Vermont Bar Journal
Everything Your Paralegal Wants You to Know, But Never Told You
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNALVolume 35, No. 2Summer 2009 Everything Your Paralegal Wants You to Know, But Never Told YouBy Frank Sanitate and Douglas Gillies, Esq.Did you ever wonder what is really going on inside your paralegal's head? In three recent Time Mastery workshops for paralegals, we asked them to write something that they wished their bosses knew. We collected approximately 100 responses. The results are instructive and sometimes poignant. Their direct comments speak most eloquently about what they want you to know. Following are the top ten responses. (The number after the category indicates how many responses were received in that category.) We include some time mastery tips for lawyers appropriate to each category.
1) I Have a Life Outside of Work (11)
* I don't have the same desire to work as much or as hard as you do. That's why I'm not a lawyer, and that's why I make a lot less than you. * Telephone calls on weekends at home are not acceptable. * I would like to go home on time and spend more time with my kids. * My family is much more important to me than my job. * When lunch time rolls around I need to take a break and to eat something. Otherwise, I'm unproductive, unhappy, and unfriendly. * Work/life balance is extremely important. If you need me to stay late, give me a warning so I can arrange my life accordingly. Respect my time. * Working 12-13 hours a day and working weekends is not normal or healthy. * I have a husband and kids at home and my life does not revolve around the office. * I have personal matters to attend to and do not like to feel guilty.
The reason many paralegals have work/ life balance problems is that the lawyers they work for don't have a balance. There are many reasons for this, but the bottom line is probably that lawyers are afraid to say "no!" The simplest, and perhaps most difficult way, to learn to get a balance and to say "no" is to go "cold turkey." Pick a specific time to leave the office every day and do it no matter what, even if it is only five minutes earlier than you now normally leave. Overwork is the reward you give yourself for inefficiency.
2) I Want You to Recognize and Appreciate What I Do (11)
* I do a lot of work that you are not even aware of. * Much of what I do is behind the scenes, things that you don't see. * Notice who actually does the work, and whether the...