Have you considered what goals may help you grow as a professional paralegal? In this episode of the Paralegal Voice, host Carl Morrison reflects on 2018, noting successes and discussing the importance of setting new goals for 2019. Carl challenges his listeners to get outside their comfort zone and set at least one professional goal for the coming year. He gives practical advice on ways paralegals can challenge themselves and gives his predictions on what trends may impact the paralegal industry in 2019.
Stay tuned to the end for Listener’s Voice, Carl’s recurring segment featuring audio questions or comments from a listener. To send in your own question, email Carl at [email protected]
Special thanks to our sponsors, NALA, ServeNow, Thomson Reuters Firm Central and CourtFiling.net.
The Paralegal Voice
New Year, New Goals – How to Make Your Best Paralegal Year Yet
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 of The Paralegal Voice.
I am a certified paralegal and paralegal educator and I am devoted to not only the paralegal profession, but to all legal professionals, from legal support professionals, to paralegals, to those whom we support, attorneys, I am devoted to helping others enhance their passion and dedication for the paralegal profession through entertaining and engaging interviews.
Before we begin, we would like to thank our sponsor NALA. NALA – The Paralegal Association is a professional association for paralegals providing continuing education and professional certification programs for paralegals at nala.org. NALA is a force in the promotion and advancement of the paralegal profession and has been a sponsor of The Paralegal Voice since our very first show.
And CourtFiling.net, CourtFiling.net is your solution for electronic filing in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas and provides a better e-filing experience so you can spend more time helping clients. Visit CourtFiling.net to see how you can e-file court documents with ease.
And also Thomson Reuters Firm Central, cloud-based legal practice management that streamlines your day and automates non-billable administrative tasks so you can accomplish more with less.
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.
The goal of The Paralegal Voice is to discuss a wide range of topics important to the paralegal industry and share with you leading trends, significant developments and resources you will find helpful in your career and everyday job.
My guests will be engaging in the informational with a little bit of fun thrown in. And if you can believe it, it’s already December of 2018. I don’t know what happened to the year. You guys have probably asked yourself that very same question. The year has completely flown by. For me seemed like it was just May and now it’s December.
But first, before we get into today’s show I really wanted to wish all my listeners the very best and happy holiday season.
I want to also thank the American Bar Association Journal Web 100 for naming The Paralegal Voice as one of the best law podcasts for 2018. When I received word that we had received this particular award I was truly humbled by this and to receive such an award, truly just I was floored. So thank you to the ABA Journal Web 100 for naming this particular podcast one of your best law podcasts for 2018. So thank you so much.
So today our show, I really want to kind of do what I call a Year End Review, look back, talk about some newsworthy things that I came across. And I was thinking about the year and we really had some great shows this year. I have had some guests and what I call experts on things from like trial consulting and trial consultants, to limited license, legal technicians and that’s a burgeoning area of our particular industry.
We also spoke to those who shared their joys and heartache from transitioning from a law firm to working as a government paralegal. There were other experts that shared with us about leadership skills and their importance to being a successful paralegal and really the importance of having a good solid paralegal education.
We even met with first time attendees and seasoned paralegals about networking at paralegal conferences and I even recorded this year, like I did last year, from a National Paralegal Conference, NALS and interviewed a couple of attendees from that.
So this year, looking back it’s really been a busy year, but for me it’s been a very blessed and a very joyful one, so I hope you have had the same year as you look back and reflect on the year. And since I have been doing some reflecting about our shows, I wanted look at, like I said, some of the major newsworthy articles from 2018 that affect and have affected our industry and to look ahead to 2019 and really what is it going to bring.
I came across an article just recently from, I believe it was The Legal Intelligencer on Law.com, and it was all about a paralegal’s Year End Review and reflecting on the past year and what I call kind of hitting the refresh button for the New Year. And I thought it was a really good article, I really liked it, and one of the discussion points from the article was talking about what went well for the year in that particular paralegal’s work life.
Well, it made me stop and kind of think about that. We all work in different areas within the legal industry; some of you work in a law office, some of us work in courts, some of us work in the corporate arena, like myself, and no matter where you work, you have to think about and talk to and how did your employer acknowledge all that you did for them and how it worked well.
