My turn to ask for help


yesterday was not a good day. Well it started out good, they always do and went down hill from there. At the end of the day, just as I was about to get out of the office, a pleading came in. There were two paralegals left in the office and I asked them both if they could please just do some quick research. (can’t really go into it).

Then it started…. One of them began to complain that she worked through lunch and she should have left the office at 4:30 and the only reason she was still in the office was because she was finishing something up. “why do I always get stuck with things when I should not have been here?”. I could not believe she was actually saying this. I turned around, took the pleading off her desk and told her to turn her computer off and go home. I’ll deal with it tomorrow, I thought. I went to the other one’s desk, mind you this paralegal #2 is completely swamped, and asked her if she could take this pleading and take care of responding to it.

She immediately looked at me and said “this is not fair, she complains and doesn’t have to do the work. When did I ever complain?”. It dawned on me that she was right. She never complains, about anything. This must have felt really unfair to her. I asked her to pack up and go home, it was already late, and told her we would talk the next day (today)

I could not sleep last night. I’ve been up forever. I made a decision to take that pleading and give it back to paralegal #1. It is after all part of her job and she should be handling it. I will have conversations with both of them today and explain that sometimes things aren’t fair but, as much as I hate the saying, it is what it is.

I’ve come to realize that reporting to me is difficult for them. I was “one of them” not long ago. It hasn’t been that long since I was promoted to manager and have had to reassess the relationships I have with each of them. I don’t want to stop being their friend, but ultimately, I am their boss.

Have you been faced with s situation like this? How did you handle it? How do you remain friends with the paralegals you supervise and get them to not cross that invisible line that must be drawn in the sand?

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One Year with the iPad


I guess today in honor of the launch of the Amazon Fire Tablet I want to tell you more about my iPad.  It was just a little over a year ago that I decided that I was going to give in and buy myself an iPad.  I told you all about my trip to the Apple store and how I convinced myself that I was just going to look and not buy.  At that time I was still being my stubborn self and still telling myself that the iPad was nothing more than a very large iPhone.  Hmmm that didn’t last long.  One foot in the door and I caved.  Read that post of my purchase here.

That was my conversation.  The iPad has totally changed the way I work. In my original article I said that I did not type long documents on the iPad.  That, too, has changed.  I have gotten used to the keyboard and I can and do type some of my articles on the way to the office while on the train.  It’s better than having to take my computer.

Lots of changes have taken place and lots of Apps have come and gone.  It is true when the commercials say that “there’s an app for that.”  The problem is that there are usually three or four thousand apps for that actually.  I’ve had lots.  Some, I have kept from the beginning and some I have deleted and totally forgot about.

Today this is what my iPad looks like.

My iPad 2 on September 28, 2011

I like to keep the first page simple.  These are the apps that I use on a daily basis.  There’s my calendar, contacts, Notes Plus (This has to be the best note taking application available), Pages (used mostly to write articles), Keynote (used for the presentations I create regarding the paralegal field.  Currently working on a  presentation for attorneys on how to develop a paralegal program) iBooks (I really enjoy reading and have completely stopped buying paper books), Bloomberg (to get the most up to date information on the markets and check the stocks), Pulse (to keep up to date on most of the blogs I read.  It’s a fun application with lots of information), Zite (this is where I read a lot of the random articles I post on twitter or get my information) Game Center (because every paralegal needs to relax and play games), Twitter (how else would I keep in touch with all you guys?) and finally my iDisk (for when I begin an article on the iPad and want to finish it on the MacBook Pro).

At the bottom I keep my Safari, mail, settings, FaceTime, haven’t really used it a lot but it’s cool 😉 and Remember the Milk (RTM).  RTM is an to do list application.  I have been using it for the past few months and really like.  However, I’m really looking forward to IOS 5 to come out so I can use the “To Do” application Apple will have that works with the calendar.  That will make my life even easier.

Having the iPad organized this way makes it easier for me to concentrate on work.  I don’t see all the other distracting applications and therefore am not tempted to open up a game and start playing instead of working.  Don’t get me wrong.  Sometimes it doesn’t work.  The games sometimes call my name and I can’t help but listen.

the next page of my iPad is organized with all folders where I keep applications organized according to what they do.  Photograph, Food & Wine, Law, Weather & Maps, Newsstand, Books, Finance, Games, Puzzle Games, Catalogues, Lifestyle, Blogging, Productivity, Music & Videos, Television and Social.

Second Page

Since last year I’ve gone through a lot of different ways of organizing my iPad but this one seems to be working the best for me.  At least for now.  Let’s see how long this one will last.

So, this is my iPad.  What does yours look like?  Please feel free to comment below.

Associate or Paralegal


when you graduated law school and hung that proverbial shingle outside of your small office you hoped against all hopes that one day you would find yourself in the situation you are in today. There was a very small chance that your practice would grow so much that you had to face the decision of hiring some help.

Yes, you have a secretary. She’s great. You really lucked out when you hired her. You have a great relationship with her. You hear the horror stories about some secretaries and thank your lucky starts that yours is professional and always willing to help. However, there are things that she just can’t do. Not because she’s not intelligent enough to do them but that’s not what’ she’s been trained to do. Draft motions, review discovery, research and write memos, all the things you did before this huge client hired you to represent him. You really hit the jack-pot this time. You have arrived.

