Every Legal Department Needs A Paralegal Department


“Don’t make excuses for why you can’t get it done. Focus on all the reasons why you must make it happen”

It’s been a year since I made the suggestion to our general counsel. Since then I’ve had some really good and positive reinforcement and then there are those days when it seems that all the naysayers line up to make my life miserable. That includes the naysayer in my head. Don’t look at me like that. We all have that one voice in the deepest darkest corners of our brains. The one who tells us all the time that we can’t do something. Recently, she has been using the following excuses with me:

    • why do you bother? Things are what they are. 
    • It’s been like this for so long, what makes you think it’s not by design?
    • No one cares how hard you’re working!
    • You are not smart enough or experienced enough to do this.
    • One day you’re going to get found out and it’s going to be really embarrassing.
    • Please!!!! You’re old enough to just skate right through and not let this stuff bother you.  It’s not going to benefit you anymore.

    It’s a very powerful and loud voice which makes it really hard to ignore.  So, instead of ignoring it, I acknowledge it and find answers to ITS questions.  I find that when I come up with answers the voice becomes a little less annoying and less loud and it actually turns into a helpful friend.  By forcing myself to coming up with answers to its questions I force myself to think about what it is that I really want to do and come up with different paths to accomplishing what I set out to accomplish.

    Believe me, when I first came up with the idea for a Paralegal Department at this very large company where I work the voice was enormously strong.  What are you thinking?  They are never going to listen to you.  You have been here for a minute. Things have been the same for so long and they work.  Lawyers don’t want us to tell them how to do their jobs….who to hire and how to work with them.  You are going to ruffle people’s feathers and now is not a good time to to do that.  There were plenty of opportunities for me to stop moving forward. I chose to focus on the reasons I had to make it happen.  

    There are over 200 paralegals in this firm and they are counting on me.  Ha!!! Many of them didn’t even know I existed and some of them didn’t even know they wanted this type of organization.  However, just like Steve Jobs said (and I”m no Steve Jobs) people don’t know what they want until they want it.  I think Ford Said “If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses.”  It could have been someone else who said that…… I’m really not sure.  Who said it is not important.  I knew I could make a difference, so I did.

    This month marks a year and our Paralegal Networks is now chartered in EMEA and APAC.  As I write this post I’m getting ready to fly out to Chicago with our General Counsel for a conference where the GC will be address a group of paralegals in Chicago and throughout the rest of the US (working on broadcasting or recording it for EMEA and APAC).  We are on our way.

    I say all this to tell you that you must believe in yourself.  Only you will know how much you can take on and what it is that your vision can being to you and all those around you.  I say this to let you know that we all have those voices that will stop us from accomplishing our goals.  Those voices are not the enemy.  They exist to help us stay away from danger.  Listen to that voice but take the risk.  Use the voice as a guide and as a friend.  Answer the voices questions and calm it down.  Become the voices partner and work together.  

    Hope you enjoyed this post. I am working on doing a series of what the Network is up to and what you can do to start your own network where you work.  Having those likeminded people is essential for a healthy and prosperous career.

    XoXo

    Ana

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    Time to Make that Move….. Or is it?


    I know that it’s been a while, again, since I have been here.  In all honesty it has been a crazy couple of weeks at the office.

    For some of us in the corporate world the end of the first quarter is when we are trying to figure out out goals and where we want to be in the short term as well as the long term.  We should always be thinking that way.  That’s not the hard part.  Most of you know that I have short term and long term goals all visualized and planned out.  However, this is a difficult year for me because the short term goals that I had envisioned for myself do not appear to be working out.  However, the chances of my long term goals coming to fruition seem to be a bit more in focus now and perhaps not as long term as I had originally planned.  So, all good right?  Well, yes, but ….. hmmm sometimes that’s even more stressful.

