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By: Daphne Drescher, CP

Reprinted with permission from Proparalegal: www.proparalegal.com.

Today’s post by Daphne is a great one. She shares traits she has observed in others, admired, and chosen to emulate in her own career. Looking back at my own career, I can definitely say I’ve complied a list of characteristics and traits I’ve incorporated into my own work life after observing greatness in those around me. I’m sure the same is true for you. So check out today’s post, take a moment to reflect on your own “greatness” list, take a big gulp of that fabulous beverage, and let us know what you’d add to the list.

Ready, go!

The holidays and beginning of a new year are a time when I’m drawn to reflect on what makes my life meaningful. It provides an ideal opportunity to pause and consider the experiences which have made the past year a good one.

In particular, I like to think over my career in the legal field, and reflect on the things that have really made it satisfying. For surely it’s not just the work itself; it’s also who we are while we’re doing the work. This year I’ve been thinking about the qualities and values I’ve seen exemplified in supervisors and co-workers I admire, which have helped make my own work life more worthwhile.

What are those qualities?

Excellence. The people I’ve admired most in my career have set a high standard of quality. They strive to do each task as well as they can, always seeking to perform at their best.

It brings to mind a partner I once worked for, who had a reputation of being quite demanding. Yet I realized that it stemmed from his exceedingly high standards. He wanted the best effort put forward for his clients. He worked hard himself, didn’t cut corners, and expected the same from his associates and staff. This constant striving for excellence made him successful, and is a valuable lesson for me.

Persistence.  Zeal can flag when the going gets hard or complicated. It’s easy to want to stop when we think we’ve reached “good enough.”

But why not be better than good enough?

I had a co-worker early in my career who was never willing to stop at “good enough.” Like the original energizer bunny, she would keep going, making one more phone call, pursuing one more avenue of investigation, or reviewing one more document, until she couldn’t think of anything else to do. Whenever I’m tempted to stop at “good enough,” I remember this co-worker and I push onward.

Thoroughness. Is there another step to take to be sure it’s accurate? Should we proofread it again?

Is it perfect?

Another coworker comes to mind as a model of thoroughness. Every detail matters to him; every opportunity to double-check the accuracy of the final product is utilized. He helped me learn much of what I know about cite checking, and whenever I’m about to wrap up a project, I hear his voice in my head saying, “Just for fun, let’s just check this one more time.” And I smile, and check it one more time.

Graciousness. Let’s face it; there can be a lack of civility in the legal industry at times. There are those who seem intent upon being in control, being right, or being the loudest in the room.

So the role models who have made the greatest impact on me in my legal career are those who place great value on treating others well.

I recall a particular partner who understood that being gracious doesn’t mean being a pushover. She is one of the most effective advocates for her clients I can think of, and yet she is unfailingly pleasant to others – her colleagues, her clients, her staff, and her opposing counsel. She is quick with a smile and a laugh, and she is relaxed enough to be kind. I think of her and remember to smile, and to strive to be gracious to everyone who steps into my path.

I find that these qualities are every bit as important in providing satisfaction in my work as are the results achieved in the cases I work on. To me, it’s not merely the end result of the case – it’s how we get there.

What about you? What qualities make your work life worthwhile?

Daphne is a virtual litigation paralegal and owner of California-based Drescher ProParalegal. She is also an instructor in the Paralegal Degree Program at Empire College. For more information, visit Daphne’s website http://proparalegal.com where you can subscribe to the free Drescher ProParalegal Newsletter full of litigation practice tips and resources for legal support staff.

©2011 Drescher ProParalegal. All rights reserved.

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I gotta say my favorite part is the line where she says: “reflect on the things that have really made it satisfying [the work/year]. For surely it’s not just the work itself; it’s also who we are while we’re doing the work.” There is so much truth to that.

What about you, TPS readers? In your corner of the legal world, what traits have you taken notice of and admired in those around you? Do tell! We’re all ears.

Be sure to stop back by on Friday, when we’ll be featuring a fun post written by an up-and-coming Guest Contributor. Until then, paralegal-long (okay, not really, let’s paralegal short, healthy hours – forget that longness stuff) and prosper. See you soon!