Posts Tagged ‘positive attitude’

DOJ Civil Division Awards Paralegals

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Paralegals were among those earning DOJ awards for service last week. According to awards included:

Dedicated Service Award:

Henry LaHaie: has honorably served the Civil Division for more than 30 years, more than 20 of them devoted to making the Office of Consumer Litigation increasingly efficient and effective. LaHaie is responsible for developing OCL’s paralegal support system that rivals any private firm’s litigation support. He has eagerly assisted other offices in the division by sharing his concepts of office automation and making paralegals effective partners in active litigation. LaHaie does all of this in addition to supervising and reviewing a busy civil and criminal litigation caseload.

Award for Excellence in Paralegal Support

Award description: It recognizes outstanding achievements in the performance of paralegal duties.


Amy Kokot: She supervises a team of seven paralegals providing litigation support for the defense of cases filed under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. Kokot is a superb leader, who thinks ahead to ensure every task is completed in a timely manner and without complications. She consistently demonstrates an impressive level of responsibility and attention to detail that is unsurpassed.

Katrina Nieves: She has served the International Trade Field Office, National Courts Section, for more than 20 years. She is the supervisor of a litigation support team that directly assists 10 attorneys in the field office, and frequently aids visiting Department attorneys as well. She consistently presents a positive image of the office by greeting and working with visitors, including court personnel, in her singularly friendly way. She is always forward thinking, and easily resolves or prevents operational problems.

Craig Radoci: has provided exceptional assistance in preparing for various trials and hearings. His adeptness in electronic discovery and Trial Director software has led to rich and easily navigable trial presentations. Radoci has provided extremely effective factual and legal research assistance to the office’s attorneys. He is highly praised for his support in preparing for trials and hearings, and his efforts have contributed to successful outcomes.

Brian Ruberti: He maintains QTrack+, the database he helped design to track the Fraud Section’s cases. His ability to marry the technical capabilities of the system with an understanding of what section attorneys need as lawyers and how the information may be understood by the public provides an indispensable tool.

Nicole Dammeyer, Janine Johansen, Melissa Kohilakis, Michelle Phillips, Maria Swails-Brown and Adriana Vecchio: The Guantanamo Habeas Corpus Team is recognized for the superb litigation support provided over the past year to a team of 50 attorneys litigating more than 200 cases. The team has labored under extraordinarily difficult circumstances: very tight time constraints, large volumes of classified information, and many, many late nights and weekends. Throughout it all, this team has been thoroughly professional and has met every odd challenge with enthusiasm.

These individuals demonstrate the traits of professional paralegals. Here are some of those traits previously discussed on this blog as marks of true professionals:

Eagerly assists – shares concepts

Thinks ahead to ensure every task is completed in a timely manner and without complications

Demonstrates an impressive level of responsibility and attention to detail

Consistently presents a positive image

Forward thinking, and easily resolves or prevents operational problems

Understanding of …how the information may be understood by the public

Thoroughly professional and has met every odd challenge with enthusiasm

Sounds like a good self-evaluation checklist for all of us. Congratulations to all of the recipients!

Feedback, Attitude and Control

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

The Career Coach” at The New York Times deals this week with reacting when passed over for a promotion. Much of what is said, however, I advocate doing before regardless of promotion opportunities. That is to say, there should be good communication between the paralegal and attorney, including the paralegal specifically asking, with a positive attitude, for feedback as a normal part of the paralegal/attorneyrelationship. Here’s some of the what the article says:

What you want now is feedback, said Jane S. Goldner, a management consultant and author of “Driven to Success: A 10-Point Checkup for Achieving High Performance in Business.”

Asking why you didn’t get the promotion will only put your boss on the defensive. “It’s far more productive to ask what you need to do to be the best-qualified person next time,” she said.

Unfortunately, managers can be vague when it comes to this kind of feedback, so press for specifics. “If they say you need to work on communication skills, for example, ask what needs work — written communication, group communication, one-on-one? You need to know what to focus on,” Ms. Goldner said.

Convey your desire to learn what skills you need to develop, Mr. Beeson said. If possible, speak not only with your boss, but also with senior executives you work with.

“Ask them for examples of how you have fallen short,” he advised. “At the end of the meeting, ask what two things above all others would most build their confidence in your ability to succeed at a higher level. It is usually one or two things holding someone back, and you want to know what those two things are.”

Be aware of your body language during the meeting, Mr. Maurer said. Your boss is watching you to see how you are taking the information. “Don’t get defensive,” he said.

Q. How do you demonstrate to your boss and other senior executives that you are working to develop the skills necessary for a promotion?

A. After the meeting, send your boss an action plan that reiterates your discussion and the goals that have been set, and that tells your boss what you need from him or her in order to be successful — perhaps periodic meetings to assess performance, Ms. Dutra said. “Mangers love the fact that someone is saying ‘I need your help,’” she said.

Q. How do you manage your anger and frustration while working toward the next promotion opportunity?

A. Managing those feelings is vital, because negativity in the office can be a career killer, said Shawn Achor, a teaching fellow in psychology at Harvard and C.E.O. of Aspirant, a management consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass.

Mr. Achor studies the effects of positive and negative attitudes on job performance. He says that people who have a sour attitude begin to deconstruct their social support systems at work and lose their connection to co-workers. “Then they become the toxic person on the team,” he said.

A positive attitude, however, brings more intelligence to a task, allows you to see more possibilities and work longer and better with those around you, he said.

Instead of dwelling on the disappointment, he said, write down a list of the things that are outside your control, like the economy or office politics — and focus your energy and time on what you can control, like your performance.

This is all good advice and much of it is included in The Empowered Paralegal, but my position is that you need not, and should not, wait for disappointment to occur before you

Obtain feedback

Ask what you need to do to do your job the best it can be done

Request specifics so you know what deserves your focus.

Convey your desire to learn what skills you need to develop.

Are aware of your body language at all times.

Set periodic meetings to assess performance,  saying ‘I need your help.’

Manage your anger and frustration because negativity in the office can be a career killer.

Have a positive attitude.

Write down a list of the things that are outside your control, like the economy or office politics — and focus your energy and time on what you can control, like your performance.

The keys are communication (in this case not only feedback but communicating your needs), a positive attitude and control. These are all part of taking charge of your career. As noted in a previous post here Chere Estrin of the Estrin Report and Know: The Magazine for Paralegals in her article on entitled “In Search of the Rest of Your Career” states

I am emphasizing career-changing rather than changing careers. This means taking charge of your present career and changing it around to best suit your needs rather than switching careers all together.

Take charge of your career on a daily basis. Don’t wait for a promotion opportunity or other event. If you take charge now, you will be the best person for the job when the promotion opportunity arises.