Keith Shannon is an instructor in the paralegal technology training program at Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina....
Jared D. Correia, Esq. is the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business...
Are you slipping on keeping up with your clients and meeting important deadlines? For many lawyers, utilizing paralegals and legal assistants gives superior organization and efficiency to the practice of law. In this Legal Toolkit, host Jared Correia and Keith Shannon discuss the importance of paralegals and legal assistants in the legal profession. They define both roles and go over the types of work they can and cannot do according to ABA guidelines for paralegal services. They also talk about the types of law office technology and training lawyers should invest in for their paralegals–a means to maximize skills in e-Discovery and necessary office tech. Finishing up, they address how to hire qualified paralegals and offer strategies for avoiding paralegal burnout.
Keith Shannon is an instructor in the paralegal technology training program at Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina.
The Legal Toolkit
The Power of Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Intro: Welcome to Legal Toolkit, bringing you the latest legal trends and business initiatives to help you manage your law firm, with your host Jared Correia. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Jared Correia: Welcome to another episode of the award-winning Legal Toolkit podcast, here on the one and only Legal Talk Network. If you were looking for the Season 1 DVD of Quantum Leap or perhaps The Dukes of Hazzard, hit me up, I’ve got those in my library.
If you are a returning listener, welcome back. If you’re a first-time listener, hopefully you’ll become a longtime listener, and if you are Jon Snow, you probably should have swiped the left.
As always, I’m your show host Jared Correia, and in addition to casting this pod, I’m the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law practice management consulting services for law firms, bar associations and legal vendors. Check us out at redcavelegal.com.
I’m also the COO of Gideon Software, Inc., which offers chatbots, a first to market Chatbot Builder and predictive analytics created specifically for law firms. Find out more at www.gideon.legal.
You can listen to my other, other podcast, The Lobby List, a family travel show I host with my wife Jessica on iTunes. So subscribe, rate and comment.
But here, on The Legal Toolkit, which is the podcast you are listening to right now, we provide to you twice each month with a new tool to add to your own legal toolkit, so that your practices will become more and more like best practices.
In this episode, we’re going to talk about how amazing paralegals and legal assistants are, which is truly one of my favorite topics.
But before I introduce today’s guest, let’s take a moment to thank our sponsors.
Answer 1 is a leading virtual receptionist and answering services provider for lawyers. You can find out more by giving them a call at 800-Answer-1 or online at www.answer1.com. That’s www.answer1.com.
Scorpion crushes the standard for law firm online marketing with proven campaign strategies to get attorneys better cases from the Internet. Partner with Scorpion to get an award-winning website and ROI positive marketing programs today. Visit scorpionlegal.com/podcast.
TimeSolv is the number one web-based time and billing software for lawyers. Providing solutions since 1999, TimeSolv provides the most comprehensive billing features for law firms, big and small, www.timesolv.com.
My guest today is Keith Shannon who is an instructor in the Paralegal Technology Training Program at Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina. He is double Wildcat having graduated from the University of Kentucky for both college and law school. He also has a Master’s degree in Journalism from Marshall University. He is @KeithShannon8 on Twitter and he is surely more active and engaging on that platform than the other seven Keith Shannons, I’m fairly certain of that, and I would never have those dudes on my show anyway.
He has written a book about raising children called ‘My Boss Wears Diapers’ and has an as yet unnamed podcast because he — I think he tried to steal the name from somebody else, focused on Broadway, which he co-hosts with his daughter. And this is long overdue. I should have had Keith on the show several times by this point, but Keith, welcome to the big show. Thank you.
Keith Shannon: Thanks Jared, it’s great to be here.
Jared Correia: Yeah, this is going to be fun. All right, so full disclosure. I’m not what you would call cultured. My family tells me this all the time, and I’ve never done like theater Broadway any of that stuff, so I need you to tell me like why should I care about Broadway in the first instance, and then, if I went to go see a Broadway show that would convince me that it was cool and exciting and something that I should be on top of, like what show should I go see.
