Everyone Wants to Quit During Trial

The above phrase was said by A. Big Shot Attorney to one of my minion co-workers upon the first onset of her nervous breakdown when she began preparing for her first trial.

The phrase is certainly true, and it was spoken with the intent to console. But doesn’t anyone find it completely disturbing? Why should a job (a job where you have no stake in the outcome) make you want to quit? I have seen paralegals hospitalized because of the mental strain and exhaustion of working with trial litigators. I’m serious, and I have even been one of them.

It happens. Why this phenomenon continually occurs in the legal field is beyond me. Look around your litigation department. How is turnover? Are they running through associates and trial paralegals every year or so? Wonder why.

People get worn out when their time is wasted and they are run ragged by attorneys who failed to plan ahead and allow proper time and enough staff to accomplish the goals that they want. I personally do not enjoy having to cancel my 7:00 p.m. flight on Friday night to go grab a weekend somewhere other than here because A. Big Shot Attorney forgot that he needed some notebooks.

People: this is a true story. I have cancelled weekend trips over notebooks. And the real kick in the teeth is that there is an 80% chance that the lawyer will never actually look at the notebooks, or that he will lose them before Monday morning. [Sidebar to you lawyers: No one thinks your inability to manage documents is funny. Everyone, in fact, uses that character flaw as evidence of your incompetency. You need to get it together and quit losing evidence].

My experience with trial was rewarding and exhilarating the first three times. After that, there was nothing left for me to prove and it honestly just became a giant strain on my relationships and consumed too much of what was supposed to be my personal time. In my opinion, it is a fool’s errand to work excessive amounts of overtime without compensation for the express purpose of helping trial lawyers get richer at your own personal expense.

The last trial I prepared for actually settled before it got to a jury. I looked around the room at every face and watched every single person become an instant multi-millionaire. And I was rewarded with an “atta girl” instead of a bonus. My co-workers were doing normal family things like actually sitting down to eat a meal together, while I was at the office re-arranging the order of papers in a notebook without getting paid for it. My verdict? Not worth my time!

Categories: Paralegal | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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