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Legal Team 101: Being Appreciative Is a Two-Way Street

At first glance, I thought John Cord’s post, “Be nice, and other ways to strengthen your legal team,” at the blog Generation J.D., was only going to yield a short quote with some timeless advice for new lawyers, “1. Don’t run up the Westlaw/Lexis research bill, and 2. be nice to paralegals and secretaries.”

But Cord’s article is well worth a closer look – by all members of the legal team, from the senior partner right down to the part-time runner and that lady that comes by once a week to make sure the plants don’t die. His article is really about appreciating everyone’s contribution to getting the job done.

And what legal staffer wouldn’t heartily agree with the following advice for attorneys?:

  1. Say please and thank you.
  2. Be effusive in your praise for jobs really well done.
  3. Be unexpected and reward exceptional work – a lunch out of the office, baseball tickets, or some other recognition.
  4. Shut the office down early sometimes. Even 4 p.m. on a nice Friday is a good perk.
  5. Get to know the people behind the workers – take an interest in their families and activities.
  6. Don’t limit your website bios to just attorneys – include pictures everyone on the team.

But strengthening the team is a two-way street, and when we’re fortunate enough to be part of a great work environment, we should also be appreciative employees. There are a number of ways that we can show our employers that we don’t take their work, energy and input for granted:

  1. Say please and thank you, whether it’s for great mentoring, having expenses paid for a CLE or conference, getting the opportunity to do more substantive work, or receiving a raise or surprise luncheon treat.
  2. Be effusive in your praise for cases really well handled and problems quickly resolved.
  3. Be unexpected and reward exceptional supervisors – do more than you’re asked, fetch a cup of coffee or a soda when you can tell they really need it, share the candy from your secret stash (all the attorneys I work with know which drawer has the Hershey’s chocolate) or bring baked (even if not at your house) treats once in a while for the whole office to enjoy.
  4. Offer to stay late in a pinch, or come in on the weekend, especially when you can tell your supervising attorney needs your help but is reluctant to ask.
  5. Get to know the people behind the bosses – take an interest in their families or activities (without being nosy).
  6. Market your firm, even if your bio is not on the website, by telling people what you do and how proud you are of the work your firm does.

One of the nicest things my supervising attorney repeatedly says when he takes extended vacations is, “I couldn’t do this without you!” When I think of all the wonderful career opportunities I’ve had during 15 years of working for him, I honestly have to say, “I couldn’t do this without you!”Source: The Daily Record

4 Responses to Legal Team 101: Being Appreciative Is a Two-Way Street

  1. Excellent post! I have been fortunate to work for an wonderful boss at a small law firm for the past 8 years; he has been very good to me. I certainly need to express my appreciation for him more often!

    Jennifer Lemieux,
    Fort Lauderdale, FL

  2. Thank you, Jen! I think it's just as important to tell the bosses they're doing a good job, as it is to hear we're doing a good job. My boss has always been good about frequently saying, "Thank you for the work you do" – which has led to me saying that much more frequently to others.

  3. John, you're very welcome. Your post was terrific, and inspired this post, which has gotten some great feedback.

    Plus, you know it makes a blogger's whole week (heck, whole month and year) when people they write about leave comments 🙂

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Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

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Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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