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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, March 31, 2010

Beginning of an Era

For all my hand-wringing, all my worries, and the heaviness of the guilt sitting firmly in my chest, I made it to Memphis. Within a day, the worries and the guilt faded. I am still concerned this week with the Boss's welfare, but I continue to reassure myself that he will be fine. He found a fine replacement, and I know they will work well together.

Since I have not written for over a week, I need to update you on a few comings and goings of the past several days. Last Thursday we had an impromptu going away party at a local pub. Friends and family were there. Times like these teach me one important lesson: I am a blessed girl to have so many caring people in my life. Though it was neither requested or expected, some people brought parting gifts.

Once such parting gift was from the Boss: an aquarium. I admit that I was slightly puzzled. The Boss had threatened to give me our office fish as a going away present, but I had not believed him. Even when presented with an empty aquarium, I did not believe him. After all, it's not like he had delivered the fish in a baggie or anything. But throughout the night he continued to promise me that I would be taking our office fish with me when I departed.

A side note on this fish: We started out with four fish. Two blue guarana, one bigger fish, and one algae eater. The algae eater died first, though by the time we found him, he was merely bone. The bigger fish was then bullied to death by the two smaller guarana. Finally, a few weeks ago, one of the guarana went missing. He simply vanished from the tank. I dredged the bottom, but came up empty handed. Now, another note: our office tank was completely overrun with algae. We would clean the tank and it would immediately turn green again. At some point we gave up all together on cleaning the tank. One last note on the fish: On my last day I asked the Boss if he had been feeding our last little guy. The Boss said, "I thought you were feeding him." Oops.

Knowing all this about our final fish, I did not want him. He turns water green and seems to enjoy killing other fish. Still, true to his word, the Boss snuck the fish into my U-Haul trailer the morning I was packing to leave. In a water jug. I just knew the little fella' wouldn't last one day in there, but he somehow survived three days (that  is how long it took me to get his tank set up). Now he's the happiest little unkillable fish in Memphis.

Other than the addition of a new pet, this move has provided several new experiences for me. I went from living in a tiny triplex in Silverhill, Alabama to a roomy twelfth floor apartment in down town Memphis. My view, while not the best city view out there, is still a view of something. I see buildings and glimpse the Mississippi River through my large windows. While I have the convenience of walking to my bank, my stores, even my job, I have learned a few of the inconveniences of city living too. Pedestrians, one-way streets, and parking. My parking garage is across the street from my building, and it took me three miserable trips to and from my car on Monday to bring in several heavy bags of groceries.

But yesterday I literally went "walking in Memphis," and concluded that the benefits of this city life will outweigh the hassles, at least for now.

I start my new job on Monday, and I. Am. Ready. My friend at the firm tells me I already have an assignment waiting for me. I can't wait to jump in and hit the ground running. I also can't wait to be wearing something business-y when I hit the elevator in my building. So far everyone I have met in my building has been wearing a suit. I wonder what they think of the T-shirt-and-jeans-on-a-weekday girl they are meeting. I bet they are jealous, actually.

So I will slip through this week's vacation relaxing and being lazy. Then on Monday, I will be off to the daily grind. Stay tuned for the new adventures of the same paralegal. Or perhaps the little fish in the big-ish city?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I must have spent the past several weeks in a haze. All of a sudden, it has come to my attention that I really am moving. Not in some distant future. In two days. On Friday I will pack everything I own into a U-Haul and make my way north and west to the great city of Memphis. I still have so much to do. I've known for weeks that I would be leaving soon, but soon was never two days from now. Soon isn't tomorrow until it is.


I just tried imagining what my first day at my new job will be like. Learning an entirely new system, forging new relationships, reinventing my career persona. It seems taxing. But when I look at it through brand new eyes, it seem exciting and fresh, just like the bamboo floors in my new apartment. Still, until I am actually there on Memphis soil, the move seems daunting and dangerous.