    There have been some changes to the makeup of my team and all through no fault of anyone on the team it has been the catalyst for my feeling as if it’s time to move.  At the same time as all these other things are going on in my very “small” world the larger “world” has a plan to develop a paralegal career path and growth opportunities.  Hello????? Does this sound like something I’ve been waiting for?  Why, yes, thank you.  I will take it.  However, what was I thinking….. Now panic is setting in.  I’m meeting new people, they want to meet me.  I need to figure out how to do what I’m supposed to do and all the while, I am still hold on to my “day job” trying to carve out a larger role for myself.  All I want to do is make sure all paralegals have a voice.  I can’t screw this one up.  I still don’t have this new role but things are so clear I can almost taste this new job and I don’t’ want to jinx myself……..Have I already lost you?

    All this to say that I’m here.  I’m thinking up and have a few things to talk to you about but right now I’m thinking about myself.  I need to do that so that I can help more of us who really deserve it need it and frankly have waited long enough to get the recognition that they deserve.  I am here, I will be chatting with you and please, by all means, come chat with me on Twitter, I’ll be there ready to “play” and exchange ideas with you.  Please don’t hold it against me if I’m not here for a little while longer.  Let me get this one right and I’ll be back with so much more that you will be totally sick of me.

    Thank you all for your support

    Ana

     

    Finally Here


    It’s been a very very very long time since I have posted here.  I am pretty sure it was something I did but for over a year I was not able to find the blog.  I’m not sure what I did but I most likely clicked when I should have kept myself from clicking ….. the blog went missing.  I kept seeing your comments and your questions but I was not able to interact.  I’m so sorry.

    Again…. not sure what I did today but here I am.  I have regained access to the blog and I am ready to go.

    So……… without dwelling in the past and trying to figure out what happened, I want to concentrate on the future and figure out where to go from here.  I know I want to post more about what it is that we, as paralegals do.  I want to help you navigate the career development maze and help you learn from my mistakes so that hopefully it won’t take you as long as it has taken me to get ahead.  Most of all, I want to work with you and be here for you.  Please continue to send me your emails and your thoughts and your requests.  I am sincerely happy to be back and I can’t wait to have a cup of coffee and a chat.

    Ana

    Famous Paralegals


    Recently I received an email from Online Paralegal Programs letting me know about a new study they have conducted regarding the job outlook and educational requirements for the paralegal profession.  If you know me by now, I’m always always interested in those statistics.

    Although those statistics are important to know what got my attention this time was the fact that they took the time to research some very important paralegals.  Makes us all proud to belong to such a great profession.

    I have been given permission to post the graph here on my site.  I think it’s really important to share this type of information.  One of the things I seem to always be saying is that I’m not a paralegal by accident.  Some of us really enjoy what we do and we have carefully picked our profession.  I am not a paralegal because I couldn’t be anything else.  It’s true that I fell into the profession by a happy coincidence….. I needed a job and that small law firm was hiring.  I was eager and they were willing to give me a chance.  That’s all I needed.  The rest is history and I have since fallen in love with what I do….. I’m one of the lucky ones.

    Enough about me…. Please shut me up.  Here is the one page study from Online Paralegal Programs .

     
    Famous Paralegals
    Source: Online-Paralegal-Programs.com

    Decisions on Coming Back to Blogging


    I’m not promising anything since every time I promise to be back, life takes over and I go months and months without posting.  It shouldn’t be this difficult but apparently it is.  I know that this is what I want to be doing but sometimes I just don’t have the energy to come home from work and sit in front of this computer to write some more…. then there are other times when I could actually do it but there is really nothing of interest to share.

