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An Unexpected Day in the Life of a Paralegal

by Laura Herrera, M.S. | June 12, 2017

Laura Herrera

My most favorite part of my career as a paralegal is that each day brings something different. Sometimes fun, sometimes difficult, sometimes challenging, but never the same thing two days in a row.

Family Law

During my 20+ year career, I have worked in many different areas, but my specialty is family law. I enjoy working on guardianships and adoptions the most, as it’s exciting to see families adding a new member—a very rewarding part of family law. Normally it’s a happy occasion once an adoption or a guardianship is granted, and something we can all celebrate.

In addition to being a paralegal in a small firm, I’m also the Office Administrator. This means that I make sure the bills are paid, payroll is processed, employees are trained, clients are billed, questions are answered, and some days… that the trash is taken out.

Bird Catcher

Last week, I was also a bird catcher! Somehow, a poor little bird managed to find its way into our office. I chuckled when it flew into the attorney’s office and stayed….until she said, “I have to go to court. You deal with it.” Well, it was peacefully sitting on the attorney’s bookshelf, where I was hoping it would stay while I formulated a plan.

What was my plan? I went to Google and searched for a prayer to St. Francis which would make the bird fly out of the office on its own without me having to try to chase it. While seeking the assistance of St. Francis, the bird buzzed by my head and sat on my window. My next solution was to call a “critter removal” company. Luckily, the attorney’s husband dropped by. I handed him a shirt and told him that he was just promoted to bird catcher!

Security and Repair

Besides our bird adventures, we have also learned many construction skills at the law office. One morning at 4:00 a.m., the alarm company called me; which I found that strange because I know I am third on the list. They said a motion sensor was going off and the alarm was tripped. I drove around the building and found a broken window. Not feeling brave enough to enter by myself, I called for a police officer. We found glass everywhere. The culprit had climbed over our very expensive copier (which I’m pretty sure should not be used as a step-stool) and tried to steal a printer. It must have had too many tangled cords, as the thief left with nothing.

Once the police left, we had to deal with the broken window. So off to the hardware store we went, with no clue as to how to repair a window ourselves. We left the hardware store with duct tape and plastic in hand. It wasn’t pretty, but it did hold nicely and kept the cold out until the window guy came.

Emergency Dispatch

Another fun duty at my office is that of “Caller of 911”. As we’re located on a busy street with a great view from my office, I am the one to usually report an accident. We’ve also had an individual claiming to have a heart attack on the front step. The receptionist came to get me and said “Someone said they are having a heart attack on the front step. What do I do?” I’m not sure why coming to me always seems to be the case, but then again, everyone thinks I have all the answers.

The Q&A Lady

As the senior paralegal in the building, I also answer staff questions and questions posed to me by potential clients. Stuff like, “Can a parent terminate their parental rights voluntarily?” And “Do I think about the clients when I go home at night?” My answers: “They could through a step-parent adoption.” And “For the most part, no, I really don’t. Of course, there are some cases that will keep you up at night. However, for the most part, I enjoy my family and I focus on the positives rather than dwell on the negatives of my client’s lives.”

While I have many such stories over my 20 year career, the best compliment I receive from clients is that they appreciate my caring attitude and my help. There have been many instances where a client from years ago has come back to our office. It is gratifying when they say they returned because of me. While a career as a paralegal can be stressful, if you treat everyone with kindness and keep a positive attitude, it will come back to you.

A paralegal career is a very rewarding one and I would always recommend it. Bird catcher on the other hand, may not be a good career choice, especially when you’re not a fan of birds.

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