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By: Bobbie Shake

Welcome back, TPS readers! Thanks for stopping by on this celebratory paralegal holiday otherwise known as “Happy High Heel Friday” to swap a few war stories from the paralegal chest. Read Bobbie’s story, and feel free to share an organizational tip or story of your own. We’re all ears! 

(Is it just me or does the hamster below look about as glazed over as some of us feel after sprinting yet another breathless week through the legal gauntlet?)

Assisting in a trial several years ago, I watched opposing counsel dig through his box of files to locate the one document he needed to continue with his line of questioning. While we waited for him to locate this document, I could not help but think that he looked like a hamster I owned as a child. Each time I fed my hamster, she would hide pieces of food all over her cage. A couple of days later, she would frantically dig through several little mounds of pine shavings before finding the treat she desired. Her rummaging would often leave the cage a bigger mess than it was before.

While we cannot teach a hamster the importance of organization, we can learn a valuable lesson. The attorney eventually found the document he needed, but he emerged flustered, his file a mess, and completely distracted from his initial thought process. I could not help but wonder if his lack of organization impacted the jury’s perception of the attorney and his argument? I will never really know the answer to that question, but what I do know is that an organized file will play a key role in the success of the case.

It is the responsibility of the paralegal to review, categorize and file each document appropriately. There are several ways to successfully organize a file. I choose to begin my file organization with the following four categories: Pleadings, Correspondence, Exhibits, and Notes. Once each document is chronologically classified into one of these categories, specific sub-files and an index can be created for each.

Whatever your method, keep it understandable and organized. Don’t be a hamster!

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Have a humorous tale to tell? We’d sure love to hear it.  

Don’t be a hamster! But do hop back onto that wheel, TPS readers – you’ve got approximately 8 hours to diffuse deadlines, locate your sanity, secure enough desk-side calories to remain viable, and spin those papyrus shavings into a work of brilliance! (Speaking of hamsters and trials, the TPS Founder will be making her way back into the courtroom for a jury trial on Monday. You better believe she’s busy organizing the legal cage).

We hope to see you on Monday; sanity permitting. Have an absolutely fantastic weekend!