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Jamie Collins

By: Jamie Collins

Happy High Heel Friday, TPS Nation! We’re hoping you get a good chuckle out of today’s post, which features a little paralegal humor. What more could one ask for on a Friday? (Well…besides a pay raise, trip to the day spa (or cool event for your fellas), an extended lunch break, extra week of vacation, live-in chef, on-call masseuse, personal trainer & make-up artist, and an early dismissal into the most fabulous, Freedom Movement otherwise known as the weekend?!) Just doing our small part to put smiles on a few paralegal faces!

Enjoy…

What to wear to an induction day at a law firm

Hmmm. Induction day? First off, what the heck is that? I’m guessing maybe this comes standard with that darn “fuzzy, paralegal robe” discussed in our last paralegal humor post. Did I miss a major milestone in my career with this whole law firm induction day thing? One complete with smiling attorneys, fanning their paralegals with makeshift fans crafted of intricately folded pleadings, trails of chocolate bars lining the hallway, a smiley face trophy, and a big celebration to indicate my induction into the land of legal and first event in the big, paralegal games?

Okay, okay, I get it. I think you mean your first day on the job. In that case, you should either wear a nice suit or at a minimum, a nice pair of dress pants (or skirt for you ladies) and a formal, button down shirt or something that is absolutely professional and business appropriate. Do not be flashy, do not be casual, do not wear too much perfume/cologne or jewelry, and no open toed shoes for you peep toed ladies out there. The impression you are trying to make here is “I fit in” not “one of these things is not like the other,” unless, of course, you’re dawning a full-on, awe inspiring suit, and taking the law firm attire to a whole new level! It’s best to tread cautiously when entering the shark tank…I mean law firm. You can then look around (apparently after the big, law firm induction day ceremony) to see how all the other paralegals dress and follow suit…or even set a better standard by actually wearing a suit – your choice!

Note to self: The success train typically picks up those adhering to the higher standard! Goal is to avoid the runway of shame. Need additional advice on that? Go read “Welcome to The Club…I Mean Your Law Firm,” posted on TPS. Actually not a bad read if you’re looking for a little entertainment, either. (Probably not one of my more subdued writing moments, to say the least!)

Is paralegal right for me quiz?

Okay, I’ll play along. You want a quiz, eh? Here goes…

1.  Do you work well under pressure?

2.  Let me rephrase that, do you work well under pressure, as in piled knee deep in papers and short on time, with a stressed out attorney (or three) peering down at you like the alpha male in a pack of hungry wolves, fighting over a can of Alpo? Oh – and you get to type in front of him while he speaks aloud, somewhat like a legal auctioneer, telling you what to type, speaking so fast it’s nearly impossible to keep up regardless of how fast you type, all the while, simultaneously being reminded of the 5 other mission impossible projects you need to accomplish today, and being told about a call holding on line 1, that the receptionist is running to the restroom so you need to cover the phones, and your other boss needed a file 5 minutes ago – can you grab it now..oh, and yes…he’s still speaking aloud…telling you what to type. Fun one! Is this you? You might be a paralegal!

3.  Do you enjoy a challenge? Ba ha ha. That was putting it mildly. Are you into performing miracles on a daily basis, day-in and day-out, while eating, typing, and talking simultaneously, instilling confidence in your attorney that you’re “da man” or “da woman” and you will get said impossible task done (no problem-o), all the while breathing chaos as the phone rings like you’re front and center in a top-ranking, telemarketing call center nightmare during a legal sell-a-thon, with people running around through your periphery in the halls, here and there and everywhere, much like you’ve unassumingly wandered into Grand Central Station an insane asylum? You into it? You might be a paralegal!

Think we’ve done that one sufficient justice. Did you pass the quiz???

Basic questions paralegal can ask

1.  Do you want this now or twenty minutes ago? (in case you were wondering – it’s always the latter)

2.  Lunch break…what’s that?

3.  How many days can I contemplate eating Jimmy Johns or gut stretching pizza delivered deskside consecutively before I leap? (hee hee) Anyone looking for a valid business venture? I’m so serious. Here’s your million dollar idea: Come up with a place that actually delivers sandwiches that are not subs, and a lovely array of salads, and soups, deskside. I’ll send 375,000 hungry paralegals (stomaches growling, clutching telephone receivers tightly, and ready to wrap that cord) your way!

