I have been thinking about my career goals. I would like to be the perfect paralegal, wouldn’t you? Hmmm, what would make me the perfect paralegal? For starters, I would like to always know what the attorney wants; never make a mistake; only work on big cases; know how to do everything possible; and never get emotional about a case. Let’s see how this would play out in real life…
The perfect paralegal can read minds.
Pretty cool. The perfect paralegal never needs to ask an attorney for more details on a project, she just “knows.” Further clarification is not necessary. The need for attorney/paralegal communication is eliminated.
The perfect paralegal never needs any help.
Ms. Perfect can handle anything – all by herself. It does not matter that the paralegal down the hall has many more years of experience with a particular topic and could offer excellent guidance, Ms. Perfect has it all covered. No need for team work.
The perfect paralegal only does “important” work.
Mr. Perfect only works on the big cases with the senior partners. He does not have the time to help with small matters or train the more junior paralegals. They can learn the ropes for themselves, just like he did.
The perfect paralegal never needs personal time.
Ms. Perfect has not needed a sick day or personal day in over ten years. She does not get sick, neither does her family. She would never take a day off to visit relatives or go on a field trip with her child. She is just too perfect to have such needs.
The perfect paralegal never makes a mistake.
Mr. Pefect has never needed to humble himself by owning a mistake. He has not had the opportunity to learn more from making a correction than he would have if things were right all along. He is also very intolerant of the mistakes of others; why can’t they just be like him?
Absolutely nothing is new to the perfect paralegal.
She does not have to figure anything out; she has done it all before. There is nothing new, challenging or unique; it is all routine.
The perfect paralegal carries out her duties without emotion.
This paralegal does not have to deal with feelings of frustration regarding the client who was clearly wronged, but has no real legal recourse. She would never dream of shedding a tear while interviewing the new family law client whose life has just crumbled at her feet. Her stomach has never been in knots awaiting a jury’s verdict. She does not deal in such nonsense.
Still want to be the perfect paralegal? Sometimes what make us imperfect also makes us diligent, kind, helpful, understanding, compassionate, interesting… human.
Misty L. Sheffield is a freelance paralegal helping solos and small law firms in civil litigation. She has been assisting attorneys for over 12 years.