After last night's less than enthusiastic post, I figured I should follow-up with a lighter, more pleasant one.
When I came home from my third day at the new firm, my hopes were admittedly dashed. It seemed to me that all I had worked for over the past two years was to be thrown away for an office with a city view. I cringed when I was told that my assignments would be less substantive and more administrative. I suddenly imagined my life ten years from now, gray, boring, and virtually useless after a decade of pushing paper in cases that I cannot connect with.
But today I awoke with a passion. I took my college degree and my paralegal certificate to work. I hung them on my wall. I took a most useful book, The Empowered Paralegal, by Robert Mongue, and sat it on my desk for inspiration. It came in handy at my last job, and I am sure it will be even more useful in my current position. Then I got down to business.
Since Tuesday, I had been organizing a file for an attorney who will likely become one of my favorites. While it was simple file organization, the file was new enough and small enough that I was able to grasp the narrative and get an idea of where we are in relation to trial. I spent the morning finishing up the project. Of course it took me a day and a half to complete a task that should have taken at most half a day, but I'll have to cut myself a little slack here at the beginning.
When I completed the first file, I began working on two more that I inherited from the paralegal I am replacing. (No worries, he didn't leave the firm, just took a new position as IT manager.) The file organization, though it could become mundane in a few weeks, is actually keeping me interested and helping to familiarize me with the numeric filing system.
I kept my head down and worked today. I asked questions when I needed to. I maintained a positive attitude, and I shoved off the negative emotions from the first half of the week. I decided today that my job will be what I make it. I rediscovered that - oh that's right! - I love legal work. I love becoming immersed in a case, so what if my part is only a tiny piece of the massive puzzle?
You see, I am not a normal person, and I long ago reconciled myself to this. My job must mean more to me than a paycheck (though a friend of mine has pointed out that a pay raise with less responsibility is never really a bad thing). I must feel passionate about it all the way down to my toes. I want to love the way I spend the majority of my waking hours. Mere satisfaction is not enough. For the past two and a half years, I didn't even have to work at loving my job. I just did. It kept me on my toes. My Boss was a riot sometimes. The clients could be so gracious. And the judges... kept us working as hard as we could to read their minds. For two and a half years I never once though to myself, "I don't want to be here." Even when I had headaches. Even when the judge asked, "Have you read Rule 4?" (Meanwhile, at the new job, I will likely never speak to a judge.) Even when clients cussed and opposing counsel whined and even the time the creepy guy dropped by the office when the Boss was out and started saying creepy things. Not one of those times did it occur to me that I would rather not be at work.
Back to my original point in the above paragraph: I have realized that I have the power to make my job mean more. After all, it is what it is, and perception is subjective. If the task doesn't have inherent meaning beyond completing step 42 of steps 1,894, then I will grab my magic paralegal wand, wave it in the air, and remind myself that every step in the long litigation process is one move toward the end game.
This is what it's like to be a small town paralegal in the big city.
The Realities of a Career in Law
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