    As most of you know I have three blogs.  I thought it would be best to keep them all separate since they are all different aspects of my life (this post will be posted on all of them).  The Paralegal in Camelot is a blog about my professional life.  Living in Camelot is a blog about my home life, my adventures into a healthy lifestyle, natural cleaning products an tips, discussions natural medicine (I’m not a doctor so don’t take my discussions as professional advice.  Those are just my thoughts), my dabbling in yoga and meditation, etc.  Then there is the Vegan Paralegal.  I have been trying to go completely vegan for over a year now and something always seems to derail my mojo.  That blog is my travels into that world and how I manage the obstacles……

    All of these blogs have been so neglected.  I really want to dedicate more time to all of them and am really trying to figure out how to best do that.  Please be patient with me and when I can figure out a way I promise (and this promise I can keep) you will not be disappointed.  You will have great content and great ideas and a very supportive person on your side….. I just have to figure out how to get there and not derail my entire life.

    If you have any ideas I would gladly listen to you.  Please let me know how you manage if you are managing the same issue.

    XoXo

    Ana

     

    How I use the iPad Mini at Work – Note Taking


     

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    By now most of you know that I have been working from remotely a few days a week.  By remotely I mean, I’m either working in my home office or out of a different office.  As you can imagine, as a paralegal, most of us rely on notes that we take during meetings, telephone calls and sometimes even when an idea just strikes us….. I have tons of those while on the bus or sometimes just sitting at my desk which means that we can fill out tons of notebooks in a single year.

    When I worked out of one main office, I didn’t mind so much having a notebook on my desk where I could quickly jot down an idea and then put a little post-it tag on it to mark the location on the page.  Usually by the end of a few months I would have a drawer full of notebooks with forgotten notes on it and if I ever needed to find one sometimes I would have to pull out a few out of the drawer and go through all the post-it notes to find the one I was looking for.  This made for wasted billable hours at times and it was very frustrating.  However, I continued this process because, like I said, I was stationary and it was a tried and true method.

    Now, that I’m no longer in one place all the time this method because a hindrance.  I would be in one office, or at home, and the notebook where that one one I needed was in another location, either at the office or at home …. You know, somewhere I was not.  I needed to develop another system.  A system where all the notes I need are with me all the time and since I needed to develop a whole new system why not figure out a way where I can also search for notes instead of having to read pages and pages?

    In comes the iPad.

    That part was easy.  The iPad is portable and with me all the time.  After all, I take it with me so I can read and check my social networks at lunch or during a break.  However, although typing on the virtual keyboard is ok for a quick email, I don’t particularly like using it that much.  So I searched and searched for a note taking app.  I found one that I sort of like, NotesPlus… it’s free on the App Store.  I have to admit that I really liked it at first.  It’s easy to organize by allowing you to create “notebooks” for each of the subjects you need and it even has a recording feature that allows you record the conversations (remember to always let whomever you’re speaking with that you are recording the conversation).  I created a notebook one for general notes and a few for the specific issues — you can create one for each of your cases, for example.   This was my go to application.  It was easily uploaded to dropbox and I was sure to always have my notes wherever I went.  It was nirvana!!!! well, almost.

    Then the trouble began.  A few months ago, while I was on a call something happened to my NotesPlus.  It started crashing every time I tried to write a note and it became really frustrating when I couldn’t keep up with the conversation because I had to restart the application every few minutes — Grrrrrr — anger set in.  After the call I uploaded all my notes to Dropbox and went on a search for something better.  Remember, I still don’t want to carry notebooks with me everywhere.  My bag is heavy enough with shoes and food and we all know that these are much more important than a stupid notebook.

    In the meantime, because I still have not found a note taking application that I like I, went out and bought the Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard and right now I am typing my notes in Pages (the equivalent of Word).  Because I have an iCloud account with Apple, I am able to see my notes on all my devices, including my phone, my computer at home and off course, the iPad.  I like this method.  It serves the purpose I was originally trying to accomplish.  However, I still want a note taking app.  I like writing and doodling when I’m listening to a call and it’s always much easier to write a note than type a note….. at least for me, since I didn’t grow up around computers all the time…. perhaps this new generation feels more comfortable typing than writing but there is something to be said for a handwritten note…… Don’t you feel like you can remember things better when you write them down?  hmmmm maybe it’s just me.

