How to Prepare and Hold Meetings

Have you ever sat through an entire meeting and had no idea what the purpose was? To make matters worse, when you left the meeting you had no idea if you were supposed to do anything or even if anything was accomplished? I have.

Attending meetings like these can be so frustrating.  Not only do I come out of the meeting completely confused but I feel like I wasted my time when I could have been doing something more productive.

These types of meetings happen all the time. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a few things that can be done to ensure that the participants come away with a good idea of what the meeting is about as well as a feeling of accomplishment and purpose.

A One Page Agenda

YES! One page. You don’t have to completely fill the entire page. When I say a one page agenda I mean that it should not be more than one page. If you feel like you need two pages, consider scheduling two meetings or focus on the one important thing. Most people don’t have the attention span to sit through a two page agenda and if you try it, you will lose them.

Figure out the most important thing you want to accomplish

Don’t worry about the detail – well at least not for the agenda. You should be fully familiar with the topic and know the details. I have a bullet list of the important things I want to discuss.  I don’t clutter the agenda with them but I am prepared to talk about them as they are helpful points but they don’t have to be on the agenda.  

A good concise summary of the topic must be sent out to the attendees ahead of the meeting to ensure that the attendees are prepared with questions and/or input to achieve the goals you want to achieve during the meeting.

Keep in mind that the success of most meetings is not the length of the agenda but the outcome.

Focus on the goals:

There’s no point in scheduling a meeting and getting everyone in one room if you don’t know what you want to accomplish.  Are you trying to get buy-in to a project you are working on? Are you trying to get new ideas for the project? For example, are you asking the participants to help you figure out additional research that needs to be done? Are you showcasing the work your team did on a particular project and how you accomplished it? It’s important to let the attendees know why they are going to be sitting in a conference room or on a conference call for a certain amount of time.

If you are asking for help on a project you probably are asking people do do certain tasks. It’s important to be clear about this.  Be with another sheet of paper to write down the tasks and the names of the people assigned to do the tasks.  This will be helpful later on when you are doing your follow up.

That’s it. During the meeting that’s all you have to do. Be concise, be susinct and be prepared.

One bonus tip:

After the meeting you must send out a summary of what took place. You don’t have to write down everything that happened during the meeting or the call. You’re not a court reporter or a scribe. Touch on the highlights of the meeting and list the people who will be helping you as well as the due dates or at least the dates when you will be reaching out for status. Doing this will make sure that everyone is on the same page and there are no miss-understandings.

In your summary invite questions and make yourself available for additional individual discussions in case there is a need to clarify anything that took place or anything being asked of the participants.

Do you have any other tips and/or tricks for holding meetings?  These days we are meeting more than usual.  What have you learned about your meeting style?  what has worked and what hasn’t worked?  I’d love to hear it.

See you on the next blog post or the newsletter.  Make sure to subscribe for more articles like this.



The Importance of Cross Training your Team

Cross training…. Every time I see these two words I can’t help but think of some form of work out and feeling tired. In this case cross training is not a work out and it doesn’t have to feel exhausting. Cross training your team is a simple thing that a manager can do to ensure that the work will get done even if someone is on vacation or sick or in the current situation not able to come to office or work from home for one reason or another.

Cross training starts by identifying the skills that are important to keep the team running in an emergency and then training or helping each member of the team to acquire those skills. Keep in mind that the point is not to make each member of the team to be as good as the member who does the job every day. The purpose is to make sure that the most important work gets done. So if there are nuances of the particular skill that get done because the team member who normally does the work has 100 years experience, the rest of the team is not going to get those nuances and it’s ok. As long as the work is getting done.

Using me and my team as an example: The past few months I have been training my team members to do each other’s jobs in case someone or more than one person needs to step in to cover an absent employee.

let me warn you that some people will not be happy to hear that they will have to take on additional work.  However, as the manager, my job is to make everyone feel like they are an important member of the team and without them we couldn’t accomplish our goals.  I need to make them all understand that their extra work is for the good of the team and I will be available if they need the help.  It is also my job to lead them to want to do it and understand that if the team fails because they were not able to let go of the negative attitude it means they also fail.  

