Promoting Others in the Field and Other Changes on the Blog


I know it’s been a long time since I got on here and chatted with you all.  My days at the office have been really long and by the time I get home the last thing I want to do is turn on my computer again and write more.  Most nights I feel like I don’t even have the brain power to put a coherent sentence together much less a whole new article.

I have been working with some of my readers to put together a series of writings by you, the readers.  In a few weeks there will be an article posted written by a paralegal at a law firm in Florida.  My goal with this blog has always been to promote the profession and the professionals.  As paralegals, we can use all the help we can get to tell others about us and about what we do.  So, if you want to be featured and and tell others about you, what you do, what you like or not like about the profession, please send me an article and we can work together to highlight you and your achievements.

This blog is written for you and now it’s also written by you.  I’m super excited about this new series and look forward to learning about each and every one of my readers.

Thank you all so much for your support all these years and for you patience when life gets the best of me and I go missing for a few months.  I will try to be better but right now I’m not sure I can promise an article every day.

Another thing I’m thinking about is to do a new feature about how manage my time, plan my day and organize my crazy busy life.  Between my fundraising (I am currently working on a non-profit for women and girls), my day job (working at the legal department of the financial firm), my personal life (which honestly has taken a back seat) and this blog (which is so far list) and my planner creations (I’m a paper person and I really love planners and planner functional decorations) I have a lot of balls up in the air.  Sometimes things fall through the cracks and I’ve learned that I cannot beat myself up for allowing that to happen once in a while.  All I can do is make sure that when I do something I do it well and I’m providing a benefit to someone.  If I can accomplish that I declare it a win.

So, the next couple of weeks you will some changes, some additions in the format of the posts and maybe some added pages to encompass all these areas of my life in one spot.  I think that will make it easier.  I will ensure that I keep them all in separate categories so as to not make you read things you are not interested in reading.

Looking forward to being back more often and engaging with you all more one on one basis.  I do hope you get involved.

Thank you

Ana

Work Life Balance – My Thoughts on it


Let me just get this out of the way…… THERE’S NO SUCH THING.  Work life balance is a pretty statement someone made up to fool us into chasing something that will forever elude us.

I realize the above statement is a bit negative.  Not meant to be at all.  There is a balance but it is not what we have been thought to believe.  No one is saying that if you are a working woman or man you will never have a life.  Of course you will.  Work is life…. it is part of life so right there it is part of the juggling act we all have to do.

As a working woman, for the most part of my adult life I have learned that I can find happiness (another term that annoys me) but that it’s not going to be a 50/50 outcome.  When something is going on outside of work which demands my attention, work will have to wait while I finish whatever it is that I’m doing.  Then I need to focus on work and other things will have to suffer.

Both my parents worked.  My mother chose to not be a stay at home mom and my father was super supportive.  They went to work every day but weekends were dedicated to the family.  We spent all vacations together – there was never a time that my mother went off on her own, although I’m sure if she needed to do it we would have all support her decision and she would have done that in order to bring balance to herself so she could be the best mom – and she was.

So here is my view….. Be the best you can be in everything you choose to do.  If you are a stay at home mom or wife (not everyone has children) that’s fine.  You, also have a life outside of that home and outside of the family.  Know that in order to be the best mom and best wife you can be, you have to put yourself first.  It’s not selfish, it’s the truth.  Even on airplanes they tell you to adjust your mask first.  Without taking care of yourself you are in no condition to take care of anyone else.  If you, instead, choose to have a career outside the home, know that the decision is yours to make and you are not taking anything away from anyone (i.e. your husband and/or your children).  Also, realize that you are also not forced to give your job your best and save the rest for the family.  We always say that family comes first – true, family should come first and if there is a life or death situation you should pick family first but like everything else – depends on the family right?  In my mind, it never depends on the job!!!! Just saying.

Sometimes work must come first.  For example – let’s say you and your family have just gotten home from an amazing vacation away.  You’re back at work and you have to catch up on emails, that report that waited until you were back – My view is that work, that week would take precedence over my family.  I would, obviously, let everyone know that if something happened or they needed me for some special reason I would put work aside to be with them, but under normal circumstances, that week was a dedicated “work comes first” week.

Nothing in life is 50/50.  I think the balance is in knowing when to let something take second place in order to focus on the issue that needs to take first place in our lives.

