In-House or Law Office – where does respect reside?


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Recently someone Tweeted me a question which totally peaked my interest.  They wanted to know what paralegal is more respected, the one working in-house or the one working in private practice. I have done both so I feel as if I am somewhat qualified to answer this question.  I wanted to answer it here because I feel that if one person is thinking about it, others are as well.

The short of it is that I don’t feel one is more respected than the other.  At least not from a client’s perspective and it all goes back to the attorney or the firm you work with.  Regarding the clients you will deal with the one thing to keep in mind is that when you’re in-house your clients are people within your walls.  Granted outside of usually a locked door (privacy issues) but they are all other members of the firm.  These people get to know you so it becomes up to you to allow them to see your professionalism on a day-to-day basis.  When you work in-house you are always being observed.  Most of the time your clients wind up being your friends and are always your co-workers.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing.  They will get to know you on a personal basis and if you give them any reason to see you as any less than a professional they will treat you as such.  So, it’s up to you to ensure that you are respected as a professional.

Being a paralegal in private practice your clients don’t see you all the time and it’s more likely that you will never develop a personal relationship with them.  They will always, hopefully, see you at your best professional self so if you are prepared and know their case, chances are they will respect you as a professional.

In both instances, at least in the State of New Jersey, where I am.  Paralegals work under the attorney’s license and that is the reason why I said that the respect you receive really depends on the attorney you work with.  I have to say that I have always been lucky in the assignments I had.  All the attorneys I worked with always saw me as an equal and always referred to me as a colleague or someone who worked with them and not for them.  I think clients take cues from the attorneys and if the attorney treats his/her paralegal with respect, the client has no other frame of reference and will therefore respect you as well….. well, that is if the work product is something the client is happy with.

Having said all that.  The work of an in-house paralegal is totally different from the work of a paralegal who works in a law firm.  Speaking from a litigation perspective, an in-house paralegal rarely goes to court.  In-house attorneys usually hire outside counsel to represent them in court.  At least in the firms I have worked with.  So a paralegal working in a large in-house legal department will most likely be putting documents together to send out to the paralegal who is working with the outside counsel.  The difference is that the in-house paralegal is expected to be the expert in the documents.  I remember sitting with the paralegals from the outside counsel’s office to explain to them the business so that they could, in turn, explain it to their attorneys who would be representing us in court.

My personal thoughts around respect are these:  I believe that it is up to each individual to demand the respect they deserve.  I totally believe that respect is something that is earned and not something that you get because you have a particular title.  A paralegal career is a very respectable career and it should be taken seriously.  We are professionals and we should be treated as such, no matter where you happen to be working.  However, it is up to you to make sure you get the respect you deserve.

I hope this answers the question.

Ana

You may also want to take a look at this post I wrote some time ago.

 

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Happy Friday – What’s a Paralegal To Do?


The weekend couldn’t come soon enough this week. It’s time to shed the suit, put down the water bottle and put on some comfortable clothes, flip-flops or sandals and pick up that cocktail that’s been waiting for you since the week started. Did this week feel like a year to you guys? Yeah, it was a long short week.

The warm weather is here so I think I will be wearing more dresses. I happen to really like dresses because they’re so easy to wear and can be casual enough where you don’t feel overdressed when hanging with your buddies but you also won’t feel like you’re underdressed if you end up at a restaurant instead of a bar.

The past two seasons I have been really enjoying the ease of the maxi dresses. If a dinner with friends is your destination this one  by Pink Stitch Resort is not going to disappoint.  The only thing is that I would have to put a cardigan over it since I’m always freezing in restaurants.

For a more casual evening I love this one by Young Fabulous & Broke (OMG I also love the name, don’t you?).  I have to admit that although more expensive, I would probably get more use out of this one in the Summer than the more dressier one.  I tend to want to spend more time outside and go out more casually.  So, the way I always think of my clothes and how much I spend on them is on a per wear basis.  If it’s more expensive but I’ll wear it more times, the piece winds up being less expensive.  Does that make sense?  I think I read this somewhere once and has always stuck…. perhaps it’s also a good way to talk myself into buying the more expensive items…. I don’t know!!!! It makes me happy so don’t hate.

What about shoes…. Doesn’t every woman love shoes?  Don’t stress, here we go.  How about these gold sandals by Dolce Vita?  and the price?  How can you say no?  I can make them work with the dressier dress even.  Ok, let’s dream a little too, shall we?  These black and pear sandals by Sam Edelman are amazing but if we take my per wear theory we cannot make it work.  These are not the type of sandals that I would get a lot of wear, so I’m thinking I will not be buying these.  However, if you do, please let me know so I can feel completely jealous and beg you to be your best friend.  They are soooooo cute.  Ok, enough dreaming… these are more my speed and they are really cute.  Also by Dolce Vita, they will go with a multitude of my dresses, pants and shorts (I have to tell you that I have stopped wearing shorts.  I hate my knees…. conversation for another day). These Franco Sarto are also very wearable and I love everything Franco Sarto.  They have to be the most comfortable shoes EVER.

Now we’re dressed.  What will we be drinking?  I happen to be looking around for some ideas and look at what I found.  Doesn’t this just sound and look so yummy?

