Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Overwhelmed

I'm only in my 2nd year practicing in a small PI firm. I am legalbeagle07/02/18
Three things (I've seen some of your other posts, too): wutwutwut07/02/18
Bite the bullet, talk to your doctor about Adderall XR. gonetomorrow07/02/18
No one that wants a life outside of work is cut out for this mtbislife07/02/18
“I cannot and will not stay longer than I have to or come brokelawyer07/02/18
Lol, nothing says not a wimp like putting in countless hours mtbislife07/02/18
So strong. So brave. isthisit07/02/18
You did your time OP. Look for state or corporate jobs now. snowday7507/02/18
Agree-since it's highly unlikely the job is going to get any toooldtocare07/02/18
How many hours a week are you actually working? If you're anothernjlawyer07/02/18
Great write up here. The phone and email scheduling at #3 is defectoantesto07/03/18
OP - sounds like you need to get out of private practice. If flharfh07/03/18
legalbeagle (Jul 2, 2018 - 1:31 pm)

I'm only in my 2nd year practicing in a small PI firm. I am so overwhelmed I can't take it. I have a toddler at home so I cannot and will not stay longer than I have to or come in on weekends. I do however take work home when I'm cutting it close with a deadline. I am the only associate here and due to office politics I don't even have a paralegal I can really count on to help with serving papers, drafting boiler plate motions etc. and it's not like I'm being paid all that great. I live paycheck to paycheck and have deferred all my school loans. I don't even know where to start with work some times. Between going to court or defending depositions, I usually only have 4-5 hours to do my work, but not without 100 interruptions or other things that come up. I don't know if I'm overworked or if I'm just not cut out for this.

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wutwutwut (Jul 2, 2018 - 2:02 pm)

Three things (I've seen some of your other posts, too):

- if not already floating your resume, get doing it. You've been there a couple of years and now is a relatively common time to move along to something better.

- try to wedge in some exercise every day. I know you're stressed and pressed for time, but 20 minutes a day could actually help you get to the point where you're saving time overall by thinking more clearly, not wasting time retreading the same material in your mind, etc.

- if drinking alcohol more than once per week, stop. Alcohol is killer to motivation, clarity of thought (especially the first hour or two of your day might as well be pissed down the drain), and chronic use whipsaws your emotions around but generally lands you artificially depressed.

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gonetomorrow (Jul 2, 2018 - 3:27 pm)

Bite the bullet, talk to your doctor about Adderall XR.

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mtbislife (Jul 2, 2018 - 3:41 pm)

No one that wants a life outside of work is cut out for this. You need to start taking steps to build the life you want, for most that means leaving law.

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brokelawyer (Jul 2, 2018 - 4:55 pm)

“I cannot and will not stay longer than I have to or come in on weekends.”

No offense, but you are refusing to do what is a necessary part of the job (in private practice). Everyone hates it, and everyone has to do it. This job isn’t for wimps.

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mtbislife (Jul 2, 2018 - 5:08 pm)

Lol, nothing says not a wimp like putting in countless hours of unpaid OT a week.

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isthisit (Jul 2, 2018 - 9:54 pm)

So strong. So brave.

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snowday75 (Jul 2, 2018 - 7:25 pm)

You did your time OP. Look for state or corporate jobs now. Most lawyers eventually do. It takes an irrational actor to perform the same tasks for crazy OT hours, with the professional liability exposure of the licensed attorney, for the peanut pay that a private legal career will net you.

I suggest looking at the County or State level for litigation. AAG seems a good job to apply to.

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toooldtocare (Jul 2, 2018 - 7:29 pm)

Agree-since it's highly unlikely the job is going to get any better, you need to move. Any connections at all in local govt? Any connection can help-contact a classmate and ask him/her to call you if there's a job opening in the office, etc. You need to do what you can to move, ASAP.

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anothernjlawyer (Jul 2, 2018 - 8:15 pm)

How many hours a week are you actually working?

If you're working more than 50 hours a week in sh!tlaw, you're not just "paying your dues;" you're being taken advantage of. Of course you don't have a paralegal; they'd have to pay a paralegal to do the extra work they can dump on you for free instead. And because you're so busy, you don't have time to think about how lousy your situation is.

Get out ASAP. If you're only a second-year, you're young enough (presumably) to find something better.

I'm sure there are plenty of websites that offer practical advice on time management, but here are my quick thoughts:

1) Trusting a paralegal is generally a bad idea. That said, "serving papers" shouldn't be more difficult than emailing them to your process server with the subject line "serve".

2) Boilerplate motions should be cut and pasted. Create word templates for each court that you normally have to file them with, and a word document with the office addresses of your adversaries so that you can paste them in quickly. If your court system allows electronic filing, learn how to do it and use it; it's loads easier than paper. If you're dealing with the same issues, your supporting briefs should be cut and paste as well. Remember that you're not writing a supreme court brief every time you need a discovery extension; do the bare minimum to make a motion passable and send it on down the line.

3) Schedule times when you're going to check emails and/or respond to phone messages. Don't pick up the phone every time it rings or check email every 5 minutes. Do the big stuff, motions, etc., and then return the emails / phone calls.

4) make a list of things you need to do on 8.5 x 14 paper; tape it to your desk, and cross things off as they get done. It's hugely satisfying and helps counteract the paralysis of thinking about too many tasks at once.

5) Turn down as much work, especially busy work, as possible. You probably can't tell the partners that you don't have time for an assignment, but don't let the paralegals dump their sh!t on you. If you need help with things like making copies and mailing out motions, email the assignment to the paralegal, and copy the partner on it. If the paralegal whines ("I don't have time"), plays stupid ("what do you want me to do? Where do I send it?") or ignores you, tell the partner in a non- confrontational way ("I asked Suzie for help and here was the response I got.....is it appropriate for me to ask her to help with mailing"?) and let the partner ream her out over it. Do this a few times and they'll start handling very basic tasks for you. If they aren't actively out to screw you (and they may very well be), paralegals will throw you under the bus in a heartbeat; any assignment you give a paralegal should be in writing, with the due date in the email ("it has to be sent out by fedex today, etc..") and an explanation of what needs to be done so that when they f!ck it up they can't blame it on you. You'll find that, in many instances, it's simply easier to do the work yourself than to properly instruct a paralegal; however, for stuff like inserting 200 exhibits tabs into binders, put them to work.

6) Do as much as possible by email. When you have a case with an adversary where you have a decent relationship, agree at the outset to accept certain papers (motion papers, discovery, etc.) via email. To the extent possible, communicate with clients via email, and send them copies of things via email where appropriate. If you have briefs due to arbitrators / mediators/ judges, ask if they will accept by email; a lot will. This is light years easier than getting copies out the door, and, since it is instant, it alleviates time pressure too.

7) Take some of the time that you screw off at night at home on the internet and spend it responding to emails instead. It will make your work day less stressful and the trade-off is worth it.

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defectoantesto (Jul 3, 2018 - 4:38 am)

Great write up here. The phone and email scheduling at #3 is invaluable to your sanity. I do this daily. If you are constantly letting people interrupt you it will kill your productivity. So take back control and don't let them. Also great advice about the paralegals at #5. Made me laugh because this seems to be a universal experience among associates. At least it was my experience working at firms.

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flharfh (Jul 3, 2018 - 4:10 am)

OP - sounds like you need to get out of private practice. If you are really working 50+ hours a week for 45k, do the math - you're only making $15-20/hr.

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