Some employers are good about acknowledging, some are not. Some bosses are good about throughout the year, noting those particular successes, some aren’t. But for you, yourself, have you stopped and thought about and acknowledged yourself for what worked well. Have you thought about the goals that you achieved for the year?
Well, if you haven’t, you should. Take a moment and actually write down the goals that you set for yourself and identify what did you set for yourself for the year, list them out, and then when you go through them and start noticing the goals that you have set and what you have actually achieved, you are going to really encourage yourself to set that bar just a little bit higher for the next year.
I work for a boss that at the end of the year asks each of his employees and it’s a small law department and asks each one of us to write down all that we have accomplished for the year, but then also to write down the goals that we want to set for the next year.
And when I was doing this particular task, at first it was a little challenging because I was going okay, so I need to look at what were my goals from the year prior that I had set for myself for 2018 and did I meet those goals. And if not, how far did I come — how short did I come from actually meeting that goal and why was I not able to reach that goal. And it was funny when I stopped and really looked at what I had accomplished for the year I was kind of surprised, and actually things that I had not set as a goal, successes that had happened.
And it’s like wow, I have done quite a bit, not to toot my own horn, but when you stop and really take account of what you have accomplished for the year, you are going to see how far you have come as a professional paralegal or legal support professional and it will make you stop and really take pride in your successes that you have done. It’s amazing when you really stop and think about and seeing, and as the Christmas song says, count your blessings and see how far you come, it’s amazing.
If you do this exercise and you realize well, I didn’t have any accomplishments or any successes and you just kind of meandered through the year, get up, go to work, be there at 8:30, work all day, come home at 5, feed the kids, go to bed, rinse and repeat, if you do that, then maybe you need to stop and think, well, maybe I need to set some goals for myself. Not that you are failing as a paralegal, but if you don’t set a goal, even one goal, just set one goal for yourself for 2019 as a professional. If you don’t do that, you will never — I think and believe that you will never grow as a professional and you won’t see those successes, because you are just getting up and doing that routine everyday, get up, go to work, come home. Get up, go to work, come home. So challenge yourself.
And some things to think about in the way of challenging yourself and you are probably going to go whoa, wait a minute, I don’t want to challenge myself this much, Carl. Ask your boss for additional challenging work. I am the type of person that I don’t like to be doing the same thing over and over and over again. I get bored and I need to be challenged. I need to be engaged. And if my employer is not giving that to me and I can’t find those challenges myself, then maybe it’s time for me to move on.
But that’s not what this show is about, this is about setting those goals for yourself and reaching out and asking, hey boss, I see that you are doing this other area of law but you only have me doing, lack for a better example, insurance defense and I see that you are also doing transactional work. Well, I would love to learn more about drafting contracts. All you need to do is step outside your box, step outside your comfort level and ask your employer. Nine times out of ten your employer will want you to do that and will meet you head-on with that particular challenge.
Another idea, join a professional association. If you don’t already belong to NALA or NALS or NFPA, join one of those associations, join all of them if you want to, but take on a leadership role in one of those associations or even at your local level. Start a study group for a certification exam, like the CP exam or the PP exam or the RP exam, do one of those types of things. If you are not certified, attend CLE sessions just for the heck of it.
Learn new areas. Learn what’s going on in the industry. Being stagnant is not healthy for a professional and it’s important for you to get outside your box, get outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself to be a better professional, to be a better parallel.
So I challenge you. I am going to give you a challenge as a listener, set a goal. I want you to set at least one goal for 2019 in your career, what you want to do to better yourself, to make you a better paralegal in your firm, in your community, in the nation’s community as a whole. And I will tell you what, let me know what your goals are. Send me an email at [email protected] and share with me your goals for 2019. I would love to hear them. And maybe I will share, I have already got a couple of goals that I am setting for myself and maybe I will do the same with you guys in the January show and share with you my goals for 2019.
