After spending over a decade in the field of education, I have learned a large amount this past year as a paralegal in a family law firm. In education, I was always told the key is to “not take things personally”. I have heard the same advice in the legal field as well. Through the years, I have learned that philosophy is not going to help me become highly effective in what I am doing. Every decision I thoughtfully or sometimes quickly administer, each moment of joy, or lingering moments of defeat are personal for me. The ability to take things personally and use that connection to my advantage, is what makes me a ‘people person’. Like the saying goes- People are not really going to remember what you say to them, but will remember how you make them feel.
Transitioning into my role as a paralegal working in the world of family law, you try not to take situations personally but again that doesn’t work for me. I always ask myself, what if this was my family in this situation? So often in an attorney’s office the day to day becomes transactional and procedural, but I hear that whisper in the back of my mind asking me- Is this what you would expect? Would this be right by you? It is that standard that makes a practicing family law firm better than others. Knowing that someone is there thinking about your human interest. Not only which documents that must be submitted by the deadline or the discovery that needs to take place to prove your side, but the human element of signing a final marital settlement agreement, or for the first time practicing time sharing from an executed parenting plan. Even the modesty that comes with turning in all of your personal banking and Venmo records needs recognition. You never expected the little emoji you sent a friend to pay them back for pizza is now part of your mandatory disclosure. The process and procedures that take place during a family law case are not a comfortable practice for most, but with the right assistance it becomes highly manageable.
In order to create a manageable and personal adjustment for a client during a family law case, it takes a person at the law firm who feels with you and sees the next steps with anticipation in mind. It takes a person who appreciates the intricacies of life to help navigate the bumps along the road during a case in which you really do not know where you are going or what you are doing. So to say that you can’t take things personally is wrong. When you work with people, everything is personal. This is their life, and I intend each day to make it more livable through the work that I do.
by Emily Schroll, Paralegal