Carl H. Morrison, RP, PP, AACP, is an experienced certified paralegal and paralegal manager and has been in the...
In this Paralegal Voice, host Carl Morrison reaches into his paralegal grab bag to bring you time management tips and tricks, current association trends, and predictions for the future of the paralegal profession. Tune in as Carl shares valuable advice that all paralegals can use, from tackling time-wasters to engaging a younger generation of lawyers.
The Paralegal Voice
Paralegal Grab Bag: Tips, Trends, and Predictions
Carl Morrison: Hello everyone. Welcome to The Paralegal Voice, here on Legal Talk Network. I am Carl Morrison, a certified paralegal, devoted to law, and your host at The Paralegal Voice.
Before we begin, we would like to thank our sponsors.
Thomson Reuters’ Firm Central, a cloud-based legal practice management that streamlines your day and automates non-billable administrative tasks so you can accomplish more with less.
And also NALA, NALA is a professional association for paralegals providing continuing education, voluntary certification and professional development programs. NALA has been a sponsor of The Paralegal Voice since our very first show.
And finally ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high volume serves, who embrace technology and understand the litigation process. Visit serve-now.com to learn more.
On today’s episode of The Paralegal Voice, we are doing what I like to call The Paralegal Grab Bag. This month, I wanted to do some different. I have three areas that I wanted to share my listeners and I hope you enjoy the show.
Today, I am going to discuss with you time management, tips and tricks; association trends; and finally, the future of the paralegal profession.
So sit back in your favorite comfy chair, have your favorite beverage at the ready and relax, because we are going to have a fun show.
First grab from the Grab Bag is all about tips and tricks and time management for the paralegal, to help you survive the craziness of the legal profession. I will tell you this is a skill set that I teach to students and for our listeners today, it’s something that I know most of you will enjoy listening to.
So let’s start, time management. I know we all wish we had more time in the day to tackle all those projects and assignments that are thrown our way; especially, those last-minute things that come up, and whether you’re a paralegal student, a paralegal who works in a law firm and has worked for many years or one like me, who works in a corporate legal department. We each have a need to really fine-tune and improve our time management skills. So today, I thought I would give some excellent tips and tricks on improving those skills.
Let’s take a look at one of my first tips to help you survive time management. First, you need to really stop and think about, okay, what are some of my time management challenges that I am dealing with. Are you inundated with e-mails and phone calls throughout the day?
I don’t know about you but I am constantly being interrupted with e-mails and phone calls. Do you have a million meetings that go throughout the whole week? You’ve got 12 meetings scheduled with different clients on Tuesday and seven on Thursday. Are you a procrastinator and I will tell you procrastination is the paralegal’s worst enemy?
What is it that is a challenge for you in managing your time? You need to determine what is your time waster? What are those time wasters and tackle those first. You want to make sure and figure it out, okay, what is causing me the grief as it relates to my time management.
Second tip, think about creating a calendar appointment for dedicating time to spend on a special particular project. One thing that I always recommend, I get at least a minimum of a 100 e-mails a day in my particular full time job during the day. And I will actually set-aside calendar appointments dedicated to me tackling those e-mails that they can wait, I don’t need to deal with them right at the moment.
That way, I have an actual dedicated time that for 30 minutes, that’s what I am going to do. So I am going to weed through those e-mails and sort and figure out what needs to be dealt with, what task do I need to tackle, what phone call do I need to make, things of that nature. So think about dedicating time to special projects.
Another tip, complete those easy projects first. Do you have 12 simple deposition subpoenas that you need to be issuing but you have got one giant huge document production, a thousand pages that you have got to tackle to be completed by tomorrow?
Well, think about tackling those easy things first. Those that don’t consume a lot of time, don’t require a lot of judgment and a little culpability. Things that you can quickly get through in a minute to five, however long it would take you.
And then spend your greater amount of time, the most time on those projects that require a lot of time. That way, you get the easy stuff out of the way. It’s off your plate, you can focus in on the major projects.
