It's My Birthday and I'll Cry If I Want To.....Staying positive in the age of Coronaville

Faith.Believe in yourselfToday is my birthday. It’s one of those Big-O numbers. It's the kind where AARP tracks you down. I don’t mind, really. I feel more confident than ever – nothing much shakes me up too much anymore.

With things the way they are in this upside- down world, the day has caused me to review my current situation: My business, legal staffing, is the third largest industry to be hit next to hospitality and retail.

Everything was going so well in the first quarter. In fact, it was going to be one of my best years ever. Then, along with the rest of the world, I woke up one morning and poof! It was all gone. Finito. Say bye-bye. No one was hiring. Every firm had a hiring freeze. It looked as though we were absolutely dead in the water.

Let me whine just a bit. This week has been tough. My wonderful husband has been in and out of the ER 6 times plus 2 emergency trips to the doctor in 10 days. It has been a series of Mr. Toad’s Wild Rides in the dead of the night to a hospital an hour away along a pitch- black winding mountain road in the midst of thunder and lightning storms. Not really my idea of fun.  Actually, I am sitting here writing this piece right now in the hospital. He does not have the virus and fortunately, he is going to be fine.

It’s getting tough to stay positive. Let’s not overlook that COVID19 is still raging. It seems like a lot of people have accepted the new normal and have become a tad desensitized to what is going on. With 40+ million people unemployed and many cities still in lock down, you would think it would be foremost on everyone’s mind. However, I notice that people are actually adapting the “new normal” and getting just a tiny bit too comfortable. This has become a way of life. Holy, moly. We want to live life like this? Can we rethink this here?

Then we have global civil unrest. The world is protesting to the injustices that have gone on for hundreds of years.  While it’s good to protest, I wish it were at a healthier time. With thousands and thousands of people in demonstrations, rallies, along with the partying at bars without wearing masks or practicing social distancing, the virus will be going on a long time. That’s not a good thing.

It’s interesting what the virus is bringing out. People I haven’t spoken to in years are calling. Even my cyber stalker is back. She's a paralegal down in Georgia who seems to have forgotten we know who she is. (Thank goodness, this time around there are laws - criminal and civil -  to protect me. Not so, several years ago when she started.) The callers are reaching out. I think that’s because they can’t hug or see anyone and are looking for people who can bring back good memories and better times. In a way, the world is getting closer despite social distancing.

I am examining my life on this Big-O birthday. Los Angeles (where I come from), is the land of the skinny, the beautiful, those who drive the most expensive cars and those who live on the correct side of the boulevard. Since nothing there really applies to me, I thought I could at least improve my appearance. I am now, after all, a woman of a certain age.

There’s this permaderma-something-or-another product I saw on TV that you rub on your face and in 10 minutes, all your wrinkles and deep lines disappear. Oh, wow! Now, we’re talkin’. For $19.95,  I can compete with L.A’s beautiful people! It does have one teeny, tiny caveat.  It wears off after 10 hours. I can just see myself having a gourmet dinner in L.A,'s most trendy restaurant with important potential clients. The 10 hours are up and the perma stuff starts slowly wearing off me in front of god and everyone. Drip, drip, right onto my collar. There I am, aging 10 years before the very people I am inaptly trying to impress - rapidly changing from a middle-aged beauty to an old lady. Somehow,  I don’t think I would get the account.

Staying in the framework of positivity, pandemic or not, I decided I was not going to go through the horrible down time that most of us did in the Great Recession. No siree! This time, I had a Plan B. I reasoned that pretty soon, all the people who got the virus are going to get angry. Very, very angry. They will start to sue. Who will they sue? Doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, employers who made them come to the office, products liability for faulty ventilators, institutions they believe gave them the virus, toxic tort, mass tort, class actions and more.  What will law firms and insurance companies need? Medical records summarized, of course. So, I opened up MediSums, medical records summarizing. Bullseye! I now have a team of 26 doctors who can summarize up to 16,000 pages per day. There is absolutely no way I am going to go down like in 2009. Not going to happen.

Then I started branching out in legal staffing. I landed a great client in Bahrain. Yes, that Bahrain over in the Middle East. They are seeking a corporate lawyer along with a litigation lawyer from a major law firm with excellent schools and major firm background. OK, so I had to drop the fee a little bit. However, I can now say I’ve gone international. Always push and keep that career advancing! That's what I always say.