And you know, as you take account of your successes for the year that you have met head-on, you should also stop and think about what didn’t work this past year and where did you fail. Whoa, Carl said fail, the fail word. The term failure of course can have those negative connotations, but without stumbling and without failing every now and again, you will never grow as a professional. You will always be at the level where you are at right now. Failure is an important part of growing and that’s how you reach your full potential is to make mistakes and to fall.
I am going to tell you right now, I am not a perfect person by any means and I have had my fair share of career mistakes that I have made, but I have stopped and I have thought about why did I fail with that particular situation or goal, what was it and why did I fail, and learned from that failure.
And I saw what didn’t work and I go okay, well, if this is my goal, if this is what I want to achieve or be, well, then okay, it’s time to retool. I will tell you one prime example of failing was when I sat for the Professional Paralegal Certification exam through NALS and one of the sections was a course on ethics, and I was more worried about having to study in all the other areas of substantive law that I didn’t worry about ethics because I was like I know ethics. I don’t need to worry about it.
Well, what happened is I failed that section of the exam. And as such I didn’t pass the first time around. I had to take the certification exam. And I am proud to say I failed, but I learned from it and recognized, oh, wait a minute, you can’t sell yourself short, you have got to study in all the parts, even if you think you don’t know it or do know it.
And so I then passed because I learned from that mistake. And so I have done that for this year as well. I have seen a couple of things where I have skated by and it’s like, you know what, no, I have got to push myself a little bit harder and improve on my career as a paralegal. And so I am excited for the new year, I am excited for the goals that I have set for myself and there is exciting things ahead and I look forward to it.
I was also reading in the news just recently, an article caught my eye about a paralegal, and I love seeing, and a lot of listeners and non-listeners share with me articles on LinkedIn or Facebook and I belong to a whole bunch of different groups throughout social media. And apparently, in this particular article, there was a top court in Ohio removed a paralegal’s deposition in this Oak Hill, Ohio case. And Ohio Supreme Court removed from evidence the deposition of a paralegal in a public records dispute related to a criminal conspiracy case and the court granted a request by the prosecutor that the deposition of the paralegal in this particular case be suppressed and also denied a request to compel the court reporter and the videographer to release a transcript and DVD of that particular paralegal’s deposition.
What’s interesting about this particular case, number one was that the majority dissenting justices offered no explanation for their opinions whatsoever. They just granted the request for that deposition to be suppressed and denied the motion to compel.
And the testimony, what caught my eye also in this particular matter was the testimony that this particular paralegal created work-related documents and they stored them outside of the office, used them on non-work-related or work issued computers to create and store the documents and communicated with individuals using email outside of their work issued email address. And of course the first thing that I saw and hit me like a brick was whoa, ethics, timeout, ding, ding, ding, there is a whole ethics issue here on using non-work-related computers and emails to work on a particular case. Whoa, wow, that’s a major ethics issue.
Now, okay, so there may not be anything truly “ethically wrong” with using a personal computer, what really the person did was create a situation that opened them up and opened their personal computers, their personal email addresses to being part of the matter. And of course it skates dangerously close to inadvertently disclosing confidential and privileged information.
So can you imagine if this paralegal had say, for example, left their computer up and running, stepped outside, they were in their home office; I have a home office, most of us do, and if you left client confidential protected information up on the screen and a family member came in or a neighbor was over and just walked in and started reading what was up on the screen, well, my — I don’t know about you, but my heart stops when I think about this scenario.
And I have taught to paralegal students many times very similar type of ethics scenario about using private and personal computers and such to do work. And so my advice to those who use personal computers or use their personal cell phone or email addresses to do work, my recommendation, don’t do it. Just save yourself the heartache and the headache of creating a situation that could expose you and more importantly your firm and your supervising attorney to inadvertent disclosure of confidential work product that just — of course an attorney’s malpractice insurance, they hear about something like that, they are going to get all worked up over it.
So best scenario if at all possible, don’t use personal laptops, email addresses to do and utilize work because there is no protection to making sure that your client’s information remains confidential.
