My blog usually has humor in it, but these are honestly rules to live by. If you are a new Paralegal, print this one and carry it in your pocket. This is no joke. These rules come from personal experience.
Disclaimer to avoid the inevitable hate mail:
I don't fault the attorneys because they were never trained like a Paralegal, so they don't know the "rules" that we live by. These don't strictly apply to EVERY attorney, either. Some of the younger attorneys have some basic skills, although they lack the experience to apply their basic skills as an attorney (even though they think they know how). Some attorneys start out as paralegals, so they too have an understanding of support staff's challenges. For the most part, however, these rules should be strictly enforced.
1. Never let an attorney hold an original document without supervision. They WILL write on it, spill coffee on it, or lose it and claim they never saw it before. The "WORKING COPY" stamp is your best friend.
2. Never let an attorney answer the main incoming telephone lines without supervision. The caller will be lost and someone in the line of fire will be blamed.
3. Never let an attorney scan or copy more than one document without supervision. S/he will jam the copier. It won't be an easy jam either. It will be a call the repair man and beg, plead, and bribe them to get here today-kind of jam.
4. Never let an attorney type their own letter and print it without supervision. It will keep your printer technician in a job, but it will halt progress while you wait for the tech and try to explain to the attorney why they can't push all those pretty flashy things.
5. Never let an attorney have admin privileges on the firm calendar (even with supervision). Just because they know how to read a calendar does NOT mean they are skilled enough not to delete deadlines.
6. Never let an attorney clean-up his/her own office unsupervised. Things will be put in ridiculous places and will be lost forever. The attorney will deny it's existence. Don't even try to argue that [lost item/ file] was in said attorney's office last week. That fight is pointless and you will never win.
7. Never let an attorney prepare service copies unsupervised. Those copies will never make it to their destination.
8. Never let an attorney send a status update to a client unsupervised. Usually, they don't know all the facts, and you will palm-to-forehead Homer Simpson-style "D'oh!" yourself when you hear the inaccuracies that said attorney tried to relay to the client.
9. Never let an attorney re-organize the electronic files unsupervised. They have no idea what the system in their own firm is, and it should stay that way. You will never find something if they start "improving" the system.
10. Never let an attorney prepare trial exhibits unsupervised. They are likely frantic about preparing their trial arguments for the big gamble we call trial that they will screw them up.
Usually, the older attorneys recognize that they are not allowed/able to do these things. BUT, those attorneys, on occasion, will try to be "helpful" and handle their own crap. Reinforce with those attorneys it is a bad idea and that they have tried to be "helpful" in the past and it ended in disaster.