Then, I realized that there are hot areas the Corona virus has brought to the forefront. Those are: trust & estates planning (people are getting their affairs in order, just in case); divorce (after sheltering in, people are deciding they didn’t sign up for this); med/mal; workers comp; employment litigation; personal injury; mass tort; bankruptcy (yes, that area is going to be very, very busy); products liability; BigPharma; corporate restructuring and others. I segmented these specialties and went after those areas. Suddenly, I was no longer dead in the water. Right now, we are so busy, I may have to put on another recruiter.

What am I trying to say? The best thing you can do in very disturbing times is to stay positive and ride the horse in the direction it is going. Those ole adages: make lemonade out of lemons, put your mask on first before you help others and a zillion other trite adages, suddenly apply.

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging us in ways we could never have predicted just a few months ago, from unprecedented amounts of family time to homeschooling to working remotely — or not working at all. These sudden, rapid changes in the way we live, coupled with uncertainty, can feel overwhelming. While we may know that it’s usually helpful for everyone in your inner circle to stay positive, it’s sometimes easier said than done.

Here are some things to remember:

  • It will not be this way forever. This is a difficult time, but it is just that — a time.
  • Recognize what you are doing well. It may be tough right now, but you have managed some things very well. Think about the physical, logistical, mental and emotional struggles you may have encountered in the last few months and the good — even great — way you approached and handled those challenges. Yay you!

  • Remind yourself of what is good in your life. Some circumstances right now may be hard to change or may contribute to your feeling helpless. But there are other things in your life that are good and inspire gratitude. Making a list of the good things that you appreciate — large or small — can help shift your focus in a positive direction.

  • Start your day with a positivity routine. Don’t immediately check the news as soon as you wake up. It’s too depressing. Take a few minutes to find yourself – and smile. You’d be surprised at how incredibly powerful a morning smile can be in helping you start your day on a positive note.

  • Incorporate humor and laughter into your day.
    This is one of the most important steps to take in improving your positivity and benefiting from a more optimistic disposition. Numerous studies have confirmed short-term and long-term benefits of laughter on the human body and mind. Whenever we start to get a bit frumpy, my husband and I reach for the AutoCorrect bloopers. Laugh? OMG…..
  • Walk away from distressful conversations and situations. In today’s highly stressful pandemic environment, it is easy to get pulled into negative interactions and exchanges that can leave us feeling distressed, frightened, insecure and pessimistic. Recognizing these encounters early on and removing ourselves from these situations can help us manage stress and contribute to our positivity.

  • Have faith. I’m not talking about religious faith here. I’m talking about having faith in humanity; science; technology; our health care heroes; the good in people; our resilience; perseverance; in our ability to overcome even the most outrageous of obstacles. Believe strongly in our future; in life after Coronaville and everything we will have learned after all of this is done. Life is always changing. With each birthday, you can look back and see from where you came.

In times of constant negative messaging, you need an antidote so that you can keep your positive attitude and march forward with determination and hope. Be deliberate in activities that are positive, heartwarming, stress reducing and laughter producing! Together, we’ll get through this. I guarantee it.

Join our free webinars from Estrin Legal Staffing!  Over 2,000 people have signed up over the last 4 months!

How to Survive Indefinitely Working & Leading Remotely July 13 - 11:30am Pacific/1:30 Central/2:30 EST https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/134138627371962636
 
The Halftime of Your Career - July 15 - 10:00-11:00 PST
 
How to Build a Powerful LinkedIn Profile - July 23 - 11:30-12:30 PST
 

Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top national and international staffing organization and MediSums, medical records summarizing. She is the Co-Founding Member and Vice-President of the Organization of Legal Professionals. Chere has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. Chere is a recipient of the Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award. She is a former administrator at an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. She can be reached on Sundays from 3am-5am. Reach out at: chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com.


10 Reasons Why I Won't Hire You

No.YesI'm jaded, I know it. Right now, I'm cynical, sarcastic and frustrated. Even I wouldn't want to work for me. But - (and there's always a "but", isn't there?), I have had just the most straining, draining and downright paining time trying to hire a couple of people. Let me explain, please.  

There comes a time when you just have to expand your career. I've given that little no-brainer out since I started leading seminars years ago.

It's time to take my own advice. At the urging of several clients, I began to tackle the interesting, rewarding and what I think is a fun natural expansion—career coaching.

Clients have started to contact me and I haven't even added a new web page about my new adventure, Legal Careers Rx. Someone must have a lot of faith in me for which I am most grateful.

My focus is career strategy and direction; resume evaluation; interviewing techniques, where do I go from here? plus how to get there from here, stress and burnout, difficult bosses and co-workers, continuing education and solutions for on-the-job situations. I've even put together a group of fantastic coaches.

