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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.

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. 


  1. I became a little teary-eyed reading your post today. I, too, made the leap from small to large (private firm to corporate in-house)and can understand the struggle to make the decision and the agony in realizing that you have to tell the Boss (who is probably more than just a boss). Understand this. You have provided him with an amazing example of what a paralegal should be to him. The person taking your place will have a high expectation set for him/her. But this is not bad. You have elevated the profession and anyone coming after you will not have the opportunity to bring it down. Best of luck in the future!

  2. Melissa, I am so excited for you, and can't wait to hear about how you feel about life in the "fast lane" ;) But I think I am going to miss "The Boss" almost as much as you will.

  3. Congratulations, Melissa! Like Lynne, I've actually grown quite fond of 'The Boss'! I look forward to hearing about your adventures in Memphis and suspect we'll hear will be more about Your BoyfriendTheLawyer'!

  4. Thanks for pointing out the hard part of growth. I'm looking forward to hearing about the new adventure in Memphis.