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Kimberly L. Sawyer: Paralegal, Hall & Evans, LLC; President, Colorado Association of Professional Paralegals and Legal Assistants

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<<"I guess you could say that it was just destiny," she said. "I was in the right place at the right time and was offered an attractive position to work with a very good friend of mine the summer after I graduated from high school. I enjoyed the work so much that I decided to study to become a paralegal."

It was when Sawyer and her husband moved from Texas to Denver in 1999 that she interviewed with and went to work for Hall & Evans, a firm specializing in insurance defense work. She works mostly in the area of medical malpractice.



"My job consists of assisting my attorney in the day-to-day management of each file as it progresses, disclosure and discovery work, locating and contacting of witnesses, investigative research when necessary, and all aspects of trial preparation and support," she said.

Sawyer's favorite part of being a paralegal is figuring out what would benefit the firm's clients the most and working hard on their behalf.

"[I enjoy] the satisfaction I have at the end of each day knowing that I did my best and the fact that I am, in some small way, making a difference in someone's life by helping them through a difficult situation," she said.

Sawyer, who acknowledges that paralegal work can be overwhelming, said it's challenging when she receives numerous tasks at the same time that all have the same priority.

"Sometimes you just have to sit back and look at what's on your plate from a different perspective, take a deep breath, and dig in," she said.

Because she has worked as a paralegal since 1991, Sawyer's experience is broad.

"I have mainly worked in the area of general civil litigation and have had just about every type of insurance defense case you can imagine," she said. "In the past, I have worked in the area of domestic relations, including adoptions, plaintiff civil litigation, real estate, and a little estate work."

She encourages students to try out different areas of law before deciding which area to work in.

"I think they should be open to opportunities that come up and not to be set on practicing in only one area," she said. "It could be that they are better at one area of law than the other or they may enjoy one more than the other. They should get their feet wet and get as much advice from seasoned paralegals as they can."

As President of CAPPLA, Sawyer works to educate the Denver legal community on the options that are available to paralegals through the association, options that she feels will benefit not only paralegals but the legal community as a whole. She said she thinks professional associations help create well-rounded individuals.

"Paralegals come to our meetings and functions for many reasons—to meet new people, discuss opportunities and legal issues, locate a perfect job, change the direction of their career, get involved in the community, learn new ways to market themselves, learn more about their area of law and expertise, discover new areas of interest, improve their skills, and expand their knowledge," she said.

"I believe these individuals are more grounded and carry a sense of completeness with them more than someone without these options. This sense of self-confidence definitely carries over into someone's work, and I believe it increases a person's value to their employer."

Over the course of her career, Sawyer has noticed some changes in the legal field that have benefited the paralegal profession.

"The advancement of technology has been absolutely amazing," she said. "I don't know what I ever did without email and the Internet. I have so many research tools at my fingertips—it still boggles my mind. Also, I think that attorneys are becoming more reliant on their paralegals and have learned how to utilize their skills, which is more efficient in case management."

However, not all of the changes that have occurred in the legal field are good. Sawyer has also witnessed an evolution of sorts in the legal system that she feels should be confronted.

"I believe that people have become quick to place blame on someone other than themselves for issues that arise in their lives and refuse to take responsibility and ownership in the good and the bad," she said. "This has led to some ridiculous lawsuits being filed and, in turn, has led to a more liberal judicial system. In addition to the impact it has on human lives, astronomical costs are being incurred because of some very frivolous lawsuits; and I think that the legal community should take a stand in this area instead of promoting this type of conduct."

Hall & Evans, LLC

    

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