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?




It’s been a LONG Year!!!!

Hi!!! Not really sure how to start this.  It’s been a year…. a very LONG year.  I think the last thing I posted was on the Facebook page and it was about how the firm I work for was going to start lay offs.  Yep…. that was last year and as I understand it it will happen in the next few months.  I’ve been told that I am part of the group that is being let go.  although when I first heard it I was angry and upset and…. honestly…. hurt.  I gave so much and this is where it got me!

I’ve had time to think it through:

I’m still a little upset.  But I have had time to process what this means and I think it’s actually going to be a good thing.  I am getting laid off,  I am losing my job and I am trying to figure out how we can live on one income which is scary but…. I am going to have more time to dedicate to my passion of mentoring paralegals, I am going to have the time to write and I am very much looking forward to creating a new future.  Losing my job can be the best thing that ever happened to me.

It’s 2:00 a.m. and I’ve been up thinking about what I want to do with the rest of my life for about an hour now….. I know…… it’s crazy but my brain won’t get quiet so I thought I’d post since it’s been forever.

What I am thinking (long and short term)

  1. Mentor new paralegals;
  2. Create a Paralegal Network;
  3. Speak on Paralegal Utilization;
  4. Create online courses;
  5. Advocate for the profession;
  6. Continue writing this blog;
  7. Re-launch the newsletter;
  8. Guest posts once per month;
  9. Launch a paralegal magazine;

What I need from you

I would really appreciate if you could spread the word about The Paralegal.  If you can, and feel comfortable, speak to your bosses, managers and fellow paralegals let them know that there is this amazing paralegal who would be willing to create a training webinar to help them better utilize paralegals in a way that would increase productivity, morale and their bottom line.  We all know that is possible, now we just need to convince them.

If you could do this for me I will be eternally grateful.

I’m gonna go now and start working on that training webinar and brainstorm articles for the newsletter.  I hope you’re subscribed if not, please just fill out the form and join the party.

This is going to be an adventure.  Look for more posts from me in the near future and the revival of the newsletter in the next month or so.

Thanks for hanging in there.



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.


In The News – What has the Paralegal Been Reading


As most of you know reading is one of the ways I relax.  I’m not much into watching television so, after a long day, while the husband relaxes watching whatever shows he enjoys watching I am usually sitting or laying down next to him reading on my iPad.  These are some of the bits of the things which caught my interest.

After a Summer full of activities and sometimes spending more money than most of us budgeted for the fall is a great time to revisit our spreadsheets, or Mint or whatever method you use to make sure you are going to have enough to enjoy the holidays.  Mint published a great list of Money Moves for Fall.

Are you guilty of pointing fingers?  Do you sometimes get annoyed at how some people seem to have it so easy and seem to be struggling to get ahead?  Well, I know I am guilty of that, sometimes.  We’re all human and sometimes we can’t help but be a bit jealous or envious of those who seem to have it all.  This week I read a great article in  Sometimes what looks like privilege to us is actually the product of many years of struggle.  Take a moment to read this article and then take some time to actually assess if you agree.  Some Thoughts on “Privilege.”

Every morning and every evening when I’m commuting from New Jersey into New York for work I wonder if other people go through the same annoyance as I do.  For instance, last night, the subway was so crowded I couldn’t find a place to hold on to.  I’m short, so I can’t reach the top railing — you know the one that hangs above you head — so I need to rely on the poles. Well, unless I morphed into Gumbywoman I was not going to be able to hold on.  I tried to balance myself without holding on which makes for an interesting commute.  Good thing I was not wearing heels.  This morning I found some pictures Proof that Rush House is Kinda Terrible Everywhere which made me feel much better.  Misery does love company, after all.

While we’re on the subject of pictures….. What’s this about?  I do’t even know what to say to that.  Is it really necessary to post a notice like this?  What are we coming to?

You all know I really enjoy being a paralegal.  Maybe I’ve always been lucky and I have never been treated disrespectfully because I’m a paralegal.  Sure, I have been disrespected.  However, not because of my chosen profession but because some people are just jerks.  They can’t help that and honestly not something I can change.  It’s their problem and I can only feel sorry for them.  When I saw this article in Legal Cheek, I thought it best to write something here in case some of you are thinking about becoming paralegals.  It’s funny and some of them are probably going to wind up in my Pinterest but it’s not what the profession is about.  Remember you do have a choice in everything you do.