Fourth tip is to get rid of desk clutter. Do you have stacks and stacks of papers on your desk but there’s really no sense of organization, no system of organization to those documents, those stacks. Go through them, organize, figure out what they are. They maybe just extra copies that you need to get rid of or are they documents that need to be actually filed in your case file.
Number two, eliminate the tchotchkes. And by that, I mean those little things that sit on your desk, little teddy bears, little things that really don’t have a purpose in your workspace. And I know that we all collect those cute marketing toys that you get at the conferences, little rubber mallets, the stress balls, get rid of them. They take up additional valuable real-estate on your desk that can be better utilized.
And think about also getting rid of your virtual desktop clutter. I use my desktop on my computer at the office as kind of a staging area, when I am working with a document that I’ll drag and drop onto my desktop. Well, as you keep dragging and dropping and you don’t deal with and eliminate, your desktop on your computer gets cluttered. So think about eliminating the clutter on your desk.
The reason you want to get rid of the clutter is it can actually add to the stress that you’re dealing with in managing your time, because it’s visually things just look like you’re so busy and you will start to feel really busy.
Fifth tip, think about creating a command center. And a command center, you’re thinking well, what is that, what is a command center? Well, think of it as a functional way to help you get yourself organized.
So think about things like a white board, a shelf for those in and out baskets, a hanging wall calendar, cork board that you can put with thumbtacks to hang up certain things. The command center is there for you to see and utilize when you are first coming in the day, when you leave in the evening.
For me I have a large white board that I use for my to-dos, my ASAP projects, my urgent ASAP projects, and those projects that may be I need to work in the next 10 days, 15 days, things of that nature. It’s a visual for me to see right when I walk in the door of my office, these are the things I need to tackle.
The sixth tip, think about switching off your pop-up notifications; and by that, I mean on your cell phone. Cell phone app notifications can be really — think of them as like time management vampires. They suck the time away from you because they pop-up and notify you of things that you really don’t need to be dealing with at the moment.
So turn off those notifications for those less important apps. Do you need to be notified that your friends have snapchatted you? Probably not. Those are things that you can turn those notifications off during the day when you’re in the workplace.
Be mindful of those apps that you need to keep the notifications setting turned on; things like e-mail, your messaging system on your phone, but think about making those silent. So there’s not an audible alarm when you’re being notified.
I have two phones. I have a work phone and a personal phone. They sit on my desk and some days, I will tell you both phones are blowing up with work, e-mails, personal e-mails, text messages, phone calls. There are days that I really want to throw my phones out the window, but I can’t, especially my work phone, I need that.
And so as such, I turnoff those notifications during the day, and then when I am walking out in the evening; I turn then back on, so I can be notified away from the desk or while I am in the car, things of that nature.
The seventh tip, schedule, and this is really an important tip for everybody, is to schedule me time. That time that you can spend with you and help bring yourself to a state of calm, get up and walk around the building outside, if it’s a beautiful day if you live in an environment that you can get outside. Take 5-10 minutes. Step away when you can, and decompress, what I call decompress.
It’s a moment to take a deep breath and get a different perspective. Think about your projects you’re working on or the projects you have got to be working on in 10 minutes after your walk. It will give you time to kind of reflect and just step away.
I just recently was referred to an app from a paralegal friend, who works for a national law firm, and it’s called Calm. And I got it off the Apple store, and Calm is a great app because it not only has great music, but it also has reminders to set breathing exercises, meditation; basically, it’s a great overall calming program to help you kind of decompress throughout the day.
I, when I can, put my ear buds in, listen to the music for 10, 15, 20 minutes and it help, I can actually feel my blood pressure decrease because of it.
It’s time to take a short break from a word from our sponsors, NALA, the paralegal association, Thomson Reuters and ServeNOW, a nationwide network of trusted prescreened process servers. When we come back, we will continue our Paralegal Grab Bag, so stay tuned.