This is the lesson that has taken me years (50 to be precise) to learn.  Let go of the fantasy that I can be the best wife, sister, employee, manager, etc. all at the same time.  Sometimes I will suck at being a wife and sometimes I will suck at being a manager or an employee.

The thing that I can never suck at is at being me.

Paralegals – How to Organize a File


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Being organized is one of the things paralegals are called upon to do well.  We have to be able to find all things at a moment’s notice.  So to have a place for everything and everything in it’s place is a must for all of us.  In the  February Newsletter  I am starting a “Being and Staying Organized” series so make sure you sign up for more tips and tricks.

Most offices where you will be working or are currently working, have file cabinets labeled from A – Z along a wall in the hallway or sometimes inside a file room.  I even worked in an office where each paralegal kept a file cabinet in his/her own office with the files they handled.  The file cabinets are filled to the brim with large files which are also known as red wells,  in alphabetical order, by client name.  This is usually consistent across the industry and good thing too, because it makes it easy for everyone to know how to find the files and most of the time, unless the filing gets backed up, how to find the documents needed within a particular file.

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A red well is a large cardboard folder/pocket where you keep all the STUFF that goes along with a particular subject matter.  Think of a folder that you carry with you in school where you store all the syllabus and documents you receive from the professor.  When you open up a red well, you should be able to quickly find all the paper which relates to the subject matter you’re working on…. In the case of a paralegal in a law firm the red well should contain all the documents relating to a particular client.  Making sure these “pockets” the red wells stay organized and up to date is your job in most law firms.  A great way to ensure you are not going to get a call on your day off when your attorney or the paralegal taking over for you while you’re on vacation need to find something is to keep these files up to date and organized.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are things that never change from file to file.  Meaning that no matter where you’re working or what type of law you practice, there are things that you will always be able to find in a file.  However, there are nuances about filing systems that each law firm will have and to which you will have to adapt but those will be, or at least should be, part of your on-boarding and therefore nothing for you to have to worry about right now.

A typical file will have the following contents:

1. Correspondence folder
2. Notes folder
3. Memos folder

Then, depending on the type of law you practice, there will be other folders with which you will have to be familiar.    For example if you practice litigation you will need a pleadings folder, a motions folder.  Personally I like to have a folder for each motion – I will explain this in detail during my upcoming Paralegal Master Class  in a few short months.  For now feel free to subscribe to the Newsletter and I’ll make sure you get all the updates regarding the newsletter and my upcoming Paralegal Master Class.

Let’s put aside the type of law you practice and let’s instead look at the typical file, which is half the battle.

Correspondence Folder

I like to keep this file in chronological order starting at the bottom.  Eventually, you will probably have more than one correspondence folder so I like to number them “Correspondence 1 (date from – date to)” and then start a “Correspondence 2 (also with the dates).”  This helps me make sure that when I’m looking for something within a particular date range, I don’t have to pull all the files out of the red wells.  I can go to the one that I’m looking for and search in there.  Also, the reason I like to keep the oldest correspondence at the bottom is because more often than not the stuff you will be looking for is not going to be super old so it’s just easier to flip through less pages.

So what do I consider correspondence?  Anything that is a communication from one party to another.  Not sure letters from the client to you or from the experts or the court.  I consider anything that communicates one party’s actions to another party to be communication.  See my February Newsletter for reasons further tips.

The Notes Folder

This folder is pretty self explanatory.  Here you should keep anything that relates to any notes you take.  Who knows, you may be reviewing a report from an expert and find something that you think may lead you to something you want to add to an interrogatory question. Write it down and put it in the notes folder.  Make sure you add the date on the note and, again, file everything in chronological order.  Maybe even put a little tab sticking out so you can be reminded when drafting your interrogatories.

Did you just sit down with the lawyer to talk through some ideas and strategies about this particular file?  Make sure that once you get back to your desk you take out your notes and clean them up and insert them in the notes file, again with the date so you can be reminded.  I also use these notes to create my to-do lists on the various files.

Did you just get a call from an expert or from a witness and wrote down some notes?  Make sure you insert the date and put in the notes file…. You get the idea….. Any time you create a note, make sure you add the date and put it in the notes file.