This case also got me thinking about paralegals being deposed, giving a deposition in a matter in general and just how often does it happen. Well, I don’t know about you, but it’s happened to me. Has it happened to you? Several years ago I was working on a matter where we were defending a company in a personal injury matter and I was working late one Friday afternoon and received a call from an individual who revealed himself to being an expert and I was like okay, well, who is this person, and this expert actually started to discuss details about this particular case.
And through the first two minutes of the conversation I learned that he had been retained by plaintiff’s counsel to be their expert and yet he wanted to divulge information to me about their case. And I was like well, of course, what do you think I did? I was like nope, time out, hang on. I immediately shut the conversation down and said he couldn’t be talking to me. And of course I relayed this information to my supervising attorney.
And what do you think happened? Six months later there I am in a conference room being deposed by plaintiff’s counsel in that matter because I had happened to write down and record a memo what happened, what transpired through that conversation, because I wanted to ensure that if something would happen, which it did, I had evidence to demonstrate that I didn’t breach any ethical rules, regulations out there.
And so I memorialized it in a memo to the file and that work product, that particular memo became evidence. And of course I used a work issued computer to do that and I used work issued email to send it to my boss. But can you imagine if I had decided to go home and use my personal computer to create that memo and my spouse read that and they had some connection to the case, holy-moly, yikes, now my personal laptop becomes evidence as well as my entire personal email address, and that’s not something that I would have wanted, of course most definitely.
And anyone that knows me knows that I am a stickler for ethics and my advice and the simplest piece of advice to you that I can give is when you are faced with an ethical dilemma like this and you ask yourself, okay, this scenario, does it violate or would it violate a known ethical rule, and if you can’t answer that with an emphatic no, it’s not going to violate, and probably it does violate an ethical rule or just in general, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid the situation if you can.
So let’s take a break. We are going to come back and when we do we are going to continue our show. Talk a little bit about 2019, the future for next year. So stay tuned. Don’t turn that dial.
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.
Looking for a process server you can trust? ServeNow.com is a nationwide network of local prescreened process servers. ServeNow works with the most professional process servers in the industry, connecting your firm with process servers who embrace technology, have experience with high volume serves and understand the litigation process and rules of properly effectuating service. Find a prescreened process server today. Visit www.serve-now.com.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. So what does 2019 look like for the legal industry and paralegals in general you may ask? I am not a swami, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I will say number one on my list to pay attention to next year is limited licensed paralegals, those limited licensed technicians and regulation as a whole.
Now, if you’ve been listening to my show or my shows this year, we’ve talked about the Triple LT program, and as you know, Washington State has their Triple LT program up and running and they’ve been generating new Triple LTs for almost two years now, about a year-and-a-half now.
Well, if you’ve been paying attention to the news, you’ve noticed that Utah is about to start their program and they call it Paralegal Practitioner, and this year, 2019, this coming year, they’ll actually start generating their first batch of paralegal practitioners in the State of Utah.
So, where the State of Washington limited it to the area of law, a family law, Utah is starting with three areas right off the bat. They are starting with debt collection family law and forcible entry and detainer. If you’ve been reading and noticing, Oregon is also investigating a similar program and California has a form of regulation for paralegals as well. So, I live and I am a resident in Nevada and as a Board member of the Paralegal Division of State Bar of Nevada this is something I’m eyeing, I am watching very closely because it appears that a lot of the West Coast states are starting to come what I call, online, with some kind of regulation that impacts the paralegal industry, may not impact directly but there may be a new role, a new job, a new career out there that a paralegal type individual may want to investigate, and I know I have spoken on it on past shows but there’s something, definitely, we can’t ignore the term ‘Regulation.’
I know some people call this an ugly word ‘Regulation.’ Sometimes when I speak that word in social circles, in paralegal associations and such, people either are all gung-ho about having a form of regulation or really don’t want to have it. So, if you are not in one of those camps, I don’t want you to, “go join a camp,” but if you haven’t taken the time to read up on what’s happening in the way of regulation or follow along closely with like the Triple LT programs, Utah’s paralegal practitioner, I highly recommend you do so now, don’t hide your head in the sand and pretend, oh, it’s going to go away, da… da… da… I don’t have to worry about it. I’ve only got 15 more years in my career left or I’ve only got 10 more years in my career. I don’t need to worry about it.
