Goals and Plans …. Ohhh My!!!!!!


Start of the New Year is a time when we are all setting goals and making plans or maybe you’re not. However, if you’re not, you should. Well, only if you plan on accomplishing something and succeeding at something. Don’t worry, this is not another one of those articles that will preach to you about how to make goals or what goals you should be making. Goals are very personal and without being you, I could never tell you what your goals should be. I can tell you that studies show that people who make goals (notice I said goals, not resolutions) tend to become more successful than those who don’t have goals.

So what is a goal? A goal is the end of result, the idea of what the future is going to look like. Sounds easy right? Well…. it’s not hard to make goals and then just sit back and wait for the goals to happen. However, that to me sounds more like a resolution. In order to accomplish a goal, one must create small steps which when put together will bring you to your goals. We’ve all heard of SMART Goals (I won’t bore you that). But it is smart to set SMART goals….. just sayin’

From the picture above you can see that TheParalegal has a few goals. This is is going to be dedicated to you, my readers and friends. 2017 was dedicated to my day job. I achieved all the goals I set out for myself…. not to say that I no longer have goals in that department, I do. There are few lofty goals I want to achieve in my day job but I’m going to put in more effort here. Even those lofty goals are things I can take less time to create. 2018 is dedicated to TheParalegal and to you.

I can hear you all telling me to stop talking and list on the goals I am setting for TheParalegal:

  1. Write an e-book
  2. Post at least once per week
  3. Create a section on the blog for templates we all use
  4. Develop Webinars on Paralegal Training and Maybe even Lawyer Training

For each of these I will have to set manageable steps. Keeping in mind that they will be accomplished at the same time as the other goals for my day job. Not an excuse but a reality which I have to take into consideration. Then there are those other smaller things I want to try to accomplish, like only using my own pictures. That means I will also need to take more pictures and learn how to edit them (thinking of take a photography course). I also want to be a little more active on Facebook so go join me there and keep me accountable.

I think 2018 is going to be a great year for TheParalegal and for all of us. I think we are going to accomplish so much together.

Send me your thoughts. What forms do you reach for the most that would be helpful to have here? What is the thing you’re always looking for help with that I can help you figure out? What types of webinars would you like to see? Should we start with live videos? What platform should we use?

I want to end this article by thank you all for spending some time with me in 2017 even though I know the articles were sporadic and I was all over the place. Happy New Year to all.

XoXo

— the photo above is of my actual planner while I brainstormed ideas for the blog.

The Handwritten Note


Perhaps we can bring up this lost art again. I can’t help but think and remember with nostalgia how great it felt to receive letters from friends when I moved from Portugal to the United States. I would read those letters over and over again. One of those friends even went as far as include a leaf from one of the trees on the street where we grew up. Why have we stopped writing letters?I know this post has nothing to do with being a paralegal and honestly I understand that at the end of the year there is a whole lot more I can be sharing with you. However, I was reading through my email this morning and one of the sites I read regularly had a post about the lost art of letter writing and I couldn’t’ help myself. Letter writing is an art, but not a difficult type of art. No need to go to art school and, if you can write an email, you can write a note to someone and it will be much more appreciated. Writing, putting pen to paper, gives your brain the ability to really make sure the words are exactly those you want to convey. There is a much stronger connection between you and your feelings when you are not clicking away at a keyboard. I’m determined to bring back this art and I’m starting with my blog family.

Notepaper, cards, pens….. Ohhhh My!!!!!

The next time you are out, anywhere, pick up some nice cards, post cards, notepads. Every time I am out and find a funny (I like funny) or pretty card, or a piece of stationery that speaks to me, I pick it up and put it in a box in my office. Not having to go out to find the perfect birthday card, feel better card is half the battle for me. I keep thank you notes, birthday cards, even condolences and feel better cards. I know, not something we want to think about, but things happen and having it handy is the best way to ensure the card is sent out.

Pens……. Yes, the pen. I have recently re-found my love for the fountain pen and I have to say that it has made me want to write even more. I’ve been journaling and just enjoying the process of writing…. Heck I may write a book. I do believe that the writing utensil is as important, if not more important, as the paper you use.