Create a list of jobs and projects that need coverage

I started this project by asking each team member to get me a list of every project they are currently working on, including projects that they may have taken on as a stretch assignment from another team – my company allows for this to happen in order to help employees move up or move into different roles throughout their career. I also asked them to give me list of sources (regulators, third party vendors, etc.) that they use in their day to day work.

Our job involves review and research of legal updates (legislation, regulation changes and statute changes) on a day to day basis to help the lawyers advise the clients how to manage their day to day.

Create a Summary of the Work Done being done

Once I received the list I created a spreadsheet with each of the team members in one column, their day to day work in another column and a third column showing their outside projects. I then asked each of them to take a look at the list and confirm that we had all the work on the chart and then asked them to write a short paragraph about what they do for each of the tasks they perform. So for example, when I monitor laws for the broker dealer business I make sure I look at the any news articles relating to the particular regulators that regulate broker dealers, then I go to each of the regulatory websites and start by looking at press releases and then proposed regulations. While doing that I’m updating the systems as necessary in order to make sure that the proposed items get funneled to the attorneys that need the information so they can advise the clients of the upcoming changes in case they have to change a particular process of the business.

After I am sure that I looked at all the regulatory websites I then turn my attention to the various states’ legislative bodies and begin by looking for legislation at the governors’ desks since those are the ones that are most likely going to pass within the next couple of weeks. Again I update our internal systems to make sure the lawyers are, again, notified of impending changes and prepared to advise the clients that something may be changing soon.

In my portion of the team tasks’ summary I make sure write down what regulators I look at and in what order.  I advise the team which ones are most important and therefore need to be looked at every day and lastly I tell each team member where I go to find the pending legislation. I also make sure I tell the team what third party vendors I use to track the legislation, how I go about tracking the legislation.  

For the managers this is important because you will need to know to what systems your team members will need access. For example, two of the sources I use are WestLaw and Lexis. This is important because it means that the person who will cover for me will need to have access to these two sources and also be trained to receive email updates.  .

Create a Shadow Schedule

Once all the summaries are written and put into some type of order (I call this the desk manual for the team). I make sure we schedule time to have each team member be shadowed by another team member. I only focus on a ratio of 1:1, meaning one team member will cover for another team member but this can be adjusted depending on the needs of the individual team.

This shadowing that I do is focused on how a normal day will look like. The team member who will be covering will need to know how much work is going to come in on a normal day and how it will come in as well as when the emails will be coming in. Knowing this will help the covering team member figure out how to schedule their day because they will still have to manager their own workload.

As the Manager

As the team manager I make sure that I am at least somewhat familiar with the work and the processes being followed by each team member. Worse come to worse I may have to pitch in if it’s a particularly heavy week. That happens if the emergency takes place during the start of the legislative period when a whole lot of bills are being introduced or at the end of the legislative period when a whole lot of bills are being pushed through for signature by the governor.


If you are the manager, it is your job to make sure the team is performing at its best and to be the support for the team.

Working from Home – How do I feel about it?

I’m not new at working from home.  A couple of years ago I worked from home for an entire year.  I loved and it was probably the most productive I’ve ever been.  I don’t have children (I have two poodles) so I never had to worry about getting interrupted and my time is my time.   During this time I set up a new process for regulatory monitoring for the entire consumer bank and the process is still going strong with some changes.  We developed a regulatory library with laws impacting the industry from every state in the United States and recently we’ve added some foreign jurisdictions.  This program is now the basis for our obligations.

Since the pandemic, I like many others in the country, have been working from home and again, this is probably the most productive I’ve been.  My job consists of reading lots of laws, summarizing them and letting the legal teams know about upcoming legislation and how it will impact the industry and the processes we currently in place.  I know, it sounds boring but I enjoy it.  I’ve always said that if I weren’t a paralegal I would probably be a librarian.  I love reading and enjoy the quiet.  I am also an introvert.  I don’t mind crowds.  I’m not opposed to having a social gathering (when able to) but I don’t do well if that’s the norm.

Since we are all talking about getting back to the office I’ve become more stressed.  I don’t enjoy the set up.  There are too many distractions.  Not necessarily people who want to come chat with me.  My cubicle is actually pretty out of the way so unless someone really needs to talk to me I can go days without seeing anyone.  The walls of the cubicles at the office are high enough that I don’t even see the person sitting in the cubicle immediately in front of me unless we both stand up.  The distractions I’m talking about are the other conversations.  They don’t have to be loud to be distracting.  Sometimes when they are mere whispers they are more distracting than if they were loud, I think.  I guess my brain want so figure out what is being said.  Call me nosy!!!!

