Happy High Heel Friday!

November 11, 2011

I advocate for High Heel Fridays instead of Casual Fridays. It is the best day of the week to look extra smart especially when others in your firm choose to look extra schlumpy. I strongly believe in the adage that you dress for the job you want, so it amazes me that most legal professionals dress as teenage Dairy Queen workers on Fridays.

For paralegals, High Heel Fridays are a great time to dress for success, not only with your clothing but also with your confidence. Picture yourself strolling into your partner’s office next Friday as a perfectly polished professional paralegal in your pretty pumps while they are primped in a preppy pink polo and pressed jeans. Your confidence will enter the room before you do!

Here are some suggestions for how to make the most out of your High Heel Friday:

Highlight your Skills – As paralegals, we need to be our own Business Development Managers. It is our responsibility to continually “sell” our knowledge and skills to our firm. Just because you got the job, made your hours this year, and/or have been with a firm since Christ was born, does not give you an excuse to rest on your laurels. How many of your partners and associates know your educational background and/or legal experience?!? Chances are that you know theirs and if you don’t, it is easily accessible on your firm’s website. Take some time on High Heel Friday to let them know about yours. Meet with your paralegal manager, office manager, practice group coordinator, partner, etc. to let them know about your background and skills. The most important thing to tell them is specifically how you want to use your experience to better the firm. “Did you know that I speak 5 languages, including Creole French?!? I would love to assist the firm’s pro bono efforts in Haiti. Can you put me in touch with the partner on that project?”

Have a Heart-to-Heart – While you are talking to your manager about how fabulous you are, why don’t you use the time to ask them how fabulous they think you are?! Many firms are notorious for having a decentralized management structure and what that means for paralegals is that the annual review process is nearly non-existent or nonsensical. Use High Heel Friday to have a heart-to-heart with your manager about your past, current and future performance. Again, bring specific items you would like to address like cross-training and educational opportunities. “I know that I am a Corporate Securities workhorse, but I would really love to take a course in Legal Project Management. Do you think the firm would pay for it?”

Happy Hour – Use your High Heel Friday confidence to expand your network within and outside of your firm. Introduce yourself to the new receptionist, assistant, associate, partner (don’t forget to “sell” your skills!). Meet a former colleague or supervisor out for coffee. Ask a potential mentor for lunch. Attend the firm’s Happy Hour (2 cocktail maximum). With High Heel Friday, you will shine in any meeting scenario!

Please use the comments section to let me know how you plan to use High Heel Friday to advance your professional paralegal career. At a minimum, it gives you an excuse to go shoe shopping . . .

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