Search This Blog

About Me

My photo
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Another Lesson Learned

Today I learned something I had always expected about myself: criticism makes me better. A better paralegal, a better student, a better person. Being made aware of my specific mistakes only increases my potential and reinforces confidence.

But why would criticism give me confidence? you might ask. It is negative and induces a feeling, however fleeting, of self-loathing. But I enjoy it for the same reason that I always enjoyed A-'s in school. Criticism tells me there is still room for improvement, still much to learn, and still something to strive for. It gives me a purpose.

Today I was on the cutting end of some remarks from a judge. To his credit, he answered his own phone when I called expecting to speak with his assistant. During our short conversation, before I became flustered and handed him over to the Boss, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that no, I have not thoroughly examined Rule 4 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure to the depth that I should. He also led me to second guess myself on a few other matters that had nothing to do with the case at hand. The conversation had a domino effect. One by one, several of my previously held beliefs toppledover under the weight of this judge's opinion. And all that from a one minute conversation.

Once I had passed him to the Boss, I began reading Rule 4. I've read it before, but this time, I broke it down into elements the way they teach you in your first paralegal class or your first year of law school. The conjunctions gave me problems. Without commas (thanks, Alabama), it is difficult to decide which and goes with which or, or if the or doesn't go with any and at all and in fact sits courageously alone. So I went to case law. All because a judge held a mirror up to my lazy face. The case law told me exactly which or went with which and, and it was not the and I wanted it to attach to. I would have preferred the or to remain out there on his own. But I suppose sometimes there is something to be said for conformity, especially in the law, where it is beaten into our brains on a regular basis. Of course, I think the Boss was laughing at my over zealous study of such a seemingly insignificant rule of procedure. At least he kept the laughing on the inside.

My point is this: that criticism leads to deeper understanding and better learning. I am thankful that the judge made me feel just a little smaller than I wanted to feel at the time. His honest question led my own honest questions of myself. Now that I have read, nay, studied Rule 4, I know how to answer that question next time. Of course, with this better understanding, I am hoping there won't be a next time.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful lesson, Melissa! I hope you don't mind that this post will be included in my Professionalism class tomorrow night.

    Earlier today on my blog I discussed how breaking laws and assignments (and via "The Paralegal Mentor" even meal planning) down into elements is fundamental to sound practice and professionalism. The fascinating part of your post is that you reacted as a professional to criticism professionally by reverting to the fundamentals! Well-founded criticism, once analyzed and processed, can and should lead all professionals to improvement.

    That being said, I question whether perhaps the judge was less than judicial in making his point.