True story — I do not have New Years Cards so this is now a problem for me. I received a Christmas card from someone I did not expect and now I’m at a loss. I can’t send a Christmas card because Christmas is over but I want to send a card to let the person know how appreciative I was of the fact that they thought about me. I need to go out and buy a New Years card or I can send a regular card (but that doesn’t seem enough). It’s been a week and I haven’t done either and now…….. if I don’t do it soon it’ll be too late and I will have missed my opportunity.

Handwritten! — operative word

The timing is perfect!!! This has been bugging me for a while. We all love the cards we receive with the family pictures and the family dog wearing a Christmas sweater but …. and I don’t want to complain because I think it’s kind of the sender to think about me and send me a card. However, when you’re merely just inserting pictures into an envelope, can you really call it a handwritten note? Fine, if you want to send me a picture I appreciate it but can you say a few words? Even if you just say “Merry Christmas from blah, blah family” Just something, anything. A few words wishing a the receiver well or thanking the receiver for a nice gesture made towards you.

I recently was listening to a blog, on my way to work, about a man who decided to write 1 thank you note per day for a year. That has turned into a thing and now he has a network doing the same thing and writing a thank you note to whomever every day. The crossing guard who helped your child cross the street this morning, the newspaper guy who sold you the paper on this freezing morning, the barista for making your latte just so :). Who doesn’t like to feel appreciated?

Let’s do this!

So, here is my challenge. Let’s do this. Let’s bring back the handwritten note. It does not have to be thank you. It can be anything. It can be a “just because you’re you” or “I found this funny card and thought of you.” Let’s write a note at least once a month to someone we know and let’s meet here at the end of 2018 and talk about how we changed the world.Thanks for reading this far. The next post will be about Paralegaling…….I promise (is that a word?)XoXoP.S. If I don’t write before the New Year, I hope you all have an amazing New Year’s Eve. Be safe and stay warm (for those of us in the North East)

Weekend Reads


The best time of the day is always early in the morning with a cup of coffee while the dogs and the husband are still in bed. This is when I open up my planner, take one sip of my coffee and start planning my day. Then I move on to the news of the day. I’d like to share some of the news articles that caught my interest.

Unless we have all been living under a rock, we are all well aware of the opioid revolution (as I like to call it). I found this article very interesting. So it appears that the Massachusetts Supreme Court will be hearing a case about “Is a relapse a medical symptom?” How interesting! However, there is a lot of be concerned with in my opinion no matter where the court falls on this decision. What do you think?

Netneutrality…… What????? If you had asked me a few months ago I wouldn’t have had a clue what you were talking about. Is this word even in the dictionary? Now that I have had the chance to read a little about it I’m honestly not sure how I land on the issue. On the one hand I would imagine it’s the nature of our capitalist world, on the other hand, paying for services that are currently free is not making me happy. Maybe I need to read more about it. For now, here’s why Apple is not happy about it.

So, after reading this I’m wondering how many more of these would be entrepreneurs would be thwarted on their way up the ladder due to netneutrality……. Did you see this story? How great is this? Maybe he’s the one we should consult about work/life balance. He seems to be having a good time and making some awesome cash in the process.

Time to finish my cup of coffee and get ready to go on about my time. Manicure and pedicure are in my future and we all know how important those can be.

Have a great weekend all and I will see you all soon. Take a look at my other blog where I review all the books I’m reading. Ok……. haven’t done that in a little while but there will be a review of the book I’m currently reading coming soon….. Principles by Ray Dalio — no spoilers here.

XoXo

Ana

That One Time at the Holiday Party


It’s that time of the year again.  Yep, you know the one, the office holiday party time.  We all now it all too well.

On the way back home from my office holiday party, as I sat on the train with the battery on my iPhone at 18% I decided that perhaps listening to a book or music or a podcast would not be a good idea.  Considering my charger was also depleted of charge.  I took the time instead to close my eyes and just think or maybe nap.  In front of me sat a young woman and next to her a man of, I would guess around her age.  The man started a conversation with the young woman and at the first “hello” I knew that I would probably not be getting that nap after all.  The conversation was harmless but it was definitely a topic that caught my attention.  I couldn’t tell if they knew each other and I couldn’t see their faces but soon I would get to know both of them a little better than I had expected.

Turns out the two of them were coming from their respective holiday parties. He, a small company in Jersey City, New Jersey and she from a large company located in the heart of Manhattan.  After the proper hello’s the man announced that he was coming from his holiday party and had a few too many too drink and was feeling buzzed.  She chuckled and announced that she, too, was coming from her holiday party but that this year corporate had decided to make the holiday event a dry event.  Apparently there had been a few “incidents” when people had a bit too much to drink and considering all  news lately corporate decided that it would be best to not have alcohol available.  If you ask me, it’s good news.  Sad, but a necessary step these days.