Be informed. My advice to you, informed. Be an active participant in your future, no matter what side of the fence you are on; even if you are not on the side of the fence, you are straddling the fence or you’re not even near that fence. Be an active participant, whether it’s pro, anti or neutral, just don’t be stagnant and learning what’s going on in our industry. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to something like this.
So, do you think — when you think of the Limited License Technician programs that are out there, a big reason why these are coming into play it’s because of the access to justice gap that has occurred in our country, and do you think as a listener, do you think that licensed legal paraprofessionals will be able to narrow that access to justice gap that occurs in the future? Again, I would love to hear your thoughts and something like that.
So, send me your comments, send me your thoughts, good or bad or otherwise to [email protected] and I would love to hear your thoughts. Me, personally, I think it’s one solution, but to me it’s not the absolute solution to closing that gap. More can be done, of course, we’ve got an issue where we don’t have enough attorneys being generated through programs anymore. Law schools are having to become creative on how they offer programs and costs to a student to become a lawyer. So, there’s that area, more lawyers doing more pro bono type of activities. There’s a lot of different resources and sources out there to help close that gap, and I think these Limited License individuals is one solution of meaning to help solve the true access to justice gap that is occurring in our country.
Number two on my list for things to look out for in 2019, technology. Technology, technology, technology, technology. Really this should be on everyone’s list every year. Constantly new technology is coming out there. Whether it impacts our particular profession or not, get out there and learn what new technologies are coming out and what are being utilized in our profession.
Attorneys themselves have historically tended to be slower on the uptake when utilizing new technology but as younger attorneys are coming into the fold, more-and-more are embracing the newest trends in technology, and expecting their paraprofessionals be fully up-to-date on these trends and have some experience.
I wrote an article that’s been about five years ago, about attorneys being afraid; Technophobic, that’s what I called it; having technophobia, a fear of technology. Well, in five short years I’m seeing less and less of that. Few and fewer stories have I heard from paralegals and legal support professionals talk about how their attorneys aren’t embracing technology. Well, now they are and there’s a lot of great systems and programs and processes out there to help streamline, because if you can help be more efficient in your workplace and then the better legal services you can provide to your clients, and of course, e-discovery is always a major area, but e-discovery has been out there for many years now and it’s not going away.
If you’re one of the very few people left that has not even taken the time to learn anything about e-discovery, you better get on the bandwagon right now because you are being left behind big time, and if you think, I work in family law and e-discovery really doesn’t apply to me; well, think again, because especially in high dollar, high exposure-type cases e-discovery can come into play and it does come into play, and even in your run-of-the-mill divorce type matter, you may find yourself having to secure an e-discovery vendor to maybe forensically examine a laptop or help you download all the data from browsing history and text message history from a cell phone.
You of course are not going to do it yourself, you’re going to have to have a vendor help you do this. Well, they’re going to be talking to you in terms of metadata and this, that and the other and just having an understanding of the terminology, the knowledge of the terminology will help you be able to better support your clients. Attend CLEs, join an association, learn from your peers, stay abreast what’s going on when it comes to technology. I myself, I don’t want to be replaced by Artificial Intelligence anytime soon. So, I’m keeping up to speed with technology and I challenge you to do the same with me.
And finally, number three on my list of course is education and certification. Of course with the first two that we talked about technology and the newest areas, LLLT, education and certification will always be a huge part of our industry. With the advent of the LLLT programs up and running, more paralegal and Limited License-specific education programs are being created in those respective states, Washington, Utah to ensure that paralegals that reside there are being fully educated and trained in that particular career. But, what about states that don’t have a Limited License program in place? Well, don’t be fooled. Paralegal educators are paying close attention to this area even in states that don’t have it, and they are already looking at how a typical paralegal program just your run-of-the-mill paralegal program can evolve and change with the industry.
