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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.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One for You, One for Me

There I stood at the copier, a stack of manila folders twelve feet tall, towering like some formidable beast before me. A beast from whom I had already received countless battle wounds - a paper cut here, a folder cut there. And the battle this day could only be won by making copies of each small stack in each folder... in triplicate.

Now, I know that at some firms, paralegals get to delegate some tasks to secretaries. Not so at my office. So I have been operating under the assumption that I make all of my own copies unless I have a copy job big enough to warrant sending it out. I don't mind making copies. In fact, at my former office, no one was above copying, not even the Boss himself. (You can only delegate so much with two people in the office.)

So as I was saying, there I stood before the copier, slowly opening a folder of originals, removing the staples, placing them on the machine, stapling the originals back together, stapling the copies together, and placing them in separate stacks, etc, etc. One of the secretaries at my firm walked up and said plainly, "Why are you making copies?" I tried to explain that I had a project which required triplicates, but she stopped me there. "You need to call Johnny* (name changed) and send that job out. It's much better for the firm to pay someone else for the copies than to pay you to stand here and make them."

Just like that, my eyes were opened.

For the past several weeks I have had personal qualms about getting other people to do my work. I don't like sending a runner out because I am perfectly capable of walking to the courthouse. I don't like ordering supplies from our receptionist because I am perfectly capable of going to Wal-Mart and purchasing white out. Since I come from a firm where I was responsible for just about everything, I am having a hard time letting go of some duties I formerly held. Especially if the job sounds particularly tedious, such as walking to the circuit court to make copies of fifty pleadings. I don't want to ask someone else to do that. I hate the idea of asking someone to do something that sounds less than enjoyable to me. And yet, here in the world of big(ger) law, we have more hands available. And some of those hands are waiting for an assignment that involves making copies or walking a half mile down the street to file a subpoena, just as I am waiting for an assignment that involves indexing a deposition or finding a pleading for my attorney to review.

How did yesterday's story end? I called Johnny, he took my stack away, and he brought back copies before the end of the day. I always knew attorneys had to know how to properly delegate tasks, but I'm starting to realize that it's a good skill for all of us to have.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Manilla folders remind me of the last attorney office.

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