At some point they both got off he train and I was left with my thoughts.  So what are my thoughts?  Well, we are all adults.  At least in chronological years.  There should be no reason for someone to tell us what we can and can’t do but it appears that for some reason not all of us are able to behave like adults which causes the need to have others decide for all of us what is appropriate.  In other words, treat us like children.  When you go to a holiday party hosted by your employer you must behave professionally.  The fact that the party looks like fun and there are tons of people moving around, laughing, wearing funny sweaters or glittery outfits should not distract you.  Remember that you are in a fishbowl and management is looking at you.  You must be able to show them that you can act appropriately in all circumstances.  If you are looking to be promoted, even more so.  You must demonstrate that you are up to the task and you are a good representative for the firm.

I understand that some may need some help feeling relaxed in order to deal with the stress of networking — I confess that walking around talking to “strangers” and feeling judged is not my cup of tea (conversation for a different time).  Some times a glass of wine may help make me a bit more relaxed and able to approach the boss.  However, one glass is different from many glasses and for the love of whatever you consider holy, please eat something.  Being a little uncomfortable is not such a bad thing all the time.  If you don’t think you can stop at one glass, please do not go near the bar or if you must go, order a soda or a water.  I find that having something in my hands helps me feel more a part of the event.  You’d be surprised how even if just holding a glass of club soda or water will help you feel more at ease.  It gives you something to do with your hands while you’re planning your networking strategy (also a topic for a later discussion).  It’s also a good excuse when you need to get away from some boring conversation….. “excuse me, I must get a refill.”

Keeping in mind that some careers are made and some are broken at holiday parties.  I’ve seen a few instances where this is true.  Don’t be the one they’re talking about the next day unless it’s going to be a good kind of talk.  Keep your professional persona intact and enjoy the party.

Thank you all for reading and following my blog

 

Lessons Learned – My Interaction with the GC


Just coming off a high of a great event which I had the privilege to organize and be a part.  My trip to one of our offices outside of New York was supposed to be the first event where the General Counsel (GC) of a very large financial firm was going to meet with the paralegal team outside of New York and have an informal discussion.  I hoped it would go well.  I hoped the GC had a good time since this was the first time we were all meeting each other…… I hoped no one asked a crazy question.  Most of all I hoped we at least had enough people to sit around the very large table which was looking larger by the minute.

The event was great….. we had people standing up in the room (so yeah…. enough came) there was networking going on after the event and the questions were all very well thought out as they were professional…… Why did I expect any less from the group of paralegals I have worked with?  Am I crazy?

The GC had great advice for all us and I am going to be writing in other posts some of her other advice.  This time I want to talk to you all about making mistakes.  We all do it and as the GC put it……. “my mistakes sometimes involve billions of dollars.”  This statement put in perspective for me and I hope it does for you as well.

We all Make Mistakes

While listening to one of the GC’s answers to a question that was asked I realized that all the time we spend worrying about a mistake we made is wasted time.  Yes, feel bad about it.  You should feel bad about it but learn from it.  Take time to feel bad.  Tell yourself that you are going to “lay on the floor and cry” for a period of time but then get up and move on.  Come up with a solution to the problem and take steps to implement that solution.  Figure out why you made the mistake.  Was it because you weren’t paying attention?  Was it because you didn’t have the information you needed?  Is it because you were too busy and didn’t have time?  These are all valid reasons but they are all things you can control the next time and ensure you don’t make the same mistake:

If you weren’t paying attention:

Take steps to make sure you re-read the document.  Normally I write the first draft and then walk away.  If I have time I try to walk away for a day and then come back to it.  I find that when I separate myself from something I create I have a new perspective on it when I get back to it and when I read it again it sounds much different than it had sounded earlier.

Ask someone else to review it.  I find sometimes that it’s better to have someone else’s opinion and review of a document I’ve been working on for hours.  I know what I want too say so sometimes when I read it I may miss words.  The brain plays tricks on us and sometimes invents words that aren’t there.  Someone else will have a fresh perspective and is not expecting to see anything so these “silly” omissions will show up really easily for them.