Anyway, working from home allows me the opportunity to really focus on what I’m reading and when comes time to summarize the law it allows me the focus to get the job done much quicker and more concise.  Since we began working from home I have found that I don’t need as much time to get through the work I need to do in one day.  Normally, that entails going through each of the states legislative sites and finding introduced legislation and marking it to be tracked.  Once that is done I go through the legislation that I am tracking to see if there are any changes and what the chances are that a bill will become a law.  I enjoy having the time to actually think about patterns.  How many states are introducing the same type of bill?  Will it impact another area of the industry?  Have any states figured that out?  What should I let the attorney know to keep an eye on and to tell the client?  These are the things that I have had the time to think about since the distractions are at a minimum.  When I’m in the office I barely have time to get through the new legislation, let alone have time to see patterns.  Most of the time, when in the office, I’m in reaction mode.  Trying to stay above water.  It’s been nice having a bit of breathing room lately.  I’ve even taken a few classes in other things I’m interested in learning.

What about you?  Have you been working from home?  How is that going?

How I stay Organized and On Task

Very often I’m asked how I manage to do so many things.  How do I have time for two blogs, a full time job, launching a business, keeping a house without help (the husband helps a little) and philanthropy work.  Nope, I’m not super human, nor am I a robot.  The way I manage all these things in my life is by staying organized and on task.  Yes, I still, sometimes, fall off the wagon and procrastinate.  I AM HUMAN.  We all need to take time to play and forget the to do list sometimes.  The difference is that I make sure I get back on track as soon as possible.

I use a few apps to help me stay focused.  All the apps I use sync across all my devices, my MacBook, my iPad and my iPhone.  Although I am fully integrated in the Apple ecosystem you don’t have to be.

Voice Memo

An idea pops up when you least expect it.  When that happens I don’t always have the time to look for a pen and paper or open my phone to the right application or location where I can record the idea.  I’m not sure you’re like me, but if I don’t record the idea as soon as it pops up in my brain I will lose it forever.  Yep, even if I tell myself that I am going to remember it.  I’ve used every trick in the book to try to remember it and it never works.  So, I now record my thoughts and when I can I listen to them again and if I still think they are good ideas I transfer them to my idea incubator where other ideas are sitting waiting for the right time to make their appearance.

A calendar

Recently I have been testing Google Calendar.  I’ve been using iCal since the iPhone first came out and I like it but I’m bored with it.  Google Calendar is not much different but it is a little prettier. I think Apple is slacking off on some of their applications.

I use my calendar as an event reminder…. dentist and doctors’ appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, dinners out…. you know the normal stuff.  I tried calendar blocking but I’m not big on that.  I do it for work where I block a few hours each day for uninterrupted work.  But my personal calendar I don’t feel the need to do it and it doesn’t work for me in the same way.   For those of you who don’t know what calendar blocking is; it’s when you block time to do planned things.  So if you have to write a blog post, you block a few hours that week when you are going to just write your blog post…. if you have to prepare for a presentation, you block your calendar that week to prepare for the presentation.  It’s a great idea but for the work that I do in my personal life even my business (blogs and the launch of the new business) I usually just plan to do the task on a day and fit it in as I go along.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes I move it to another day.


This is the meat and bones of my planning.  I plan everything in Notion.   I’ve been using Notion on and off for the past few years.  Two months ago I went all in.  I use Notion now to store all my thoughts, articles I want to read later, yearly goals, monthly goals and projects, thoughts and ideas, my book lists, my articles, movies to watch and music to listen to.

When planning I use notion to break down my goals into projects and then my projects into actionable tasks.  The actionable tasks become my daily to do’s (sort of).  One of the things that I still have not figured out how to do in Notion is to schedule recurring tasks.  You know those tasks you do every couple of days or every couple of weeks.  So in a way I’m still using Apple Reminders to help me with those.

I also use Notion to help with my bills.  I created a database to track all the household bills and that database roles up to my daily tasks so when there’s a bill due it shows up on my daily page.  I will try to figure out how to do a video about my Notion set up and as soon as I can figure out how to do get it done right I will post it.  I think it will make more sense if I do it that way.


