The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
New York legal assistant Jodi Sokolowski suffered the effects of an ailing economy when her weekly hours at a Buffalo law firm were cut from 40 to 32. But she turned a negative situation into a set of exciting possibilities, and is focusing on developing her freelance writing career, as well as promoting an indie rock band, the Stone Hearts. She didn’t expect to be a band promoter but feels that it will help keep her young. She’s focusing on the positive and says, “This is a blessing in disguise because now I have a breather where I can squeeze in freelance. Now I can build up a portfolio.”
I’m no stranger to reduced hours; it can happen to any legal professional, especially in smaller firms. Sometimes it’s temporary, but if you get this news, ask your employer if the reduction is short or long term. If you like your job and can afford the adjustment in income, or need to remain employed while you look for a full-time job, then focus on making constructive use of that extra time in your week.
Some suggestions for turning a reduced work week into a positive experience are:
- Develop your marketable skills. If you’re feeling like a simpleton when it comes to current technology and social media, then get up to date. There are many free resources online, and lots of comfortable chairs at your local bookstore where you can peruse (but not purchase) books and magazines in your areas of interest. Look for free or low-cost classes online or at your local community college.
- Spend more time with family and friends. Focus on free activities, such as potluck dinners, playing board games or going to the park with your children. Don’t forget about the public library for a source of free reading, music and movies.
- Start (or finish) all of those do-it-yourself projects that you keep putting off. Even painting a room in your house where you spend a lot of time can be an inexpensive and mood-lifting project.
- Pursue those hobbies or interests that renew your spirit, but frequently get shuttled aside when you work full-time. Finishing that scarf you started three years ago or studying a foreign language can boost your self-esteem and give you a sense of accomplishment. Consider becoming conversant in Spanish, since many law firms are seeking bilingual staff members.
- Exercise. The most common excuse for lack of physical activity is lack of time. If the most intense activity you’ve done for the past few years has been finding the remote control and popping the lever on your recliner, start by taking a daily walk, both to get moving and to give yourself some quiet contemplative time to think about what inspires you, and to make Plans A, B and C.
- Volunteer. More than ever, non-profit agencies need willing hands. Helping others is a great way to take the focus off your own problems.