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This is a humorous and sarcastic blog written by a paralegal in a mid-sized law firm in a mid-tier market. The goal is to share some of the pitfalls and foibles encountered in my own day-to-day experiences. Feel free to contact me at aparalegalslife@gmail.com with comments. Complaints, not so much :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Practical Stress-Relief for Paralegals

There's plenty of generic stress-relief tips out there.  I'm aiming this specifically at Paralegals. 

1.  BREAKS - TAKE ONE DAILY

No matter what, I always leave the office during lunch, even if it's just to take a quick lap around the block.  The simple act of getting away from the office really can help.  How far I go depends on the weather and/or my workload on any given day.  On a nice day, I walk to a small park a couple blocks away and sit on a bench for a few minutes.  It's just as much about giving yourself a mental break as anything else. 

2.  ALWAYS COUNT TO TEN BEFORE HITTING "SEND"

A particularly major problem for me is wanting to immediately fire back a snark-laden, ire-filled reply when I get an electronic nastygram from someone.  On a few occasions I have failed, and it inevitably leads to Bad Things.  I always try to remember something my very first employer told me (about interacting with retail customers):  "Would you say that to your Grandmother?"  Granted, there are times when you may need to be a bit more direct and forceful, and we're only human.  But remember that sarcasm doesn't translate well into the written word. 

3.  HONESTY IS (USUALLY) THE BEST POLICY

It's tempting to use a little white lie to mollify an attorney or a client, but they have a way of boomeranging on you at the worst possible moment.  An attorney may not want to hear "I don't know" or "I can't get to that right now", but at least you won't end up trying to explain your way out of trouble later on. 

4.  PICK YOUR BATTLES

Remember, we work FOR the attorneys.  They can fire us, or at the least make our lives even more miserable.  If there's a particularly major problem, get all your ducks in a row before raising a stink about it.  Get proof, have multiple solutions to propose, and don't do it when you are angry or upset.  Also, keep in mind that every firm has "untouchables", those people who can do whatever they want and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.  The key is to know who those people are and try your best to avoid them.  It may not always be easy, but it beats learning the hard way.

5.  FIND AN OUTLET, BUT DO SO SAFELY

It is tempting to turn to chemicals in various forms to aid with relieving stress.  Some people can do so without problems.  However, my own struggle with Alcoholism is not unique to our industry.  It's important that you find something to do that does not involve work, and devote time to it regularly. 

6.  USE YOUR VACATION TIME

I am fortunate to work at a firm that is generous with vacation time.  Unfortunately, like most law firms, they are not as generous with allowing you to actually take any of that vacation time.  I pre-schedule several blocks of time throughout the year, and advise the people I work with well in advance that these are the times I won't be here, and if they have a problem let me know now, not the day before I'm leaving.  I also send reminders out a month, a week, and a couple of days before the time off.  That way, noone can claim they didn't know or weren't given adequate warning.  It sounds like overkill, but remember you work for Attorneys, so there's no such thing as too much CYA.

2 comments:

Momalegal said...

Great post, GH! I agree with every single one of those. I'm guilty of not getting out of my office enough & really should do that more.

I also suggest Paralegal Hell's Paralegal Purgatory board as a good outlet to vent! :)

tamrbuh said...

Excellent post, I too am the one that doesn't de-compress well. I tend to stick it out until I am satisfied with whatever task I am doing..