See my February Newsletter for more information and tips on Notes Files

Memos Folder

Sometimes things that we do generate memos. For example, if you attend a deposition with the lawyer you will probably be asked to summarize your thoughts and what happened in the deposition so that the lawyer can get a view from a different perspective.  Most of the time that’s why paralegals attend depositions.  As someone who does not have to be asking the questions, the paralegal is able to see things that lawyers may not see because they are busy asking the questions and trying to follow up with another question.

Anything with write up for your lawyer’s review about the case you should date and include in the memo’s section.

When I drafted a summary of a medical record I would print out two copies and one copy would go into my memos folder and the other into a folder for that particular medical provider.

See my February Newsletter for more information and tips on the Memos file.

 

Top 5 Books I want to Read in 2018


Non-Fiction Edition

I know it’s a bit late in the month to do a Top 5 books I want to read in 2018. Before it gets even later in the month, let’s get started with my Top Five Books. These are in no particular order.

the Success Principles

The first time I heard of Jack Canfield was when I picked up a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul. I didn’t buy it then and I don’t think I’ve ever read it (need to do something about that) but for some reason I never forgot the name of the author. The next time I heard the name was during the movie The Secret. I immediately became fascinated by his story and began looking for books by him. For some reason I never picked up Chicken Soup for the Soul (maybe I should). However, I picked up The Success Principles and immediately read it cover to cover. It’s been a while now. Recently I heard about a new publication of the book in celebration of the 10th anniversary and since I had a credit on my Audible account, I thought I’d get it. Considering my 2.5 hour commute to work and then again back home……. I figured I could at least be doing something productive so, why not listen to how to be successful. The book is not a how to be successful, per se. It is instead about how you can improve certain aspects of yourself which in turn will allow you to open yourself up to success. I’m really looking forward to starting this book soon. I’m ready to be a super success :).

Judgement Detox

Judging ourselves and others is a waste of energy. I am guilty of both, more often than not I’m my worst critic and tend to judge myself much more harshly than others do. A perfect example seems to be every year at the time of my annual review I’m always the first one to comment on areas to can work on to improve. On the other hand, others seem to acknowledge my accomplishments and my successes much more readily than I. . I will be honest, I have another another book by the same author that I haven’t read yet The Universe Has Your Back. This year I’ll get to both of these…… Promise to myself.

Time Management Magic

We all have 24 hours at our disposal. Why is it that some people tend to get so much done and seem to have the energy to go on for another 24 hours and I’m feeling depleted at the end of the day and I feel as I didn’t even scratch the surface of the to-do list? I would imagine that the answer would be choices but….. I haven’t read the book so I’m not going to guess. This book was written by an ex-Disney employee who, while working at Disney and managing 100s of people developed time management and life hacks to take control of his time and succeed. I’m sure you all know by now that I’m a sucker for a good time management hack. This is at the top of the list, for sure.

The Slight Edge

One of my many goals this year is to make the choices that will ultimately bring me to my happy place. This year I’m going to concentrate on TheParalegal and make create something we can all use. I want TheParalegal to be your go-to place for your paralegal life. This book speaks about choices that we all make that lead to that much elusive happiness. I am looking forward to this read.

Build Your Dream Network

I feel like this book was tailored just for me and all other introverts like me. As an introvert, sometimes it’s really difficult for me to create the networks that everyone seems to have no trouble surrounding themselves with. This year, as mentioned above, I am focused on making connections. On helping others achieve their own successes. I am looking to this book to open some doors and help me develop the connections I need to bring you the connections you need.

So that’s the list

From the list above, it looks like this year is going to be very much a year of growth for me and for TheParalegal. I am determined to make things happen for all of us. Don’t be fooled though. I have a few fiction books on my list too but I’ll let you digest this list for now. Look for my Top Five Fiction Books I want to Read in 2018.

What about you? What do you want to read this year? Is there anything you would like to suggest I include on my list? what about a book about paralegals? I’ve been looking for something like that and haven’t been able to find a good one. Do you have any suggestions? Please leave comments below.

On a totally separate note…. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I’ve created a Facebook page and Facebook group and I would love if you went to visit me there. I will be posting my tips and tricks that I learned in my 20 years of being a paralegal in law firms and in-house. I will be putting up training videos as well as templates I used and still use to make my life easier. It’ll be a bit until I can do all that but the goal is to provide you with as many resources as possible to make your day-to-day easier. I’m also working on launching a newsletter in February and if you’re subscribed to my email list you will receive a FREE copy of the newsletter where I will also be featuring up and coming legal issues, paralegal tips and tricks, books I want to read, new things I learned and when able to I will have some interviews. I am serious about wanting to make this a place where we can all come to for answers with no judgement. I want to be able to provide you with all the information and resources I wish I had when I was starting out.