And the Boss! My daily worry is that he will break into a million pieces without me there doing all the things that keep him together. Obviously he's a grown person who will have another assistant to help with all the little things, but my brain hasn't grasped such a rational concept yet. Note to self: I have a phone and an email address. If he really needs to know the where or how of something, I can get that information to him in the blink of an eye.


If only my brain would slow down for a moment. I am so looking forward to the week between my old job and the new one. A week to get settled into my new place. A week to discover all the places I will need to know. A week to shed the worries and step into a new life. And a week to update my profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and of course Paralegalese.

Monday, March 22, 2010

End of an Era: Part III

Three full days left in town, and I'm numb. I have packed almost everything I own. My walls are bare, my refrigerator empty. 

As for the office, I am starting to realize that I am simply unable to leave everything prepared for my absence. There is too much information to impart on someone new, and I will only have four hours on Thursday to try. My replacement is coming in for training that day. One half day of training. Poor thing. 

But the Boss is in fair spirits. Or at least, he hasn't had too much time to think about it. Last week was full of hearings and meetings. This week is, too. The work is anesthetic, at least to me. Today our computers failed us, and that, too, helped me forget that my last day is looming before us. Still, the sense of urgency I feel in the pit of my stomach, though unacknowledged most of the day, is only due to one thing - my dwindling time. 

Tomorrow I get to go to court with the Boss. This will mark the second time in two years I have graced the courtroom with my presence. I asked to go this time because the trial is one we have been working toward for the past two years. After months of preparations and musings, I want to see how the judge rules. I want to hear the testimony and silently root for my home team. I want to be there when the final piece of the puzzle is laid. It will be my good-bye present to myself, and I'm hoping it's a good one. 

Then, on Thursday night, there will be a more public good-bye party. I will gather with family and friends at the little pub down the street to celebrate the past three years we have had together. Though I fought it at first, coming home to this small community was the best thing I could have done after college. I've matured both as an individual and as a paralegal during this time. I guess you could say that I found myself. 

Friday will mark the beginning of an era, and I'm already looking ahead to it. No doubt I will miss every single speck of dirt I am leaving behind, but there is so much to discover in a new city. And after weeks of fretting, grieving and preparing, I am ready to make those discoveries. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

End of an Era: Part II

Time passes and the guilt passes. I seem to have transformed from the paralegal who knows her move is negatively affecting the Boss to the paralegal who is working like crazy to make the transition as trouble-free as possible for him.

I still understand, of course, that my move is not a good thing for him. But we've put on our brave faces as we work toward the approach of the inevitable future. The Boss has been interviewing candidates to take my place. I've been disecting their resumes and personalities. I don't want to stare into the face of the person who will take my place on the team, but I do want to help him find the best possible fit. Is it narcissistic of me to believe that the best possible fit is the person who is most like me? In trying to shy away from that assumption, I've offered positive reviews of some stand-out individuals who are not like me at all, but I worry that he won't be able to get along with anyone the way he gets along with me. And don't even get me started on the trust issue.

In preparation of the end of this era, I have made a list of my regular administrative tasks with directions describing how to do them. It isn't rocket surgery, but in my first two years as a legal assistant, I learned a few things about efficiency. Now that the Boss will have toperform some of my tasks, he needs to know the most practical ways to do so.

I wonder what our job candidates think when they come to our little office for interviews. Most of our furniture is antique and in fair shape. Our welcome mat has seen better days. Our office plant is dying a slow death at my brown-fingered hands. And our fish tank remains in a continual state of greenness in response to the constant sunlight streaming in through our large front windows.

When they walk into the Boss's office, they see scattered accordian files and a 12-inch tall To-Be-Filed stack. I try not to take guests back to our kitchen/copier area. It isn't dirty, but it can get cluttered.

It feels like inviting people to your home to live. You love the place. It is comfortable and welcoming to you, but you know it's faults and worry that another person will not be able to appreciate it the way you do. I mean, who else will understand how silly yet necessary it is for us to keep our boxes of closed files in the bath tub? (Yes, we have a real bath tub in our office, which we have converted into storage space.)

