Promoting Others in the Field and Other Changes on the Blog


I know it’s been a long time since I got on here and chatted with you all.  My days at the office have been really long and by the time I get home the last thing I want to do is turn on my computer again and write more.  Most nights I feel like I don’t even have the brain power to put a coherent sentence together much less a whole new article.

I have been working with some of my readers to put together a series of writings by you, the readers.  In a few weeks there will be an article posted written by a paralegal at a law firm in Florida.  My goal with this blog has always been to promote the profession and the professionals.  As paralegals, we can use all the help we can get to tell others about us and about what we do.  So, if you want to be featured and and tell others about you, what you do, what you like or not like about the profession, please send me an article and we can work together to highlight you and your achievements.

This blog is written for you and now it’s also written by you.  I’m super excited about this new series and look forward to learning about each and every one of my readers.

Thank you all so much for your support all these years and for you patience when life gets the best of me and I go missing for a few months.  I will try to be better but right now I’m not sure I can promise an article every day.

Another thing I’m thinking about is to do a new feature about how manage my time, plan my day and organize my crazy busy life.  Between my fundraising (I am currently working on a non-profit for women and girls), my day job (working at the legal department of the financial firm), my personal life (which honestly has taken a back seat) and this blog (which is so far list) and my planner creations (I’m a paper person and I really love planners and planner functional decorations) I have a lot of balls up in the air.  Sometimes things fall through the cracks and I’ve learned that I cannot beat myself up for allowing that to happen once in a while.  All I can do is make sure that when I do something I do it well and I’m providing a benefit to someone.  If I can accomplish that I declare it a win.

So, the next couple of weeks you will some changes, some additions in the format of the posts and maybe some added pages to encompass all these areas of my life in one spot.  I think that will make it easier.  I will ensure that I keep them all in separate categories so as to not make you read things you are not interested in reading.

Looking forward to being back more often and engaging with you all more one on one basis.  I do hope you get involved.

Thank you

Ana

Top 5 Books I want to Read in 2018


Non-Fiction Edition

I know it’s a bit late in the month to do a Top 5 books I want to read in 2018. Before it gets even later in the month, let’s get started with my Top Five Books. These are in no particular order.

the Success Principles

The first time I heard of Jack Canfield was when I picked up a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul. I didn’t buy it then and I don’t think I’ve ever read it (need to do something about that) but for some reason I never forgot the name of the author. The next time I heard the name was during the movie The Secret. I immediately became fascinated by his story and began looking for books by him. For some reason I never picked up Chicken Soup for the Soul (maybe I should). However, I picked up The Success Principles and immediately read it cover to cover. It’s been a while now. Recently I heard about a new publication of the book in celebration of the 10th anniversary and since I had a credit on my Audible account, I thought I’d get it. Considering my 2.5 hour commute to work and then again back home……. I figured I could at least be doing something productive so, why not listen to how to be successful. The book is not a how to be successful, per se. It is instead about how you can improve certain aspects of yourself which in turn will allow you to open yourself up to success. I’m really looking forward to starting this book soon. I’m ready to be a super success :).

Judgement Detox

Judging ourselves and others is a waste of energy. I am guilty of both, more often than not I’m my worst critic and tend to judge myself much more harshly than others do. A perfect example seems to be every year at the time of my annual review I’m always the first one to comment on areas to can work on to improve. On the other hand, others seem to acknowledge my accomplishments and my successes much more readily than I. . I will be honest, I have another another book by the same author that I haven’t read yet The Universe Has Your Back. This year I’ll get to both of these…… Promise to myself.

Time Management Magic

We all have 24 hours at our disposal. Why is it that some people tend to get so much done and seem to have the energy to go on for another 24 hours and I’m feeling depleted at the end of the day and I feel as I didn’t even scratch the surface of the to-do list? I would imagine that the answer would be choices but….. I haven’t read the book so I’m not going to guess. This book was written by an ex-Disney employee who, while working at Disney and managing 100s of people developed time management and life hacks to take control of his time and succeed. I’m sure you all know by now that I’m a sucker for a good time management hack. This is at the top of the list, for sure.