Please go say hello at @ThisParalegalLife and say hello and if you’ve subscribed to the blog via email, look for the newsletter announcement soon. I’m so excited for 2018!!!!!!!

I cannot wait to see you and start working on my networking goals.

XoXo

A Letter to My Subscribers


I wanted to take a bit of your time to tell you about myself.  I’ve been a paralegal for 20 years and have had this blog for a while.  TheParalegal, started as a means to share knowledge with new paralegals and attorneys about the paralegal profession. I really enjoy being a paralegal and am so proud of my chosen profession.  I hate it when it’s mischaracterized and want to dispel the myths.  I posted on and off for a few years, considered leaving the profession, considered alternatives to being what I feel is my calling and there were times I was not able to dedicate myself to the blog so there were months that I went without posting.  In those instances, when life got too busy or confusing, TheParalegal continued to grow,  I continued to get questions and receive emails from many of you. Fast forward to the present and “new year, new you” right? I decided to fully revive the blog and dedicate it to all the paralegals.

The goal in 2018 is to make the blog a resource for the professional paralegal and the lawyers who are willing to stand by us, to serve as a mentor, to serve as a friend…. In short, to serve.

In the short term, I am looking to start a FREE monthly newsletter and in the future I would love to write a book; a manual for the paralegal professional. I also want to start doing seminars and webinars. Along with these goals and my full time job I plan on being a super busy paralegal but I’m really looking forward to 2018. I’m attaching a link here and ask you that you please go and sign up to my email list. I promise I won’t spam you and I will certainly not sell your email address to anyone. I will use it to announce new things coming out on the blog, thank you gifts I may be giving and seminars and presentations I may be doing.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time. I look forward to connecting and exchanging tips and tricks.

Please… one more favor.  If you can please subscribe to the mailing list you will be advised of all “coming attractions.”  I will not spam you or sell your email to any third parties.  Thank you so much! Looking forward to a great 2018.

Ana

How To Plan Your Day and Be Organized


This is how I do it!!!!!

Who knew that it would take me so long to figure out how to get some control of my days. I say some because complete control of my day when there are so many moving parts is but a dream. No sooner do I think I have some control and everything is going smoothly when …. Well you know….. For some time I considered and even attempted to use two planners. For me this was more trouble that it was worth it. For you it may work and if you want to test it and need some help, let me know I will give you templates and show you how I organized my work planner. As I said, for me two planners are not a solution. After, all, I am one person, I have one life therefore I need one planner. Carrying two planners around or having to sync two planners became a hassle. Things started falling through the cracks. I found found myself playing catch up all the time because I hadn’t checked one planner against the other.

Fast forward a few planners and planner a few planner hacks and this is how I plan my days today ….. happy to report it’s been working. I will say that I’m still working through some project management issues and testing applications for project management but for my day to day planning and organizing I use my Filofax Malden in purple.

I only keep monthly pages (month on two pages) and daily pages (day on two pages).  I carry the full year in my monthly pages because I use that for forward planning but I only carry the current month on my daily pages for now.  Depending on where I land for the project management issue that may be changing…. Stay tuned for further developments.   My daily pages are my EVERYTHING. I plan on those, I track on those and sometimes I journal on those (short one liners) or at least I make sure I write down one thing for which I’m thankful that day. I keep both work and personal schedules and plans on the daily pages but keep them separate by designating one side of my right page for work and one side of the same page for personal. When I open the daily page I can see all my to-do’s for both aspect of my life … Same person, same life, different hats!

Color Coding

I thought about color coding the various aspects of my life.  One color for business and a different color for personal.  Although that achieved the goal I was looking for and, in fact, was one step closer to planner peace and making me more organized and productive. That too, was annoying and in a way almost the same as having to carry two planners. The only difference was that, instead of two planners I was having to carry a whole bunch of pens which made me nuts. There are days when I don’t carry a purse.   My planner is with me all the time, it’s also my wallet. I carry with me a black pen and a green pen (I’ll explain the green pen a little later).

I cannot take credit for my current method of planning.  I did not come up with it.   Maryanne Moll is the genius behind my planner peace situation and if you have a few minutes I suggest you go check out her channel on YouTube and her store on Etsy.