All of this planning can be done with a pen and paper.  The trick is to make sure you review each of the steps on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.  Don’t let one thing fall through the cracks or you will have to pick up the pieces and it can be so discouraging that you wind up letting it all fall apart.  I set up meetings with myself to review my week every Sunday and get ready for the next week.  At the end of the month I have a meeting with myself again to review my month.

Being methodical about my planning helps me make sure I stay on track.  Sure sometimes I slack off…. how many times have I promised to be more consistent with my writing here on the blog only to fail?  More times than I care to remember.  And, as I mentioned above, every time I come back it’s a struggle to get the ball rolling and get into a routine.

Let me know how you keep yourself organized and on task.  Do you use a pen and paper?  Do you use an app or many apps?  Let’s start a conversation below in the comments.

Thanks and I’ll see you in my next post.

Four Tips for Managing a Remote Team

Photo from ReadersDigest No copyright infringement intended. 

Working remotely is becoming increasingly popular.  Why shouldn’t it?  Remote work benefits both the company and the employee.  The employee is able to work in a much less rigid environment and not waste time commuting back and forth allowing, or aiding, in a better work/life balance (note that I’m not a fan of that saying and I don’t believe it can ever be achieved).  It benefits the employer because it is extremely less expensive than having to pay the overhead of having employees in an office which is becoming less and less economical.

However, working from home has some drawbacks.  Such as not having the face-to-face time with the higher ups which for some may mean less chance of promotions.  The thing I found the hardest was not having the daily conversations which allow me to get to know my team on a more deep level and therefore allows me to be a better manager.  Not everyone is the same and the more you know each member of your team as an individual the better you are at foreseeing “problems” before they arise.  Even though these are some very important examples, there are things we can do to minimize them. Here are four tips I use to make sure things run smoothly.

Clear Org Charts

Make sure everyone knows who management is.  Especially new employees.  Make sure they know to whom they report and to whom they should go for answers.  I’m not a believer “in the boss is not to be bothered” or even that unless you’re at a certain level you should not be talking to anyone above you.  However, but there are some people that are not as deep in the trenches of the day to day minutia and most likely will not know the answer to the smaller questions.  A clear org chart will give the new employee a connection and a roadmap of where to go as well as a better idea of where they stand and the possibilities of where they might go.

I am a strong proponent of including a little information about what the person does so as to give the employee a better idea of who will be able to answer a specific question.  For example, I would not go to a technology person to ask about legal research and probably not a project manager, although some have been paralegals or have been around the block so much that they can probably do legal research or at least be able to answer where to find the information.

Communication – Clear and Transparent

Giving clear instructions and information is always important.  Possibly in the top three of importance.  But never more important than when the team is remote.  Make sure every member of the team understands the “ask” of the project and what their particular job is within the project.  The way I manage this is to, after meeting with the team and giving them a brief background of the project (why we’re doing it and who needs it) I follow it up with an email confirming the steps we all need to take.  I invite the team to ask questions at all steps of the project.  I let everyone know that my in-office messenger is always available to them for a quick question and, because I’m only human, I let everyone know that I don’t always have the answers but most likely I know where to find the answers or at least find someone who knows the answers.

As for transparency?  Set up check-in points with the full team and perhaps individually.  This will depend on the project.  It is important to give honest feedback and if something isn’t working it is important to share that information with the team.  Who knows, they may have a solution and a fix for the problem.  Be honest and up front if a mistake is made and clearly state it.  Ask for feedback and move on.

Two Way Feedback

It is important to provide your team members with immediate feedback.  It should never be a surprise when you are sitting at the end of the year review or at a mid-year review that there was something you did when you were in charge of project A or B.  That is not the time to come up with what could have been done better.  I am a firm believer in always giving feedback.  Good or bad.  This goes both ways.  I very ofter ask my team members to provide me with feedback.  This helps me make sure we are all on the same page and if I need to make changes to the way I manage.

