling and interacting with my fellow paralegals!!
65. And last, but certainly not least, the right to share this Bill of Rights with all of the paralegals you know!
A special thank you to each and every one of our “social club” members that participated in the creation of this fun (and very accurate) Paralegal Bill of Rights. We think we did a pretty great job with it, don’t you? Do you think we missed one? If so, please feel free to leave your addition to The Paralegal Bill of Rights via a comment. We’d love to hear it…