San Diego County attorneys, colleagues and legal experts had the opportunity to nominate outstanding paralegals in their field. The nomination process began in January, with 64 nominations submitted.
A panel of independent judges scored the nominees, based on the following five criteria, submitted by Elizabeth Balfour, an associate of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.
Team Player Attitude: The legal secretary acts as a critical part of the legal team, and the best secretaries never sit on the sidelines; they anticipate where they might be needed and step up to the plate. The team player attitude is critical to an effective and well-run legal office, as high-quality legal work is the result of many different pieces of a puzzle fitting together.
Substantive Knowledge: Secretaries must master hundreds of procedures, from proofs of service to preparing patent office forms. The best secretaries use this substantive knowledge to do their jobs as professionally and effectively as possible. Knowledgeable secretaries make the lawyers they support look like superstars.
Technical & Computer Savvy: Top-notch secretaries keep up with changing technology, navigate the Web and can even help attorneys troubleshoot uncooperative equipment.
Public Relations & Personality: Legal secretaries, in their communications with clients, opposing counsel and court staff, are ambassadors of the law firm. They are on the front lines, and those that handle themselves in difficult situations with patience, perseverance and creativity create lasting impressions.
"X-Factor": Some legal secretaries display qualities and achievements that are extraordinary and unique, whether it's going beyond the call of duty or being an extraordinary leader in the field.
Scoring was done on the following scale: 5 points possible for honesty and integrity (weighted x3); 5 points possible for professionalism (weighted x2); 5 points possible for community outreach; 5 points possible for enthusiasm and teamwork; and 5 extra points possible for the x-factor; for a possible total of 40 points.
The panel met on Feb. 1 at The Daily Transcript offices to pick the 20 finalists.
The Daily Transcript is privileged to present the following section highlighting the peer-nominated and independently judged best and brightest in San Diego's legal secretary arena.