They got to stay on top of what’s happening, they can’t be left behind because when paralegal education gets left behind, then of course we as a career start to fail big-time. And so they are looking on how they can grow and more programs are starting to fine-tune their classes to be more what I call hands-on and practical and training not just the book smarts, actually having modules and sessions that are dedicated to drafting motions, being able to do advanced legal research, things that you’re going to encounter as a paralegal in the workplace.
Even learning the soft skills, communication, written communication, things of that nature, those programs are being fine-tuned. Employers want those individuals who have completed a paralegal program to work in their firms and offices that have a good solid basis, and of course, these Limited License programs that are being created and investigated, these State boards and State supreme courts are looking to these national paralegal certifications like the CP through NALA, the PP through NALS or the RP through NFPA as the standard to grandfather in paralegals or base their state exams off of in creating these limited license examinations for a State.
So, when it comes to certification, while it’s not required for a paralegal to be certified, to be able to work, more-and-more employers are looking at those individuals who have taken a certification exam as it truly demonstrates to the employer that this employee or potential employee has gone above and beyond what’s required them to be able to work in our industry.
So, like I said, while I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t foretell the future, I do recognize that in 2019 that education, certification and technology and the future paraprofessional careers like the LLLT and a paralegal practitioner, these are going to be major topics for the year. And many great things are on our horizon and looking forward to it.
So, I want you to embrace your career, be an active participant in it, in our career and in your future. The success of our career rests on you, the individual paralegal. Each one of us have a stake in our career. And so, as the wise, Mr. Spock said and Star Trek to The Wrath of Khan, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
So, that’s all the time we have for today’s show. Thank you, the listener and my guests, for making 2018 the best year ever and making the show of the ABA Journal best law podcast for 2018. I also want to say that this is the 100th episode of The Paralegal Voice and I want to give a shout out to Lawrence and Adam and Kate and everybody at Legal Talk Network for all your help on making this a successful show and making me, of course sound so good, because I stumble all over the place. So, thank you guys to making it a great show and a great year and I appreciate everything, and I couldn’t have done it without you. So, tune into next month’s show in our next year podcast in January and when my guest is going to be discussing with me recruitment strategies for paralegals and legal support professionals.
So, stay tuned after the break, and we’ll get to what as my favorite part of the show, the Listener’s Voice, we’ll be right back.
Advertiser: Firm Central, cloud-based legal practice management software for solo and small law firms, provides a single online location for all of the tools you need to manage client files and perform client work and offers unrivaled integration with Westlaw.
With Firm Central you can securely store and organize documents and case files, manage time-tracking and billables and collaborate with clients through a secure client portal from anywhere there is an Internet connection.
This episode of The Paralegal Voice is brought to you by CourtFiling.net, your solution for electronic filing in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. CourtFiling.net provides a better e-filing experience so you can spend more time helping clients. Because they know that work sometimes happens after hours, CourtFiling.net offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support. Visit CourtFiling.net to receive 30 days of unlimited free electronic filings and see how you too can e-file court documents with ease.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back. We come to the segment of the show called the Listener’s Voice. As you know, this is my favorite part. This is an opportunity for you as a listener to send me an email with any of your questions, your career celebrations, et cetera. I’ll read through them and I’ll select those to actually read on the air.
If there’s a particular topic, you have a question that you’d like for me to answer or maybe there was a prior guest you had a question for them, be sure and send me in the email and make your voice the listener’s voice known and heard. Send your email to me at [email protected]
Today’s question comes from a listener who writes to me about supports, and getting support from their employer.
Dear Carl, I have recently started listening and have enjoyed your podcasts. I have a question for you as an experienced paralegal. How do you work/deal with an employer who is not supportive of you pursuing your education as paralegal? I’m starting a paralegal program in January of 2019. My target graduation date is May 2020. My professional background is in hospitality since I was 16. Over three years ago, I was offered a Legal Assistant position with an attorney from the State I used to live in. I loved it enough that I was looking at law school. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Merry Christmas. Signed, Support System in Need.
Well, Support System in Need, number one, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours and the best in 2019, I wish you all the luck in your paralegal program.
