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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, April 7, 2010

And We're Off...

Well Band o' Followers, I am humbly supposing that you await my initial assessment of the new life in Memphis. I have been holding off for the first few days, trying to adjust, before giving you the dish on my present situation.

First things first, the Memphis firm is no JNL, P.C. I always took for granted paralegals everywhere were drafting pleadings and motions, performing legal research, and advising their attorneys on local court procedures. As it turns out, paralegals in defense firms seem to perform a ton of file maintenance and follow-ups of document requests. The associates are doing my job! At least, that is how I felt these first few days.

I have come to realize that at least for awhile, I will not be privy to the true status of some of the rather large cases. I must accept that I will not feel personally invested in the outcome of a case or constantly worried about how our client will fair at trial. Defense work is long, and slow, and some of the files could form their own solar systems. I could be nothing more than a comet passing through, nicking one of these planet-files so lightly that you would never know I was there. Gone are the days of telling the (or any) boss what needs to be done. I have eight bosses now, and I'm almost certain that none of them are concerned with my personal brand of case management.

Yet in a way this is freeing. I will have no trouble leaving after an eight-hour day, and I have no incentive to work a minute over 40 hours in my week. The assignments will come, and I will complete them, and... no no no.

What I believe will actually happen, what I hope will happen, is that I will work hard on even the easy things. I will become proficient at it. I will (try) to develop relationships with my attorneys that extend beyond assignment memorandums. My hope is that at least one of those relationships will develop into trust and mutual respect, not only because I want better assignments, but also because I've learned that I enjoy my work more when I form a bond with the person I'm working for with  for(?).

I hope I do not sound too negative. I am hopeful that my role will expand before my eyes. However, the larger part of me knows that I have to come to terms with the way bigger law firms run. In a world bustling with named partners, senior partners, junior partners, associates, secretaries, paralegals, and then me, I'm a little fish in a much bigger pond. Perhaps part of growing up means realizing and accepting one's own insignificance in the greater world. I would like to say that I believe I could have a true and positive impact on the role of paralegals at my new firm. I would like to say that. But I'm not sure yet that I can.

On a positive note, everyone at the office seems nice and amicable. The paralegals took me to lunch today, and we enjoyed ourselves. They are a good group, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better. It is also nice to know that I have one good friend at the firm. A friendly and familiar face goes a long way in making the day seem brighter (even a hazy, dark day like today).

On yet another positive note, my first assignments have been interesting if not challenging. I have a lot to learn about Tennessee law and federal court. And as my office has a door out to the balcony, I'm making quick friends with the smokers, who have to travel through my office to reach their designated smoking area. And I get business cards.

I guess you could say that anyone would be instantly happy with this new job. The work environment is pleasant, and it seems like a good place to spend eight hours a day. But unfortunately, I have had the previous experience of working closely with the Boss, and that relationship will long be the standard by which I judge my newer supervising attorneys. For now, I'm chalking up my current worries to the adjustment period and trying to focus only on familiarizing myself with the firm.

So onward and upward with fingers crossed. With a hopeful heart and a mind all too bent on reality.


  1. I am so glad to hear from you. That first few weeks on a new job is always the most bewildering - and enlightening :) I've worked one-on-one for the same wonderful civil rights attorney for 15 years, where I handle cases from A to Z, but have also spent time in large firms where I only touched part of a case file. While some experiences were definitely more exciting than others, they all contributed to the knowledge I apply in my work today.

    It's all part of The Big Paralegal Plan and when you get, ahem, close to 50, like, say me, you'll look back and think, "Wow, I got to see a little bit of everything, and that's a GOOD thing."

  2. There is always an adjustment period when starting a new position...especially one where you are in a new state and you have to learn new court rules, how the office does things, etc. As they come to see what you are capable of, more assignments will be given. The relationships will develop over time.

    Seems like everything in life boils down to time...