NALA offers continuing education, professional development and voluntary certification for all paralegals. The Certified Paralegal credential has been awarded to more than 19,000 paralegals. The Certified Paralegal Program is also the first paralegal certification program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. NALA works actively with all those in the legal field to promote the value of paralegals and to advance paralegal professionalism. Learn more about NALA at www.nala.org.
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Carl Morrison: Welcome back to the Paralegal Voice. Hey guys, let’s reach back into that bag again, and pull out my next topic. Trends in the Association world. I got a notification just the other day and thought it was a great thing to share with my listeners and it’s, Facebook has come out with in our testing paid subscriptions for groups.
So instead of just setting up a group like most associations, local chapters, state chapters, things of that nature, we will set up a group for the respective association for free. Actually Facebook is testing doing paid subscriptions. Well, you are thinking, well, why would I do that, why would I want to actually create a paid subscription I have to charge?
Well, think of a couple of pros. And I want you to kind of think about this. So a pro would be really limiting the paid members only being able to get to see and sharing things behind what I call the member wall. Meaning that, if you’re a paid subscriber to that group, you can get special notifications or special competitions or things of that nature, exclusive videos or exclusive Facebook Live type presentations, really the sky is the limit on what you can do and put behind the member wall to help actually drive the value to your members of your respective association.
Another pro and in the same thing, is it’s another source of non-dues revenues. So it’s another way to generate some income. Now the article didn’t get into great detail however, it did mention a range of what could be charged from like 299 to 2,999 in the way of the subscription service.
Whether US Association could charge that, more investigation, more research would need to be done; however, it is another thought of generating some additional revenue. Again, going back to my first pro we talked about, you have to really think about okay, what do I want to give to the members and not non-members.
Now, in that same vein, talking about non-members, a con, it limits the potential members, those nonmembers from seeing the benefits of membership. So you have to really try to sell the reason why you’d want members to join and subscribe to your special group that you’d want to set up. And of course, it’s an additional cost. Another con would be it’s an additional cost to the member.
Some members may feel, they are already being nickeled and dimed, and it may be another cost that they just don’t want to expend. However, if you can and develop like I said, sky is the limit in your creativity to generate and develop the additional value to your members who would actually pay that additional subscription charge.
So what do you think? Make sure that you send me an e-mail. Let me know your thoughts. I would love to hear other association leaders share their ideas and thoughts about this particular trend that may be developing in Facebook.
Another trend, another thought to think about in the way of association trends are recruiting younger members. Now, I have talked to many different paralegals, legal secretaries, legal support professionals and many different types of associations and organizations, legal related, and of course, one of the biggest thing is how do we get the younger members to join and that is the million dollar question, literally.
Because it’s a big thing that we all struggle with, is engaging the younger generation, the millennials and younger to belong to the associations that we have and we so love and of course, a big thing for younger individuals, digital media, social media, things of that nature.
Of course, the future of digital media and how social media platforms can be continuously fine-tuned is important. And so, as association leaders it’s important for us to look into research, find out what is the newest trend in the way of social media to make sure that our members and potential members see the benefit of belonging to the respective association and be engaged at their level and where they are at.
Does your chapter or association do you use a lot of the social media that’s out there, do you use some of the more recent; Snapchat, Instagram, things of that nature. You want to. If you haven’t, investigate setting up accounts to help drive members and potential members to your particular social media site.
And how is your organization engaging the younger members? Just like I asked before, I would love to hear your input. How do you Chapter X, Organization Y, how do you engage younger members? Feel free to share those and I will share with the listeners because I know we all are intrigued in this.
And my final pull from the Grab Bag, the future of the paralegal industry. I know you guys are probably on the edge of your seats going okay, what is Carl going to say. First, I don’t have a crystal ball, I’m not a soothsayer, I don’t have a stack of tarot cards in front of me laid out telling me what the future of our profession is definitively.
However, I see that our future is bright. The Department of Labor continues to show that the paralegal profession is projected to grow and continue to grow at a pretty decent rate over the next few years. Of course, there is always going to be need for competent legal support professionals; such as paralegals to supplement that substantive work that is typically performed by attorneys but they rely on us to help supplement them and support them.