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 ""

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.

Time Management

Every paralegal knows, whether you’re billing your time or, if you are one of the lucky ones, not, managing those 7.5 hours of a day is crucial. Yes I know what you’re thinking, 7.5 hours a day is a rarity. Here are some tips that I have developed for the two biggest time wasters.

Electronic Mail
One of my biggest issues is email. No matter how diligent I try to be, the email in my in-box seems to multiply. I try not to let it pile up and acknowledge receiving it as soon as I get it. I have learned that if I just view it and not open it, it continues to show in my in-box as not read even after I send an acknowledgement. By keeping the email unread I am reminded that I still have not responded to the question and am able to, at the end of my day or early the next day dedicate sometime to research and provide an answer to the email. However, as soon as I get the email I send a response to the person who sent it to me letting them know that I received the email and will get back to them as soon as I have a minute. In doing this, I am letting the person know that I am not ignoring. One of my biggest pet-peeves is being ignored. I don’t want others to feel I’m ignoring them.

The Telephone
This can be the biggest time waster in the office. People will call and even though it may be with a business purpose, they will begin chatting. “let’s schedule lunch ” or “how was your weekend?” although I enjoy chatting and sharing ideas with co-workers there is a time and a place for everything. In the middle of my getting a huge project done which is due tomorrow for the committee meeting, I have learned, it is not the best use of my time. I’m not one to advise you to let calls go into voice mail. I find that to be a bigger waste of time. Ok, so sometimes it’s necessary. However more often than not it isn’t.
Letting the call go to voice mail will only make you have to go back, listen to the voice message, write notes and return the call. It is much easier to pick up the phone and let the caller know that, although the call is important, this is not the best time since you are under a hard dead-line. Most people will understand if you ask them politely if you can return their call. I pick up the call and explain that I am under a huge deadline and will get back to them as soon as possible. I immediately write their name and number down on a notepad that I keep right next to the phone. Do not use a post-it note. I have found that the sticky part of the note dries up and they fly away or somehow it ends up in the recycle bin. By picking up the phone and letting the caller know you are busy you are giving the message that the call and the caller are important to you but this is not a good time. At the end of the day i make sure i pick up the phone and am able to give my full attention to the caller and the issue they called about i can then choose to either work on the matter at that time or the next day. I always let the caller know which i will be doing.

What about you? What do you think are the biggest time wasters? What have you developed in order to minimize them? I would love to hear from you.

Let’s Help Japan

I am just a paralegal who goes to work every day.  Some days I’m really excited about going to work and there are days that I’m not so excited.  However, I have a place to go every morning and do something that I cho0se and love to do.

While I sit here tonight, after a very long day at the office, I am trying to relax and watch the news about the latest occurrences in Japan.  Earthquake, Tsunami and now the fire in the nuclear reactor.  There’s a reporter on the news talking about how the after-shocks have not stopped and how stressful it is for the Japanese people.  I cannot help but think about all the young women that would give anything to be able to get up tomorrow morning and head to the office just like I will.  I have always heard about “paying it forward” and “he to whom much is given much is expected.”  I cannot help but think that it is my time to finally pay it forward and give some hope to those who I’m sure are feeling like hope is lost.

I made a decision, sitting here on my couch.  At the end of April I will be donating some money to help the people of Japan.  I have a proposition to make to all of you.  I will be opening up a PayPal account (I will let you all know when that’s done) and would like it if you sent money, it doesn’t have to be much, as much as you can spare, and I will send it to an organization of our choice.  I would ask that with your donation you send me the name of your blog or website, in whose name you would like me to send the donation, and what organization you would like to have the money sent to.  During the last week of April I will post all the organizations and the one that gets the most votes will be the one to whom we will donate.

As a thank you for your donation I will add your blog and/or website to my blog as well as invite you to be a guest blogger on my blog or I can be a guest blogger on your blog.  Let’s see what we can do together.

I know this is unorthodox but I feel like we need to do something.  Thank you so much in advance for participating and for the inspiration.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at or post a comment below.