Keith Shannon: Well, let’s see. You should care about Broadway and just theater in general because it’s fun. It’s a great escape, it’s someplace to get away from the grind of being like an in-demand legal consultant or in your case a chatbot daddy.
Jared Correia: Do you know anyone like that?
Keith Shannon: No. Well you know you could use an escape, and if you’re into — I’m into musicals and both of my daughters are and so there the whole theater experience, the orchestra and the lights and they occasionally surly usher the whole thing, just, just makes for a fun experience. So that’s an enjoyable escape.
Now in terms of shows that you might want to go see, it’s a shame that SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical has closed. I think that would really be up your alley, and there is –
Jared Correia: Oh really? Interesting.
Keith Shannon: Yes, there was a SpongeBob Musical but it closed. There is also one that used to be on that was written by David Byrne because I know you’re a ‘Talking Heads’ fan, called Here Lies Love.
Jared Correia: I could get into that.
Keith Shannon: Yeah, yeah, and that was a good one. But I think for you if you went to New York right now the best bang for the buck for a musical for you would be Wicked, I think that’s the story behind this story of The Wizard of Oz.
So I think you would like that one, for a non-musical, but natural choice would be ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ I think.
Jared Correia: Ah, good call, good call. I can’t actually drive to New York City so I’m actually taking these recommendations and writing them down. I know Wicked because like the person who starred in Wicked was like the woman who eventually was Elsa in Frozen, right?
Keith Shannon: That’s correct. Yeah, you —
Jared Correia: That’s why I know that, okay.
Keith Shannon: You know your theater, yeah, and I do have one –
Jared Correia: I know one thing about theater.
Keith Shannon: Yeah. I have one other recommendation for you that I think you might enjoy, this is off-Broadway but there’s a show called Drunk Shakespeare and that’s performed in a speakeasy and one actor who is chosen every performance has to take at least five shots during the performance and still perform Shakespeare. So that isn’t an evening guaranteed to be enjoyable by somebody, anyway.
Jared Correia: That sounds like it’s right on my alley.
Keith Shannon: So there you go.
Jared Correia: Thank you. Good recommendations. All right, let’s get into the topic at hand, paralegals, legal assistants, my wife is a legal assistant, I think legal assistants are phenomenal. So what actually is a paralegal these days because I think there’s a lot of confusion around definitions and then what’s a paralegal versus a legal assistant and what type of training or certifications are actually required to do this kind of work?
Keith Shannon: Well, you are right. There is a lot of confusion between what a paralegal is and what a legal assistant is and whether a paralegal or legal assistant needs to be certified or licensed or anything like that.
So, first of all, in general, in the vast, vast majority of states to my knowledge anybody can sort of call themselves a paralegal, if you’re a legal secretary with a bunch of experience or if you’re somebody with no experience you can just say, hey I’m a paralegal and that’s sort of one of the problems, because anybody could be a paralegal.
So some states and the state that I’m in right now, North Carolina is one of those, have started certification programs, where you can become a state-certified paralegal and so that gives you the distinction — in North Carolina, you have to have graduated from an approved educational program and also pass an exam that in North Carolina is a 150 multiple-choice questions on all sorts of legal areas, real estate contracts, family law, civil litigation, criminal law, all, all sorts of areas.
And then to continue to be certified you have to have I think six hours of continuing legal or paralegal education per year. So, there is the designation of a certified paralegal.
The ABA has a definition of a paralegal and the ABA does not make a distinction between a paralegal and a legal assistant, and I think any distinctions that get made between the two of them are usually made by the employer really. I’ve heard of firms that say they have legal assistants and paralegals and it’s just a division of duties. Although there is kind of a hierarchy but who is on top really just depends on the employer.
But the ABA has a definition and they say, a legal assistant or a paralegal is a person qualified by education, training or work experience, who is employed in a law office corporation, etc., and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.
So, I think the key there is substantive work. It’s something more than just being a typist, more than just being a clerk, you actually put some training and substantive knowledge to work to make some choices and to really assist the attorney and just about anything the attorney can do. The key being that the attorney has to supervise and be responsible for your work.