There’s your million dollar idea – save the desk bound.

4.  Did I do that one thing that you totally never asked me to do or hinted around to? (Absolutely…I’m a paralegal! Paralegaling via the Kreskin method – my favorite!!)

5.  No, seriously…I’m taking my one week vacation…remember, I told you about it 6 months ago…the same time of year I always take it….I have 3 weeks of vacation….the year is almost over…I haven’t went on vacation yet…I really want to spend time with my family at the beach/cabin/condo/amusement park/anywhere but here…is that okay??? (Ha. In the name of paralegal unity, raise your hand if you heard this one in the past calendar year, paralegals! Ha. It looks like we just did a law firm version of “the wave”.)

What do you wear as a paralegal degree

A frame? Is this a trick question? Seriously…what else would a paralegal degree wear? You either shove it into the desk drawer, just beneath the dragon you need to slay…I mean desk you need to clean (with the multitude of soy sauce packets, expired coupons, and 3 year old phone book) never to be seen again…or it wears a frame! Mystery solved. That’ll be $105.00 for this brilliant response, plus $20 for a frame, Mr. Google.

Defining business casual shorts for women for dummies

Now, I don’t claim to be a fashion guru or anything, but it’s typically best to over, rather than under dress when you encounter these types of situations. Remember that elementary school rule about your shorts or skirt being at finger tip level when you put your arms down onto your legs? Probably not a bad rule to adhere to when clouded with uncertainty in the “what’s appropriate” department (plus or minus about an inch). Why can’t every employee working within the confines of a law firm comply with this simple, fundamental, grade school, fashion rule? I’m not sure, but you’ll see hemlines rising up like the sun, at high noon, during a solar eclipe if you look around the land of legal. Finger tip length (give or take about an inch, people). Any shorter than that and you’re entering the land of micro, as far as the land of business is concerned. Seriously. You’ll probably also want to avoid denim shorts, until you determine whether jean attire is acceptable for this super awesome, short wearing, business-casual event (for dummies).

Legal secretary rude to paralegal

Sound the alarm! Code blue…we have a dark cloud sighting! We really have no idea what’s wrong with this person (I mean people…the “Keepers of the Misery,” scattered here and there, and everywhere, all across Paralegal Nation intent on making us all miserable and uncomfortable in our happy, little, work worlds.) Perhaps she’s insecure, feels inferior, hates people, needs to eat, sleep, exercise, shop, go to church, make a friend, date, attend counseling, accomplish something worthwhile  (there’s a novel idea) or work to develop some form of human decency. I have no idea. Although the latter is definitely spot on. What I can tell you is: Welcome to the outer rung of hell. Okay, that was a joke. In all seriousness, there is probably nothing you can do to convert this dark cloud into the land of normalcy and happiness. They dwell in misery, dragging us into their wretched,  annoying trenches as we attempt to wade through the piles of papers, problems, and opportunties that surround us. Smile and carry on, paralegal soldier. Her day will come. Don’t let that “Keeper of the Misery” keep you down. Keep on, keepin’ on.

Where do old paralegals go

Um, after thinking through this one very briefly, I’m ready to do the big reveal. Think destination beaches, sunshine and flowers in your hair (or wife/girlfriend’s hair, for you fellas), sipping a cocktail (alcoholic or non-alcoholic, your choice) in a lounge chair, with your 10 pigs (the ones that went to the market) swirling in the sand, and head tilted back to absorb rays in a state of absolute paralegal euphoria! Hawaii! Yep, that’s right. I’m pretty sure this is where old paralegals go…or at least I’d like to think that’s the case. Hear that boss? When you retire (and I’ve helped you to make a bigillion dollars, quite literally), I’m gonna need that one-way ticket to Hawaii! Forget the 401K, give me the plane ticket and condo!!