    So, long story short, I’m still looking for a note taking application.  Do you have any ideas?  For now I’m going to continue using this method since the original purpose has been met.  However, nothing wrong with making it a better system don’t you agree?  So do you have any note taking apps you like?  Can you give me some suggestions?

    I will be back with my review of the Logitech Keyboard which, for now is my new best friend.

    Ana

    Clipart from Google.  Thank you.

     

    Paralegals On Wall Street? Who knew?????


    If you had told me a few years ago that I would be working at a bank I would have told you were crazy.  After all, was I not the kid who hated every single one her math classes?  Was I not the kid who cried while doing math homework?  I don’t remember anything from any of my algebra classes…. heck I even have trouble figuring out percentages.  Yeah, I truly am a math hater.  I fully understand the interest others have with numbers as well as how great it would be if I could understand them myself.  Alas, numbers and I are not friends.  I would even venture to say we are mortal enemies.

    Today, after suffering through high school math and algebra and trying to avoid as many number related classes in college, I am a paralegal at a bank.  Really, there are quite a few of us and we have our plates so full these days, we barely have time to breath.

    Admittedly, my days are totally different from yours (if you are working at a law firm).  First of all, I don’t have to bill my time.  Although I was never one who dreaded the end of the month.  I was able to figure out a process where I could keep myself organized and have all my time entered and correct by the time the end of the month came up.  See this article I wrote a few years back, in fact, I trained the new paralegals on how to enter time and how to stay organized.  These days this is not an issue at all.  That goes for all the paralegals who work in house.

    These days I’m not preparing for trial or preparing or summarizing depositions or even reading medical records.  These days I busy myself with regulatory research and meetings with other lawyers.  Yes, when I put it this way it sounds sort of boring doesn’t it?  I can hear you guys saying “regulatory research” and what do you do with it?  Well, let me tell you.

    So remember a few years back when our financial world took a nose dive?  When there was so much uncertainty as to whether or not our money would still be in the bank when we woke up the next mooring?  Well, the regulators – these are the people who make the laws for the various industries – were also worried and therefore started making new rules/regulations as well as tightening up existing rules.  There are so many new rules and regulations coming out that at times it’s hard to keep up.  So my days go something like this……

    1. Find new laws and analyze them for impact on the particular area of service (the industry term is line of business) that I cover;
    2. Have some coffee;
    3. Summarize and present at monthly meeting with the business;
    4. Have more coffee;
    5. Track changes to existing laws and advise business and risk about these changes;
    6. Attend meetings and have some coffee;
    7. Ensure that policies and procedures are in place (working with compliance); and
    8. Have some more coffee;

    So the above are just things that I do on a day to day except for number 2 that one happens on a monthly basis but I still prepare for it on every day.  Meetings in the corporate world are packed with power point presentations (the business doesn’t want to or have to the time to have to learn a law) power point presentations make it easier to understand what legal is saying.  They couldn’t be bothered with us….. the business is there to make money and they feel we are there to stop them……. It’s actually fun to be a part of this.

    My days don’t end with that.  In between getting all that done I work with compliance – compliance is there to ensure that the business is actually doing what legal has advised them to do.  At the end of the day my job ends when I the business as been advised of what the law is saying.  I am not responsible for the steps they take to accomplish that.  That is the job of compliance and risk together.  Those two groups measure the risk associated with a particular part of the business and they decide how to comply with the law.

    Think of the particular businesses within a bank as my clients.  The difference is, my clients don’t walk in from the street.  They walk the same hallways I do, eat in the same cafeteria (yes, the food is actually very good there) and sometimes are even colleagues with whom I go out for drinks or coffee.  Like you, I am not responsible for what my client is doing after they walk out of my office.  However, I have to be prepared to defend my client even if he does not follow my advice…. Does that make sense?

    I hope this helped you understand a little bit about what goes on in the legal department of a bank.  Let me know what you think.  I would love to hear from you.