Jared Correia: Yeah, that’s — that’s pretty good, all right. So we have an actual definition to deal with. We understand kind of what paralegals and legal assistants do and I have a lot of respect for people who do that sort of work. Because I think when this comes into play like is when a law firm is growing, you don’t see a ton of solo attorneys who are surrounded by like 20 paralegals necessarily.
So at what growth point do you think a firm needs a paralegal? Can it be a solo with a computer, like is it worth it to hire a paralegal at that point and if you’re a large firm, I think the question that comes up a lot is like how many paralegals should be shared by a single attorney, because the more, the better in many cases especially depending on the practice area. But I think law firms have a tough time like actually determining the right ratio. So what are your thoughts on that?
Keith Shannon: Well, of course in terms of the growth point that a firm needs a paralegal, being that I am an attorney, you know that the answer is going to be, it depends, because that’s what we all learned.
Jared Correia: Well played.
Keith Shannon: That’s right, that’s what we all learned to say in law school, much to the chagrin of my mom who when she would ask me legal questions and I would say that she would go, and we paid all this money and the best you can do is, it depends. But it does depend and you’d be surprised, we have had graduates from our program and usually they’ve started as interns like with a small sole practitioner who is just a lawyer with a computer and they end up getting jobs, one — as a matter of fact, one of our graduates from just a couple of years ago, works with — just a sole practitioner. It’s just the attorney, the paralegal, they don’t even have separate rooms. They sit in the same room with two computers and this attorney cannot imagine why it was like before this paralegal started helping her. It’s really amazing. That doesn’t hurt that this particular student is brilliant as well, but we’ve had a couple of students like that who end up going into a firm and just becoming the right-hand person to an attorney.
But in terms of — if you are a sole practitioner or even a multi-practice firm, I think the thing to look at is to start looking at when the day-to-day work starts interfering with your business and ethical responsibilities.
In other words, you’re so busy doing — you’re so busy drafting pleadings and answering interrogatories and getting things in the mail that you’re starting to slip up on being in touch with your clients and being up to date on your calendar and things like that, and as you know those are the sources of the ethical problems that happen with attorneys when you start — you start slipping and you start having to really work hard just to keep up.
At that point, it probably makes sense even if you’re going to take a financial hit in the short run, it’s much better to pay a paralegal to help you out than it would be to face an ethics charge or a malpractice case. If you’re scared you’re going to miss that deadline or some client is going to be mad at you and file an ethics claim when you could invest a little bit of money and a little bit of time and get a paralegal, although I would like you to invest a lot of money for paralegals, but you can —
Jared Correia: Of course.
Keith Shannon: And also it’s not an all-or-nothing thing. You can hire someone part-time or you can get a virtual paralegal part-time, and just see how it works or even like we have an internship program here at our school, you could hire an intern and again hopefully pay them but I know that some firms, most firms probably don’t, but try it on and see if it helps and look at the bigger picture and look at the — in terms of the return on investment, maybe you’re spending some money right now, but maybe you’re saving your entire practice down the road because you’re actually able to practice law as opposed to just hanging on by your fingernails and hoping that you’re going to avoid an ethics complaint or a malpractice suit.
Also, well in terms of how many attorneys should there be per paralegal, I saw some statistic that said and then this was an older article that said, there was a figure of 3.57 attorneys per paralegal, and I thought about when I first started practicing and I think I would have been the .57 in that, in that, but again, on that end when things start getting, not getting done and also it’s going to depend on the attorneys.
If your firm does not have a style manual and you’ve got three attorneys who use three different pleading formats and three different captions, three different fonts and three different types of calendars, then it’s going to be much harder for a paralegal to take care of those three attorneys then — then if you’re with a firm that has bothered to kind of come up with a uniform style manual and uniformed file naming conventions and things like that.
So that’s something that would go into it. I would worry if there were probably more than four attorneys per paralegal in any firm, I would think that might be too much.
Jared Correia: Right. Systems people, systems –
Keith Shannon: Right.
