From Pearl Harbor to Legal Secretary

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17Nov2013

From Pearl Harbor to Legal Secretary

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By Barbara Lynch, Atkinson-Baker

pearl harborA Unique Pivotal Point

Many of us can trace our line of previous jobs to find that pivotal point which steered us into the legal profession. For Adele Naito, a legal secretary in Honolulu, that turning point came on the heels of working at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base Library when, one summer after that, she was in charge of the Ford Island Library.

An Unlikely Beginning to the Legal Field

Ford Island is located within Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and it houses several naval facilities. Ancient Hawaiians called the island Moku-umeume—the isle of attraction. It is currently named after Dr. Seth Ford, a Boston physician, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

In the early ’80s, Adele, a locally born Hawaii native of American-Japanese ancestry, commuted by ferry from Pearl Harbor mainland to Ford Island to work at the Library. Working there not only represented her being a personal part of history, but it also helped her identify her work skills and her likes and dislikes so she could pick a future career field wisely.

“When my boss entrusted me to manage the library when the librarian at Ford Island went on vacation, I was able to put my skills to good use and it was then I realized how deep my love for books and people really was,” Adele said. “Those two main ingredients are what attracted me to the legal profession years ago and they continue to be rewarding aspects of my job today.”

“Over the years, what has affected my stress levels the most has been the type of bosses I’ve had,” she noted. “My current boss alleviates a lot of the pressure by rolling up his sleeves and jumping in rather than pointing fingers and getting angry. His approach and great attitude not only helps get things done, but it really sets the balance and tone for the entire office.”

Adele currently works for multiple attorneys at Miyagi, Myhre & Tsuchida (formerly known as Miyagi, Nohr & Myhre) in Honolulu and is faced with the daily challenges common to the legal field: pressure to meet deadlines, last-minute changes and working with various personality types. Not only are these traits common within the walls of legal offices, they are almost always the nature of the work itself.

Another way that helps Adele deal with potentially high stress levels is to spend time with her friends who are also legal professionals. “The comradery we have and the way we can vent to one another is a great way to take a step back and exhale and not let the stress get to us,” she said.

Possible Breeding Ground for Stress

Depositions, in particular, can be a breeding ground for stress because there are so many elements that are involved to keep it moving and stay on target. One has to bounce back quickly from setbacks, deal with obstacles, problems and last-minute changes.

Adele specifically talked about her most challenging part of the deposition process: out-of-state filings. “When last-minute, out-of-state filings for depositions come up, it can really throw you if you let it. Even though I know it’s inevitable, it never fails that it’s always a source of added stress,” she said.

The legal environment is intense, high-energy and deadline-driven. As professionals in the field, you know firsthand that having your “game on” at all times is required. Whether it is depositions or other areas of planning that are frustrating, you take on the challenges daily and overcome what needs to be overcome.

Like Adele, there was a time when you weren’t in the legal field and were drawn to certain aspects of it. Maybe you didn’t enter in via Pearl Harbor, but you crossed a bridge of your own which has led to years of fulfillment in a challenging arena.

By Barbara Lynch, Atkinson-Baker

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