Allison Lassiter was recently awarded the “Unsung Legal Hero” award from North Carolina Lawyers Weekly.
Lassiter believes she was selected because she has a “helper’s heart,” she said, but she’s still a bit unsure why she was selected. Perhaps that humble strive for kindness is why.
As Firm Administrator for Steffan and Associates, P.C., Lassiter wears many hats. Sometimes she’s the receptionist, office manager, or bookkeeper. Other times, she does paralegal work, schedules appointments, and talks to clients – “a little bit of everything,” she said.
Selected among 20 people statewide, the Unsung Legal Heroes award recognizes non-lawyer employees in law offices who go the extra mile in serving clients and the community.
Steffan and Associates, immediately knew Lassiter was a prime candidate.
“When I saw that, I thought, ‘Well, I’m sending it in for Allison for sure,’” she said. The award recipients were listed in the Dec. 24 edition of the publication.
Lassiter has worked for Steffan and Associates for a total of five years. She worked for a larger company for a couple years in the middle of her tenure at Steffan and Associates.
Her return two years ago is a testament to the friendship Steffan and Lassiter formed through her time previously working in the office.
“Beyond doing an excellent job with the things she does in the office, what makes Allison unusual is that you can tell that she genuinely cares about the clients,” Steffan said. “A lot of them she gets to know personally. Our clients just love Allison.”
Lassiter worked for Steffan and Associates for a little over two years before moving to a different company. After a few years, Steffan sought Lassiter’s advice and community connections to fill the position that had just again become vacant.
“When [Kim] was telling me that she was going to have this opening, I just kind of took a leap of faith and threw it out there, ‘Well, what do you think about me coming back?’” Lassiter recalls. “We started talking from there. Once I had worked for a much larger company, it really made me appreciate a lot of the things the smaller company can offer.”
Lassiter is a self described “people person,” as she stated in a questionnaire from Lawyers Weekly, and she strives to “help people out as much as possible.”
It seems her helper’s heart shines through often, through her genuine care and warm welcome.
Beyond her inviting personality, Steffan said she believes Lassiter is essential to her office because she treats the small law office from the perspective of a small business owner.
Lassiter and her husband previously owned a small retail business in Burlington, closing in 2007 due to the recession. This background gives Lassiter a unique eye when bookkeeping and managing the office.
“That’s really helpful to me as a business owner,” Steffan said. “She kind of thinks like a business owner does, in terms of how can you save money on things, how can you be more efficient, how can you deliver better client service, how can you improve processes, all of those things. Those are just intuitive to her – and you don’t find that with just everybody.”
Lassiter goes beyond the basics to make clients feel heard and understood, especially with clients dealing with dementia.
Her father passed away after several years of having dementia, a time in which Lassiter learned different and effective ways to communicate with him and those around him.
As a general civil practice, Steffan and Associates client base rages from people in their 20s to clients in their 80s and 90s. They have a fair amount of clients who contact the office to get their wills and powers of attorney in order.
“Those kinds of things, particularly when there is a dementia diagnosis, puts an urgency to that,” Steffan noted.
Lassiter believes this client communication is one of her biggest professional accomplishments.
“Earning the trust and confidence of our clients, and the attorneys and paralegal where I work – I don’t take this lightly,” she said in the questionnaire. “Our clients trust me to assist with matters that affect their personal lives, families, or businesses. My boss and co-workers trust and have confidence that I will assist them in whatever way I can, be accurate and self-sufficient in my duties, and be courteous and kind to clients, when they call or come to the office.”
Lassiter said Steffan and Associates is definitely a “teaching firm,” as Steffan encourages her to learn new things in the office, often explaining how and why the law applies in specific client cases.
“Allison has the patience and perseverance to wade through any government or corporate bureaucracy to get the answer to a question or to solve a client’s problem, finding the person who knows the answer or who has the authority to address the matter,” Steffan added about Lassiter’s work ethic. “When asked to help, whether with the likes of DMV, Social Security, or a big bank, it’s like she’s on a mission to get what is needed. She doesn’t give up. Clients and the firm appreciate that perseverance.”
North Carolina’s Lawyers Weekly published an open call for nominations and Kim Steffan, an attorney with