Jared Correia: You talked about this a little bit as well in terms of like what kind of work a paralegal does, which is often substantive. So let’s kind of delineate that a little bit, so attorneys have a better understanding of what kind of work they’re getting here.
So what can a paralegal do and what can a paralegal not do?
Keith Shannon: Well there are — believe it or not the ABA comes to the rescue again. The ABA has put out guidelines for the utilization of paralegals. I don’t know if people are aware of this but you can find those on the ABA website.
Jared Correia: I was unaware.
Keith Shannon: Really? Yes –
Jared Correia: Yes.
Keith Shannon: And they’re not to be all and end all, but they certainly help. They’re kind of like — they are 10 guidelines sort of like the 10 Commandments, and if nothing else they make you stop and think about how you’re using paralegals.
So basically — and again, I’m going to kind of paraphrase and read from the ABA. It says, provided the lawyer maintains responsibility for the work product, a lawyer may delegate to a paralegal any task normally performed by the lawyer, except those tasks prescribed to a non-lawyer by statute, court rule. Now that definition sort of folds in on itself, it’s kind of like a paralegal can do anything except what they can’t do, but the idea is that the attorney has to maintain control and responsibility and oversight and the ethics rules for the different states I’m sure set out specifics.
For example, in North Carolina, a paralegal obviously can’t question a witness at a deposition or really represent anyone in court. Although there are of course exceptions for the Social Security Administration and those sorts of things, but there are — a paralegal can get up in court and tell an attorney and that — this is in our state that — tell a judge that an attorney is running late or can’t make it right now, please, can we please wait or something like that. Make a non-representative statement about what’s going on.
The ABA does clearly state that a lawyer may not delegate to a paralegal the responsibility for establishing an attorney-client relationship, the paralegal can be there and give the client the papers to sign but they can’t establish that relationship, they cannot establish the fee to be charged. They can tell the client what the fee is but they can’t come up with a fee, and they can’t — and this is what I think is the hardest one. They can’t render a legal opinion to a client and I know from plaintiffs personal injury work, sometimes the client has the most exposure to the paralegal more than any attorney and so they respect that paralegal’s opinion about things.
So I can see very well if a settlement offer is made, the client actually calling up the paralegal and saying, hey, what do you think, should I accept this?
Jared Correia: Oh totally, yeah.
Keith Shannon: Yeah. And the thing is, if the paralegal has been around for a while, the paralegal actually knows the answer to the question, and they’re not allowed to say and what would hurt would be if the client actually gives the wrong answer and says, yeah I’m going to accept it and the paralegal sitting there with all the alarm bells going off saying, oh no, no, no, no. You shouldn’t, but the paralegal has to refrain and be quiet because they can’t render a legal opinion.
Jared Correia: All right. This has been a great discussion so far. I personally learned a lot. But we’re going to stop for a moment, and think about our favorite Broadway composers. And Keith, if you could tell me a Broadway composer that would be helpful and then we’ll come back.
So let’s take a break. Here are some of the things you should buy.
Do you feel like your marketing efforts aren’t getting you the high value cases your firm deserves? For over 15 years, Scorpion has helped thousands of law firms, just like yours, to attract new cases and to grow their practices. As a Google Premier Partner and winner of Google’s Platform Innovator Award, Scorpion has the right resources and technology to aggressively market your law firm and to generate better cases from the Internet. For more information, visit scorpionlegal.com/podcast today.
Imagine billing day being the happiest day of the month instead of the day you dread. Nobody went to law school because they love drafting invoices for clients. At TimeSolv, our attorneys save on average over eight hours a month in billing work. That means more billable time and turning billing day into happy day. Learn more about how to get to your time and billing happy place at timesolv.com. That’s www.timesolv.com. Remember, that’s timesolv.com.
Jared Correia: All right everybody. Thanks for staying on. I was just freshening up a bit, but I’m back on board now. I’m here talking with Keith Shannon. We’re here podcasting about paralegals and legal assistants and how fantastic they are.
All right, we delved into this a little bit in terms of what a paralegal can and cannot do, but attorneys are always worried about unauthorized practice of law issues and so how could that arise based on a paralegal law firm relationship?
