My career in the legal field started as a happy accident. The job market was a bit slow in my area. There were not a lot of open positions for someone with my skill set. I decided to drop a resume off at a local attorney’s office. There was no advertisement of an opening or indicated they needed help, but I figured it would not hurt to leave my resume. Entering the law office, two individuals sat at the front office. It turned out it was the attorney and his law clerk. I smiled and explained I was looking for employment and wanted to drop off a resume. We ended up talking for a few minutes, mostly feisty banter. An hour later, my phone rang asking to come back for an interview in the morning.
After a brief interview the next day, I was hired to be the paralegal and front office help for the single attorney practice. I had no previous legal experience, but the attorney saw potential for me to pick it up quickly with my background and communication skills. A law clerk assisted for a few hours each day. He taught me the ropes of the practice. The law clerk showed me how to properly form documents and the process for preparation. It was a lot to learn in a short amount of time. After work, I spent a lot of time reading about the legal process in order to excel in my new position. It took me a couple weeks to get up to speed. Since the law practice handled a variety of case types, I had to learn about every aspect of the law.
Each new person had a unique story. My heart still goes out to the families in turmoil that came through the doors. Some were being torn apart by divorce, others child custody issues and occasionally there were disagreements over the estate of a recently passed love one. The Individuals hurt by circumstances beyond their control needed special handling. I saw workplace injury issues, car accidents and even individuals who were physically attacked suing for the injuries they sustained. in car accidents, physical attacks, and in the workplace.
The most interesting cases were the criminal defendants that came into the office. There were some interesting characters that game into the office for criminal defense. Innocent or guilty, it was important to give the client the best defense possible. A client may feel fully justified in their actions, but they were clearly on the wrong side of the law. It was difficult to get that fact across to the individual. I saw both state and federal court criminal cases be handled within the office.
The stories clients came in with were rarely as clear cut as they initially appeared. People twist the truth to suit their side of the story, sometimes leaving out important facts. It became a necessary skill to see through the story and ask questions to get to the details that were missing. Being a paralegal taught me a great deal about how people think. That insight has not only helped me within my career, but life in general. I enjoyed my time as a paralegal so much that I pursued an Associates Degree of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies.