After 15 years of being a paralegal and, no doubt, enjoying what I do, it’s time to move on.
Wanting more has always been a part of who I am. That’s what brought me here, to where I am today.
I started in this industry as a file clerk and quickly moved up to legal secretary. I remember not even knowing the difference between a complaint and a motion. Heck I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a motion. I remember my first attorney sitting me down in his office with a Special Civil Part Complaint and a Superior Court Complaint and explaining the basic differences to me so that I would be able to file these documents properly. I remember reading interrogatories and the New Jersey Court Rules just so I could move out of the file room quickly. At that time all I wanted was to be a legal secretary. That was my goal and I was determined to work day and night to make that happen.
As a legal secretary, I remember looking and “studying” every motion I could find in each file. I didn’t just type and take dictation. I wanted to know how to draft the motions and when to draft the motions. When I felt comfortable that I would be able to do prepare a motion on my own I remember asking my attorney, at that time a different attorney, if he would mind my drafting the whole thing for his review. I learned when it was appropriate to file motions and what type of motion was required. Today these all seem so intuitive, however at that time I remember being scared of failing.
When the firm I was with refused to promote me from legal secretary to paralegal I was determined to find a firm that would hire me as a paralegal. Within a year I was working at a different firm as a paralegal. I missed my old firm and hated the new one I joined. But I was not going back as a secretary. I wanted them to accept me as a paralegal. It took a little convincing and lots of meetings with the partners and HR. Eventually they took me back.
My goals were never to make more money. Money was not and still is not my primary motivator. Don’t get me wrong, money is a motivator but not the most important motivator in my life. *Keep in mind that if you’re looking to hire me you still have to pay me hahaha. I’m not totally crazy yet.
So for over twelve years I worked in law firms where I learned all I could. Took on additional assignments. Some came with some glory and some did not. I won some battles and lost some. I made friends and I’m sure some enemies. I left some firms for others where learning was encouraged and was laid off from one (I really liked that firm. It still hurts to think about it).
Three years ago I found myself at a cross-road. I enjoyed the cases I was assigned, I worked with one of the most respected attorneys in the firm and I was sought out by other attorneys. There was nothing wrong with that firm. There was something missing, however. I had stopped learning. The cases and the work was no longer challenging and I felt I had nothing else to learn. I began to think of my next move.
I had never done anything with finance. I would live to learn about it. Learn about what makes our financial system work. So I began looking for a position in the financial industry. Without experience, but armed with my curiosity for the new adventure I was offered a position and began working for one of the largest custody banks in the US. I threw myself into my work. I arrived at work at 7:30 am and I was always the last one to leave. Within 2 years I was promoted to paralegal supervisor.
Currently I am still at this bank. I handle a full work load and supervise seven paralegals soon to supervise one or two in another state (I still don’t know how I’m going to manage that). I still love what I do and I feel accomplished almost every day. Some days are an up-hill battle and some are easier. I love the people I work with. Every one is a joy and every one is very willing to help when the going gets tough. I can honestly say that we are a small family.
I have been at the Bank for the past 4 years and recently have been feeling that it may be time to try something different. Something that I have never done before. I feel as if I have reached the top of this mountain. The top of the paralegal mountain and although the view is amazing, I have no other mountains to climb. I don’t want to change employers. I like the Bank. So the next step is to change career paths. Leave the paralegal world behind and trust that what I leave behind will allow others to continue and prosper.
This weekend, I decided to begin studying for an MBA. To try my hand at a different area of the financial industry. I will still be here, for now, as a paralegal and, if my employer will have me, I will still be working with them and the paralegal team to make it better than we already are. But I will be looking for a different ending to this story.
I have truly enjoyed the journey and I hope you have to. I also hope you will join me in my new journey …. I’ll call it “From Paralegal to MBA.”
I hope you will travel with me.