Keith Shannon: Well, I think we just talked about that with actually a paralegal rendering a legal opinion, or a paralegal doing some sort of negotiating with, say for example, a lawyer doesn’t have time to talk to an insurance adjuster or the other attorney, but it would usually be I would think an insurance adjuster and says, okay, transmit this settlement offer to the adjuster and then maybe the paralegal takes on the responsibility of actually negotiating with the adjuster a little bit, again, because the paralegal might have the intellectual chops to be able to do that, but they don’t have the law license to do it.
Jared Correia: Yeah, and I think that’s probably the biggest challenge for paralegals is that they know a ton, and in some cases I think more than the attorneys. So it’s tough to refrain.
Keith Shannon: Yes, yeah, that’s and certainly as a young attorney in the firm that I started with, we didn’t call them paralegals but they were secretaries and they knew everything and certainly they could have practiced law I think if they had, had the license. But I think that’s the sort of thing coming up with legal opinions, maybe even whispering them under the table to the clients saying, well I don’t think that’s a good settlement offer, those sorts of things.
Maybe soliciting clients and this would be maybe an attorney who should know better, but getting out there and having a paralegal solicit clients and establish the attorney-client relationship. Those sorts of things are highly dangerous and could get the attorney certainly, the attorney is responsible ultimately but also the paralegal. I mean in North Carolina it’s a misdemeanor to practice law without a license. I don’t know what it is in your state.
Jared Correia: Oh interesting.
Keith Shannon: Yeah, so it’s a criminal matter as well as just an ethical and a State Bar matter.
Jared Correia: I see you clearly know more about paralegals than anyone I know, so, I mean that as compliment. So we have talked about this a little bit before like the importance of systems, right, so what sort of law office technology training do you think paralegals need to have, and does it make sense for firms to invest in technology training for paralegals as they would invest in technology training theoretically for associate attorneys?
Keith Shannon: I like I like the way you said theoretically for associate attorneys but.
Jared Correia: I did that on purpose, yes.
Keith Shannon: Yeah, because that’s the reason that you should invest in technology training for paralegals, but I guess to back up what sort of training should they have and I teach a class as you know in law office technology. And it is amazing that with the things that attorneys have in their office that their paralegals probably aren’t trained to use them to the maximum efficiency that they could, and I’m talking about the Microsoft Office Suite. Looking at Word, it’s amazing, I’ve got people who are paralegals now, who were in my classes and I teach them Word and I say well how many people use Quick Parts, and they look at me like they don’t know what I’m talking about. How many people use Macros, how many people use Style?
Jared Correia: Nobody knows what Quick Parts are.
Keith Shannon: Right. And they go, Styles, no, we don’t use that. How many people know how to do — Word will generate a table of cases and authorities for you, very easily and it will comply with most standards in most states. You don’t have to type anything, Word will do that for you.
So at the very least and I’ve heard Adriana Linares talk about this on her podcast, at the very least invest in teaching your paralegals how to maximize the use of Word, how to use Templates. If you don’t have a document management program or something that will actually construct a document, you can use Quick Parts and Templates to generate a document that will just ask you questions, just like, some of the bankruptcy software and real estate software. Well, you can do that on a smaller level with Word and have it just to ask you questions and then you answer the questions and then it will spit out a document. But you’ve got to know how to do that.
So there are all sorts of things that plain old Word can do and again, Excel and all the others, that a lot of paralegals don’t know about, and it’s easy just to send someone to a CLE or some type of training or get some online training, and it would be well worth it, it will increase the efficiency of a law firm dramatically if you just get them to know that.
Jared Correia: Absolutely, yeah one day — one day people will start doing this.
Keith Shannon: Yeah someday is a day of the week now, but also training paralegals to look at practice management systems like Clio and Rocket Matter and PracticePanther those things.
We had a student who was an intern and as part of her internship, and this was so cool because it gave her an excuse to be exposed to all of these. She was in charge of evaluating practice management programs for the firm. So she got trial accounts to all these practice management programs and really did a side-by-side comparison for them. And that’s not a bad idea because it’s going to be the paralegal, who is going to be using them probably the most anyway. So those practice management programs, that’s always a good idea.