First day as a paralegal – what to expect

Ha. Buckle up, my friend, buckle up. It’s going to be complete chaos, and I mean that in the most honest and respectful way possible. It’s just a part of the big induction discussed previously. You will likely sit at your desk and wonder if you are at all prepared to handle the job, and if you know anything (at all) about what needs to be accomplished. Take a deep breath. This is completely normal. The chaos swirling around you is what paralegals learn to breath in place of oxygen. We’d wither and die without it.

You will ask intelligent questions, seek out a friendly paralegal, and learn it. You will learn how to breathe in the chaos, and in turn, to expel calmness into the space around you. This is a coveted paralegal trait. Just remember, if it wasn’t such a difficult job, they wouldn’t be paying you the big bucks! (And if they aren’t yet paying you the big bucks, via the breathe/stress/expel/calm method, you will one day earn you way into the higher priced seats of the paralegal stadium that do pay the big bucks, so take a deep breath, ask intelligent questions, seek out a friendly paralegal and learn it!) Good luck on your big, induction day, paralegal newbies!

Attorney wants me to watch

Feel like I’m playing a riddle game right now. Attorney wants me to watch?

His back! Yep, at all times. Much like a member of the Royal British Guard hired to tirelessly guard Buckingham Palace and the Queen of England – only tireless may be a bit of a tall order some days, and in lieu of the Queen of England it’s an esquire for the oh-so-coveted, elite, legal system. You will stand guard day and night, without fail. My brother is a Marine and he once told me about “fire watch” duty. For those of you who don’t know, let me explain what that is. That’s where one lucky Marine who is selected to be on “fire watch” stays awake the entire night, standing guard, to notice if the place should catch on fire – get it – fire watch. Ha ha.  (No, they don’t fight over that particular duty).

Now, hopefully you’ll be at home asleep at night (at least most nights – my sincere condolences, trial paralegals), and won’t find yourself on that super awesome “legal fire watch,” but I can assure you there will be many moments when you will have an instantaneous onset of paralegal panic while attempting to fall asleep, shower or drive in your car. Moments when that ominous thought creeps into your mind and you find yourself asking yourself: Did I fail to comply with said mission numero uno, to watch the attorneys back…at all times? Did I mess something up? Forget to enclose enough copies? Forget to add postage? Continue that hearing? Calendar that correctly? Add a sufficient reminder? Call the client? Miss a deadline? Mail that out? See what a fun thinking exercise this is? Yep, paralegal panic.

Repeat after me: the attorney wants me to watch: His backat all times.

Do I win the riddle game? I think so. Send the box of paralegal induction chocolate bars my way, people.

Bobby Knight where are you

Ha ha ha.  Well, if he was in the room with you, you’d certainly know it, wouldn’t you??? Yep, red-faced, screaming, and all. No clue where he is, but when you find him, you’ll know!

Happy paralegal blog

Welcome to The Paralegal Society – you found ‘em! No, seriously – you did. That’s us…happy paralegals. (And when we aren’t happy we’re ranting…so be sure to check that page out, too! It’s the TPS sanity line located above under “the rant.”)

TPS = happy paralegals! Woo hoo! Smiles and happiness all round (even if we are on “fire watch” and buried knee deep in pleadings…)

Being a paralegal sucks

Sounds like this searcher gets an A+ and gold star for passion in their chosen career field – not! Here’s the thing, parts of the job do suck, we’re not gonna lie. However, overall, on the days when we haven’t breathed too much chaos and clamored up onto our window sills, it’s pretty darn good. Most paralegals really love what they do. It’s a chosen niche, but not for everyone. If you don’t love it, chasos and all, perhaps it’s not for you. Maybe your lungs aren’t equipped with that chaos processing sensor to assist you in expelling the calm. Just be sure you don’t ask me to respond to this one on a day where I’m peering over my window ledge, contemplating the leap to freedom. Ha ha.

It does not suck. It really doesn’t…most days.