The Right Technology

What can I say about this?  It shouldn’t even be said but there are many occasions when a team member is not able to do their job because some part of the technology is not working.  Make sure every team members is aware of the type of access they need, they know where to go get it and if they don’t have it or need special access you immediately approve all the requests.  I usually try to set up a few minutes during our first launch meeting to make sure everyone on the team is set up appropriately and if not I ask them the make the requests at that time.  This way we are all on the same page and I am able to approve all requests at the same time.

Can you think of any other important aspects of managing a remote team?




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.



    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



    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.


    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.

    Compliance vs. Legal — The Past Month

    Picture from
    Picture from

    Yep. I just looked at my last post and it was written over a month ago. Shame on me. How can I expect you guys to be interested or stick around here if I don’t take the time to say hello, at least. Anyway, this is not an excuse or anything like that. Actually, if I’m serious about wanting to help you or make this blog grow, nothing should be standing in the way, right?????

    So what happened in the time I have been away from the blog? Well, I changed positions at work. If you recall I was working in compliance. I left my paralegal role in one large bank and joined the compliance department of another large bank. Did I like it? Yeah, I guess I enjoyed it well enough. I didn’t like enough to stay, though. I am glad I did it. Why? you might ask. Well, it taught me two things? 1) that I really, really (can I say really one more time?) really…. haha… like being a paralegal. 2) Compliance is not for me.

    So what do I see as the biggest difference? Both roles involve regulatory change management, both roles involve research of the various regulators in charge of our money and what our financial institutions can or cannot do with our money. Most of the day is spent trolling those regulatory bodies, in both positions….. So why would I take this position is if sounds like the same thing? Well, the reason is the actual role.

    A compliance officer advises the business. The compliance officer is much closer to the business than the lawyer. Although the lawyer must be familiar with the business, the lawyer really does not, and has no time to be concerned with the intricacies of the business….. that’s the compliance officers’ job. So the lawyer interprets the law and hands it over to the compliance officer to give it a second look and say….. Well. Here’s what legal says, here’s what we do and here’s what we have to stop doing in order to remain in compliance with what the regulator is saying. There is so much “advising” that needs to be done that the compliance officer has no time to read and interpret.

    Don’t get me wrong. I do like knowing the business and I learned quite a bit about the big money machine. However, I learned these past few years that I am ok with knowing the business superficially enough to know it but my passion is in really knowing the law.

    As a paralegal I have the time to really get into the regulators’ heads….. Sometimes not a happy place to be and most of the time a frustrating proposition. If you have tried to read a bill, a proposal and eventually a new law….. Holly heck….. Yesterday I was actually wondering if the law was written in English….. that, at times, is the fun of it.

    So, why did I go back to the legal department? Well, it came down to what my passion is. My passion is reading and writing and learning the law. My passion is to sit with books (these days the computer or the iPad) and read, highlight, make notes, and eventually be able to put into words what I believe the law addresses. In compliance, while I got to look at new laws, if I were to stay and follow my passion, as stated above, my role would have morphed into a data entry person. There is no time to read, understand and digest it. If I were to move up in a compliance role, I would have had to give up that passion. I would have had to rely on legal to really get into the weeds of the law so that I could get into the weeds of the business. I would not be able to spend as much time as I would like in being well versed in the legalities of what is or is not allowed. Someone else would have to do that and I would have to take their word for it.

    I chose to follow my passion. I am busier than I have been the past 3 years, since I came to this new firm. However, I am happier than I have been at this firm. There is something to be said for figuring out who you are and doing what comes naturally to you. I enjoy being surrounded by words and then taking those words, which at times are a bit incomprehensible, and have them make sense to someone who does not get a chance to sit and analyze them. I have that luxury now. Research and analysis is my thing. That’s what I enjoy doing.

    So, I’m often asked what my advice is for someone just getting started in their career. My advice is to figure out what you love to do. To figure that out, thing about what you can spend hours on and not mind, what would you do even if you were not getting paid for it and then go out and find a place where you can do that and get paid for it as well.

    I hope all this works. I have been in my new role for a month now and it looks like things are finally getting settled and I’m not playing catch up. I will try to go back to some type of schedule on the blog so you guys don’t forget about me. I’m also thinking, I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Would you guys like a YouTube channel to go along with this blog? Think that’s a good idea? Would you subscribe? Would you guys want to see have a YouTube channel to go along with this blog?

    Let me know. Nice chatting with you all and I’ll see on my next blog post.