On Being a Paralegal

From Judicialsupport.com
From Judicialsupport.com

As  I sat here in front of this white page without a clue as to what I should be writing about I thought that looking through other paralegal blogs would help me find my mojo and the words would just come pouring out of me.

I grabbed myself a cup of coffee (yes, I know it’s late in the evening and I probably won’t sleep.  What are you my mother????), sat down again with the laptop on my lap (redundant) and opened up the first blog.  Holly Heck!!!!!! Can’t Fight the Inevitable is a blog post by a paralegal who apparently is not happy with her job.  I feel really bad for anyone who feels that way and I wish I could fix it for her.  However, I have to say that there is absolutely no job out there where you are going to be happy every day of the week.  There are going to be days when you’re going to get up to go to work and feel like you are getting ready for battle.  Being a paralegal is no exception.

So what prompted me to write this post? First and foremost, I want to say that no job is worth your health, your personal life, or even becoming an alcoholic (again, not worth your health).  Most paralegals, especially the ones who work in law firms, or private practice, will be working very long hours.  If you think your day will end at 5:00 like most normal people (although that’s not normal anymore) you need to rethink your career choice.  I remember working until 10 or 11 p.m and then come home and still log on to the office to finish something I had not had a chance to do during the day.  The worst part about it was getting to the end of the month and realizing that most of the stuff I had worked on could not be billed to a client and therefore did not count towards my billable hours.  It really made me crazy. The only time that stopped, although I still worked longer hours than my non-paralegal friends, was when I started working in-house.

Although Grumpy’s post and perhaps the paragraph above make it sound as if being a paralegal is a horrible career choice, there are so many things that are so great about the profession.  I truly enjoy being a paralegal.  I am actually, currently not working as a paralegal but will be again in a few months, hopefully weeks (fingers crossed).  I left the profession two years ago and can’t wait to get back to it.  What do I like so much about it?

  • I enjoy watching a case develop from beginning to end;
  • I enjoy playing detective, even when that only means figuring out what a business can do to comply with the regulatory change and not loose money in the process;
  • I enjoy pouring through a pile of papers and put some order to it so it tells a story;
  • I enjoy the entire process of being there for my clients; and
  • I absolutely enjoy the collegiate attitude I have found with most other paralegals (we are a great bunch).

I feel horrible when I hear someone say they hate their job and that their job is costing them so much.  I hesitate in saying this but the only advice I would have for Grumpy, the writer of the above post is to say that if her job is making her sick, making her become an alcoholic and lose her friends and family, perhaps it’s time to find another job.  Maybe something in a different field.  Maybe not a paralegal position.

One of the many good things about being a paralegal is that your skills are transferable.  More so than other professions.  Being an experienced paralegal means that you are a also good at project planning, organizing, multi-tasking, managing and developing processes, reading, writing, researching.  You name it.  If you have been a paralegal for a while you have at some point done one or more of the above.  Grumpy can go look for a position somewhere else where she won’t be faced with the hours she’s currently working and where she may be happier.

Grumpy also mentions that she cannot get a different career because she can’t afford to get paid less than she currently does.  It’s probably true, but maybe she doesn’t have to.  Perhaps she can work her resume to highlight the great skills that she’s learned and mastered during her paralegal career and get into a different position getting paid the same thing or more…. I did…. it’s doable.  Totally doable.

So, if you find yourself in the same situation as Grumpy.  Please don’t feel trapped.  The economy is bad, and it may take a little longer than in the past to get another job but stick to it and don’t let it ruin your life.  Nothing is worth that.  Remember you are in control of your career, always.  You are the boss.  Act like it.



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