Liz Staley takes pride in helping the clients of Staley Law Firm through difficult times. Find out what she has to say about her career as a paralegal:
1. How long have you been a paralegal at Staley Law Firm?
8 years, though I’ve been a paralegal before that for various law firms. All combined, I’ve been a paralegal for about 14 years in multiple practice areas.
2. What do paralegals do?
Anything and everything it takes to keep the office running smoothly. I meet and greet clients, both on the phone and in person, update client files with information received through the mail, faxes, and phone calls, assist clients in many different ways, collect and coordinate medical information, write demands, order supplies, make deposits and pay bills.
3. What are the skills and traits of a successful paralegal?
I’d say the most important quality for a paralegal in our area of practice is to be personable and understanding of our clients’ struggles and difficulties. Most of our clients are suffering both physically and financially and it’s important to empathize with them, even if they are difficult at times. Beyond that, a paralegal must be flexible – always prepared to adjust. Paralegals must be very good at multi-tasking to be successful, because law firms are often chaotic places to work.
4. What type of paralegal are you?
In a smaller law practice like Staley Law Firm, everyone has to step up and be willing and prepared every day to do whatever is necessary for our clients’ cases. So, I’m a do-everything type of paralegal. When I come in each day, I earnestly try to be the best paralegal I can be and do whatever is necessary for our client’s success. Everyone at Staley Law Firm gives 100%, and that what makes our firm a successful one.
5. How many attorneys do you work with at Staley Law Firm?
Right now, our firm has two full-time attorneys. I assist both of them in handling the caseload.
6. What kind of education best prepares a paralegal to be successful?
Many paralegals seek formal training through a paralegal program. Those contain courses specifically designed to train a paralegal with the basic skills necessary for any type of legal practice. Apart from that, a general business degree is helpful because it covers a wide range of topics and skills necessary to be a good paralegal. Once the basic skills are taught, though, the real education comes through experience. I don’t believe there’s any substitute for on-the-job experience when it comes to being a seasoned, well-trained paralegal.
7. What is the best aspect of your job?
The best part of my job, truly, is helping people who are experiencing difficult times through no fault of their own. When I meet our clients, I’m aware I’m seeing them at one of the lowest points of their lives due to circumstances outside of their control. To help them and see those circumstances remedied over time is one of the greatest joys of my work.
8. What are some challenges in the job?
I think this goes for most paralegals, but for me the most difficult aspect of paralegal work is having to juggle lots of things at one time.
9. What advice do you have for an individual thinking about pursuing a career as a paralegal?
My advice for anyone seeking to become a paralegal is to be willing to be flexible on a day-to-day basis with what will come across your desk and into your office.
10. What motivated you to pursue this career?
Though I had worked in law firms before my marriage, my true motivation to being a life-long paralegal came about because I married a lawyer!