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From Paralegal to Associate: Happy Anniversary!

Last week marked exactly a year since I was sworn in as an attorney. I still remember the excitement mixed with the uncertainty of starting my new role as an attorney. 

I had worked at the firm for 6 years as a paralegal.  How was I going to adjust?  Will the other attorneys remember that I am now a qualified attorney?  Would I still be treated as the paralegal?  What about the clients? So many questions running through my head, but one thing I knew for sure, was that I could feel the immense pressure on my shoulders.  I had less room for "allowed" mistakes, because I was not considered a rookie by the partners.

The experience I had as a paralegal meant that I was familiar with the concepts and the lingo of a law firm.  I was very independent from the beginning.  I was given my own case load on day one. However, all that experience and familiarity, didn’t truly made my work any easier.  I found that I spent countless hours on one assignment.  I was the first one in the office, and the last one out in the evenings.  I came in often on weekends and quickly, I started yearning for the days where all I had to worry about, was doing my reading for class!  Now as an attorney, I had all the responsibilities added to my plate.  I had no one to run to, or no one to correct my mistakes!  But by steadily holding on, moving forward, and sticking to it, I can say that I have slowly been able to come in the office after sunrise and leaving before sunset, and I have been enjoying my weekends away from the office.

The one tip I found myself telling my friends who just passed the July bar, and that I would like to share with you, is to add immediate value to the law firm you are working for.  Even if that value means that you are turning in documents perfectly formatted, with no typos, then let it be your craft.  Take responsibility for your work.  Don’t make excuses. Take full responsibility every step of the way.  Build on your knowledge, being an attorney is a learning process.  Look for opportunities, constantly, to expand your knowledge and take ownership of a little bit more along the way.  Don’t let what you don’t know swamp your ability to learn and grow! 

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