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Litigation Paralegal

Karen Gillette

Tell us about your work---what do you do? Insurance Defense work specializing in construction defect claims What skills are needed? One needs a high level of organizational skills , the ability to conduct legal research , knowledge of the Internet, general computer and word processing skills, the ability to maintain a calendar, good communication skills (both written and oral), and it also helps to have the ability to take charge of a situation and make decisions. What was your major? A.A.S. - Paralegal studies How did you get started in your career? After receiving my degree, I landed my first paralegal job at a very small law firm doing collection work. After two years of collection paralegal experience, I moved on to my first litigation firm. What experience do you need in this job? Of course, paralegal experience is the best . My suggestion is to start with a very small firm that won't mind training you and move up from there. Legal secretary experience is also good or any other type of experience that might help with the type of law you want to work in. For example, I worked for an insurance company for 10 years prior to becoming a paralegal -- this really helped in obtaining a position with a firm that does insurance defense work. Describe your "typical" workday: On any given day, the following duties may be performed: drafting motions, discovery and discovery responses; communicating with clients, opposing counsel and co-counsel via phone calls and letters; keeping files organized and up to date; keeping track of when pleadings, etc. are due; keeping your attorney informed of when things are due; scheduling depositions; performing legal research, jobsite inspections and witness interviews; and finally keeping track of your time and accurately billing for this time. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Dealing with hostile witnesses or angry opposing counsels. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The sense of accomplishment you get after seeing a case through to completion. In addition, knowing a case inside and out so that you're always able to help your attorney is rewarding as is being part of the team that successfully prepares a case for trial. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Keep in mind that it sometimes takes several years of experience before landing that perfect, high responsibility, high paying, paralegal position. The best suggestion I have for someone considering this field is to make sure you are the type of person that is extremely organized, able to handle several tasks at one time and willing to work long hours when preparing for trial. I highly recommend pursuing a paralegal career. It is a lot of hard work, but well worth it. I love my job -- and how many people can say that about their job!