Jared Correia: All right, so let’s talk about another technology application that continues to gain steam and this is probably part of like just about every litigation case there is right now, e-discovery, right. So what role can a paralegal play in terms of e-discovery at a law firm?
Keith Shannon: Well, this is something that I get excited about because and I tell my students about this all the time, because I look at e-discovery for a paralegal, it’s kind of like the Wild West, I mean it’s wide open, it’s really rare. When I was practicing law there was sort of nothing new, I mean there were no new areas, it was a while before Internet stuff came along and you just practiced law and there was no way to really blaze a trail.
But I think for a paralegal, e-discovery is a great opportunity to blaze a trail. If you can become an expert or as much of an expert as you can in the technology and of e-discovery and put your substantive legal knowledge to work, I can see how you would be invaluable to a law firm, because the way I look at it, tech guys really aren’t interested in law and lawyers don’t have time to come up to speed on the tech. So you really need somebody with one foot in each world.
And a paralegal who plays their cards right, who can go online and get some education in those e-discovery applications and a lot of those applications you just call them up and they will give you free training if you want. Just get trained and go to CLEs, you can get certified I think in some e-discovery, there are some certification programs, but do what you can to maximize your knowledge of that and do what you can to maximize your knowledge of litigation and all of the electronically stored information rules there.
And I have this dream that at some point some paralegal is going to be at a job interview and say something about the Sedona Conference or Zubulake or a litigation hold and the attorney will just go crazy and hire them on the spot because they will say you know e-discovery, you are hired. So I think —
Jared Correia: And you would be sitting in your living room and all of a sudden you will feel like a warm feeling watch over you, it’d be like someone just was hired.
Keith Shannon: That’s true, that’s true.
Jared Correia: Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.
Keith Shannon: That’s right, that’s exactly the way it feels. Whenever one of my students gets a job, a bell rings, but no, I just think it really is a tremendous opportunity for somebody. And if somebody already has the technical expertise, then go to an approved program and become a paralegal. I would think that you could be the liaison between the tech and the legal world in terms of e-discovery.
Jared Correia: Totally, yeah, that’s a great advice, adding skills, new school skills, something that attorney doesn’t understand, that’s great.
All right, we are going to take a break before we hit part three of the podcast. So while I look for the animal crackers I left under the couch, listen to these words from our sponsors.
Is your firm experiencing missed calls, empty voicemail boxes, and potential clients you will never hear from again? Enter Answer 1 Virtual Receptionists. They are more than just an answering service. Answer 1 is available 24/7. They can even schedule appointments, respond to emails, integrate with Clio, and much more. Answer 1 helps make sure your clients have the experience they deserve. Give them a call yourself at 800-Answer-1 or visit them at answer1.com/podcast for a special offer.
Jared Correia: All right, thanks for coming back everybody, I never left. I hope you are enjoying your loosely held beliefs about the nature of divinity, but let’s get back to our conversation with Keith Shannon who is talking to me about paralegals and legal assistants and the theater, so let’s find out more.
So Keith, law firms — actually in my consulting practice are often asking me like how do I find and hire good people and obviously that extends to paralegals as well. So where a law firm look to find a good paralegal or a good legal assistant?
Keith Shannon: Well, I mean I know that most law firms probably think they should just throw an ad out there, which I guess is fine, but I think we all know that people really don’t get jobs so much through ads, as they do through networking.
So if you have a local paralegal association, it doesn’t hurt. I imagine they have a LinkedIn presence. It doesn’t hurt to get in that LinkedIn group. I’m sure they would welcome attorneys and start watching the people that are in there and looking for people who might be looking for jobs, experienced paralegals, but also you can use a local paralegal association. There’s two ways that you can use, you can be of service to them because if there is a paralegal education requirement or even there’s not, if they just give seminars occasionally, then if you’re an attorney, sign up to present at those seminars and get to know the president of the local association and get your face out there.
