Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I think I'll start a regular feature regarding my pet peeves. Shouldn't be hard for me since I have so many! I'd also like to hear from others regarding their pet peeves. Perhaps writing about them will be somewhat therapeutic.
Today's pet peeve is having my accomplishments misstated or glossed over. I'm actually not one to toot my own horn too often, and I usually am dismissive of most of my accomplishments. However, when I was recently introduced at a speaking engagement, the person reading from my bio got most of it wrong. I don't expect an introduction to include every detail, but this introduction misstated positions I've held, organizations with which I have held leadership positions, and generally left out the parts of my bio relevant to the topic on which I was speaking. It wouldn't have been so bad but since there were no written materials for the attendees, I'm worried I looked like an unqualified goober. (Of course, one of my greatest fears in any situation is looking like a goober. That's a position I'm unfortunately well-qualified to hold.)
Paralegals are accustomed to being overlooked and not taken seriously. Years ago when I returned to the office after being out for three days to prepare for and take the (then) CLA exam, my boss asked me how I enjoyed my CLE. When I passed the CLA and other exams, no one in the office made mention of it. I didn't want a parade, but a public (or even private) "atta-girl!" would have been appreciated.
Fortunately, most paralegals I know do what they do without expecting any acknowledgment. They do the best job they can every day, and achieve voluntary certifications, volunteer with professional organizations, and serve the legal profession in other ways.
While it's true that a paralegal's primary job is to make the attorney look good, and most of us know we won't receive much (if any) public glory, I would like to let all paralegals know that you are appreciated. I value the achievements of every paralegal before and after me. You are what makes this profession what it is and your accomplishments remind us all of what we can do.
So, here's to all of us: Way to go! Good job! You make us all proud.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
All paralegals should familiarize themselves with 29 CFR §541.301. In summary, most paralegals are non-exempt. There are exceptions, such as if a paralegal has specialized training, like a nurse hired to review medical records. There are many resources on this issue, including information on the ABA website.
If a firm or company isn't paying a paralegal overtime, it may just be that the parties are unaware of the law. Unfortunately, other employers may knwo the law, but be trying to avoid paying overtime to their paralegals.
If a paralegal believes she is entitled to overtime pay but is not receiving it, she should first approach her employer about a resolution. If those efforts are not successful, the paralegal may consider contacting an employment law attorney and/or the state wage and hour division. Unfortunately, despite laws in most states that prohibit retaliation against employees who file such claims, an employer may retaliate against the employee.
It can be a tough position for a paralegal who believes she is entitled to overtime but not receiving it. While no particular course of action is advisable for every situation, every paralegal should be familiar with this issue. After all, forewarned is forearmed.
Special thanks to Lynne DeVinney for her assistance with this post.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
So, to make up for what used to be a daily workout for many of us, try the following:
- Instead of a heavy box full of documents, try lifting your desktop printer or scanner several times; if you are brave enough to unhook it, carry it from one side of your desk to the other
- Instead of heavy files, volunteer to make the morning coffee run or the lunch run which will allow you to juggle items of various sizes and shapes
- Move the toner refill to the top shelf of the supply cabinet and hide the step stool so you have to stretch to retrieve it
- If you park in an open parking lot, park at the far end when it's raining so you can practice your sprinting skills; alternatively, organize desk chair races in the office during lunch: racers push their coworkers in their desk chairs down long hallways
With a little effort, our fitness won't have to suffer. If you have any other suggestions for paralegal workouts, please let me know!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
While it's tempting to ignore all the information about eDiscovery if you don't work in litigation, it's important for all paralegals to have some basic knowledge of eDiscovery for many reasons, including the following:
- all areas of law have the potential to end up in litigation
- you may change jobs (by choice or otherwise)
- increasing your knowledge only makes you more valuable to current and future employers
- it may help you issue-spot when working on other matters
I recently spoke to an acquaintance who is a well-respected litigation paralegal. I asked her a question about eDiscovery and her response was, "What's eDiscovery?" I was shocked! It also caused me to worry about her and our profession. If we all wait to learn about something until we are forced to do so, that doesn't reflect well on our professionalism.
Would you visit a mechanic who didn't have the tools to deal with the computers now found in cars? What about a dentist who still used the same equipment that was "cutting edge" in 1970?
So, read articles and attend a CLE (whether in person or a webinar) on eDiscovery. It's the professional thing to do.
I'd love to know your thoughts and whether you agree that knowledge of eDiscovery is important.
Monday, January 11, 2010
I personally prefer to receive a response most of the time so I try to remember to send one.
What about you? Check out the poll and let me know your thoughts.
Friday, January 8, 2010
I worked with a woman who lied on her resume about having a bachelor's degree. When she was let go, it wasn't because she didn't have a degree, it was because she had lied about it.
So, don't take any chances. Be truthful about your education, experience, skills, and credentials, without selling yourself short. Be confident and let the employer know how you can be an asset to the company as well as your willingness to expand your knowledge and skills.
After all, honesty is always the best policy.