The true story of George the paralegal

OMG. See what I mean? Who in the world is this George fella and why do people keep looking for him? Seriously? Anyone? George? We really need a paralegal named George (or one of the many searchers) to step up and solve this ongoing TPS searcher mystery that is making me C-R-A-Z-Y. George? You out there? Give us a shout out…

How should a paralegal dress for a witness interview

The same way I told you to dress for your big induction day! Only, you really should probably wear a suit if you own one.  If you don’t own one, you really need to work to get one. Here’s a two-way equation to help you out:

You = Suit = Job = $$$

You = Work = $$$ = More Suits

See how that works??? Think Kohls, JC Penny’s or Steinmart for $60-100. If you’re really lucky, you can get one of those soul-sucking, silk-lined, designer pantsuits.  (Want an extra chuckle? See my rant on silk-lined pantsuits located at the bottom of “the rant” page! Trial side inspiration for your reading pleasure. Silk…love it!)

Men – be sure to wear a nice suit and yes, that tie is a requirement. You should also select a nice pair of socks, as well as a sharp belt and shoes that match. If you have cufflinks, wear ’em! And please be sure to get that tie tied to the proper length, even if you find yourself in the midst of a tie tying marathon the evening before your big interview. That cool little point at the bottom of your tie should be touching near the top of your belt line (not hanging well below it, and certainly not hovering above it!) This is one area where many men falter. What can I say…my dad sold suits at one point. While I may be a female, I certainly heard about all of the formal, fashion rules for fellas over the years.

Want another one? Never (ever) button the bottom button on your sport jacket or suit coat! If you sit down, you should unbutton the coat altogether prior to doing so. Now, I know most of you out there are probably already aware of these major, male, fashion faux pas, but if this is new information for you – take stock in it! Rock your business appropriate attire loud and proud, fellas!

What is the easiest way to enter into the paralegal field

We’d recommend through the doors of a law firm! You could try to go all commando, like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, through a window while wearing a harness and wires, but likely, not the most respectable and normal approach for entry.

Okay, real answer? You need to earn a certificate or degree from a reputable (I repeat, reputable) institution or connect with the right people who may be able to help you gain entry. You can seek certification through one of the national groups or if you’re in Florida, North Carolina (and perhaps some other states I missed), certification through your home state.

We also recommend joining paralegal associations (locally and nationally), checking out webinars, seminars and any books or online materials you can get your hands on! Join LinkedIn, subscribe to blogs, subscribe to magazines, mingle, meet some people, make meaningful connections, and for the love of all that is legal…please do not attempt to stalk people solely with the overtly aggressive intent of finding a job. They’ll see you coming from a mile off. You will reek of desperation. Networking is about meeting people, not begging for favors from strangers who do not know you, nor care about your demise (at least not yet). Befriend first, ask later. And remember, all you need is one “yes” in a swirling sea of “nos.” Even if they can’t help you land a job, you’ll land some pretty cool, virtual friends along the way.

How to defuse a passive aggressive person

Okay, upon first seeing this search term, I admit that my initial thought was “um, you spelled diffuse wrong, but I know what you mean…” then, I realized this searcher didn’t get it wrong at all! In fact, they couldn’t be more right!!! Here’s the thing. It’s darn near impossible to “diffuse” a passive-aggressive person. You ever tried? Impossible, I tell ya. But I’ve never actually tried to “defuse” one. That’s the ticket! Just need to attempt to remove that passive aggressor’s “fuse” to end all of the nonsense from the dark cloud/keeper of the misery/evil doer in your law firm. Defuse…not diffuse, Paralegal Nation! I can’t believe we didn’t think of this sooner. Kudos to you Mr. Searcher. Very impressive. De-fuse. Who knew? (I’d love to stay and chat, but I’m off in search of a fuse…)

Assistant clean desk

Okay, here’s the thing, the assistant cleaning a desk will be – you ready for this one???

You!

Yep, the desk will be an attorney’s, and the assistant cleaning it will be — you! Sounds super fun and exciting right? A day in the life of a paralegal. Take it all in, folks. Bask in it. (Just pretend those florescent bulbs beaming down on you, as you clean said chaotic and unorganized desk, are little rays of sunshine…and for you “old paralegals” referenced previously herein…the sunshine of HAWAII!!!! Go you!)

Book the plane and condo…I’m outta here!

We’ll see you on Monday with a really interesting article on dating & interviewing, and what they have in common. More than you think! You won’t want to miss it.

T.G.I.F. Let the Freedom Movement commence.