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Happy Administrative Professionals Week!

It’s fitting that we recently devoted space in these pages to a paralegal’s lament. This week, the last week in April, is Administrative Professionals Week. It’s a secular holiday devoted to recognizing the work of secretaries, legal assistants, receptionists, paralegals, and other administrative support personnel.

And today is the culmination of the week: Administrative Professionals’ Day. As Elie wrote a few years ago, today is “the official day on which you need to make a financial display of appreciation… but people are supposed to be nice to their secretaries for the entire year week.”

Lawyers, it’s not too late to get your assistant a card or a gift. If you’re on the West Coast, stop at a gift shop on your way into the office. If you’re on the East Coast, step out during your lunch break.

Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the contributions of administrative professionals….

Attorneys know that good administrative assistants and paralegals are invaluable. They’re the people who will, as the Dewey paralegal memorably put it, “save your elitist ass” when it needs saving. When you need something turned around perfectly and promptly, you must be able to rely upon them. So treat them with respect and good cheer — or suffer the consequences.

Some lawyers complain — see, e.g., the comments to this post — that their support staff members aren’t as competent as they should be. If you’re a lawyer with that grievance, here’s a question for you: Have you clearly communicated your expectations to your administrative assistants or paralegals? Have you adequately trained them to provide the support that you need?

From one of our lawyer readers:

Please do a paralegal appreciation thread. There’s a para here at the firm whom nobody liked working with. This para was on one of my cases, which is when I realized: no one ever took the time to train this person. I spent about an hour a day with [paralegal X] over four months and completely rehabilitated X. Now I can’t get this paralegal on any of my cases because some of the big-shot partners DEMAND X!

But when I need something in a pinch, I know I can ALWAYS rely on this paralegal. Lawyers, suck up to support staff like it is your JOB. The paras, duplicating, and secretaries can bury you if they want to.

Consider this the requested open thread for appreciation of administrative professionals. Reasonable minds can disagree over how exactly to express gratitude — a card? cash? some other gift? — and you can continue that debate in the comments to this post. (Wikipedia recommends “flowers, candy, trinkets, lunch at a restaurant, or time off.” You don’t need to engage in crazy spending; a reader poll last year at Corporette suggests that most people spend $50 or less on gifts.)

There’s no disputing, however, that some expression of appreciation is warranted today. How is your workplace celebrating Administrative Professionals’ Day? Feel free to let us know, in the comments or by email (for particularly innovative — or egregious — ways of marking the occasion).

Administrative Professionals’ Day [Wikipedia]
PSA: Administrative Assistant’s Day is Almost Here! [Corporette]

Earlier: Dewey & LeBoeuf: A Paralegal’s Lament
Happy Administrative Professionals Week!

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