By: Paralegal Sheena
It is no secret that most high-performing paralegals tend to possess an impressive knack for managing heavy workloads. Dependent upon a paralegal’s particular job duties and the size of the firm, the ability to organize, manage and execute daily responsibilities and tasks is critical to a paralegal’s job security and professional reputation.
Think about the most skilled paralegal you have known or worked with during your career. I could bet a sizeable penny that paralegal had a “system” he/she lived by and a methodical approach to organizing his/her daily job duties. The fact of the matter is this, in order to be a successful and useful paralegal (we will discuss why this is important later); you will have to possess some form of O.C.D. with respect to organizing case files and controlling dockets.
I can hear my co-workers and peers laughing aloud right now at this public admission. You see, my O.C.D. comes from a productive yet sometimes “extra” place (I am the way I am, lol). For example, I have been hailed “the spreadsheet queen” because of my requirement for detailed, sortable data. From the way new files are opened to the way documents are saved and trial binders organized, I have particular methods for completing these tasks efficiently and correctly the first time. In turn, my employer can always depend on my consistency.
As a top tear paralegal, you will need to create your own methods for organizing and streamlining your case load. The entire point of the paralegal profession is to be of substantial assistance to the attorney. You cannot be useful if you have not decoded the organizational method to your success.
Make sure your method includes but is not limited to the following;
- Calendar everything;
- Maintain a detailed “end of day report”;
- Create word templates for commonly used forms;
- Create a daily schedule to arrange for task completion; and
- Create daily routines and stick with them.
Typically, when discussing calendar entries, paralegals automatically assume you are referring to docket control. The calendar can be used for so much more! Use your outlook calendar to set task reminders and appointments on a daily basis. This way, if your attorney calls a meeting, you can print your calendar for the week/month and have up-to-date information to provide upon inquiry. Stay on your toes.
Maintain a Detailed End of Day Report
Depending upon the type and size of the firm you work for, detailed end of day reports provide proof of your productivity. Attorneys are not always aware of just how much work their paralegals produce on a daily basis. These reports also serve as a “checks & balance” system for the paralegal to spot check any items which may not have been handled the day before.
Create Word Templates for Commonly Used Forms
For experienced litigation paralegals, it should go without saying that you must compile a reservoir of properly formatted templates to be used for form pleadings, legal drafting, correspondence, record requests, etc. I even have templates for fax cover sheets and items I mail to clients. Working smarter and not harder is the key.
Create a Daily Schedule and Productive Routines
Following a set daily schedule consistently almost guarantees that a paralegal will get into the habit of accomplishing specific tasks at specific times of the day. For example, on Mondays & Tuesdays, the hours between 8am – 10am are spent drafting discovery requests and the hours between 10am – noon are spent responding to discovery, etc.. Routines create habits.
The stress associated with paralegal life can be hectic and overwhelming for even the best paralegals. One moment you can be completely caught up, and the next, you could be drowning in new cases and tasks. Trust me, the last thing a paralegal needs is to be drowning in work while simultaneously dealing with a stressed out attorney. This is why it is critical that you consistently and methodically manage your workload so that you are always ready to provide an update on any particular task at any given time.
Best wishes to you all! If you are as “extra” as me and want to share your methods for managing your insane workload or provide us with some super paralegal tips, please feel free to comment and share.