Photo and recipe from Delish.com
Photo and recipe from Delish.com

Ingredients

3 fresh strawberries
3 slice(s) canned pineapple
1/2 ounce(s) pineapple syrup from the can
1/4 ounce(s) lime juice
1/4 ounce(s) simple syrup (dissolve one part sugar in one part boiling water; let cool)
2 ounce(s) white rum

Directions

Muddle fruit. Pour over ice with other ingredients; shake. Garnish with fruit.

Now you’re ready to go out and enjoy Happy Friday…. that’s right.  I’m no longer going to call it Happy Hour.  After a full week at work I think I deserve more than one hour.  I am officially changing the name.

XoXo

Ana

On Being a Paralegal


From Judicialsupport.com
From Judicialsupport.com

As  I sat here in front of this white page without a clue as to what I should be writing about I thought that looking through other paralegal blogs would help me find my mojo and the words would just come pouring out of me.

I grabbed myself a cup of coffee (yes, I know it’s late in the evening and I probably won’t sleep.  What are you my mother????), sat down again with the laptop on my lap (redundant) and opened up the first blog.  Holly Heck!!!!!! Can’t Fight the Inevitable is a blog post by a paralegal who apparently is not happy with her job.  I feel really bad for anyone who feels that way and I wish I could fix it for her.  However, I have to say that there is absolutely no job out there where you are going to be happy every day of the week.  There are going to be days when you’re going to get up to go to work and feel like you are getting ready for battle.  Being a paralegal is no exception.

So what prompted me to write this post? First and foremost, I want to say that no job is worth your health, your personal life, or even becoming an alcoholic (again, not worth your health).  Most paralegals, especially the ones who work in law firms, or private practice, will be working very long hours.  If you think your day will end at 5:00 like most normal people (although that’s not normal anymore) you need to rethink your career choice.  I remember working until 10 or 11 p.m and then come home and still log on to the office to finish something I had not had a chance to do during the day.  The worst part about it was getting to the end of the month and realizing that most of the stuff I had worked on could not be billed to a client and therefore did not count towards my billable hours.  It really made me crazy. The only time that stopped, although I still worked longer hours than my non-paralegal friends, was when I started working in-house.

Although Grumpy’s post and perhaps the paragraph above make it sound as if being a paralegal is a horrible career choice, there are so many things that are so great about the profession.  I truly enjoy being a paralegal.  I am actually, currently not working as a paralegal but will be again in a few months, hopefully weeks (fingers crossed).  I left the profession two years ago and can’t wait to get back to it.  What do I like so much about it?

  • I enjoy watching a case develop from beginning to end;
  • I enjoy playing detective, even when that only means figuring out what a business can do to comply with the regulatory change and not loose money in the process;
  • I enjoy pouring through a pile of papers and put some order to it so it tells a story;
  • I enjoy the entire process of being there for my clients; and
  • I absolutely enjoy the collegiate attitude I have found with most other paralegals (we are a great bunch).

I feel horrible when I hear someone say they hate their job and that their job is costing them so much.  I hesitate in saying this but the only advice I would have for Grumpy, the writer of the above post is to say that if her job is making her sick, making her become an alcoholic and lose her friends and family, perhaps it’s time to find another job.  Maybe something in a different field.  Maybe not a paralegal position.

One of the many good things about being a paralegal is that your skills are transferable.  More so than other professions.  Being an experienced paralegal means that you are a also good at project planning, organizing, multi-tasking, managing and developing processes, reading, writing, researching.  You name it.  If you have been a paralegal for a while you have at some point done one or more of the above.  Grumpy can go look for a position somewhere else where she won’t be faced with the hours she’s currently working and where she may be happier.

Grumpy also mentions that she cannot get a different career because she can’t afford to get paid less than she currently does.  It’s probably true, but maybe she doesn’t have to.  Perhaps she can work her resume to highlight the great skills that she’s learned and mastered during her paralegal career and get into a different position getting paid the same thing or more…. I did…. it’s doable.  Totally doable.

So, if you find yourself in the same situation as Grumpy.  Please don’t feel trapped.  The economy is bad, and it may take a little longer than in the past to get another job but stick to it and don’t let it ruin your life.  Nothing is worth that.  Remember you are in control of your career, always.  You are the boss.  Act like it.

XoXo

Ana

Keep Calm – I’m Back


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As most of you know I have been gone for a while. The original plan was to not come back to this blog. Not because I don’t miss you all but because I thought that with my no longer working as a paralegal you would think me a fraud. I thought, how could I tell you what to do or give you advice if I am no longer doing it myself?

The past two years I have been working in compliance for a large financial company and although I like my role and part of it is very much a paralegal role, most of it is not. I miss being a paralegal. So much so that recently I have applied for a paralegal position with the same firm. Basically doing the same thing I’m doing now but in a paralegal capacity. I don’t want to talk about it too much because I don’t want to jinx it but I am keeping my fingers crossed and will let you know…… Yep….. this means I’m back. I’m back to the blog.

So, give me a few days. Let me get some thoughts together and I will be posting again before you know it.

Glad to be back and so glad so many of you enjoy the blog. Thank you all for your kind words and thank you all so much for making sure I come back to the place where I belong.

XoXo

Ana

Photo Credit – diaryofamrs.blogspot.com