Thank you so much

I’m not sure how many of you know, since I’m not going to assume that most of you are as fascinated by new gadgets as I am, that yesterday Apple launched a software upgrade for the iPad.  The upgrade was not supposed to go live until March 11th but it appears Mr. Jobs took pity on us poor souls who purchased the iPad a few months ago and now are feeling totally jealous that the iPad 2 will be out tomorrow will have more fun stuff to play with (well, I’m jealous).  But I digress…. I came home and ran to my computer to download the software.  I don’t have to tell you that by now I’m starving, I’m tired and all I want to do is sit in front of the television and veg.  Some nights, when I’m feeling particularly adventurous I may even sit on the couch with a glass of wine and read a book.  These days I’m reading GMAT prep stuff so that may be why I want the television…. I’m digressing again.

Imagine my shock when I plugged the iPad to the computer and realized that it would be three hours before I could test out the new upgrade…. what to do, what to do…. I don’t want to leave the computer as if by sitting here and staring at the screen will make things go faster.  So, here I sit.  Since I have nothing else to do and I want to forget about food for the time being, I decided to come and check out my blog.  I know, I know, I haven’t written anything in a while.  It’ll come, you wouldn’t be writing either if all you could think about was this foreign thing that I’m forcing myself to learn, calculus and algebra.  It should really be re-learning but I’ve been out of school so long that I don’t think I ever learned that.

I looked at an empty screen for a while trying to figure out what to write about and then did something I don’t normally do.  I checked out the stats.  I promised myself I wouldn’t do that.  Although I always hoped to help or encourage other paralegals or others thinking of becoming paralegals I never expected it, the blog, to really go anywhere.  I always just thought of this blog as a place where I could think out-loud.  I knew some were reading it since I get some comments once in a while and I’ve had some schools call me to ask if they could use some of my writings on their websites.  I have always looked at these occurrences as a happy coincidence, to use my favorite word in the English language, a serendipity.  Someone just happened upon the site and liked something I wrote.  Well, today, I was in for a surprise.  I realized that I actually have subscribers.  Not just one or two but quite a few.  I know most of my blogger friends have a lot more than I do I honestly never expected to get as many as I have.  I am humbled.  Thank you all so much for making me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile and giving me the opportunity to express myself and my love for my chosen profession.

Please, let me know what you would like to see the blog grow into and I will try to figure out a way to provide it.  Keep in mind that is a bit hectic and I may not post as often as I would like to.  However,  my schedule and the pressures I have recently put on myself are self-imposed and certainly not your fault.  Nevertheless, these pressures and time constraints are a big factor in my lack of sleep and apparently eating habits… Still waiting for the darn thing to download and then I have to do the phone.

Anyway, again, thank you all sooooo much and I hope I can continue to give you all what you have come to expect from me.


The Office Holiday Party

It’s the holiday season and for many of us that means there will be office parties, luncheons, maybe even drinks with the co-workers.  If you’re anything like me, you look forward to spending some time outside of the office with everyone.

There are a few rules you should keep in mind when taking part in these office festivities.

It is ok to be friendly and have a drink with your co-workers.  However, keep in mind that these people are not your childhood buddies and one drink is more than enough to be social.  Not drinking at all is probably the best approach but if you’re going to drink make sure you keep it to a minimum.  Remember that the next day you are still going to need to be respected and get your job done.  Going shot for shot with the boss is not going to win you a promotion any time soon.  On the contrary, it may wind up getting you fired.

What you wear says a lot about you:  You have been invited to an office function.  When choosing what to wear remember that you are not dressing for a club, hanging with your friends or a day at the country club.  Find something comfortable but appropriate.  For the guys a pair of slacks and a button down is always a safe choice.  For the women a nice knee length dress or skirt with a twin set or sweater are great choices.  This is not the time to express your individuality.

For those that are lucky enough to be able to bring their significant others to the party please remember that public displays of affection can make others very uncomfortable.

Remember to mingle.  There is no reason you should sit at your table all night.  Remember to use this opportunity to get to know people in other departments.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to know what a certain department does.   This is the time to introduce yourself to someone in that department and ask questions.  Maybe even mention that you are willing to volunteer to take on some of their work just so you can learn.  Remember that networking is very important.

There will be pictures.  Lots of pictures and in today’s social networking world a lot of those pictures will wind up on the internet, on someone’s FaceBook page or Twitter.  Remember to not give anyone reason to question your actions.

If you have to ask whether or not you should do something, most likely your should not do it.  Be popular because you’re smart and a good paralegal, not because you got someone’s number at the office holiday party.