And of course for the paralegal profession as it has always been, technology is always front and center, and it’s important for a really good paralegal to have those technological skills, those technology skills to survive, and to grow, and to evolve as professionals.
And speaking of technology, you are probably going well, is technology going to replace us. I’m sure you have seen many articles, I have seen them as well, the fear of Artificial Intelligence taking over, the fear of “a robot taking over”. Well, you know what, I don’t foresee that technology is going to completely eliminate our profession.
Now, I will say with this caveat, it depends on if you’re a “button pusher” or are you the one that’s going to be the master of the technology. It’s important that as a paralegal, you stay ahead of, on top of and ahead of the curve in the way of technology. You don’t want to be a button pusher, you want to actually be the master of that technology. Don’t be the servant, be the master.
Of course, with our profession and you have seen and it is really a hot button item is the creation of new legal support professionals, and I am talking about what I call the legal technician. A lot of times, you’ll see it known as the Limited License Legal Technician or paralegal practitioner, it just depends.
Of course, there are several West Coast States that have embraced the legal technician or the LLLT specifically I am talking about Washington State, and there are other states, Utah is actually in the middle of creating their paralegal practitioner legal technician program, and others are still discussing the feasibility. Whatever the case may be, there are the mini opportunities for paralegals to evolve and change and grow in their profession. And of course, there’s no doubt that change is happening, you can’t deny it.
The question is how fast are you as the professional, the paralegal professional, how fast are you willing to keep up with those changes. You don’t want to fall behind, you want to just keep up with them, and try to actually surpass them. You want to be front and center to those changes.
So let’s take another short break now. Don’t go away because when I come back, I’ll have some news and other paralegal titbits to share with you.
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Carl Morrison: Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed our show today and talking about our many items in our Paralegal Grab Bag. I will tell you I have many other things in this giant bag, and feel free to share other items with me and I’ll stick them in the grab bag and may be we will do another show, just like this in the near future.
The following are some upcoming paralegal and paralegal related conferences worth noting and more importantly attending. So be sure and if you haven’t registered for one of these, you do so soon and attend.
NALA is having their 2018 conference and Expo, July 11-13 in St. Louis, Missouri. Join paralegals from across the nation and attend the largest paralegal conference in the country. Information about the conference sessions can be found on NALA’s at nala.org.
And I can tell you that there are some really good sessions lined up. I know you’ll be looking forward to attending.
NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals is excited to announce the 67th Annual Education and Networking Conference, September 20-22 in Phoenix, Arizona at the Phoenix Marriott Mesa. Great education in store, I definitely can tell you that. Check out the schedule at nals.org.
And this year’s foundation event party is drum roll please, a prom, that’s right. NALS is having a prom at their conference this year, so you don’t want to miss out on that fun event.
And NALS is also having a _______00:23:34 at the conference, as well as education, networking and fun, definitely don’t want to miss their conference.
And lastly, don’t forget about the Listener’s Voice, the segment of the show where I give you the listener, an opportunity for your voice to be heard and send me an e-mail with any of your questions, your career celebrations, et cetera. If there’s a particular topic, give a question that you like for me to answer or maybe a prior guest that you have listened to, that you have a question for.
Be sure and send me your e-mail and make your voice, the Listener’s Voice known and heard. Send your email to me at [email protected]. Keep those questions coming.
That’s all the time we have today for The Paralegal Voice. If you have questions about today’s show, please email them to [email protected]. Stay tuned for more information and upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news and engaging and fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading legal professionals.
Thank you for listening to The Paralegal Voice, produced by broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network.
If you like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. Find us and write us in Apple Podcasts and find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn or download Legal Talk Network’s free app in Google Play and iTunes.
And reminding you that I’m here to enhance your passion and dedication to the paralegal profession and make your paralegal voice heard.
Outro: 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, or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
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