I have downsized.
Oh, I don’t mean my paycheck, although for the time being while I’m getting my business going, that’s true too. (Just you wait . . . I’ll be back making the medium bucks again any time now!)
In BigLaw in recent years, I tended to work on mega-cases. There were armies of attorneys to respond to, scads of money at stake, and boatloads of documents to manage, and filings and deadlines to track. There were always ten plates spinning at once.
Which isn’t to say I don’t have ten plates spinning at once now – often I do. But they’re my plates, not the plates spun off by the decisions of others, which I must nonetheless keep in the air somehow.
No, the offices I work with now as a virtual paralegal tend to be small. I work with solo practitioners, for the most part. They may or may not have on-site staff, and they may or may not have permanent office space.
Because my clients have smaller offices themselves, they tend to handle matters that are somewhat less document intensive than those I've handled in the past. They tend to use different technology than that which I had become accustomed to in recent years. I work more with PDF document compilations, and less with Concordance databases, for example. I prepare document productions in the hundreds (or maybe low thousands) of pages, rather than in the tens of thousands.
But these are minor differences - differences of detail rather than substance.
In fact, now more than ever I am often called upon to figure out the most efficient way to accomplish a project with available resources and my own two hands and the small-office technology at my disposal, with no Litigation Support personnel to fall back on for getting a project done. This satisfies my practical nature.
Case size and technology may have downsized, but professionalism certainly has not. With my attorney clients, the quality of the work is just as painstaking, and the expectations of excellence are just as high as they were when I worked at larger firms. This satisfies my perfectionist nature.
There is a different “office” dynamic as well. (Yes, in an odd way my attorney clients and I do make up an "office.") There are fewer layers of approval to work one’s way through than in large offices. I find that communication is more direct, and the sense of partnership I feel with my clients is more pronounced. This satisfies my collaborative nature.
So you see, in my world, downsizing has been a very good thing!