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.

7 thoughts on “Why am I a paralegal?

  1. Great post! It makes me think of a lot of paralegals work in my office who a few years ago changed their title to “Associate.” I don’t know why they did that. The only thing I can think of is they want people to think they are associates much like attorneys are called associates in law firms. (I work at a software company.) When I was asked if I wanted to change my title as well I said, “No way! I’m proud to call myself a paralegal.”


  2. Ana, great post. I’m glad you were there to represent the paralegal profession – and the girls…lol.

    Karen, paralegals calling themselves “associates” seems like a good way to get mistaken for a lawyer – or a sales associate at JCPenney…

  3. I’ve had to fight to keep the title of Paralegal when other’s think it’s fine to be called a ‘Legal Assistant’ my issue with the job titles is that Paralegals are required/expected to do very in depth research. Legal Assistants, in my observation, seem to be simply legal admins. Sure a Paralegal can do the job of a legal admin however I don’t believe legal admins can do the work expected of a paralegal.

    I worked hard at my profession, my education as I am sure you did as well. Keep your head up and be proud of your CHOSEN profession. (If the world only knew how talented we are they wouldn’t be so amoured with attorneys.)

  4. @Ana, I couldn’t agree with you more. I, too, enjoy my job (most of the time!) and am proud of my career choice.

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