"Preparing to Survive a Dead-End Job"

This LawJobs.com career advancement article is directed to associate attorneys, but I think the advice applies equally well to paralegals:

"The harsh reality is that sometimes a job just doesn't work out. This can happen to anyone -- it often does. Recognizing the signs early on and being prepared for change are key elements necessary for a rapid recovery.

"There are two entities that can determine whether one has landed in a dead-end job. The first is the firm that will not promote an associate -- for whatever reason. The second is the associate who is unhappy -- also for whatever reason.

[snip]

"People who maintain a responsible approach to managing their own careers are quick to establish guidelines that they can use to evaluate their current situations and to assess whether they are on the right course to meeting their short- and long-term goals. The same guidelines can be used to assess the potential of new positions offered. The following are some of the factors to consider...."

Reading the complete article is highly recommended, even if you're happy with your current position.

Author Carrie Printz, an attorney, is the founder and managing director of David Carrie LLC, a full-service legal search firm specializing in career counseling and the placement of attorneys in the United States and throughout the world.


"How to Treat the Touchy Colleague"

Ah, I'm sure every reader has run across such situations. Good news -- this Business Week article offers helpful advice:

"Sometimes, even casual exchanges can set co-workers off. When you hit a nerve, learn from the experience instead of snapping back

"It's pleasant to walk into the office on a sunny morning and hear 'Good morning!' from your cheerful co-workers. It's something else entirely to say 'Good morning' to a colleague and be met with 'Keep your good morning to yourself!' But that's what happened to a friend of mine at work not long ago. Talk about a hostile work environment!

[snip]

"As we all know, there are people who are always in a sour mood and never fail to let people know it. Fair enough—if you know that John is evil on Mondays or that Janice gets cranky after lunchtime, you can avoid those people as much as possible at those times. What can take you by surprise is people's hidden sensitivities."

The complete article offers several useful tips.

Author "Liz Ryan is an expert on the new-millennium workplace, a former Fortune 500 HR executive and the author of Happy About Online Networking: the Virtual-ly Simple Way to Build Professional Relationships. "


"Some Job Hunters Are What They Post"

But you already know this, right? If not, I recommend reading this article from LawJobs.com very closely (particularly if you're looking for a new job):

"Plug a prospective employee's name into Google or any other Internet search engine, and you might be surprised at what you find. Web pages may tell hiring attorneys that the person they just interviewed wrote for an undergraduate newspaper or belonged to a specific sorority, but the Web may also reveal the recent interviewee's drink of choice and dating status.

"The advent of social networking Web sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Friendster have added a wealth of previously personal information to the Internet, some of which job seekers may prefer to keep private and out of an employer's hands.

[snip]

"No more is an interviewer's information about a job seeker limited to a résumé, cover letter and professional references. Now, it seems that Google [& other search engines] can produce more information about a person than his or her FBI file. And therein lies the rub."

BTW, a perfect example of how easy it is to find information on the web is the answer to this detail: "Author Michael D. Mann is a litigation associate in the New York office of a major law firm that asked not to be disclosed."


"Quick naps do the job at this law firm"

Calling all workaholics! Be smart & take some time off for a rejuvenating nap..at work!

"The Power Room at one Raleigh law office isn't a place where high-profile deals get done or important meetings occur.

"It's for snoozing.

"As workers log in longer hours, there is increasing interest in the revitalizing power of naps. One company in New York sells 20- minute sessions in nap pods. A recent study in Greece showed that regular naps can reduce the risk of heart attacks.

"Honestly, who hasn't had stressful workdays when an afternoon siesta would have hit the spot?

"Put the partners at Kilpatrick Stockton in the pro-nap camp."


"Male Paralegals: Is There Really a Glass Elevator?"

Very interesting question raised on LawCrossing. Diversity in the workplace is good, right?

"It is not uncommon these days to see more men doing traditionally female jobs such as teaching preschool and kindergarten and working as librarians, legal assistants or paralegals, bank tellers, speech pathologists, secretaries, data-entry workers, nurses, or even maids. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2005, 13.7% of paralegals were men. In 2004, the percentage was barely 11%.

"Experts who study the labor market have hypothesized that an unstable job market may lead more males to seek employment in alternative careers. And does that come as a surprise? Women who cross into traditionally male-dominated professions often do so for financial reasons and end up earning bigger paychecks than they would in traditionally female jobs.

"Men who do the reverse may not be rewarded with larger salaries, but they may find more job security. Additionally, men are frequently able to advance further and faster in traditionally female jobs than their female counterparts. This is what is sometimes known as the glass-elevator [or escalator] effect [PDF].

