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In making changes to upshift my life, I decided to try some new things this year. I re-joined my state’s Bar Association, which I’d simply failed to renew in the previous year. I decided I needed to take some new CLE (continuing legal education) to challenge my brain again. Ultimately, I decided to take the Paralegal Certification Exam.
While all of these things I believe will help propel me into my “future career self,” I still wasn’t connecting with other paralegals outside of the one other paralegal whom I worked alongside each day. I found myself asking some important questions. What if I want a more vibrant future? What if this is not the area of law for me? How can I connect with others outside of these four beige walls of my office?
I had heard of different social media sites at this point. I was already a member of Facebook, but didn’t really connect with people on a professional level there. So I decided to look into LinkedIn. This site immediately introduced me to paralegals and attorneys in my area that I had corresponded with via email, thus giving me my “first circle” of connections. It was a start. Then the site gives you “suggestions” on others whom you may know or groups you may want to join. This is where things really got interesting fast. The more I navigated this site, the more I found: more people, more articles of interest, stories of success, interesting people, and potential connections.
In the webs of networking groups that I started navigating through, I found The Paralegal Society. Wow! Why had I never heard of this blog before? At this point, I’d been a paralegal for seven years and clearly was not in the same universe as everyone else. This blog, among others, is the place I now go to for career advice, relevant articles regarding different areas of law, fashion tips, a book club, and other informative, quirky, and downright hilarious articles. I have made connections with paralegals, attorneys, judges, and various other professionals from coast to coast from the safety of my comfy chair in Ohio (which is a plus for this introvert).
I have found so much information on LinkedIn and blogs that I now wonder how I ever got along in my field before using them. Sure, I believe that continuing education is vital to our careers in this ever changing field of law. Meeting people at the local bar association is great, too. But now that I have found this place to connect to the vibrant legal minds sharing ideas on this blog and in groups on LinkedIn, I find that the other ways of connecting just don’t fully cut it anymore.
I was ultimately given an opportunity to write a simple article on a paralegal blog that could open doors I never knew existed. (This article you are now reading). Had I stayed in my comfortable beige office and decided not to venture out, I may never have known that these doors were out there waiting to be opened. That’s the funny thing about venturing outside of one’s comfort zone; we often find the very thing we didn’t realize we were missing. We sometimes find a new and interesting thing we will really enjoy that may help to energize our spirit or improve our career and life. And on occasion, as was true in my case, we open a new world we cannot imagine not being a part of from that day forward.
That feeling of restlessness from such a short time ago is slowly fading away. I have become inspired: inspired to connect; inspired to write; inspired to be a better paralegal, friend, mother, and, well, a better human being, too. It’s amazing what can happen when you choose to do something different, to take one step outside of that comfort zone or away from the shadows of complacency. Change can be scary, yes, but it is also necessary. Who knows what you will find when you decide you want more in your life and set out to find it by connecting with others and becoming more immersed in your profession, both locally and on LinkedIn. Chances are, you may find yourself inspired, just like I am. That is what life is really all about: connecting to people, making a difference, and living life the best way you can.
Stay connected, my friends; the possibilities are endless. You never know what you’ll find if you take one big step in a new and interesting direction with the simple click of a mouse.
Shanna is a family law paralegal in Dayton, Ohio. She has a wonderful husband and three teenage boys. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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