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Jamie Collins

By: Jamie Collins, ESP

I’ve contemplated writing this particular post for several weeks now. I’ll occasionally read a comment or pass by a particular conversation string on a LinkedIn paralegal forum and it brings these brilliant (okay, I’m pretending they’re brilliant…just go with it) ideas to the forefront of my paralegal/blogger mind. I have a feeling today’s topic is going to make 90% of you go “woo hoo, right on, phenomenal idea – I’m all for it,” and the remaining 10% of you will find yourselves spontaneously immersed in a state of agitation…subtle at first…and then, likely festering into a full-blown annoyance tirade. Today, I’d like to propose a new designation – “The ESP.”

Now, I’m sure you’re already familiar with the CP, the RP, the CLA, the CRP, the FRP and the NCCP (please forgive me if I’m missing any others). However, I’d like to bring a new designation to the paralegal table today.  Please allow me to explain.

We’ve generated some comments from a few of our posts from paralegals who are downright irked, annoyed, and disturbed that many attorneys out there believe that their paralegals should possess the innate mindreading ability of ESP…yep, that’s right…extrasensory perception. Many paralegals completely balk at the idea.  They find it absurd that one human being (esquired or not) would expect another human being (brilliant paralegal or not) to read their freakin’ mind day in and day out, every time the wind blows, a file needs to be found, a letter needs to be sent somewhere, an important contact should be patched through, a meeting interrupted or a client needs to be called. Yet, nearly every attorney out there desires, prefers, and downright expects this ESP quality in their paralegals, though they may not specifically list it in a job ad. It is an unspoken rule, and an understanding which has become a living reality in the paralegal kingdom a/k/a your law firm and mine.    

I, personally, have never really been annoyed by this assumed notion that I can read attorneys’ minds. I’ve actually developed and honed my ESP powers, and admittedly, become pretty darn good at it; so good, in fact, that I might actually fool you into believing that I can actually read your mind — if you are my assigned esquire — that is. This elaborate ESP paralegal dog and pony show is strictly reserved for my assigned, supervising attorney(s) and my six year old son, Gavin.  Everyone else needs to express their vast array of wants, needs and personal expectations either verbally or in writing. Period. That’s the rule!  If you are not an esquire or my adorable, blonde-haired, dimple faced 6-year-old son — there will be no ESP!

The truth of the matter is, the paralegals who work to hone and develop their ESP skills are typically viewed as outstanding paralegals in the eyes of their assigned esquires. That is a fact. These ESP possessing paralegals and mind-reading ninjas quickly rise to the top at their firms, and often set the standard for paralegals in their law firm. Now, I’m not saying this super power can’t be a wee bit annoying at times. It certainly can be. We’ll chalk that up in the “been there, done that” column on our paralegal chart. There are certainly times when I’ve felt inclined to leap out of my fifth story window, which doesn’t open by the way…wonder why…they know better!  (Perhaps they have ESP too…) 

However, having worked for a busy entrepreneur and attorney at one point early on in my career, I quickly learned that I could hone my ESP skills to become the best paralegal he’d ever worked with and the best paralegal I’d ever been. There are days when it made me completely crazy to be expected to “magically” know what goes where, to whom, and how, and when and that a pleading was “all wrong,” which, in reality, meant that exactly 2 little words needed to be changed. But (and this is a BIG but), it really made me a stronger paralegal.  I became far more independent, observant, and confident. 

I learned that it was merely a matter of closely observing (okay, that was a nice way of putting it – I mean REALLY watch him – like a freakin hoot owl staring down at a field mouse kind of watching) to learn the where, and whom, and how, and when, and to manage to get those 2 words typed up correctly in that pleading I quazi bombed last time. It’s simply a matter of strategic and intentional observation of the subject (your esquire), and some mental note taking, and before you know it, you’re handing him (or her) his legal life on a silver platter, with a smile…even if it pains you.  That, my friends, is how you make your way into the high priced seats in the paralegal stadium.  That smile, at the end of any task, is what a good paralegal is all about.  It’s the exclamation point on a paralegal job well done.  Perhaps a famous general didn’t always smile while marching into battle and attempting to conquer a foreign land, but if he did, in fact, manage to conquer it, you bet your ass he had a smile on his face when the job was done…and so should you!

While I, too, have been annoyed by the expectation that I could harness ESP and use it for the powers of all that is good in the legal kingdom, it has certainly served me well thus far in my paralegal career. So, with all that being said, I’d like to propose “the ESP” as a new paralegal designation. What does ESP stand for?  I’m so glad you asked. It’s certainly not extrasensory perception…it’s something much more meaningful and important– Extra Special Paralegal!! And just in case you’re wondering what organization will endorse this particular paralegal designation, let me clear that up — it’s the School of Reality!!  

TPS readers, are you ready to flog me for writing this one? Are you in that 10%?  Do you agree with me on the powers of ESP in the paralegal world? Do you use ESP in your work life? (I admit that seems like a rhetorical question to a paralegal, but I’m asking it anyway). Do you feel you’ve earned your ESP designation?! I’d love to hear from you.