Oh, the things I will miss when I'm gone. And the things I will worry about! Deadlines and final orders will keep me up at night for awhile as I contemplate the outcome of a trial or the possibility that the Boss might miss a court date. Thank goodness for the internet age, though. As I've told him multiple times (mostly so that I can hear the words outloud), if he needs to know how I do something or where I've placed an item, even in Memphis I will be one phone call, email or text message away.

Monday, March 8, 2010

End of an Era: Part I

This month marks the sad end of an era. I have been ignoring this blog for the past two weeks, as if non-acknowledgment of the coming change would somehow force everything to remain the same. Alas, it isn't to be. 

You may be confused by that opening paragraph, so I will explain. You see, I spent the last weekend of February in Memphis, TN... interviewing for a job. Actually, only a small portion of the weekend was spent interviewing. The largest part was spent struggling with a decision I was not prepared to make. 

The interview had sprung up rather quickly after a friend of mine told me his firm was looking for "above average" paralegals. I was not looking for a new job. I suppose a part of me just wanted to know what I was worth, whether I was above-average enough to work at his downtown Memphis firm. As a small-town paralegal with just over two years in experience, I imagined that either a) I would not be hired or b) they would not make me an offer I couldn't refuse. I was wrong on both accounts and suddenly was forced into a situation I had not truly expected. Looking back, I realize that I had made the decision before I even left the office. I just didn't know it yet. 

My BoyfriendTheLawyer was happy, of course. A Tennessean himself, he knew that this move would place me hours closer to him, and that the threat of having to take the Alabama bar exam would fade into a vague memory.  

I struggled with my decision for two long days. I am a small town paralegal. I am hardworking, focused, and above all, loyal. The loyalty part gave me qualms. Over the past two years, the Boss has opened his practice up to me in so many ways. I am his right hand gal. I am the office expert on filing procedures, record-keeping, and more. I have slowly been creating administrative policies that make us more efficient and more client-oriented. The Boss has given me the freedom to do so. When I try to imagine how to explain my job, my brain crashes. My job description is "do what is necessary." It took me over two years to figure out what that encompasses - how do I teach someone else in only two weeks?

I sat on my decision all day Monday. It was painful and emotional. I was grumpy. The Boss thankfully did not notice. On Monday night, I was asked, "Would this move to Memphis be a step in a positive direction?" The only answer was yes. It was then that I understood that the only reason not to move was my loyalty to my current job. I was giving this loyalty so much weight that it was blinding me to all of the possibilities for growth, the opportunity that was being offered to me. 

On Tuesday, as soon as the Boss walked into his office, I plopped myself down in a chair at his desk. I couldn't get the words out, so he said them for me. "You're leaving." I nodded my head and tried to explain that I hadn't been looking, that I was perfectly satisfied with my current position, that it was just too good of an opportunity to turn down, etc. He took it well for someone who knows how much he depends on his paralegal. I tried to explain that I'm sure whoever takes my place will be better, more experienced, more organized. He simply said, "Are you giving me the employee version of the 'there are more fish in the sea' line?" I had to laugh. Breaking up is hard to do, whether it's with your significant other, your family or even your boss. Leaving those who depend on you is always difficult. 

After a few days of self-doubt and wishing someone else could make the decision for me, I finally settled down. The Boss will find someone to take my place. Though it saddens me to imagine someone else sitting in my chair, if I can't be there it is my hope that the person who is will be a step up from me. 

I'm embracing the future now and whatever it will hold. I am jumping from one supervising attorney to nine. From a solo practice country office to a mid-size downtown law firm. From cases that last months to cases that last years. From a new and growing firm to a stable, established firm. I will miss all of the things I have know for the past few years. I will miss the clients, the Boss, and the sweet freedom I have working with a small town lawyer. But it is time to step forward, to challenge myself with a new place and new work, and hopefully to realize my true potential as a paralegal professional in the greater legal community.