The Slight Edge

One of my many goals this year is to make the choices that will ultimately bring me to my happy place. This year I’m going to concentrate on TheParalegal and make create something we can all use. I want TheParalegal to be your go-to place for your paralegal life. This book speaks about choices that we all make that lead to that much elusive happiness. I am looking forward to this read.

Build Your Dream Network

I feel like this book was tailored just for me and all other introverts like me. As an introvert, sometimes it’s really difficult for me to create the networks that everyone seems to have no trouble surrounding themselves with. This year, as mentioned above, I am focused on making connections. On helping others achieve their own successes. I am looking to this book to open some doors and help me develop the connections I need to bring you the connections you need.

So that’s the list

From the list above, it looks like this year is going to be very much a year of growth for me and for TheParalegal. I am determined to make things happen for all of us. Don’t be fooled though. I have a few fiction books on my list too but I’ll let you digest this list for now. Look for my Top Five Fiction Books I want to Read in 2018.

What about you? What do you want to read this year? Is there anything you would like to suggest I include on my list? what about a book about paralegals? I’ve been looking for something like that and haven’t been able to find a good one. Do you have any suggestions? Please leave comments below.

On a totally separate note…. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I’ve created a Facebook page and Facebook group and I would love if you went to visit me there. I will be posting my tips and tricks that I learned in my 20 years of being a paralegal in law firms and in-house. I will be putting up training videos as well as templates I used and still use to make my life easier. It’ll be a bit until I can do all that but the goal is to provide you with as many resources as possible to make your day-to-day easier. I’m also working on launching a newsletter in February and if you’re subscribed to my email list you will receive a FREE copy of the newsletter where I will also be featuring up and coming legal issues, paralegal tips and tricks, books I want to read, new things I learned and when able to I will have some interviews. I am serious about wanting to make this a place where we can all come to for answers with no judgement. I want to be able to provide you with all the information and resources I wish I had when I was starting out.

Please go say hello at @ThisParalegalLife and say hello and if you’ve subscribed to the blog via email, look for the newsletter announcement soon. I’m so excited for 2018!!!!!!!

I cannot wait to see you and start working on my networking goals.

XoXo

A Letter to My Subscribers


I wanted to take a bit of your time to tell you about myself.  I’ve been a paralegal for 20 years and have had this blog for a while.  TheParalegal, started as a means to share knowledge with new paralegals and attorneys about the paralegal profession. I really enjoy being a paralegal and am so proud of my chosen profession.  I hate it when it’s mischaracterized and want to dispel the myths.  I posted on and off for a few years, considered leaving the profession, considered alternatives to being what I feel is my calling and there were times I was not able to dedicate myself to the blog so there were months that I went without posting.  In those instances, when life got too busy or confusing, TheParalegal continued to grow,  I continued to get questions and receive emails from many of you. Fast forward to the present and “new year, new you” right? I decided to fully revive the blog and dedicate it to all the paralegals.

The goal in 2018 is to make the blog a resource for the professional paralegal and the lawyers who are willing to stand by us, to serve as a mentor, to serve as a friend…. In short, to serve.

In the short term, I am looking to start a FREE monthly newsletter and in the future I would love to write a book; a manual for the paralegal professional. I also want to start doing seminars and webinars. Along with these goals and my full time job I plan on being a super busy paralegal but I’m really looking forward to 2018. I’m attaching a link here and ask you that you please go and sign up to my email list. I promise I won’t spam you and I will certainly not sell your email address to anyone. I will use it to announce new things coming out on the blog, thank you gifts I may be giving and seminars and presentations I may be doing.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time. I look forward to connecting and exchanging tips and tricks.

Please… one more favor.  If you can please subscribe to the mailing list you will be advised of all “coming attractions.”  I will not spam you or sell your email to any third parties.  Thank you so much! Looking forward to a great 2018.

Ana

Take Control of Your Paralegal Career


What Are you Afraid of?

img_0629

“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

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)

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