"Howard Lee is a legal assistant at law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen in Richmond, VA. He said that he feels being a man in a traditionally female profession has its benefits.

"'I feel [male] paralegals have great chances of securing final interviews and, ultimately, job placement,' said Lee. 'Many HR departments are trying to get more diversity in the paralegal workforce.'"


"How to Command Respect through Body Language"

Really long list -- 101 bullets! -- of sometimes obvious, but mostly helpful, tips for improving how people respond to you:

"Some people are the center of attention wherever they go. They’re not glamorous movie stars, just ordinary people with excellent command over their body language. Here are some pointers to help you emulate these confident people and command respect from those around you.

[snip]

"1. Stand tall, even if you’re the shortest person in the room. Keeping your shoulders pushed back will lend you an air of confidence.

[snip]

"14. If you wear glasses, don’t look over the rim. It makes you look condescending.

[snip]

"32. Be sure to nod your head so the person you're speaking with knows you're listening and interested.

[snip]

"58. Don’t tap your fingers on a table or arms of a chair; you'll seem anxious.

[snip]

"79. Don’t huddle into a corner with your mobile phone while in a crowd of people. Get out and mingle instead. Keep your private conversations for a time when you’re alone."

Some readers who commented on this article thought it was helpful; others not so much. Perhaps half of the points struck me as worthwhile!


"Is Software the Key to Streamlining HR?"

This Legal Technology article describes the HR challenges in law firms & how various software options makes them manageable. [2nd paragraph links from original text]:

"Managing human resources is one of the most labor-intensive processes at a law firm. Keeping track of payroll, benefits, leave time and lots of other information is time-consuming and costly. Fortunately, there is plenty of software -- both commercial and homegrown --that can help firms automate many HR functions. Firms that are using these tools are seeing benefits, such as cost savings and increased efficiency.

BINGHAM MCCUTCHEN

"Bingham McCutchen, with nine U.S. offices and three overseas, has 950 attorneys and 1,150 executives and support staff. In the mid-1990s, the firm began using an HR tracking and analysis system called HRVantage, from Spectrum Human Resource Systems Corp.. The system helps the firm to track and report on HR-related tasks including new-hire processing, employee status, benefits enrollments, employee history and performance/salary reviews."


"Make the right hire: use an employment agency"

Helpful, if somewhat obvious, restatement of advice to law firms from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly:

"We’ve emphasized before that even the smallest practices benefit from hiring the right administrative help to free up attorney time for practicing law and winning new clients.

"However, the hiring process in itself is complex and time consuming. That’s why it makes sense for most small and mid-sized law firms to use employment agencies in filling staff positions.

"Lawyers consider themselves great judges of character, but the hiring process requires far more specialized resources to be done effectively. Employment agencies have the knowledge and skills at interviewing, psychological evaluation and employment discrimination law to handle the recruiting, evaluation and hiring process effectively.

"They also have the time and investigative skills to verify a potential hire’s credentials and experience — a vital task that’s increasingly difficult to do because of privacy laws."

Author Edward Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC, is a speaker, author and board-approved coach to the legal profession.


Best Jobs for Part-Time Paralegals?

Inspired by this post to Legal Blog Watch by Robert J. Ambrogi [links below in original post]:

"If you know you want to work part time as a lawyer, which fields of law or types of jobs are best for you? At the blog Concurring Opinions, William & Mary law professor Nate Oman recounts that a student recently came to him with this question and, 'I am embarrassed to say I don't know the answer.' The student explained that she would like to work full time for a few years after law school, then pull back to fewer hours.

"Not knowing the answer, Oman turned to his blog and asked his readers for their suggestions. Among the responses so far, comments suggest licensing, trademarks, trusts and estates, tax and employee benefits as fields of law amenable to part-time work. As for jobs, in-house counsel jobs are sometimes part time, and government offices sometimes allow flexible schedules and job sharing."

So, what practice areas do you think might be good for part-time paralegals? Surely not litigation, right? Would the areas listed above also fit paralegals?

BTW, are you a part-time paralegal now? Are there any drawbacks?


"Survey: Admin. assistants important"

Okay, that's the good news. The bad? In this article, paralegals are equated with administrative assistants:

"Eighty-five percent of U.S. executives believe their administrative assistants are important to their success, a nationwide staffing-service survey says.

"Of 150 senior executives at the nation's 1,000 largest companies surveyed, 48 percent said their administrative assistant's role was very important to their success, the OfficeTeam survey said.

[snip]

"OfficeTeam noted Administrative Professionals Week would be observed in the United States April 22-28. Many executives that week recognize the work of clerical employees such as administrative assistants, receptionists, paralegals and others."