The 4 Prinicpal P's of a Paralegal Career

Being a paralegal, or legal assistant, is a fulfilling and challenging career. It can be rewarding. It can also be quite stressful. The four P's will pave the way for a successful paralegal career. These are:

1. Punctuality.

Ever notice how your stress level rises when you're late for work or a meeting? You sit in traffic and the clock is ticking out a drumbeat in your head. By the time you get to work, you're flustered and certainly not in the best mind frame to calmly begin your work tasks. Instead of this nerve-racking scenario, the practical, punctual paralegal plans on leaving for work 15 minutes earlier. This allows extra time for unforeseen circumstances to intrude but not alter one's sense of serenity. I have a rule of thumb - anticipate five irritations while driving to work and smile through them. If there's more than five, well, maybe it's time to pull off the road and let the maniacs go on ahead.

2. Patience.

Be gentle with yourself. If you feel tenseness building, take deep, cleansing breaths, and several more as needed. Oxygen fills your lungs, your pulse lowers, and a feeling of peacefulness returns. Paralegals practice patience toward co-workers, clients, phone callers, anyone who may not quite have being gentle with themselves mastered yet.

3. Perseverance.

A missing witness? Keep trying to locate him, and stop when you do. A file has disappeared? Search until it's found and ask others for assistance. Feeling brain-dead while summarizing a very dry deposition transcript? Get up and stretch, look out a window for a few minutes while you feel yourself relaxing. Then don your determination again, and get back to the grind. Legal assistants who excel in their jobs are dedicated to completing tasks.

4. Pride.

If you know you're doing your best, you will feel proud of your accomplishments. Ensure your work product reflects positively on you and your boss. Every document going out of your office gauges quality; for professionals this is extremely important. Sloppy work does not go unnoticed. Check and then doublecheck your documents. Are they as clean and attractively presented as possible? If so, sit back and smile.

The above principal P's for paralegals are, of course, only part of what highlight good skills. But they are very important. They also contribute to attaining satisfaction and pleasure in one's position. Being good at your job AND enjoying it, what a great combination!

Laura McDonald is a paralegal. She has many years of experience in the areas of personal injury (accident related and medical malpractice), workers’ compensation, civil litigation, family, environmental, and corporate law, estate planning, and bankruptcy. She is employed by Michael L. Hawkins & Associates, P.L.L.C. in Frankfort, Kentucky. Her website is: Laura is available to encourage anyone interested in entering the paralegal field or seeking to improve related skills.

1 comment:

Caren said...

Great practical tips that will take a paralegal very far!

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