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By: Jennifer MacDonnell
“Most of us have trouble juggling. The woman who says she doesn’t is someone whom I admire, but have never met.” ~ Barbara Walters
It is officially 2013. A brand new year boasting renewed horizons, and to help you conquer the new year, a prolific amount of self-help articles. How to be more organized. How to be more productive. How to have a social life. How to drink your coffee in the morning. Seriously?
Many of you know, I am a new mom, and along with my shiny new mommy badge of honor, 2013 has bestowed some serious multi-tasking Paralegal lifestyle dilemmas. As a Paralegal, I consider myself a prime task juggler, but add a toddler into the mix…well, let’s just say this Paralegal has been frequenting (more than usual) the train station desperately grasping her one way ticket to Crazy Town.
The self-help articles, promising eager and definitive assistance to my task juggling dilemmas, should have provided me with a glint of hope in organizing my busy Paralegal lifestyle. Quite the opposite, my Paralegal friends. I desperately scanned article after article proclaiming guaranteed solutions that would seamlessly integrate into my Paralegal lifestyle. Frankly, I found myself shaking my head in utter disbelief. I swear, a majority of the suggestions were plucked from a superior, fantasy work environment, where Starbucks coffee is always hot and ready upon arrival, and copy jobs mysteriously land on your desk by morning.
All we really want are tried and true tips that are reality approved! So, just for your amusement, here are a couple of the self-help task juggling myths I found, paired with Paralegal tested, reality approved truths that will shed some certainty on your Paralegal day.
Myth #1: Never Check E-Mail in the Morning. This is by far one of the biggest myths, especially, in the Land of Law, where Paralegals rule the office, and Esquires conquer the court room.
Truth: So let’s rephrase that, “Never check personal email in the morning.” There is a huge difference. Nod with me people, and agree that Paralegals must check work email in the morning. Period. There is simply no way of averting this task. Although, personal emails can wait. Wait?! What?! Yes, in a virtual world where “Nomophobia” (the fear of being without a cell phone) is an actual anxiety condition, this will be difficult. Calm down. Breathe. I am not suggesting turning off your cell phone entirely. Just for one morning, don’t check your personal email (which is probably full of Facebook updates, LinkedIn messages, and Groupon alerts), and you will be more productive.
Myth #2: Always Take a Lunch Break. Wow. In what Legal Universe does this really happen? Please, take me to your leader (Esquire)!
Truth: Paralegals – Raise your hand if you actually take a break – not at your desk and not while working. This is a Paralegal’s reality. Yes, countless professionals outside the Legal Universe leisurely take lunch breaks outside the workplace. On the other hand, Paralegals choose to take a lunch break altogether different. First of all, Paralegals are hard wired to multi-task automatically. Second, not all Paralegals are provided with a staff of filing clerks or assistants to complete mundane responsibilities. Paralegals who rule the office not only take a lunch break, but we simultaneously respond to emails, revise pleadings, or research case law. Yes, this is a break. And you know what? Paralegals love it. We strive for mastering seamless multi-tasking. This is how we survive in the Legal Universe. This is how we lead into the next myth…
Myth #3: Leave Work on Time. Ha! Right, and don’t work weekends.
Truth: Esquires are notoriously famous for plopping a last minute project on a Paralegal’s desk at 4:45 p.m., on a Friday and requesting immediate action. Again, this is a Paralegal’s reality. Although, truth be told, and we would never admit it aloud, but Paralegals love the challenge of successfully conquering a project in a short amount of time. Seriously, we do. Plus, savvy Paralegals are keenly aware of their Esquire’s proverbial pulse on looming deadlines or problematic cases, therefore we are always prepared to stay late. We typically have a back-up plan for our back-up plan, and Paralegals never count on leaving work on time. Instead, we remain consistent in our work product output and steadfast in our endeavor to rule the office so that Esquires can continually conquer the court room.
In short, yes, Paralegals are an extraordinary subclass of legal professionals. We do not fit the standardized mold carved out in self-help articles for everyday working professionals. Although, this does not mean that the Legal Universe is exempt from needing a little support, or perhaps some truthful insight into the Paralegal lifestyle. I challenge you, the dedicated members of the Paralegal profession. Break the myth of the common working class cliché and share your own, Paralegal tested, reality approved tips, tricks, and experiences. The Paralegal profession needs you!
How great was this article? Three words: Love. It. Jenn. (And we never met the lady mentioned by Barbara Walters either!)
If you have any additional paralegal tested, reality approved tips to add, feel free to share ‘em here – on the paralegal playground! Lord knows we could use all the help we can get while perched desk-side, multi-tasking, as we sift through piles of papers, fending off constant interruptions, and attempting to consume just enough calories to remain legally viable, while eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Starbucks barista and copy delivery girl. We are so down.
We’ll see you next week! Until then, have fun juggling, and keep it real.