Take Control of Your Paralegal Career


What Are you Afraid of?

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“Do one thing every day that makes you scared.” I am sure you’ve all heard this saying. I never really thought much about it until yesterday when I read it somewhere and started thinking about it. Turns out, I had just done something that I was petrified of doing. So much so that I had even thought of canceling it and toss it up to “ohhh it’s never going to happen.”So, what happened?

Bback in December I decided to schedule a meeting with the CAO of the firm where I work … Yep, I have a day job. One I actually enjoy but one where things are getting a bit overwhelming and if something doesn’t happen soon I will not have the energy to continue doing it and that would be a disservice to the firm. I am 100% sure of that but the trick is to convince the powers that be of that fact.The meeting was scheduled in New York for yesterday and as the day and time approached my mind kept telling me that I should just cancel…. Maybe I’m getting sick. the weather is really cold and I don’t want to make the commute to Manhattan. Nothing is going to come of it anyway!!!! These were all thoughts going through my mind. I stayed strong and didn’t cancel. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not that strong. I didn’t cancel it, not because I was strong but because I was afraid to upset the CAO. Turns out being a chicken is not such a bad thing some times.

At the time of the meeting I slowly walked to the corner of the building where his office is located and knocked on the door. I remained at the door waiting for an answer.  When he turned around he was on the phone. “Crap, (pardon the language) he’s busy and now he’s going to tell me he has no time for our meeting.” After all, who am I to think that he’s just going to drop his call and talk to me. He’s probably on the phone with the GC and without a doubt the GC is much more important than me any day.  I was prepared to motion to him some gesture that would let him know I’d reschedule or call him and turn around to leave. However, he smiled and asked me to come in. Wow….. ok, so maybe it’s not the GC.  Maybe it’s another paralegal and that’s why he can interrupt his call.

Gosh!!!!! Is that really all that important? What business is it of mine if he’s on the phone and who he’s on the phone with? I walked remained standing and he continued on the phone. He looked at me again and motioned for me to sit down…..Ok, this is getting serious. He’s really interested in what I have to say. I sat, I waited….. He was still on the phone. When he hung up he apologize for making me wait!!!! How nice but appropriate.

Looking back now, that I have taken a few breaths and have had time to think about it.  I am just as important as anyone else at the firm and I have ideas and thoughts and in this case suggestions and opinions that are for the good of the firm. He needs to listen to what I have to say and I need to tell him what I went there to tell him.The meeting lasted the full 30 minutes we had scheduled and actually went a bit over. The entire time he picked my brain about how I would go about implementing the suggestions I made and not once….. Not even once did it seem to me that he was being condescending.

I requested the meeting because I have ideas on how to make the department run more smoothly and how to engage the group of the population who is currently feeling left out.  I have metrics of how some of the things I’ve implemented have made a difference. Not just for the team but for the cost cutting goals of the firm. I had ideas to share of how we can go about training the population and have implemented some of that training without ever being asked to do it and have emails that show how well the program is going. I was prepared. For 30 minutes he asked questions and I answered. I told him that while still performing my full time duties I developed a network of paralegals and some administrative assistants who have volunteered their time to take on additional assignments outside of their own day-to-day in order to learn other business and help them grow their careers. I’ve managed to grow that network globally and continue to do my work even receiving a great review at the end of 2017.  I told him that there is a need and I’m the person he should be looking at to continue providing this service to that group of “forgotten” people.

He agreed….. Did you hear me? He agreed.

No, I don’t have a new job. I still walked out of his office with the same title and job I had when I walked in 30 minutes earlier but I managed to make it clear to him that we do need to keep this momentum going if we want our people to be happy and to perform. That can only benefit the firm. He agreed!!!!! Again!!!!!! But this time he promised me that he would call a meeting with me toward the start of next month so we could discuss in more detail a new role.

So….. there you have it. I said all this not so that I could brag…. There is nothing to brag about….. I was terrified. I was so afraid that I couldn’t even enjoy the weekend before the meeting. However, as terrified as I was I stood my ground and managed to quiet the voices in my head and not cancel the meeting.

I managed to face someone who is way above my pay grade (not more important than me) and tell him how I can help him make better use of his resources and in the process make those resources happy and more willing to take on more work. Saving the firm money and providing a service to our clients and employees. I managed to put my fears aside and ask for what I wanted and honestly……. I think I will be getting a call and will probably be in a new role at some point next month.

Let’s say it doesn’t work out (but it will)! Even if I am not in a new role. Even if nothing comes of this meeting. I am super proud of myself that I was able to quiet the voice within and do something that made me scared. What have you done that makes you scared? I would love to hear from you. It doesn’t have to be professional. What have you done in any aspect of your life that made you scared? How did it feel afterwards?Ok…. Back to work now. I hope you enjoyed this post and keep ideas coming. I can’t wait to hear from you all.

XoXo

Photo from Google Images

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