My first job was being a runner for an attorney’s office. I had just turned sixteen, finally had the freedom of driving with no stressed out Mom in the passenger seat, and I got to dress cute and take important looking documents places. It was the life as far as I was concerned!
Six years later, I find myself interning in a different law office. It’s a high stress atmosphere sometimes, and I occasionally find myself wondering if I should have just stuck to the errand running. All jokes aside, there are some undeniably valuable lessons I have learned during my time with the scales of justice.
1. Networking is the key to future success. I have found myself increasingly willing to initiate pleasantries when on the phone with other legal assistants or judicial assistants because this is a great insurance policy for future crisis. Building a good rapport with others is always a great idea, but I myself tend to be a shy, reserved gal. I have found though, that I am all for helping and receiving help from the networks I build. By fostering friendly relations with others in my field, I almost always have someone to call when I don’t know how to file a tricky subpoena or motion. I am always sure to pay the karma forward; who says cycles have to be vicious?
2. The best policy is a direct one. I am a people pleaser to my core; however, in the justice system, there is never a solution that pleases everyone. I have learned that if I can at least be up front with clients about their situations, even if they don’t like what they’re hearing, they appreciate the honesty. Sugar coating things only gives clients cavities, which require a copay, drill, and maybe even a crown to solve. (IOW: Don’t make more problems with people’s problems.)
3. Keep a paper trail. It is so important to document, document, document. At work, I keep a log of every single phone call I take or make, and I categorize my e-mails once I’ve read them, rather than deleting them. My number one tip to those working in fields where emotions run high, or a recall of past events is likely, is to keep a notebook handy at all times for writing down dates and times of important conversations and incidences. My university advisor keeps a notebook with notes of each appointment and phone call in which she partakes for this reason. We never remember every little detail, and we never know who may try and take advantage of unclear past details. It always pays off to have documentation.
4. It’s all here say without evidence. See #3. Paper trails are the building blocks of credibility, often times. Otherwise, it is all he-said-she-said.
5. Right does not always triumph wrong. This is hard for me. To this day. Look at the news, your Facebook feed, or watch an episode of Suits. Most of the time I find myself dealing with wrong, and wronger, and it is so frustrating. I don’t let myself lose hope in right though because often times those committing wrong after wrong are the ones who have given up hope.
Have any of you learned important lessons from jobs you’ve worked?