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Award of Outstanding Legal Administrative Professional

by David Swadden on May 4, 2023

Celebrating Administrative Professionals' Day

About the Award of Outstanding Legal Administrative Professional

A few months ago, Tracument decided to request submissions for an award we wanted to give out in honour of Administrative Professionals' Day. Many of our users in law firms are not the lawyers at that firm, but those who work with them at every level — paralegals, clerks, LAAs, assistants, and firm administrators.

While some lawyers do work in an administrative capacity, we essentially wanted the competition to be open to anyone in a firm who is not a lawyer (sure, lawyers deserve recognition too, but we wanted to keep to the spirit of the day). This is a personal message about that process.

I will confess that I was nervous we would not get enough responses, or that they would be lacking in detail, submitted quickly, or otherwise perfunctory. This is not criticism. We know people are busy, and taking the time to acknowledge a colleague is often the last thing on one's mind.

I have spent a considerable amount of time across hundreds of law firms over the past 20 years, and they are stressful, high-stakes places. Law is an extraordinarily disproportionate practice — a client's whole life can turn on a piece of legal work. For a law firm and its employees, there are hundreds of clients, and this is a normal day. As a consequence (and rightly so), most of the patience, kindness, deference, and gratitude in a law firm flows to its clients, and even strong working relationships can go without comment or compliment.

Keen Appreciation for Legal Administrative Professionals

I was very wrong, and now — quite unexpectedly — Tracument is in possession of an incredible number of messages of appreciation and admiration from across Canada, each dedicated from one coworker to another.

On an individual basis, they are uniformly uplifting and perceptive. Taken as a whole, they are almost emotionally overwhelming. There were so many deserving winners, we found it nearly impossible to pick one, though we did: congratulations to Catharine Lee at Lam Legal Trial Lawyers who truly sounds like a colleague we all need!

Photo of Catharine: Catharine Lee, Administrative Assistant at Lam Legal

The rest of the referrals were equally encouraging:

  • Many who were nominated have been at their job for decades;
  • Others are brand new and already holding their firm together;
  • People are out there organising last-minute Christmas parties, redoing a firm's entire set of policies, and teaching new employees how to use all of the firm's software;
  • Many, many nominees were devoting their time to mentoring others;
  • So many firms are lucky to have people going well above and beyond their job description;
  • Clients are lucky to have people working on their files who remember and care about every detail;
  • Many have coworkers so vital to their practice that they have followed them to a different firm;
  • One person was nominated by seven of her coworkers; and
  • All the applications showed a keen appreciation of their colleagues' efforts.

Quotes of Heartwarming Messages for Legal Administrative Professionals

Here are some of our favourite lines:

“I cannot honestly understand or comprehend how she does it.”

“He is diligent, reliable and intelligent. If a problem arises, he is good at troubleshooting problems quickly and helps to maintain a smooth and efficient working environment.”

“Organized, well spoken and goes above and beyond for their clients.”

“She is dedicated to the industry as a whole. Just because she is a paralegal, that doesn't stop her from training the new receptionist, tidying up the office, ordering supplies, etc. I feel her view is, ‘if the firm succeeds, I succeed’.”

“She is the first to pitch in when co-workers need help, even if it is arriving at the office early on a trial morning for prep on someone else's file.”

“My practice would be in disarray without her and our current success is because of her.”

And, my personal favourite line from any application (I think we all have someone who comes to mind when we read this one):

“Every firm should have a Kim!”

Share Praises and Appreciation with Other Legal Administrative Professionals

I will close with this — what surprised and heartened me most in reading all the submissions was the extent to which it is clear that people see one another's efforts. Your coworkers see your efforts, they see what you do well, and they see the things that you hope they will see because they are the things you are most proud of about yourself. Your coworkers see all this, and they are very grateful.

I encourage everyone to share this praise and appreciation with those around you. Please do not keep it to yourself or wait for us to run this again next year. I can say for certain that, even without knowing or working with those who were nominated, reading these submissions was a true bright spot — a boost to the Tracument team's mood and energy, and a reminder that I also get to work with a fantastic team, for which I am also very grateful.

Look for this competition next year — we will run it again, perhaps with more awards, because it is my absolute favourite thing we have done in 2023. Sign up for our newsletter to receive an update about the award next year.

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