Yes, I’m a paralegal but my profession does not define who I am and if it did, it may look something like this: legal researcher, account manager, commissioner of oaths and taking affidavits, legal editor, legal writer, legal case manager, legal assistant, legal advocate, legal administrative assistant and so on. It’s not a shabby means of being defined.
If you’re a legal assistant your title may include much of what is listed above in addition to: customer service representative (in some ways), Chair of the social community at your firm (because you are probably responsible for organizing social events) and a miracle worker.
In fact, if you’ve ever seen a legal assistant or paralegal at work you’d probably see them as superheroes of sorts.
By now you can imagine why these legal roles are vital to the legal realm. Imagine a hospital without nurses, a doctor without a secretary, a judge without law clerks – it’d be utter chaos. Such is the legal world without paralegals, legal assistants and law clerks. The term legal assistant, law clerk and paralegal are often used interchangeably within a law firm but are very different if a paralegal chooses to start their own practice.
Being “JUST” anything is a choice. We have free- will; we can choose what we want to be. For instance, alongside being a paralegal I am also: a blogger, a women’s rights activist, business owner, a writer, an entrepreneur, an advocate for social justice and I am nowhere close to finishing this list anytime soon. Thus when individuals say “I’ll never be more than my profession” I believe it’s a choice rather than a result of fatalism.
No – you’re not “just a legal assistant” (feel free to substitute with any profession) – unless that’s what you choose to be. Within most professions there is room to grow – whether that means being promoted to a senior legal assistant who supervises new trainees or moving to a different legal environment that offers a unique experience. As a paralegal in Canada, one may also choose to start their own practice. Moreover, a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada can become the chair of legal group or establish their own legal group.
The limitation isn’t in the title, it’s in your attitude. The title is irrelevant, it’s what you choose to do with your skillset that matters.
Even if you were “just” a legal assistant, recognize that you are a vital part of your legal team because of everything you do. Your contributions are important (even if it’s not communicated), you add value to the firm.
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Points of Discussion:
1. How are you more than “just” your profession? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.