Kim Walker blogs at The Paralegal Pie…and I totally enjoy her writing, as well as her insight into the life of a paralegal. She unfailingly offers ‘uncommonly good advice and cutting edge solutions for paralegals’.
Her recent blog post “The Attorney Who Cried Rush” reminded me of Aesop’s famous fable: The Boy Who Cried Wolf … the about the shepard boy cried “Wolf” and all the villagers came running…but there was no wolf. Then, when the shepard boy really was confronted by a real wolf chasing his sheep and he cried out, no one paid any attention.
As Kim says, “We have all run into the ‘Attorney Who Cried Rush’ at some point in time. There are many ways to handle this creature, some will work out well for you and some will not. Keep in mind that the longer you work for a particular attorney and the more you deliver the goods on time, the less the attorney will cry rush.”
Unfortunately, when an attorney labels every job as a ‘rush job’ there’s a tendency to either(a) not believe him or (b) wish he’d get his act together and plan to meet those deadlines in a more organized fashion. It’s been my experience that attorneys who always have rush jobs are usually so busy putting out fires that they can’t possibly do any work ahead of time.
Kim goes on to give some very good advice about handling the attorney who always has a rush job for you, including “never promising more than you can deliver”.
She has some excellent points that really struck a chord with me. The ability to prioritize is an important skill every paralegal must possess. Most of us go into the office in the morning with a ‘plan’ for our day…a plan that’s prioritized according to our own deadlines. I think attorneys fail to realize that when we’re managing a file, we do have our own deadlines: an estate inventory that needs to be completed and filed, notices that need to make newspaper publication deadlines, and the list goes on.
In our quest to please, we usually just smile and take on the new deadline from the ‘Attorney Who Cried Rush’. Then we end up scrambling to get everything done….his work and our own.
I do have some additional possible solutions that might help deal with the ‘Attorney Who Cried Rush’:
==>Determine if the work really qualifies as a ‘rush’ job or if it’s a matter of the attorney’s perception that it has to be done right that minute. Ask specific questions, such as when or what time the work has to be filed or mailed.
==> If you do determine that you must set everything aside to accommodate the attorney’s rush job, be sure to note where you were on your own work so that you can easily pick it up again later. This is where a bright sticky note comes in handy. Be sure your note has enough information so that you can bill for your time on the work you’ve done so far.
==> Be sure to review the attorney’s calendar a week ahead, and again each morning, to see if you can determine any deadlines that may have to be met and perhaps get a jump start on those.
==> Most helpful is a brief meeting at least once a week…once a day would be optimal…where both you and the attorney you work with discuss upcoming deadlines (yours and his) and determine what has to be done and how it will get done. In the end, some of the work may be delegated to someone else.
Most important, though, is Kim’s advice to never promise anything you can’t deliver. In the end, that just results in problems for everyone.
To read Kim’s excellent post, just follow this link. Meanwhile, I’m wondering…how do you stay on top of deadlines and what suggestions do you have for working with an attorney who’s work is always labeled ‘rush’?