My name is Louise Warren. I am a legal assistant at a hardworking, hard playing, edgy Federal Criminal Defense Law Firm: Terpening Law PLLC. Before I started on this journey in the legal profession, I was a nanny. I had to multitask and respond at the rate children change their focus from one thing to the other. I had to move and move quickly. I still have to move and move quickly. There is a new component to my multitasking and rapid response time – perfection.
My first few months as a legal assistant were brutal. I made more mistakes than I can count. And every mistake in this profession is big; they all matter. A good number of my mistakes stemmed from being green. I had never done this before, any of it. However, most of my mistakes could have been corrected before becoming permanent. All I needed to do was s-l-o-w d-o-w-n, and hurry. Everything that needed to be typed and sent and printed needed to be done in a flash and done with perfection. There is an art to “slow down and hurry up” – to getting tasks done quickly and correctly, for going back to correct mistakes that would have been caught in the “slow down” part of “hurry up” takes more time. There is a pace at which you can work quickly and slow down just enough to make sure that all your words are spelled correctly and in the right place and that the 90 pages of a filing you printed for a binder are in the correct order. Yes, the printer will sometimes print pages out of order. And, no, spell check and grammar check do not pick up all mistakes. Check everything. Before turning over a completed task or document, I have someone else in the office look over what I have created. It is very helpful to have a pair of fresh eyes comb my work for any discrepancies. Regardless of how quickly your task needs to be completed, stopping to check your work and having someone else check it before handing it over or clicking the send button will ALWAYS save you time and abashment.
My response time has greatly improved, and I don’t make nearly as many mistakes these days as I did in my first few months. And I still have heaps to learn and improve. Learning to slow down and hurry up is an ever-evolving skill. It is far better to take more time and hand in quality work than to hand in shoddy work in a split second. The mutterings of the White Rabbit in Alice In Wonderland ring truer than true: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”