Career Story: Paralegal And Office Manager At A Criminal Defense Law Firm

Paralegal And Office Manager At A Criminal Defense Law Firm

Job Title: Office Manager- Law Firm

Type of Company: I work for a law firm which specializes in criminal defense.

Education: BS, Psychology, Bridgewater State College •• Paralegal Certificate, Center for Legal Studies

Previous Experience: Through college I held a job as an office manager for a ballroom dance studio. I am thinking about going to law school, so I took a paralegal certificate program and loved it.

Job Tasks: My daily activities involve administrative work such as filing, billing, and payroll. I also do work such as calling courts, managing the office calendar, contacting clients, writing motions, filing motions, and working on cases.

Beyond the basic daily activities, working in my office is never the same day to day. I could be taking a client to an appointment at probation one day, writing a parole memorandum for an attorney's edits the next, or reviewing discovery in a murder case to provide a summary for the lead attorney and to have an accurate grasp on where things are located within the file for easy access. There is never a dull day.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of the job are the client interaction, the excitement of working on high profile cases, and the fact that no two days are ever the same. In the office I work at, there are four attorneys and myself. I don't feel like one of hundreds, I feel like a valued and essential employee.

Though I hate to say any part of my job is bad, there are sometimes parts that are hard to deal with: less about the work, and more about the kinds of cases we work on. Reviewing discovery for a murder case is not for the faint or squeamish.

Job Tips:
1.) If you're going to work for a law firm, find one that focuses on a part of the law you love. While criminal defense may not be the most glamorous job, it suits me the best. I have my BS in Psychology, and often our clients deal with mental illness or addictions. Take classes which focus on what you want to do. Criminal justice classes are also great.

2.) Be prepared to ask questions. All of the education in the world could never fully prepare you for a real life job such as this. That is why so many employers seek candidates with experience. When you're just starting out, speak up. If you don't understand something, ask a mentor. If you don't know how a process works, go to the source and ask for direction.

3.) When starting to launch your career, seek an internship. I know the idea of working of free, especially in today's economy, may not seem like the best advice, but even if it is for 5 hours per week while you're finishing your degree or working a job you want to get out of, see if you can find a law office that is in need of some help. It is the perfect trade off. You get experience and resume bragging rights, and the firm gets an extra pair of hands.

Additional Thoughts: The most surprising thing about my job is that it is not a total desk job. Like I stated above, no two days are ever the same. Qualities for success in my job/career are an outgoing personality, organization, and you must be someone who does not take no for an answer. Determination and always looking for the right answer, are key.

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