So… How do I plan?

Every night I sit with my planner and look at what I accomplished that day and move the things that didn’t get done to the next day. I also keep a running list of things I want to do on that particular week and when during this review I take those into consideration.  If I think I can fit more to-do’s on my next day schedule, I add them.  If not, then i don’t.  I am the boss of my life and I get to decide what I can accomplish.  All the entries done at this time are done in my normal black ink.  The pen I use every day…… It’s a fountain pen and I love it (minus the black fingers once in a while).  As each task is accomplished (on a good day most will be) I cross it off with green ink (which is the other pen I carry around with me). I also use the green pen to add any new tasks that get thrown at me in the middle of the day (we all have those).

Why the two colors? Well, you know those days when you feel like nothing at the top of your list got done and at the end of the day you’re wondering why you’re so tired but got nothing accomplished? Well, the different color allows me to see what was done that I had not counted on having to get done. It also allows me to remember tasks done, no matter how small, when management feels that I need to explain my existence. …. For some of you would imagine will help you with your billable and non-billable time. Hmmmm imagine you use black for non-billable and green for billable time…… Let me think about that for a minute.

During this nightly review I also fill in the left side of the planner.  The portion dedicated to tracking.  I don’t 100% believe that trackers are absolutely necessary, but I am a nerd and I enjoy looking back on my days and see things like; what made me happy (my gratitude), my mood, my steps, the weather…… it helps me connect the dots and to me life is all about connecting the dots. Sometimes, things that don’t make sense on that day will make sense when you have a full picture. Like, why didn’t I get much done that day…… Ohhhh yeah, I had a headache because it rained for three days in a row and I just wasn’t in a good mood.  Who knows….. all the dorky stuff that makes me who I am.

If you look at the top middle of the page you see something that looks like a Chronodex (a time tracker). I don’t have to bill my time …. Yeah, I know!!!!!! #blessed.  But I’m seriously not bragging. Entering time is not as bad as we feel it is. Come join me in my facebook group and join our chat.  I’m working on a few goodies that will help you slay the billable time monster. I have a plan to get training videos and templates on how to bill your time stress free….. but I digress. At night I go through the tracker side, fill in and color all the things that happened during the day.

The outside ring and second ring stand for the location, where was I? (home, office, outside, etc.). The larger outside ring is reserved for where I plan to be…. The second ring is reserved for where I actually was. The first ring gets colored in the night before while I’m doing my planning and the second ring gets colored in at the end of the day when I review the day and plan for the next day.  The third and fourth rings (the inside rings) are reserved for activities.  What did I plan to do at that time and what I actually did. Was I in a meting? Was I working on the blog? Was I working on the book? Was I with a friend or spending time with my husband or doing house work?  I know this sounds crazy and you may be thinking ain’t nobody got time for that but it actually helps me figure out how long it takes me to accomplish tasks.  It’s also a great way to relax for me for to fill in little squares with color.  Like I said, this is not something that I think you MUST do to stay organized but for me, it works and it makes me happy.

For example, if I tell someone I can do something in 1 hour and it actually takes me two do it.  I know that the next time I’m asked to do that same task I can better assess how long it will take me to do and, not only can I manage my time better but I can also give the lawyer assigning work to me a better understanding of how long it takes to do something and aren’t just guessing.  I’m a firm believer in under promise and over deliver…. This little hack helps me keep in line with my goals and keeps me productive through out the day.

For paralegals or anyone who has to bill time, being and staying organized is extremely important.  If you can go through your day knowing what you’re going to work on next and how long it will take you.  You can schedule your day in ways to take advantage of your best time of day.  You can feel more in control of your time and achieve more productivity without stressing yourself out…. and who doesn’t want that?

Do you plan your day?  What methods or hacks do you use to stay organized?  leave me a note.  I’d love to hear from you!

XoXo

 

The Weekend is Here – What is The Paralegal Doing?


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This paralegal has been busy all week working on templates and other goodies for you.  I’d like to ask you to go over to my Facebook page and join our Facebook group where you can find freebies and maybe even once in a while there will be a giveaway.  I get super excited when I find things that make my life easier and tend to want to share them with everyone, so don’t hesitate.  Go on over.  I’ll still be here when you get back.

Thank you all for your support I’m so excited to see this community grow.

XoXo

Ana

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