During the process, I had an is-that-true? moment. People had no clue why they weren't being hired. I would hear lots of complaints and heartbreaking stories. I could see through some whining such as "there are no jobs out there" or "I'm entry-level and no one wants to give me a break." The biggest contender: "It's pure age-discrimination, through and through." A lot of the time, it seemed it was always someone else's fault.

My evolving practice revealed there may not be as many "no jobs/age discrimination/no one wants entry level" situations as people think. Sure, those things exist. However, many times the candidate was simply in denial.

The manner in which some candidates were approaching their job search was not going to land them a position with anyone, ever. The funny thing is, none of them thought they're doing anything wrong. After all, they wrote a great resume, cover letter, wore their Sunday Best and gave 'em hell during the interview. Someone needs to break the news. People who don't get jobs think the advice is not applicable to them. It's for someone else.

Here's what I went through, here's why they didn't get hired, and here's what I really wanted to say: 

1. You have no current training.

There are no webinars, courses, seminars or anything else on your resume demonstrating you have kept your skills up-to-date. It's even worse for those out of work whose attitude is it's the firm's responsibility to pay for continuing education, and they have no firm. Or, you are working but the firm doesn't budget CLE, so you don't go. How am I supposed to trust your knowledge? Is your current firm involved in training, training, training? I doubt it.

I also hate seeing people take minimum CLE just to fulfill state or association requirements. Do you think you know everything you need to know to do your job forever? If so, you should be president. And even that could take a little extra training.

2. I looked up your LinkedIn profile and Facebook page before I invited you to interview.

You may think employers are checking Facebook to see if you're that 20-year-old posting pictures of you and your buddies wildly drunk at a party. Or, they say they avoid Facebook because it is a "social" situation and not relevant. Not quite. They peek anyway. How you behave in some social settings can spill over into your social skills in the office. How about where you got into a public argument on your FB page with Sally over some petty little thing? Remember how it escalated into the War of Words? It was all about your criticism of typos in her posts.

Was that your attempt at leadership? Hmmm. It probably wasn't the wisest thing to publicly tear someone down, and I wasn't particularly fond of the fact you encouraged your FB friends to jump in and defend you. Not my idea of a leader. Here's an indication of what situations may show up on the job. Red alert! No thanks.

Oh, and by the way, LinkedIn showed different dates and firms than what's on your resume. It didn't seem to be updated, either. No thanks, once again.

3. You have too many issues such as: needing to work special hours, you have to work from home certain days, need vast amounts of time off to take care of family problems, etc.

Your billable hours at your last job were what again?

4. I couldn't get a word in edgewise during the interview.

I figured you had a hearing problem, so I didn't usher you out.

No one talks over the interviewer. Really, they don't.

5. You refused to follow directions when asked to send your resume.

Don't respond by saying "check my LinkedIn profile" when I ask you to send a resume. I don't care what the magazine articles tell you. I have hundreds of resumes to review all by myself. I am not going to go through each candidate's LinkedIn profile, make notes, try and cut and paste and incur all that extra work. What makes you think it's ok to go against instructions? Then, you kept calling to see if I got your email and asking when was I going to schedule an interview. Annoying, really annoying. What this clearly says is, "This person cannot follow directions and wants to do things his way." No thanks.

6. Your answers sounded rehearsed, routine and repetitious.

I heard no enthusiasm for the field, no real desire for the job and no knowledge of what we're doing. Your answers to why you left your last and prior positions were: "For a better challenge" or "I was recruited away" or "for more money." Yuck! Mr. Creativity over here. Can we get just a little more honest?

7. You were not relating to the job I had to offer.

Whatever it was you wanted, I wasn't the person who was going to give it to you. Your answers were so far off base, I thought you dropped in to the wrong interview. You knew nothing about my organization, me, the job nor how your skills related to this position. You spent most of the interview talking about your talent and experience that had no relevance to the job.

8. You simply interview badly.

I shouldn't have asked you in after that ridiculous phone interview but I wanted to give you a chance. When am I going to learn? Never second guess your gut feeling. It's based on experience. I think you walked out of the interview thinking you aced it. Now I understand the phrase, "Ignorance is bliss."

9. Your grammar was so bad, it was embarrassing.

It's hard to believe you went all the way through college. On second thought, I'd better check that fact first. I also have no issue that English is your second language. I wish I could speak more than one. However, your written grammar made no sense and it's my reputation at stake. ESL or not, any usage of bad grammar and incorrect wording is going to reflect on me—not you. I'm not taking the risk because I have a soft spot somewhere in my heart and I like you. No way.

