Working in a law firm is like no other business entity. Law firms are generally a conservative place to work. While many businesses have embraced the younger generation’s idiosyncrasies, these firms frown on odd hair color, nose rings, and tattoos. Time has forgotten this world.
Legal firms thrive on modern technology such as the Internet and social media sites. They continue to remain in a world that embraces clean-cut professionalism. However, in this legal professional world is a well-kept secret. For those who decide to enter this world as a paralegal, they quickly realize the strangeness of legal firm politics and the secret of the pecking order.
Working in a legal office is engaging and fast-paced. However, learning and understanding the pecking order is crucial. First, it is important to understand the order between lawyers. The partners of the legal office are no longer subjected to these rules. However, new lawyers must understand the order of the lawyers in the firm. Lawyers generally do not concern themselves with the order of the paralegals and secretaries.
However, for a paralegal to be successful, he or she must understand the pecking order of his or her counterparts and secretaries. The secretaries in a law firm strictly adhere to the rules of the order. A secretary who works for a partner is considered the top dog as far as other secretaries are concerned. The secretary on top enjoys the privilege of controlling and dictating the other secretary’s workday.
As a new paralegal in a legal firm, you can expect to get all the work the other paralegals prefer not to do. As far as the other paralegals, you are on the bottom of the pecking order and are subjected to the more tedious tasks.
However, understanding the pecking order of the secretaries can help you gain recognition to advance in the paralegal pecking order. Nothing offends the top secretary of the law firm more than another staff member violating the unspoken order. Once you understand who is on top, you can begin to work the system to solidify your position in the law firm.
While it is important that a paralegal perform his or her tasks accurately and efficiently, it is also important for a paralegal to interact with coworkers. As a paralegal, the goal is to earn the opportunity to work on the most interesting cases. In addition, a paralegal can gain the opportunity of accompanying an attorney in the courtroom.
By developing a professional relationship with the law partner’s secretary, a paralegal can quickly maneuver through the caseload to obtain the best assignments. Lawyers rely on their secretaries to help manage caseloads and quite often the lawyer’s personal life. Lawyers value the opinions of their secretaries and will often ask for staff recommendations for important cases.
While the pecking order seems like an archaic tradition, understanding it is imperative if you want a successful career as a paralegal in a law firm. The key is to learn the order quickly and use it to your advantage.