5 Ways to Be a Happy Paralegal

Maybe lately you have been second guessing your choice to be a paralegal.  Perhaps you have felt like just walking away from your  career.  Or, maybe it's not all that bad, but there are few things you wish you could change.  Demanding attorneys, endless work hours, the constant pressure of deadlines and the expectation of constant perfection can really put a dent in how happy and satisfied you are in your paralegal career.  Paralegal career satisfaction may seem like a fantasy to some of us, but there are a few things you can start doing now that can improve your outlook and keep a smile on your face.

Avoid Office Politics

It's hard to not get snared in the office politics net.  Engaging in office gossip, playing favorites, undermining other employees to gain favor, and spreading rumors are all a part of office politics.  It's best to avoid it altogether if possible.  Every office will have their cliques and those "in the know" who always seem to get that promotion or praise.  But playing into the competition concept can strain relationships and you may end up burning more than one bridge in your paralegal career. 

Don't Let Jealousy Sabotage Your Work
It can be difficult when jealousy rears it's ugly head.  So your fellow paralegal missed a deadline, you covered for her, and in the end she got the praise and handed a juicy project with the top attorney and you got, well, nothing. It’s easy to be jealous of that co-worker, but in the end what will it get you? Distraction from your work? Feelings of anger and resentment? These things can ruin your typically stellar work product.  It may be difficult, but instead, focus on your best qualities and skills and continue to do top notch work.  You will be proud of your work, you will be happier, and the attorneys will notice your consistent and well done work product. 

Be Honest About the Work Load You Can Handle
Taking on more work than you can handle is a way to ensure disaster.  Your work product will suffer, and most of all, you will suffer.  If too many assignments are being sent your way and your finding yourself toiling into the evening to barely keep up, or your work is full of errors because you have to race through the assignment, then it's time to speak up.  I realize that in reality it may be impossible to reject work, yet it's still important to let someone know just how much work you are doing and the time you need to do it all.  Don't whine or complain when doing so, discuss it with your attorney or human resources contact reasonably.  Have a few suggestions up your sleeve regarding better ways to handle assignments and deadlines, letting them know your goal is  to consistently provide them accurate and timely work. 

Stay Organized for Easy Efficiency
I'm one of those clean freaks who cannot think straight when there is clutter in my work space.  Although sometimes it's impossible to keep my desktop clear and organized, like when prepping for trial, I try my best.  When files or documents are at your fingertips and easily found, it makes the work so much easier.  It also allows you to complete assignments quicker.  It also protects you from misplacing documents and memos.  Staying organized reduces the stress of having to locate items quickly when your attorney needs them. 

Stay Up To Date With Technology
Taking the time to properly learn the use of your law firms' docketing system, document management system and e-filing procedures will save you an enormous amount of stress in the long run.  There is nothing worse than having to file something last minute for a deadline only to have a problem arise that you don't know how to fix.  It's also stressful to code something incorrectly in document management only to have it end up lost in the system forever.  It's also important to stay abreast of the latest changes in e-discovery and other legal technologies.  Personally, since I am in litigation, I have taken a few e-discovery courses to make sure I'm prepared when discovery takes place. 

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