You didn’t have all the information

Ask questions.  Sometimes we are given an assignment and don’t take the time assess what it is that we need in order to complete that assignment.  It’s valid that when you are given the assignment, more often than not, you are not going to know what it is that you need….let’s face it.  You may not know the case, you may not know the full background.  When I’m faced with this situation I tell the attorney that I will need to take a look at the project/assignment and immediate ask to put time on their calendar to talk about what my approach will be as well as ask for further information if I feel like I need it.  Most lawyers will be happy to have that second meeting with you.  It means that the end product is going to be close to perfect (we’re not perfect and if you think you are….. get off that horse).

You were handling 1,000,000 other things at the same time

I have been guilty of this one so many times.  I have taken on too much because I feel bad saying NO, or it’s a really awesome opportunity  and …. ugh!! what do you know, it came right at the same time that other really cool project presented itself and now I have these two huge projects on my plate and I’m going to be pulling my hair out.  As much as try to keep it all together, eventually something is going to go wrong.  As much as we want to believe you are great multi-taskers, most of us are not great at consistently multi-tasking.  I can tell you that usually I can feel when I have reached my limit and am starting to burn the candle at both ends.  When that happens, the end product is not something I will be proud of.

Don’t take on too much.  It’s ok to say no and let the lawyer know you are busy.  Let the attorney know you want to be considered for the next project and explain that you are currently working on … blah blah blah and really want to make sure you do a good job.  I bet you that the attorney is going to go back, assign the project to someone else but will come back to you at a later time because they know you will be responsible and professional and will handle their project the way it needs to be handled.

there are also those times when you think you can do something and then, when you find out what it entails you realize you will not be able to finish it……. Yeah, you know what I”m talking about.  Let the lawyer know about this as soon as possible.  Don’t keep hoping that miraculously you will be able to complete it on time.  Don’t wait for the last minute to say you couldn’t finish it.  Doing that may make the lawyer miss a deadline and will absolutely make you look unprofessional.  You can bet you won’t get many other assignments from that lawyer.

Conclusion

Remember, mistakes are part of life and part of learning.  If we didn’t make mistakes we wouldn’t learn anything new.  The trick is to make sure you own up to it.  Reach out and let people know you made a mistake but you have a solution.  You have worked through a process to ensure that it won’t happen again and then implement that process.  Apologize and move on.

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.

    XoXo

    Ana

    Time to Make that Move….. Or is it?


    I know that it’s been a while, again, since I have been here.  In all honesty it has been a crazy couple of weeks at the office.

    For some of us in the corporate world the end of the first quarter is when we are trying to figure out out goals and where we want to be in the short term as well as the long term.  We should always be thinking that way.  That’s not the hard part.  Most of you know that I have short term and long term goals all visualized and planned out.  However, this is a difficult year for me because the short term goals that I had envisioned for myself do not appear to be working out.  However, the chances of my long term goals coming to fruition seem to be a bit more in focus now and perhaps not as long term as I had originally planned.  So, all good right?  Well, yes, but ….. hmmm sometimes that’s even more stressful.

    There have been some changes to the makeup of my team and all through no fault of anyone on the team it has been the catalyst for my feeling as if it’s time to move.  At the same time as all these other things are going on in my very “small” world the larger “world” has a plan to develop a paralegal career path and growth opportunities.  Hello????? Does this sound like something I’ve been waiting for?  Why, yes, thank you.  I will take it.  However, what was I thinking….. Now panic is setting in.  I’m meeting new people, they want to meet me.  I need to figure out how to do what I’m supposed to do and all the while, I am still hold on to my “day job” trying to carve out a larger role for myself.  All I want to do is make sure all paralegals have a voice.  I can’t screw this one up.  I still don’t have this new role but things are so clear I can almost taste this new job and I don’t’ want to jinx myself……..Have I already lost you?

    All this to say that I’m here.  I’m thinking up and have a few things to talk to you about but right now I’m thinking about myself.  I need to do that so that I can help more of us who really deserve it need it and frankly have waited long enough to get the recognition that they deserve.  I am here, I will be chatting with you and please, by all means, come chat with me on Twitter, I’ll be there ready to “play” and exchange ideas with you.  Please don’t hold it against me if I’m not here for a little while longer.  Let me get this one right and I’ll be back with so much more that you will be totally sick of me.

    Thank you all for your support

    Ana