Posts Tagged ‘persistence’

Important Paralegal Traits

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

Amy Bowser-Rollins used the NALS LinkedIn discussion listserv to bring an article entitled “5 Most Important Paralegal Traits.” The article, written by Tonya Pierce and posted on’s blog has an interesting start in which the author appears to deny the implication of the title:

Can we just choose five traits as the most important paralegal traits that you must possess to succeed in a paralegal career? In my opinion, the answer is “no.” The paralegal profession has grown and expanded over the last few decades to encompass so many different positions and roles that it would be impossible to choose just five traits as the most important traits you need to have in order to be a successful paralegal. Furthermore, paralegals now work in numerous related fields that go far beyond a law firm. Therefore, the skills and paralegal traits a person needs to succeed depends more on the type of job, the industry, and the paralegal’s role than the standard definition of a “good paralegal.”

But it goes on to make a good case for five important personality traits for paralegals – good judgment, ingenuity, logic, persistence [which, I hasten to point out, is not the same as stubbornness,] and patience. A case can be made for other traits and I’d like to hear which you think are the most important.

In any case, the article’s final point is a good one.

However, attorneys will be attorneys and they love paralegals with these traits, skills, and characteristics. They’ll consequently look for paralegals who display these types of skills and personality traits. Learning coping skills to tame my problem with patience improved my efficiency and quality of work, which helped me obtain my position as project manager.

The real trick to becoming a great paralegal is to be honest enough with yourself to identify the areas where you need to improve. Take those necessary steps – that is a true sign of a great paralegal.

Tonya Pierce is a paralegal with over 24 years experience in several areas of the legal field (17 years as a bankruptcy paralegal and trustee paralegal).

The entire article is worth reading. You can see it at the link posted above.

Working Professionallywith Administrative Agencies

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

My administrative law class recently had an assignment requiring that they interview a supervisor from a local, state, or federal administrative agency. Many found it difficult to do because they did not get timely responses to their calls. Some, apparently, simply waited for a call, never doing follow-up. This lead to some discussion on the class discussion board.

There is no doubt it can be difficult getting return calls and appointments with administrative agency personnel. That is one of the points of going through this particular assignment. It is frequently the job of a paralegal to get information from an agency under a fairly tight schedule.

Let’s assume the president of a major client company is coming in for a conference in a week. She  expects a clear, up-to-date report on the status of her company’s dealings with an agency – dealings which your office has been handling. The attorney assigns you the job of getting the necessary information from the agency. You have just one week to get that information and an explanation from someone knowledgeable at the agency. Reporting back to the client that you left a message and there was no return call will likely lose the office the company’s business!

Several of students noted getting what you need in these situations requires a combination of patience, persistence, respect, and other skills. In fact it requires a balance of those skills. Too much patience and you’ll never get a call back as they will spend their time dealing with more persistent people. Two much persistence, especially if it is rude, disrespectful, or otherwise unprofessional will result in a complete lack of cooperation. As many of you noted, you get only one shot at the person, so it is essential to (1) know what you need to know, (2) know who to ask for it, and (3) know how to ask for it. Otherwise, you may find yourself unable to complete the job assigned to you by the attorney.

So the question is, “What is the professional balance of persistence and patience, respect and insistence, when dealing administrative agencies, clerks and the like?” I, and my students, would like to hear from you. How do you handle these situations?