What Paralegals (And Attorneys) Wish Attorneys Knew

Several week ago I read What Do Attorneys Wish Their Paralegals Knew and felt inspired to provide a response.

As I was reading the attorney wish list for their paralegals, a flurry of things I wish attorneys knew came into my head.  Instead of me producing a diatribe of my own wishes and wants, I thought it would be more educational to poll several paralegals in different fields and in different stages of their careers.  Here, my dear friends, are the things that paralegals wish attorneys knew:

1.  Your lack of preparation is not my emergency.
2.  I am not your wife (or husband).
3.  The copier will only go as fast as the copier goes. If you wanted 45 copies of a 45 page document at noon, you might want to give me a heads up at 10:30 a.m. instead of 11:45 a.m.
4.  As much as I try, I am not a mind reader.
5.  I don’t mind coming in on weekends, but not when I have to come in because you just weren’t prepared.
6.  Emergencies happen, but let me know as soon as you find out about them.
7.  I work for several attorneys. Don’t assume they also don’t have “priority” projects.
8.  Learn the software. If I’m out of the office, you should be able to function.
9.  A little bit of face time at the beginning of the week helps me work better and smarter for you. Take some time to talk to me.
10.  Sometimes I get stressed, too.

My issue with the attorney responses boils down to one thing: Be Realistic. Paralegals are not machines.  Unless your paralegal has a photographic memory, we will never know all of the rules off the tops of our heads. We will never know everyone’s name in a case, and we certainly won’t know their phone numbers from memory (although, if you call someone enough you will).  Having a paralegal that knows everything would be nice, sure, but it’s never going to happen. Have Realistic Expectations.

After gathering that list, I thought, “I wonder what attorneys wish other attorneys knew.” So I asked. This is what I learned (note: I had to paraphrase some of these. I got paragraph responses from some people):

1.  I know you have a PDA of some kind. Respond to me in a timely manner even if it’s simply “I’m busy. I’ll get back to you later.”
2.  Learn your software. Particularly, learn how to use Word.
3.  If you send me a draft document, please make sure it’s as close to perfect as possible. Reading through spelling and grammatical errors does not build confidence.
4.  Be courteous. Be flexible. We all get in jams.
5.  Be nice to my staff.  They already have to deal with me on a daily basis.

Do with this what you may, but I found it very enlightening.

12 thoughts on “What Paralegals (And Attorneys) Wish Attorneys Knew

  1. Kristin

    So true on all accounts.. I can add from working at the District Clerk’s office for many years.. all the above applies there too.. Be nice to them and your your needs met quickly, be ugly and you will go to the bottom of the pile..

    Reply
    1. haleymac Post author

      It’s also good to know that attorneys sometimes feel the same way about other attorneys. Generally, I see the need for more communication between everyone involved. That would solve a lot of “issues.”

      Reply
  2. Pingback: My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 11/19/2010 « Shatterbox

  3. Lori Robinett

    Great blog! I like your organizational style – your entries are easy to read and very informative. Could I reprint this article in the newsletter for the Mid-Missouri Paralegal Association? I’ll attribute to you & send readers your way.

    Reply
  4. Karen R. George, FRP

    I agree, excellent article and I love the writing style very easy to read and follow.
    I’m along with the reprint requesters. May I? To be shared with a group for which I am education chair? You may reply to me at karenrgeorgefrp@gmail.com

    Reply

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