Year End Professionalism Assessment II

Last year I keyed off a post by Judge Primeaux on his blog to write a serve as a post on Year End Professionalism Assessments. In yesterday’s post he encourages attorneys to use “the Christmas lull, that blessedly quiet period in the few days before and after Christmas.” This year I’m striking first spurred in part by an email exchange I had with a student regarding the student’s grades in general and a specific assignment in particular. As you are likely aware The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional focuses on the many elements of professionalism that go beyond dress and manners and there is a whole category here on professionalism. Yet, professionalism continues to have an aspect of “Je ne sais quoi: (something that cannot be adequately described or expressed) other than by giving examples and long explanations. One such aspect is the desire to do the best possible job in the time available given the circumstances rather than just what is needed to complete a task.

Certainly the topic comes up when office year-end bonuses comes up. Paralegals wonder why they do not get a bonus when others do or get less of a bonus than others. After all, they think, “I’ve put in regular hours and done everything I’ve been asked to do.” They fail to understand that they receive their salary for putting in regular hours and doing everything they are asked to do. Bonuses are for… well, they’re for bonus work. Let’s take a look at the example derived from my email exchange with my student.

Here’s the assignment (slightly modified for this example):

Each of you should use your blogs at least four times a week to post regarding paralegal studies and the paralegal profession in general, or your paralegal studies activities in particular. For example, you could discuss your efforts to find an internship, apps and programs you are using, what works and what does not, or concerns about joining the workforce.  Only blogs with ten or more posts will be graded.

Grading will be based on both quantity and quality, i.e., not just the number of posts but on how much thought has gone into the post and how well it is presented, i.e., organization, writing, clarity, conciseness, etc.

Here was the student’s concern:

Dr. Mongue, about the seminar class, I do not know why i received a 75 on my blogs. I did 10 and all of them pertained to information about me and paralegals.

And here the response (again modified a bit for the example:

You did the absolute minimum amount of work you could do and did six posts in one day at the very end of the semester. This, by definition is – at best – “C” work:

“A” indicates outstanding achievement; “B,” superior; “C,” average or satisfactory; “D,” the lowest passing grade; and “F,” failure.”

The work  submitted, on the whole, is average, satisfactory – you just barely met the minimum requirements. It is hardly superior or outstanding. M (25), N (18),  O (18) and P  (19) quality posts did outstanding or superior work. A student cannot reasonably expect the same grade as those students who worked consistently, week after week, when the student rushes to cram in the minimum work in the last week.”

The professional paralegal strives to move beyond just “doing the job” – average or satisfactory work. So as we do our year end assessments, we should each ask ourselves, “Am I doing “A” work?” If you are, start documenting that fact and preparing for your year-end review.


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