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******* Our 3rd Place Winner *******
TPS Writing Contest – Envy/The Brick Wall

Angela Masciulli, CP, MPS

Angela M's photoWe’re pleased to announce the 3rd Place Winner of our writing contest – Angela Masciulli, a hard working paralegal from the Washington, D.C. metro area with more than a decade of experience!

We’d like to thank all of the folks out there in paralegal land who entered our second writing contest on the topics of Envy and The Brick Wall! We thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the submissions. We must admit, it was a wee bit of a challenge to reach a consensus regarding our Top 3 winners, but an enthralling, nationwide game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” did the trick. (Okay, not really…but it really was a challenge).

As promised, we will be featuring our top three winners in reverse order in much the same fashion as a Miss. America pageant to build a little excitement for the big unveiling of our ultra fabulous, 1st Place “Grand Prize Winner.” We will then post all of our honorable mentions, in no particular order. We hope you enjoy reading these pieces as much as we did!  Now go read Angela’s winning submission…

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Envy is usually a secret. We often keep to ourselves the ugly feelings we have when we observe someone who has something we desperately want. One can be particularly susceptible to envy in a new, uncomfortable situation like a first job. I know. I have been there. I have done that and I have the green t-shirt to prove it. Envy is often a negative emotion, but it can be used positively too, as I discovered as a new paralegal.

I was was thrilled when I was hired as a paralegal a month after college graduation. I felt important wearing a suit to work in a skyscraper. When the head of human resources escorted me to my very own desk, I felt like I had won a new car. Endless office supplies and free coffee were an added bonus. Excitement soon turned to envy, though, when I met the paralegal I was hired to replace.

The paralegal I was about to replace was accepted to an elite law school. The soon-to-be law student trained me with confidence in his legal knowledge and demonstrated each of my new tasks with ease. He seemed to know everyone at the firm, laughed at inside jokes I did not understand, and most importantly, our boss respected him. My bubble of confidence after completing four long years at a respected university was deflated. I found myself in a world where I knew nothing and no one. I wanted experience. I wanted knowledge. I wanted inside jokes. I wanted my boss to trust me as a paralegal. I wanted not to be new.

I could not imagine it in the summer of 1998, but I would one day earn all that I envied as a new paralegal. First, I had to pay my dues. I had to gain my own experience through countless overtime hours, last-minute courthouse runs, some mistakes, but even more victories, a certification exam, and numerous late nights to complete a master’s degree. I have come so far, and have further to go. Understanding a few things before I was hired would have made me less envious and more prepared.

Foremost, paralegal assignments done correctly is hard work. Law is complex and takes years to begin to master. Even if you are a quick learner, it takes time. Second, little room exists for mistakes. One small mistake can have dire consequences for paralegals, but especially attorneys. It is most often the reason attorneys are so tense. Be familiar with paralegal and attorney professional and ethical obligations. You must earn trust as a paralegal and sometimes you are only as good as your last mistake. It takes years of hard work and dedication to be a good paralegal, but it is achievable.

Once you are prepared for hard work and conscientiousness, observe and learn all that you can. Use envy as inspiration to build a career, not resentment. Decide what career path suits you and work toward that path. I envied certified paralegals, so certification became a goal and a reality. I envied paralegals who did not have a billable hour requirement, so I landed an in-house paralegal position without billable hours. I envied paralegals with advanced degrees, so I applied to a paralegal master’s program and now I am within weeks of completion. I now envy my own resume, but I still use envy (without resentment) to set new goals.

The envy that I felt shortly as a new paralegal denied the hard work and dedication necessary to be a respected, experienced paralegal. I wanted the gain without the pain. No longer keeping envy a secret helps me realize I made my own path to envy. Each paralegal’s path varies, but what does not vary is that it is paved with hard work. In the end, though, we should all envy hard work because that is how we learn and grow as professionals, and ultimately as individuals.

Angela Masciulli is a certified paralegal with more than a decade of litigation experience.  She will complete her Master’s in Professional Studies at The George Washington University College of Professional Studies, Paralegal Studies Program, in August 2014.

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We’d like to say CONGRATULATIONS to Angela! We’ll be featuring our 2nd Place Winner in our next post, so be on the lookout, TPS readers!

We’ll see you soon.