Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Evil Green Trial Monster in us all

I have all newbies in my office. It sucks. I was recently assigned to oversee a newby paralegal on a trial. This was a one day trial. It was not a complex case.  I probably could have prepped the trial in a half day or less. However, to a paralegal on her FIRST trial, this was a very big deal. I certainly recognize that, and wouldn't dream of minimizing the expected effort she so clearly required of herself.

We've all been there. You're excited to take on your first trial, but afraid because you have no idea what to do, in what order, or how to complete everything in time.  At that time, out comes the Evil Green Trial Monster in us all. Usually, the EGTM is surrounded by people who understand what the EGTM is going through and stay clear of the EGTM's path until s/he returns to his/her normal cheery self. Unfortunately, that is not the case in my office. The newbies don't understand what an EGTM is and that it subsides post-trial.  They all assume the EGTM is permanently mean and crazy and they have lost their friend forever to the fiery depths of legaldom, never to return. I can't tell you how many times the newbies ran to me expressing their concern for EGTM's mental sanity. 

For those of you who are new out there, please understand that you will be an EGTM sooner or later. No matter how hard you resist, it will happen to you. The good part is that with experience, it will happen less and less. Eventually, your inner EGTM will only show its fangs during huge trials. (The bad part is that the more experience you get, the more big trials will be assigned to you, so it may seem like it happens to you equally as frequently.)

You should know that you are not alone in the battle against time. All paralegals deal with their inner EGTM from time to time. Some aren't self-aware enough to recognize it, some will warn you before you breathe on them wrong.

I will tell y'all what I told all the newbies who came to me to express their concern for their recent encounter with our recent sweet-paralegal-turned-EGTM:
Do not be afraid of EGTM's fangs and claws right now.  This behavior only lasts through trial plus a few days and she will return to her normal self soon.

Here are a couple tips to cope with an EGTM:
If you are headed to trial, make an announcenent to those around you that your EGTM will soon show its glowing red eyes, and that you will stop hissing at them on ________ [date 2-3 days after trial concludes].  Don't forget to thank them for their understanding.
If someone reveals their expectation for an EGTM appearance, be understanding and, most importantly, STAY AWAY (unless you're suicidal)!


  1. Ha! How true! I just prepped my first bankruptcy trial, with nobody to guide me through it! Two months later, I'm still a little EGTM!

  2. Ellen T. Wright, CRPDecember 16, 2011

    I'm a newbie paralegal, but I've done other things that have had this same effect. You're right-definitely unpleasant for all concerned. I will say this-the more task-oriented people don't seem to be quite as mean as the others. They're more focused on the tasks and are just oblivious to the rest of the world. You're better off just leaving them alone. It's the normally social ones that will lash out in very unpredictable ways. The more prone they are to seek approval, the more likely they are to lash out in frustration.

    In spite of the fact that I've not done the "trial bit", I feel for you, kiddo. I've been there with the "baby-sitting" the greenies stuff. You try to catch the mistakes BEFORE the boss sees them-but certainly before they leave the office-and you constantly fight the little brush-fires. Here's to you!

  3. I am an EGTM right now, in my first trial, in expedited litigation that has had the case run so fast that my head is spinning. Plus tens of thousands of discovery docs produced by each side that had to be reviewed. Plus hundreds of pages of deps. Plus hundreds of trial exhibits. I'm so tired that I have literally forgotten the day of the week almost every day (I'm in usually both days on the weekend). I just want to curl up in a ball of whimpersad and make it all be over.