And so, you’ll have a ready pool of folks who know you and who you know to maybe call on if you need a paralegal. Even if you don’t know anyone who is out of work and looking for a job, if you know people in the paralegal association, you can call them and see if they know of somebody and also the recommendations will be better because they might know who to steer you clear of and also who is doing well.
Also, if there is a paralegal education program I do recommend internships. Now our internship program is pretty good. We assign a faculty advisor to all of our interns and so as faculty advisors, we make the firm identify at least three measurable learning objectives for the paralegal student to learn during the course of the semester and we do site visits and we supervise them to make sure it’s not just getting coffee and making copies, they’re actually learning something.
But that’s a great way to try on a paralegal, if you see that your practice is enhanced by a paralegal then — in a specific student, then you can go ahead and offer them a job or maybe when the semester is over if the person is not working up, give someone else an opportunity.
So I think that’s a good resource.
Jared Correia: Yeah. No, that’s great advice. All right, let’s talk a little bit about like, late career issues, or mid-career issues for paralegals and I think this is — I know this is true of attorneys. Attorneys work really hard, a lot of hours, it’s demanding, often times they burn out and there are some resources for attorneys who get burnout and need to work through that. Does the same thing happen to paralegals and legal assistants, and if so, how does one manage that?
Keith Shannon: Well, I think you know the answer is whether or not that it does happen to them. It does –
Jared Correia: I am going to say, yes.
Keith Shannon: Yes, it definitely does. I’ve had students — it’s fun to have students follow up and tell me how things are going and sometimes, they just are overwhelmed. I mean they’re working just as late as the attorneys are and they can’t get away from things. Their weekends suddenly are not their own and so there is burnout and the same I think, the same rules or the same tips applied to paralegals that would apply to attorneys.
The fact is that you’re not alone and there are paralegal associations, national as well as local paralegal associations. The National Federation of Paralegals and even the ABA, the State Bar probably has some paralegal associations and that’s a resource that a paralegal really needs to look at in terms of just finding some help if they need someone to talk to or they think they’re burnt out, that’s some place to go and the problem is people tend to wait until it’s almost too late.
But networking and realizing you’re not alone and being in there with other paralegals and seeing if maybe you’re being put into a situation that’s almost abusive in terms of the amount of work that you’re being asked to do, that’s helpful. So you can maybe look for another job or figure out another way, a way to get away from things, like theater, for example. You know the hobby.
Jared Correia: Great segue, we can talk a little bit more about theater as well. No, but that’s true, like and I think you make a great point about like being proactive about this, because you’re right, like most people are using to seek help on that score, especially lawyers and I think paralegals as well, who have always been people who have like handled themselves with no emotion, because that’s like what the law practice is a lot of it is about, and it’s very easy to get stuck in a rut and stay there, but being proactive is really helpful, so you make a great point there.
Keith Shannon: Yeah.
Jared Correia: So, I am introducing a new segment on the show that I’d like your help with, and this is only second time I have tried this. So, what I want to do now is read a tweet, I am going to start reading tweets that one of my guests write at the very end of every show. So I am going to read a recent tweet of yours and then I want you to explain it to me. Are you ready?
Keith Shannon: I am ready.
Jared Correia: All right! I am not going to try and do an impression.
Keith Shannon: Oh thank you.
Jared Correia: Or try to mimic your voice in anyway.
Keith Shannon: Well, I appreciate that.
Jared Correia: From March 20th, you write day four of my being home alone while the girls are on a trip to Japan, I’m assuming that there has been an uptick in fast food stocks during this time.
So does that mean you’re not cooking for yourself, does that mean your girls are out in Japan like just destroying McDonald’s over there or what’s going on? Give me a window into the lifestyle.
Keith Shannon: No, my — well, my wife is half-Japanese, her mother is Japanese and so the week of March what did you say was 20th I guess, both of my daughters and my wife and my mother-in-law went on a trip to Japan. They went to Nagoya where my mother-in-law grew up and then over to Okinawa. So they were gone for a week and I’ve pledged to myself that I was going to be healthy and that I would cook and everything would be wonderful, and then I just failed. I was — they were greeting me by first name at the drive-throughs, there was — as a matter of fact, this is actually true.