10. You showed a lot of disrespect.

Recently, I posted a job opening on various LinkedIn groups. I was flooded with hundreds of resumes. I posted that it was going to take some time to get back to everyone and for those who have been accepted, I would set up a telephone conference to further discuss their qualifications. I received one post—on a public forum, mind you—from a paralegal who said, "Chere, I don't need to get your posts for your job over and over. When you're ready, I'll take your call. Until then, stop sending me notices."

Really? To a prospective employer? Let's not even address the arrogance or rudeness. This egotistical, self-obsessed diva doesn't know that if you set your settings to receive every answer to every discussion on LinkedIn, you get a copy of the original post. She thinks I am personally sending her the post over and over. How savvy is that? My response? "Ginny: I only posted once to this group. A wonderful thing happened! I received 97 resumes in two days! Did I mention one of the qualifications is great client relationship skills? I wouldn't be sitting by that phone much longer if I were you."

There. Got that out of my system.  I needed that. Thanks for letting me vent. <sigh>

Watch for Legal Careers Rx on Paralegal Knowledge Institute's website. We'll handle you with sensitivity, caring and expertise. You can bank on it.





Law firms change from lay-offs to compensation and training

FiredToday's market: protect yourself - get the training you need to keep your job and get top salary

At least people have stopped crouching behind their desks in an effort to hide from the Pink Slip Lady. That's according to a recent survey from ALM Intelligence, "Turf Wars: Defining New Roles and Competing for New Territories."

The recent report provides an overview of current staffing issues affecting AmLaw 200 law firms, the largest law firms in the U.S. The report is based on a survey of partners, associates, paralegals, support staff and law firm administrators.

The survey found that the top three factors currently working against overall law firm morale are: too much “deadweight” in the firm (34 percent); compensation too low compared to other firms (31 percent); and too much work for current staffing levels (31 percent).

“This is a dramatic change from our 2011 survey, when the top three factors cited as having a negative impact on morale were layoffs, bonus cuts and low compensation,” said Kevin Iredell, vice president of ALM Legal Intelligence.

The survey found that, in the coming year, 62 percent of firms are likely to be hiring new attorneys. However, 49 percent plan to reduce support staff, continuing a trend in recent years as firms strive to better leverage technology for greater operational efficiencies.  

The survey cites getting rid of deadweight; compensation too low and too much work for staff efficiencies.  Why 49% of the firms want to get rid of paralegals when there is too much work is a bit much.  However, perhaps  instead of getting rid of deadweight, these firms willl be smart enough to exchange deadweight for more productive support staff.

Let's clear some of this up.  What's going on is the traditional paralegal is going away and is being replaced by paralegals who are proficient in technology and are cross-trained in other areas.  Hybrids, some call them.  Someone say, who is a Paralegal/Litigation Support Manager or Paralegal/Records Manager.  Duties the paralegal perform now are being replaced by more sophisticated assignments that require more training outside of paralegal schools.  If you don't want to be replaced by someone who knows what you don't, you'd be smarter to get training now before trouble enters your career.

Other survey findings included the following:

  • In the next three years, significantly more respondents foresee legal process outsourcing growing at their firms (19 percent) than what was reported in 2011 (10 percent).  [This is due to technology.]
  • In the past year, nearly half of responding firms (47 percent) have promoted associates to Of Counsel, rather than to an equity partner position. [Stop with splitting the profits already.]
  • Law firms’ biggest challenges when it comes to staffing requirements are hiring (27 percent) and retaining key talent (26 percent).  [Treat everyone right, pay them decent salaries and remember that staff/paralegals are smarter than the average worker.  They'll stay.]
  • The top three qualities law firms look for when hiring new associates is practice expertise (29 percent), followed by Ivy League or top law school graduation (26 percent) and GPA (16 percent).  For more information, go to www.alm.com/about/pr/releases/survey.

How do these statistics relate to paralegals?  You will need to have top education, primo expertise and plenty of motivation on a regular basis to move your career forward. It's the way of things now, folks.......Ride the horse in the direction it's going.

 

 

 

 

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The Job Seeker's Paradigm - You Might Hold the Upper Hand Even in This Market

 From our guest blogger, Tom  Dezell:

Be the Answer to thWoman and laptope Hiring Managers’ Problems
by Tom Dezell

Today’s labor market is an employer’s market. Companies can select from arguably the largest candidate [paralegal] pool in history. Discouraged job seekers often complain that the disparity in numbers contributes to an atmosphere of employer arrogance. Their advantage of supply over demand has lead to a lack of common courtesy regarding keeping candidates informed, returning calls, etc. While this perception certainly has merit, it’s important for job seekers to realize that the key individual at a company with an opening may not perceive him or herself as holding all the trump cards. That’s the hiring manager.