So, first, I kind of have to ask you a question. What’s your definition of support? So, if you’re asking is your employer not being supportive in a way of monetary, isn’t a monetary support? Are you asking them to help fund your paralegal education? Are you asking for tuition? Are you asking for as simple as maybe some books, costs on being able to purchase books? Talk to them, demonstrate to them that it’s important to have a good, solid, basic paralegal education while you can have on-the-job training, which is vitally important. Trust me.
It’s also important to have a good solid education, because that’s how you learn a lot in the way of legal research, the ins and outs of legal research, being able to formulate complaints, how to respond to a complaint, discovery. You learn the ins and outs of the entire legal industry.
Well, I always tell paralegal students, the attorneys are the masters or the doctors of the law and we are the masters of the procedure. While we have to understand law itself we don’t get into the theory as much as attorneys do. So, we have to understand the process and processes and being able to navigate the legal system, and that’s vitally important.
So, demonstrate if it’s a monetary reason or monetary support that you’re asking for from your employer, well then, let them know, hey, if you can at least maybe help me purchase one book, of course financial aid, student loans, things of that nature, you try not to as much as possible, but if you are dedicated to it, you’ll find the ways to get the money to help support going to school. That’s how I did it. And so demonstrate to them the importance of having a paralegal education.
Is it emotional support? I know that sounds kind of weird to say, “emotional support”, but are they just kind of flippant when you address the reason why you are wanting to get your paralegal degree? Well, if you are seeking emotional support from your employer, I would say avoid that. While you want to have camaraderie in your workplace and you want to be devoted and dedicated to your employer, sometimes when you start getting a little too personal and if you’re seeking emotional support for going into a paralegal program, I want you to be proud of me, I want you to don’t do it for your employer, do it for yourself, and so I would say if it’s emotional support just avoid that at all if they’re just not supportive of you of going there like and whatever I don’t really care to talk about it with you; okay, that’s fine. I won’t address it with you. We’ll move on.
Is it physical support, and by that I mean, are you asking your employer, listen, there’s a class that I have to take as part of the program but it’s only offered during the day from noon to 2 or 2 to 4 or whatever the time is are you asking them to give you support in a way of allowing you to have the time off on Mondays and Thursdays to go take that class from 2 to 4? Again, go back to them, demonstrate to the employer the reason of doing this.
I worked at a firm and I was finishing up actually my bachelor’s and I had one class left and it was only offered during the day. It was never going to be offered at night, and I approached the managing committee with some — a committee of three and the office administrator and said and to my supervising attorney and said I have to take this class. This is the one class I have to have in order to graduate with my bachelor’s. It’s only for 16 weeks. It’s only on a Tuesday. It was from 9 to 10 a.m. or 9 to 10:30 or something like that, and I was like, can I come in on that day, at noon? I think it was and work till 7-8 o’clock at night, to still get my hours in for the day, and they graciously, I have to say allowed me to do that, but they knew that I was a hard worker. I worked a lot of weekends. I worked a lot of nights. I did a lot for the firm and they recognized — for 16 weeks, it’s one day a week, it’s a short-term, sure, no problem.
So, if it’s an emotional — I mean, excuse me, a physical support, well, then see if they will allow you and demonstrate, hey, I’m just not asking off for that time. I’ll make it up on a weekend, on a Saturday or after or however they will allow you to do it. To demonstrate that you’re still going to get your minimum 40-hour work week in.
It’s hard some employers, some attorneys are supportive, and I have met known paralegals that their employer paid for their entire education, paid for all the books, paid from the take certification exams and then conversely I’ve heard of attorneys that care to IOTIS or employers care to IOTIS about giving support, physical, emotional or monetary or otherwise and those people that don’t get the support from the employer, in that way they learn, you figure out a way to do it. If it’s truly what you want to do, you truly want to have your education, which I say go for it, 110%, then you’ll find ways to get the support that you need in order to succeed in school.
Thank you so much support system in need. I hope that answer your question. Listeners, definitely send me your questions, keep them coming, and that’s all the time we have for today for The Paralegal Voice.
If you have questions about today’s show, please email them to me at [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.
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.