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Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Principled or Practical?

Over the past few weeks, I have found myself wondering several times whether I am more principled or more practical.

There is something to say for each of these concepts. Principles keep us on the honorable path and require a dedication to something bigger than ourselves. Practicalities promote efficiency and effectiveness. When I am away from the office, I find it easy to envision law as a noble and mathematical art. Between the hours of 8:30-5, I forget beauty and high intellectualism as I plunge into the real life issues our clients face.

I like to believe in believing in something bigger than myself, but I also dislike the notion of holding onto an ideal merely for the sake of that ideal, especially if it comes at great cost and serves no practical purpose. Yet I shy away from cold rationalism.

Faith in the unseen and untested is difficult for me, but I value those individuals who possess it. I enjoy conversations about literature, but what really matters to me when I read a book is whether I find myself entertained. I don't eat high-calorie, low nutrient treats, not because I should not, but because I feel healthier when I refrain. Most of my decisions are deliberate and based on facts.

For these reasons, I have difficulty swallowing arbitrary rules, I find it silly to punish people for victimless crimes (Alabama sex toy scandal, anyone?), and I ask questions until something makes sense to me. I tried the sorority thing in college, but I hated performing purposeless tasks with the only objective being to join a group that would continue to perform purposeless tasks every single day.

Still, I need something bigger and better than myself to guide me and give me a purpose. This is why I love my job. At my office, we somehow take big, expansive law, toss in a few case-specific facts, and create a unique argument applicable to our client's cause. While I lean toward the more practical side of things, I enjoy the balance of principles and ideals (as long as they are reasonable and useful). I suppose you could say I am principled whenever it is practical. Or perhaps I'm practically principled. Whichever is the case, I find it suits me well in my role as a paralegal.


  1. Outstanding and well thought out post. This was one of you best.

    JB Bannister
    CEO of Serve One Attorney Services

  2. I think it should be an even mix. It is noble to be both practical and principled.