Thursday, January 9, 2014

First-Year Paralegal: What Do You Wish You Would Have Known?

I asked this question on Facebook: What do you wish someone had told you when you were a first-year paralegal? The response was phenomenal so I thought I'd share the great advice with you.

While I'm not including names, the tips were provided by paralegals from all over the country who are in various stages of their careers. Here they are:
  • Improve writing skills.
  • Ask good questions and take good notes so you don't have to ask the same questions over and over.
  • Write down EVERYTHING! Confirm EVERYTHING! What you understand may not be how your attorney wants something done.
  • That my job description was not a complete list of tasks.
  • You will make mistakes and mistakes can be corrected!
  • So many things:
1. Don't be afraid to ask questions - better to ask than to screw something up. 
2. Be friendly to EVERYONE in your office, and also to court personnel and others along your path. 
3. Don't get caught up in office politics. 
4. You will have to work with people who are lazy, stupid, scheming, ignorant and just plain mean. Be professional, help them if you can, and always take the high road. 
5. Learn how to operate every piece of equipment in the office. 
6. Compliment people - it works wonders. 
7. Join your local paralegal association, and join a committee. The friends you make will be your friends forever. 
9. If you know that your spelling and grammar skills need brushing up, do it. 
10. If you trip over a heavy three-hole punch and break your little toe, file a worker's comp claim. Don't suffer in silence.
  • That it's an AWESOME profession, but it is what you make of it. If you want to soar to new heights then be active, do all you can, and remember we are all professionals in the same boat. Grab an oar!
  • Though you may want to, understand that you can't do everything, so be realistic about the number of projects you can take on. And I wish I had not been told: Oh, honey, you're so green.
  • If your boss has some silly little thing that he or she wants you to do every day that you feel is beneath you (like, for example, sharpening their pencils) - it's a whole lot better in the long run to just do it rather than to raise a fuss. You will understand this in about 10 years.
  • Be curious.
  • No matter what the Rules of Court say, ALWAYS CALL THE CLERK of Court's office to avoid misinterpretation, especially the local rules ... some judges have many rules to follow outside the standard rules of court.
  • You never stop learning!
  • Never go to your attorney with a problem without having at least one solution.
  • Do your work instead of loitering on Facebook! Bye, y'all!
  • Be nice to the court personnel and, when you really need their help, they will.
  • That assisting your attorney in achieving positive results for the client would also provide far greater rewards for me - the satisfaction of helping others.
  • Take nothing personally.
  • You don't wait for work to be assigned. You take it and do it, even if you have to do it on your own time to prove what you can do. Ask the attorney for the case theory and theme & then think likr the opposite side.
  • Learn litigation instead of real estate transactional. There will always be litigation, but the real estate work can disappear.
  • Its a constant learning process and that you really need to be able to get along with everyone. And that at some point or another we've all been there.
  • How much I was going to enjoy it. Even after 40+ years.
  • That billing your time is an awful task, but other than that being a paralegal is a fantastically fulfilling and exciting career. I despise billable hours, so I went to work where that is not required! SO happy!!
  • You need to meet Vicki Voisin asap and not wait another year! : )
  • Billing - or wording of your billing. Insurance companies are sooooo particular!!!
  • Join NALA
  • Sit for the CP exam as soon as you can... wish I could do that one over.
  • I wish I would have been encouraged to sit for my certification exam sooner in my career. However, I am still so proud of my certification. And join a professional association like NALS, NALA, NFPA or any of the local associations. Networking is so important!
  • Join your local paralegal organization and NALA. The friendships and contacts you will make through these organizations will be a valuable part of your career. Also, find a mentor that you can talk to about your career path, and as you progress in your career mentor others.
  • Join your professional associations (local, state & national) for networking & to have a say in your profession & the advancement of your profession, obtain a mentor through your local association, always continue learning.
  • I wish someone had explained billing and that it was the attorney responsibility to determine whether I had spent too much time on a project.
  • Join a local paralegal association!
What do you wish you would have known when you were a first-year paralegal? Follow this link to The Paralegal Mentor Blog to leave your personal advice.

1 comment:

clasinfo said...

Thanks for sharing these! I especially like the one about learning every piece of equipment in the office. Whether you're a paralegal or not, you don't want to add to deadline stress just because you don't know how to fix a paper jam or something equally trivial.