In most scenarios, these uncertain economic times mean that this opening has existed significantly longer than the hiring manager would have liked. The extended delay increases the probability that what started as a need has quickly escalated to the problem or crisis level, most of which has fallen on the desk of the hiring manager. This crisis presents a candidate with their best opportunity to get hired. A hiring manager facing a laundry list of problems will be drawn to the candidate most capable of solving these problems.

Once you’re scheduled to interview with a hiring manager, prepare by learning as much information as possible regarding the backlogs and difficulties this opening has created. This is where your network becomes critical. Think of anyone you know with knowledge of the company and the hiring manager. LinkedIn can provide connecting points from your network to the company. Once you identify them, use these contacts to get an idea of the biggest need facing  the company and its hiring manager. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Once you have a better idea what the problems are, you can better emphasize the skills, successes and projects from your background that will best demonstrate your ability to solve them.

One of the most consistent mistakes I see job seekers make is failing to view the hiring situation through the eyes of the employer. Rather than perceiving a hiring manager as a the one with all the power, realize this is an individual with a need. You can much better offer yourself as a solution once you clearly understanding the hiring manager’s problem.

Tom Dezell, author of Networking for the Novice, Nervous, or Naive Job Seeker, has been a professional career advisor and resume writer for more than 25 years. Currently, Dezell works with the Maryland Department of Workplace Development, facilitating career seminars as well as advising individuals job seekers. For more information, please visit
www.yournetworkingguide.com.


"Law firms looking for help"

Good news for job-hunting paralegals in this Philadelphia news article which cites a Robert Half Legal survey:

"Despite the old joke asking what 1 million lawyers at the bottom of the ocean represent (answer: a good start), a recent national survey found that law firms and corporate legal departments actually need more attorneys.

"California-based staffing service Robert Half Legal recently found 94 percent of the 300 U.S. and Canadian lawyers they surveyed said the size of their companies will stay the same or increase in the next 12 months. Almost half plan to hire additional lawyers, paralegals or other professionals.

"The biggest needs are in the fields of corporate governance, intellectual property and litigation, said Maura Mann, manager of training and development for Robert Half Legal's northeast region."


"I was fired because I was the fall guy. What do I say in interviews?"

Very intriguing job interviewing question posed to Salon's Cary Tennis:

"I was recently fired from my job. Not to go too into depth, but I was blamed for the failure of a succession of projects.

"In my opinion, the causes for these failures lay in the planning stages, which I was largely excluded from. When I was present at planning meetings, I was the most junior person present, and my suggestions were mostly ignored, including ones that would have mitigated later problems. In any case, I would be sent out to do things I often wasn't trained for, in places that no one had checked the conditions.

[snip]

"I have had several weeks to consider the problem, and I still cannot forget the anger and humiliation I feel over losing my job. And this all comes back when I have to explain it to yet another person. What can I do?"

Cary's thoughful reply is definitely worth reading in full. As is the longer question asked by "Fired."


"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.


"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."


"Nearly Half of Law Offices Plan Staff Additions in Next 12 Months"

Great news! Particularly for "Litigation, Corporate Governance Experiencing Most Growth":

"Law firms and corporate legal departments will be adding to their teams in the year ahead, a new survey [by Robert Half Legal] shows. Forty-seven percent of attorneys polled said they plan to hire personnel in the next 12 months; just 2 percent of respondents anticipate staff reductions. Litigation, corporate governance and intellectual property were identified as the areas of law expected to experience the most growth.

[snip]

"Lawyers were asked, "Do you expect the number of lawyers employed with your law firm/corporate legal department to increase, stay the same or decrease in the next 12 months?" Their responses:
    Increase                             47%
    Stay the same                     47%
    Decrease                              2%
    Don't know                            4%
                                            100%"


Hudson Legal Sponsors Monster's New Legal Career Center

I think the message board might become quite helpful, from the Q&As I read, particularly this one. And having law-related career advice collected in one place is very welcome:

"Hudson Legal today [4-24-2007] announced its sponsorship of Monster's newly launched Legal Career Center, a section of Monster.com devoted to the career advancement and recruitment efforts of attorneys and other legal professionals.

The site offers a range of career advice and articles regarding salary trends, the hiring outlook and interview tips, as well as a community message board, where a Hudson recruiter answers questions from job seekers. Content appeals to a broad range of professionals in the legal arena, including lawyers at firms of all sizes, contract attorneys, paralegals, in-house corporate counsel and legal secretaries. While Monster previously hosted similar sites for other fields, the Legal Career Center is a new addition to the Career Advice portal."