The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Job Title: Full-time paralegal, all-the-time mommy
Employer: I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. And who’s got time for all that?
Years of Paralegal Experience: 13 years….and I’m now feeling old.
Education/Degrees: Associate Degree.
Specialty Areas: Insurance defense, specifically medical malpractice defense for the past 10 years.
Future Professional Goal: I want to return to school to earn my bachelor’s degree soon. Although most firms in my area don’t require a four-year degree if you have a certificate plus experience, things may change and I’d feel more secure if I did have it. Besides, it would make me happy, and that’s really the important thing.
Paralegal Practice Tip: CYA is the first thing that comes to mind. Takes notes on EVERYTHING. I’ve become a compulsive note-taker, and I keep a notepad by my keyboard and also by my phone. I also created subfolders in my Outlook inbox for different cases and save emails there until the case is over. The really important ones are saved electronically in our document management system, but sometimes the seemingly not-so-important ones come in handy in the future.
Also, one of the things they don’t tell you is that you need to develop thick skin. Attorneys are all different, but in working with your own bosses, as well as attorneys from different firms, you need to be able to take criticism, or even off-hand comments about your work, constructively. Learn from it and don’t take it personally.
Favorite Way to Deal with Work-Related Stress: Yoga and a very big wine glass. Not necessarily in that order.
Greatest Strength As a Legal Professional: Very curious (read: nosy) and the tenacity of a bulldog. Being well organized is obvious, but having intellectual curiosity and really wanting to know everything about your case is essential in my medical malpractice cases. I need to understand the illness or procedure in order to thoroughly analyze the medical records and to really know the facts well so I can research the medical issues.
Favorite Internet Resource: I wouldn’t call it my “favorite”, but one I could not do my job without would be Pubmed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez Yes, it’s pretty obvious and not a very “sexy” choice, but it’s vital for my medical research. I also love eMedicine – http://emedicine.medscape.com/ – for a good, solid overview on a medical condition or procedure, with references for peer-reviewed medical journal articles. It often yields more valuable information for me than a resource directed towards the patient or consumer, without needing a medical degree to decipher the mumbo jumbo. It also provides a good jumping-off point for research into more specific issues related to my case.
Last Book You Read: Raising Your Spirited Child. Seriously. When I’m not reading medical records or journal articles, I’m busy trying to find out how to raise the Hellion, my 4 year old, without one of us eventually winding up in jail.
Cat or Dog Person: Both, but I’m partial to my cat because she was my first baby and she’s still spunky and kickin’ it at 16 years old. Just please don’t tell my dog, okay?
Recipe Your Family Begs You to Cook: Anything really! They’re usually just happy when I have the time and/or energy to cook at all. (Helloooo Crockpot.) The Hellion would be happy if I made spaghetti and meatballs every night.
Favorite Quote: I was once stressing about something in a medical chart, when my attorney told me, “We don’t build the boat, we just sail it.” On the defense side, you care just as much about the case and your client as you would on the plaintiff’s side. Let’s face it, the cases that go down to the wire or go to trial are the ones that are “close”. The home runs get settled or dismissed quickly. This quote helps me to remember that we don’t have any control over what did or did not happen before we were involved. (Type A much?) We’re there to help navigate the case through the often murky waters of litigation. I might also need to dial my control issues down. Just a smidge.