Thoughts From The Lawyer’s Office Paralegal: Top Ten Don’ts

30 Jun Thoughts From The Lawyer’s Office Paralegal: Top Ten Don’ts

Recently, Jill Michaux discussed, the “33 Don’ts For Preparing To File Bankruptcy”. My staff reviewed the list and found it to be excellent, but then, they started discussing their own list, recognizing that the “33 Don’ts” involved mostly dealings with the attorney and consequences from the Court. The staff believes that they spend more time with the client and would add the following:

1. Do NOT tell me you have faxed six months of paystubs or have all six months stufffed in an envelope, when really, the most important one, the one with your bonus on it, is missing. I will figure it out and then you will have to meet with the attorney.

2. Do NOT call every day asking if I am done with your box of papers when you have thrown everything into one big box after it has been used as coffee coasters or kids’ drawings.

3. Do NOT throw away the list of instructions the attorney gave you. It is important and you were given the list for a reason.

4. Do NOT drop into the office and expect me to drop everything to help you sort the latest batch of papers. My schedule is nearly as busy as the attorney’s and I have appointments all day long.

5. Do NOT try to hide businesses you own or participate in. I cross-reference papers; I will find it, and if I miss it, the attorney will find it. If I miss it, you and I both get the lecture from the attorney, so I look really hard for those things.

6. Do NOT move and forget to give me your new address and phone number. I hate to lose clients.

7. Do NOT call and yell at me that I am not being quick enough processing your bankruptcy when you are mad at your wife, husband, kid, boss, or the creditor who is threatening to garnish your paycheck. I want to do good work and the attorney wants it done right.

8. Do NOT call and curse me out and then when I transfer you to the attorney for resolution of your problem, act like you never raised your voice. I am a human being and deserve respect, even if you are upset.

9. Do NOT pretend that you never heard of credit counseling as you are signing your petition/schedules. I know that the attorney tells you to have it completed 24 hours before when you received your homework, I know that I tell you when we review your homework, and I know that the receptionist calls to remind you before your signing appointment.

10. Do NOT tell the trustee during the meeting of creditors when the trustee confronts you about missing property that “you told the attorney/paralegal/receptionist about the items”… will have to face the attorney/paralegal/receptionist sometime and none of us will be happy that you threw us under the bus when we knew nothing about missing stuff.


Keep your lawyer happy by keeping being pleasant to the staff, honest with the attorney/paralegal, and accurate with your homework.

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I'm a consumer protection lawyer in Oregon, working with people in Klamath; Lake; Jackson; Josephine; Curry; and Deschutes County. I speak regularly on bankruptcy and consumer protection issues nationwide.
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