Social Network and the Courts

Who has not heard of the movie Social Network? Social Network is the story behind Facebook and the rise to fame of Mark Zuckerberg.

In 2003, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, students at Harvard and Olympic rowing twins, hired Mark Zuckerberg, another student at Harvard, to code a site they eventually ConnectU.   According to Tyler and Cameron, ConnectU was going to be the next big thing had Mark Zuckerberg not turned their idea into what is now known as Facebook and kept them out of the “loop.”

The Winkelvosses, or as Mark Zuckerberg referred to them in the movie “the Winkelvi,” (my second most favorite part in the movie, second to my favorite which is the deposition clip) sued Facebook and signed a settlement agreement for $65 million dollars in 2008 ($20 million in cash and $45 million worth of stock valued at $36.00 per share). Facebook agreed to the settlement to put an end to the litigation. However, it did not admit to any wrongdoing on the part of Mark Zuckerberg. It appears that earlier this year the Wilkelvoss twins appealed the settlement to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after District Court denied such request.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote the opinion of the court  “At some point litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached.”

I for one am glad.  To tell you the truth I never thought the original suit had any merit.  After seeing the movie, and yes, I do realize that a movie is not real life and that the director and the writers always take some liberties.  However, I choose to believe that what happened was not theft but competition.  Someone took someone’s idea and made it better.   Nothing wrong with that or is there?

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.

Why am I a paralegal?

I had planned to do a completely different post today. I wrote it this morning on the way to the office and had done some revisions to it at lunch time. I planned on posting it on my way home while commuting home after my meeting since I have a good hour to kill on the train. However, “the best laid plans….”

So tonight I had the pleasure of having been invited to a book launch for an attorney for whom I worked not in the very distant past. Beautiful cocktail spread and lots of chatter, held in a very old building in New York City. Being only one of two paralegals in attendance in the midst of many CEOs of large financial houses and very prominent partners of very large New York firms. The type that only the best can buy, as you can imagine I felt a bit intimidated. I stood at a table with my soda in hand and played with my phone hoping I was not giving people the wrong vibe. I wanted to figure out the crowd first so I stood back.

Most people came with a “buddy” from work so they each had someone to talk to. Me, I was alone. The financial industry, especially the type of business we handle, is very male oriented. It’s not a rarity that I am the only female in a meeting. This time, not only was I the only female, but I was alone and only knew one or two people who seemed to have busied themselves talking to their friends.

At the very moment I was about to go introduce myself to a group standing over by another table, an older gentleman came over and introduced himself to me. He seemed friendly and I had heard his name before. We chatted for a while, talking about everything from the architecture of the building to the history behind the building to the Dodd-Frank Act. During our conversation about the regulatory changes it became apparent to me that he assumed me to be an attorney. I corrected him and he looked puzzled. “when are going to law school?” now was my turn to fake shock. As if I had not heard that before. “ohhh I’m not planning on law school. I’m very happy being a paralegal. This profession did not choose me, I chose it.”

I don’t think he has gotten over that statement yet. He just changed the subject. Very nice man. We had a nice conversation and I am sure I made an impression. If for nothing else, at least for the fact that i have shown that a paralegal is an intelligent person capable of having a conversation about a variety of subjects.

This gentleman is probably not even thinking about our conversation anymore. But I am very happy that he gave me the opportunity to once again be proud of what I have chosen to do as a career. Yes, sometimes I dislike the people. Sometimes I complain about my day but ultimately, I am good at what I do. I have come a long way and I can go much farther if I set my mind to it.

I’m not sure if any attorneys read my blog. But if there are some of you reading this, let me tell you. Being a paralegal is a choice. We knowingly chose to do this as you knowingly chose to do what you do. We do not want to take your jobs when we speak about registration or certification. We are intelligent people who have chosen to remain in the background doing what we love to do. And let me ask you? Why do you wonder why an intelligent person would want to be a paralegal? Would you rather I were not so intelligent?

Just my two cents. Wow this is a long post. Thank you for reading my ramble. Just thought I’d share my evening with you.