Be nice, and other ways to strengthen your legal team

When I was just starting out, most “new lawyer” advice I received included (1) don’t run up the Westlaw/Lexis research bill, and (2) be nice to paralegals and secretaries. Applying the first rule was easy — our firm had an unlimited research plan (oh, how I miss those days!). The second one, while not difficult, is a little more nuanced than I first realized. The traditional line of thought is simply that brand-new lawyers (who, understandably, know very little), should be nice to those who do a lot of legwork to support the lawyers, who can teach the lawyers many of the tricks of the trade (how many of us knew the mechanics of answering interrogatories right out of law school?), and who can make our lives miserable if we don’t respect them.