One night, I decided to watch a movie on Netflix, it was a documentary about vegan eating and they kept showing all these pictures of meat and talking about how bad they were, and by the time that movie was over, I was absolutely ravenous for meat and I went and bought — I bought $16 worth of Taco Bell that night, and that’s – that’s true. Now, I didn’t consume it all that evening, it was probably a two-day affair, but still —
Jared Correia: Mr. Shannon, your Chalupa is ready.
Keith Shannon: That’s right. They were actually bringing the food to my house by that point.
Jared Correia: Oh man. That sounds like a good deal actually. It sounds like everybody had fun in Japan, you had some fun at home and now everybody is back together.
Keith Shannon: That’s correct, yeah.
Jared Correia: Nice, I’m glad, you can get back to normal eating habits again.
Keith Shannon: Yeah.
Jared Correia: Well, thanks for participating. That’s a fun new segment I’m trying to introduce. I enjoyed it. I hope you did?
Keith Shannon: I did as well. That’s very creative and nicely done.
Jared Correia: I try. Sadly, however, we’ve reached the end of yet another episode of The Legal Toolkit podcast. This was the podcast about paralegals and legal assistants and we’ve been talking with Keith Shannon.
Now, I’ll be back on future shows with further insights into My Soul, the Soul of America and the Legal Market.
If you’re feeling nostalgic for my dulcet tones however, you can check out our entire show archive anytime you want at legaltalknetwork.com.
So thanks again to Keith Shannon for making an appearance as my guest today. All right Keith, can you tell everybody how they can find out more about you, including your work at the college down in North Carolina, and also your upcoming yet-to-be-named Broadway podcast?
Keith Shannon: Yes, yes. For my work information, I am at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. So if anyone wants to reach out, my email address is [email protected] and as you said, I’m also on Twitter @KeithShannon8, those other seven Keith Shannons, I don’t know who they are. I actually think one of them is me.
Jared Correia: Posers, that’s who they are.
Keith Shannon: From an earlier iteration, and also I do have a Gmail address and that is [email protected] So —
Jared Correia: You are all the Keith Shannons, I had no idea.
Keith Shannon: That’s right. And if you go there on Twitter at the very least, I will be putting out information about the as-yet-unnamed podcast, and you’re right. We had a name for it and I dragged my feet and someone else came up with a podcast with the same name. It doesn’t deal with theater, but it’s got the same name.
So we’re renaming the podcast, it says yet-unnamed.
Jared Correia: We won’t talk about that other podcast.
Keith Shannon: No, no, we will not, but the — our podcast, it will be my daughter Kara who is a theater major, and I are the hosts and it will be fun.
Jared Correia: That’s awesome. All right everybody, so email Keith if you want, check him out at Community College page and hit him up on Twitter, he’s very responsive and it’s taken me too long to have him on the show. I think we’ll have him on again at some point as well.
So finally, thanks again to Keith Shannon, and thanks to all of you out there for listening. This has been The Legal Toolkit Podcast, where we prefer Chipotle to Taco Bell.
Outro: Thanks for listening to Legal Toolkit, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join host Jared Correia for his next podcast covering the current business trends for law firms.
If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. Subscribe via iTunes and RSS. Find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
Legal Toolkit highlights services, ideas, and programs that will improve lawyers' practices and workflow.
Jeff Pfeifer offers insight into the importance of data literacy for modern lawyers.
Jake Sanders and Paul Julius share strategies for effective digital marketing campaigns for law firms.
Sam Glover discusses his new book and tells firms how to position themselves for success.
Dan Hauck, chief product officer at NetDocuments, shares best practices for creating an effective virtual workspace for your law firm.
Jane Oxley, president of Smokeball, gives step-by-step guidance for small firms on how to choose and utilize tools for greater productivity.
Stuart Barr and Rob MacAdam of HighQ discuss how law firms can leverage their current technology and make smart choices for new legal...