July 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm (Legal Professional Tips)

This post over on the Lawyerist prompted me to think about Gatekeeping. It has been some time since I have blogged with tips from my (former) life as a paralegal and I saw this as an opportunity to pay homage to the profession that has carried me so much farther than I had ever anticipated.

Gatekeeping. We hate to be “gatekeeped” (made-up definition: calling to reach the exec/lawyer/head honcho but instead speaking with an assistant/subordinate/message taker. Our attorneys love us (paralegals/legal assistants/receptionists) to gatekeep for them because it allows them to stay productive without getting sidetracked (or bombarded) with non-urgent phone calls/solicitations/annoyances.  The trouble is, gatekeeping is almost an art form that has to be handled with utmost tact and delicacy.  In other words, don’t piss off the wrong (or right) people and don’t make it obvious that the gatekeepee is being screened for importance.

I was lucky to have one boss who insisted on taking his own calls because he found it was better to address the call immediately as opposed to having to remember (and put off) returning the call.  My other boss, on the other hand, never took his own calls and even had his firm voicemail transfer calls into my voicemail. He would also forward messages from his firm-issued cell phone voicemail to my voicemail. (Grrrrrr.)  While this may have provided him the opportunity to keep working uninterrupted, this kept me from completing my tasks. Aaaaaand, I am completely ADD. So, being interrupted every 15 mins to take a phone message, which often required the advice/response of an attorney kept me from staying on-task and was frustrating for the client.

Regardless, read the Lawyerist article, I found it very insightful and know many of my readers will wholeheartedly identify with the issue of gatekeeping.


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