You need to find someone to do all those things. Otherwise you will be in the office 24 hours a day with no hope of ever seeing day light again and, worst of all, not being able to drum up business and keep the momentum going. There are business meetings to attend, conferences to prepare for and travel to and … horror of horrors, there’s that trial starting in a few weeks that may take a month or more in court. What will you do then? How will you work on your other cases? You have, after all, more than one client. Shhhhh don’t tell that one client. He/she doesn’t know that yet.

So now you have two choices. You can hire a first year associate and bill him/her out at $300. The clients will think it’s a bargain. After all, it’s less than what they are currently paying you. Sounds good doesn’t it? You’ll have to hire someone right out of school because you can’t pay them that much and after all, you’re running a business and the goal is to have more money coming in the door with both of you billing. Or you can hire a paralegal. You can’t bill her as high as you would a first year associate and you will have to supervise her work and still spend some time at the office. However, you can hire an experienced paralegal because paralegals make less than attorneys and with your budget you can pay a pretty competitive rate. You can then bill her out at $200, and all you have to do is review her work and supervise her activities in the office and with the rest of your time you can drum up more business.

Recently, while you were sitting in court you heard someone talk about the paralegals in their office. Even the guy down the street has one first year associate and two paralegals working for him. He seems to be doing well and his practice seems to be growing at a much faster pace than you. He also seems to have more time to go to seminars and meet with clients. You’ve always wondered how he did that.

Paralegals That’s how he did that.

Let me put into perspective for you. Let’s compare what you can do in both scenarios.

Remember when you first graduated law school? How many motions had you filed? Did you know how to navigate the court system? What clerks to call? Response schedules? Filing dates? You know, all the procedural stuff that you learned while working at that other law firm for the first two years of your career? Yeah, that’s what you’re going to get when you hire a first year associate. You will have to fully train that person. When you hire an experienced paralegal you don’t have to spend your time doing that. The paralegal already knows how to navigate the system, which motion to file when, what documents to sent with which motion, how to e-file and even, at times, which clerks are easier to work with.

Has your choice become easier now? How about this? The paralegal can prepare all the pleadings you need, reach out to clients and interview witnesses, draft your memos, organize your medical files, have all your discovery ready and organize before you come back from court at the end of the day. The beauty of that is that you will be paying this individual, with experience, probably half of what that first year associate would be asking.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that eventually you will and should hire that first year associate. Next year you can hire the associate and the paralegal can train him/her and the office will never miss a step.

Now, to develop a program where a paralegal can thrive? That’ll be my next post. Stay tuned.

Here to help you


I love to write and at times writing for the sake of writing can be very therapeutic to me.  I get to put all my feelings and at times frustrations on paper and for some reason after all is said and done I feel better about whatever the issue may have been at the beginning of the post.  Sometimes, as I write I come up with a solution to whatever the problem was.  This is all good but it’s all about me.

The problem now is this:  When I set out to create the blog I was not interested in it being about me.  My main focus was you, the paralegal who may be just starting out and trying to figure our her/his way around the office. The paralegal who has been in the business for a while but wants a new perspective or a new solution to some everyday issue.  The attorney who may be interested in developing a paralegal program or, the attorney who may be hiring a paralegal for the first time.  I need to get back to the original idea.  This blog is here to help you and in the process to help me.

From time to time I will be putting up a few polls to help me figure out where the needs are.  I will be asking you to please interact more with me on this blog on Twitter my Facebook page.  I’d love to hear from all of you.  If I promise to always respond, will you promise to stay in touch?

Stay tuned for the first poll dedicated to the paralegals…. Don’t worry lawyers, yours is coming soon too.  I would never forget you.

Thank you so much for taking the time.

TheParalegal

The iPad2 and The Smart-Cover


Much has been said about this Smart-Cover for the iPad2. I will review it in depth, shortly. However, I feel compelled to give you my immediate thoughts now.

Picture from "themacspace.com"

Two weeks ago I decided that I “needed” an iPad 2. I don’t think there will be much more the iPad 3 will be able to do that I can’t do with the ipad2 so, before my first generation iPad is worth nothing I thought I’d get myself a second generation. Besides, the Smart-Cover is so cool. I got the pink (“girly”). Now working is fun and ohhh so sexy ;).

Anyway, the cover is great. The magnets work very well. Although I have to remember to store it in my purse facing down otherwise if the cover slides backwards the iPad turns itself on and wastes battery. That’s an annoyance, although not my biggest gripe. The biggest gripe I have is the fact that it does not seem to want to stay at an angle when I want to type on my lap. Yes, it’s true that you can fold it and turn it into a convenient typing angle, if you’re at a table. If it’s on your lap, as I often am when typing on the iPad, it slides all over the place. I find myself using my thumb to holding the iPad in place. I place my left thumb at the bottom of the ipad and type with only two or three fingers, ok, four fingers (both index fingers and both middle fingers). Takes some getting used to and it’s not very comfortable. I have small hands and the reach is not all that comfortable for the left hand.

These are the only two issues I have found with the smart cover. It’s difficult for me to EVER find anything wrong with Apple. I love their products and, I guess you can say, I’m addicted to anything Jobs and now Cook. However, I am hoping they come out with a new and improved cover that works for the ipad2.

Have you bought an iPad2? If so, what do you think of the Smart-cover?

Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of the ipad2 as well as how my workflow has changed in the past year since I became an iPad addict.