Every Legal Department Needs A Paralegal Department

“Don’t make excuses for why you can’t get it done. Focus on all the reasons why you must make it happen”

It’s been a year since I made the suggestion to our general counsel. Since then I’ve had some really good and positive reinforcement and then there are those days when it seems that all the naysayers line up to make my life miserable. That includes the naysayer in my head. Don’t look at me like that. We all have that one voice in the deepest darkest corners of our brains. The one who tells us all the time that we can’t do something. Recently, she has been using the following excuses with me:

    • why do you bother? Things are what they are. 
    • It’s been like this for so long, what makes you think it’s not by design?
    • No one cares how hard you’re working!
    • You are not smart enough or experienced enough to do this.
    • One day you’re going to get found out and it’s going to be really embarrassing.
    • Please!!!! You’re old enough to just skate right through and not let this stuff bother you.  It’s not going to benefit you anymore.

    It’s a very powerful and loud voice which makes it really hard to ignore.  So, instead of ignoring it, I acknowledge it and find answers to ITS questions.  I find that when I come up with answers the voice becomes a little less annoying and less loud and it actually turns into a helpful friend.  By forcing myself to coming up with answers to its questions I force myself to think about what it is that I really want to do and come up with different paths to accomplishing what I set out to accomplish.

    Believe me, when I first came up with the idea for a Paralegal Department at this very large company where I work the voice was enormously strong.  What are you thinking?  They are never going to listen to you.  You have been here for a minute. Things have been the same for so long and they work.  Lawyers don’t want us to tell them how to do their jobs….who to hire and how to work with them.  You are going to ruffle people’s feathers and now is not a good time to to do that.  There were plenty of opportunities for me to stop moving forward. I chose to focus on the reasons I had to make it happen.  

    There are over 200 paralegals in this firm and they are counting on me.  Ha!!! Many of them didn’t even know I existed and some of them didn’t even know they wanted this type of organization.  However, just like Steve Jobs said (and I”m no Steve Jobs) people don’t know what they want until they want it.  I think Ford Said “If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses.”  It could have been someone else who said that…… I’m really not sure.  Who said it is not important.  I knew I could make a difference, so I did.

    This month marks a year and our Paralegal Networks is now chartered in EMEA and APAC.  As I write this post I’m getting ready to fly out to Chicago with our General Counsel for a conference where the GC will be address a group of paralegals in Chicago and throughout the rest of the US (working on broadcasting or recording it for EMEA and APAC).  We are on our way.

    I say all this to tell you that you must believe in yourself.  Only you will know how much you can take on and what it is that your vision can being to you and all those around you.  I say this to let you know that we all have those voices that will stop us from accomplishing our goals.  Those voices are not the enemy.  They exist to help us stay away from danger.  Listen to that voice but take the risk.  Use the voice as a guide and as a friend.  Answer the voices questions and calm it down.  Become the voices partner and work together.  

    Hope you enjoyed this post. I am working on doing a series of what the Network is up to and what you can do to start your own network where you work.  Having those likeminded people is essential for a healthy and prosperous career.



    From the Paralegal Convention

    Today, as most of you know, I attended the New Jersey Paralegal Convention. The convention is an annual event and this year it was held at the Renaissance Convention Center in Islin, New Jersey. The venue has been reserved for next year as well. The Center was great. Very nice open area with lots of vendors. There were vendors that would have interested any type of paralegal professional. There were court reporters, process servers, global document filing and retrieval, this last one being really popular with everyone trying to go green but still having to keep in compliance with document retention policies. There was a lot to keep you busy as well as a lot of little “toys” that they all brought along. I got a baseball bat (a miniature one), the obligatory pens (lots of those), letter openers, note pads, can never have enough of those around and the coolest thing ever…. a bag that turns folds onto itself into the size of a golf ball (will be great for my commute).

    Needless to say it was a great day spent to lots of people that do what I do and a great chance to network. If you ask me, and this is just my humble opinion, every paralegal should belong to a paralegal organization. There is no better way to stay abreast of the industry and learn what others are doing.

    I was going to try to film some video but I was told I was not sure if it would be ok with the venue and the organization since I had not cleared it with them before the event. Therefore I have only a very short video which I will post right here.

    In addition, I used my iPad throughout the entire event. I used an application called NotesPlus and recorded the sessions at the same time as I was taking notes. I will be reviewing this application once I have the chance to see how it performed under pressure. Obviously, you will all the first ones to know how it performed.

    The day was great.  Lots of learning, lots of networking and lots of great ideas for future goals and directions to take.  Can’t wait to get started.

    New Jersey Paralegal Convention

    This coming Friday, I will be attending the New Jersey Paralegal Convention, being presented by The Paralegal Association of New Jersey (PANJ) of which yours truly, me, was President and is currently a member.  If you are a paralegal in New Jersey you should make every effort to attend this event.  The event is being sponsored by DGR Subpoena Service, Hudson Court Reporting, Investigative Solutions and The Provident Bank.

    The convention is a great time and place to network with other paralegals and other legal professionals.  It is open to members and non-members of the Paralegal Association of New Jersey it include vendors, whom I have to say, make our lives so much easier.  Ok…, ok, so you got me.  I think the vendors are really cool also because they have all the cool give-aways.

    This is a great opportunity to brush up on your paralegal skills and obtain CLE credits for those of you that need them.  This year the topics being covered are:  Ethics, Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), Consumer Fraud (I think this is very timely), Advanced Legal Writing, Where do I find that?, Preparation for Jury Trial, Bench Trial and Mediation, Sexual Harassment, A day in the Life (this one is always the favorite), The CLA Exam (you can bet you will find me in this one), and Stress Management.

    Please come by and say hello.  We would love to have you and if you see me, please stop me and let’s chat.  I love to meet all my readers.

    Here is the Registration Page.