Bryce Killen: Case Assistant at Thelen, Reid, Brown, Raysman & Steiner, LLP, in San Francisco, CA
by Charisse Dengler
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"When two or three cases happen to gear up for trial all at the same time, it can be very difficult to juggle all the various responsibilities and not let anything slip through the cracks. Multitasking and organization become survival skills rather than just helpful traits," he said.
"Often the core responsibilities of my position are only the beginning of what I get asked to do throughout an average day, and I enjoy the opportunity to work on filings or do research for projects that might be outside my normal practice area or come up simply because there is no one else available to complete the project," he continued.
Killen is currently working on his paralegal certificate at San Francisco State University. His favorite parts of studying to become a paralegal are writing motions and doing legal research.
"School allows me to learn to do particular kinds of tasks that I don't often get asked to do at work because there are associates to handle those sorts of tasks," he said. "However, learning to do those things in school has enabled me to show my aptitude for those tasks at work, and occasionally I have the opportunity to work on meaningful projects that eventually are incorporated into the case."
Currently, Killen's day-to-day workload involves maintaining case files, handling incoming communications, trial preparation, coordinating expert witnesses, and maintaining a library of expert materials to be used in trials down the line.
"Trial and trial-preparation work can be demanding, but it is also the most exciting part of what I do," he said. "Generally, the case-assistant work for trial ranges from organizing all of the defendant's and plaintiff's trial exhibits and helping prepare presentations for court to driving the van and gophering documents while the lawyers are in court."
When asked what made him decide upon a career as a paralegal, Killen said, "I wanted a rewarding career that would enable me to get involved in issues that I feel strongly about and allow me to use my intellectual talents as well as my office know-how."
His most precious piece of advice to people thinking of becoming paralegals is to attend a paralegal school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
"I'm sure that you can get an equally good education at many institutions that are not ABA-approved, but in the competitive world of getting hired as a paralegal, I believe that accreditation carries substantially more weight. Moreover, most such schools are also well suited to assisting you with future job placement and postgraduate support. And in many cases, a good ABA-approved program can be found at your local state university for far less tuition than many private programs."
Killen currently lives in San Rafael, CA. He is married, and in his free time, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and beer making. He also loves to read fiction and nonfiction and is interested in anything about ancient history and civilizations.