Today’s The Connecticut Law Tribune reports on Patricia B. “Pattie” Chouinard who recently received the first ever Connecticut Paralegal of the Year award. The reward seems well deserved for many reasons. Here are some of the comments from the story that emphasize Pattie’s professionalism:
“Don’t ever turn any [assignment] down,” Chouinard said she tells college students that she mentors and new associate lawyers she helps train. “The best thing you can do when someone asks you to help with X, Y and Z is to say, ‘Absolutely,’ and learn as you go. The hands-on experience is so much more valuable than anything else.”
She’s able to balance the demands of about 20 business lawyers who need her assistance morning, noon, night and even some weekends. All the while she plays critical leadership roles with the Central Connecticut Paralegal Association and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
She also coordinates the projects and workloads for the other paralegals in the business law department. And she assists the firm with orientation and training of new associates.
“She makes a client’s problems her own and addresses them in a way that makes sure the client is well taken care of,” added Brooks. “If she needs to be here at night, in the wee hours of the morning, she’ll do that.”
Chouinard is especially proud of her involvement with the Central Connecticut Paralegal Association. For 20 years, she’s served on the group’s board of directors in various capacities. She’s currently vice president.
Chouinard has also participated in a bevy of CCPA pro bono activities, including annual Utility Day events at which the paralegals are partnered with Statewide Legal Services. The volunteers help consumers work out schedules to pay off their overdue utility bills.
Last but not least, Chouinard sometimes mentors paralegal students and some, she said, have gone on to become attorneys. “It’s wonderful. Students are like sponges and soak up anything and are willing to learn anything,” Chouinard said.
Before leaving Pattie, I’d like to extend kudos to her firm. Here’s what Pattie has to say about them:
She adds that the attorneys at Shipman & Goodwin have always made the firm’s paralegals “an integral part of the team…”
Shipman & Goodwin clearly have reaped the rewards of this attitude regarding paralegals while providing an environment where Pattie has been able to fully actualize her potential to the benefit of herself, her profession, her employers, the legal system, and the public. Congratulations to both.
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