The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Several Massachusetts lawyers sing the praises of their paralegals’ and legal assistants’ contributions to their practices in George O’Brien’s article, “In Praise of the Paralegals”. Attorney Peter Shrair, a managing partner with Cooly Shrair, a full service firm with offices in Springfield and Northampton, “relies heavily” on his firm’s legal assistants.
Mr. Schrair says:
These professionals take on what he called a “collaborative, or cooperative, relationship” with lawyers, one that helps client matters get resolved quickly and more cost-effectively than they might otherwise, while allowing a lawyer to fully maximize his or her time and, most importantly, create more business for the firm.
The work of the following Massachusetts paralegals and legal assistants is discussed in the article:
Candy Goodreau, a legal assistant at Cooly Shrair: Mr. Shrair says, “She knows what I’m doing every minute of the day, whenever and wherever I am — because that’s the best way to stay in touch and the best way to get things done for the client quickly and efficiently.”
Stacee Crane, a paralegal in the probate department of Bacon Wilson, a full service firm in Springfield: She says of her responsibilities, “Already today I’ve been in meetings with two different attorneys and two different families; both had an elder going into a nursing home and wanted to know what to do to protect their assets. It’s rewarding to help people in those situations.”
Susan Gay, paralegal and office administrator at Skoler Abbott & Presser, a labor and employment firm with its main office in Springfield: Describing her job, “We act as the go-between,” she said, referring to clients and the lawyers they hire. “There’s a lot of research involved, but there are times when we get to assist the lawyers in the courtroom and experience everything, from A to Z. It’s interesting work, and every case is different.”
Christine Parylak, a bankruptcy and foreclosure specialist at Cooly Shrair: She works with attorney John Davis, who “oversees everything, and I work under his supervision to meet the client’s requirements, handling all the form work and other details.”
Maureen Carneiro, a commercial and real-estate paralegal at Bacon Wilson: Her work is “carried out behind the scenes, mostly,” she said, noting that, with a typical closing, an attorney will take the initial information for a transaction and essentially open the file. Carneiro is one of three paralegals in the real-estate department who will, by and large, take it from there, and hand the file back to the lawyer with the completed paperwork filled out.”
Ms. Crane summarizes one of the best aspects of the paralegal profession:
“You learn critical-thinking skills and research — what to look for and where to find that information,” she said of what her college program and others like it focus on. “But the real learning comes on the job.”
And this learning never stops, said Crane, adding that paralegals are continuously honing their skills, through both experience and professional seminars where they learn about changes in the law and other matters.
See Business West Online.