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Celia C. Elwell, RP | Freelance Paralegal | Legal Services | LawCrossing

published March 29, 2023

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( 30 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
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Celia C. Elwell, RP, is an experienced freelance paralegal who provides quality legal services to clients seeking assistance on projects. Her professional background includes over 20 years of work with attorneys, corporations, and government agencies, handling both in-house and contract paralegal work.

Celia Elwell offers a wide range of services, from legal research and writing to document review and assistance with appellate briefs and transactions. She is knowledgeable in multiple practice areas, including family law, labor and employment, criminal law, corporate law, and bankruptcy, with experience in all stages of the litigation process.

Celia is an experienced remote worker and offers document processing, document review, legal writing, and virtual paralegal services. Her organizational skills and attention to detail make her an ideal solution for clients needing help with paralegal services. Her passion for the law and commitment to providing quality services have earned her a reputation as an indispensable part of the legal team.

Celia C. Elwell, RP, is an experienced freelance paralegal who provides comprehensive legal services and document processing to clients in need of assistance. With over 20 years of experience working with attorneys, corporations, and government agencies, Celia offers expertise in a variety of practice areas, such as family law, labor and employment law, criminal law, corporate law, and bankruptcy. Her services include document review, legal writing, and virtual paralegal services. Celia is highly organized and detail-oriented, making her an invaluable part of any legal team. She is committed to providing quality services and delivering results that meet client needs.

Celia C. Elwell, RP - Freelance Paralegal

Celia C. Elwell, RP is a freelance paralegal who has been providing paralegal services to attorneys and law firms since 2001. With a strong work ethic and an attention to detail, Celia has experienced success in her profession. She utilizes her skills in research, legal writing, document drafting, and examining and preparing evidence for use at trial or in other legal proceedings to assist attorneys in complicated cases. Celia is highly experienced in working with clients to investigate and analyze legal issues, review documents, and assist in the preparation of legal documents.

Celia C Elwell's Background

Celia C. Elwell, RP began her career as a paralegal in 1987, working as an intern in a law firm. Since then, she has held various positions and worked in the legal field in a variety of areas including corporate, family, criminal and administrative law. She is a graduate of National Paralegal College, having earned a certificate in legal studies and is a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants. Additionally, Celia is a Certified Paralegal Specialist in the areas of litigation, corporate law, and family law.

Celia C Elwell's Professional Skills

Celia C. Elwell, RP is an organized and efficient paralegal with the ability to manage multiple tasks and deadlines. She possesses strong research and writing skills, and the ability to efficiently review and prepare legal documents for litigation. In addition, Celia has an in-depth understanding of the court system, legal research and analysis, and has the ability to prepare thorough legal documents.

Celia C Elwell's Services

Celia C. Elwell, RP specializes in providing paralegal services to attorneys, law firms, and corporate legal departments. She has experience in a wide range of areas, including civil litigation, corporate law, family law, criminal defense, wills and trusts, and administrative law. Celia is skilled in providing support in legal research, document drafting, and examination and preparation of evidence for use at trial or in other legal proceedings.

The Benefits of Hiring Celia C Elwell

Celia C. Elwell, RP's experience and knowledge in paralegal services can benefit attorneys and law firms looking for additional assistance for their cases. Hiring Celia can increase efficiency and accuracy when researching, gathering evidence and preparing legal documents. Thanks to her professionalism, timely turnarounds and attention to detail, Celia has established herself as an invaluable resource to the legal community.

As a young woman, Celia C. Elwell didn't know what she wanted to do with her life. But at least she knew one thing that she didn't want to be: a paralegal.

Her mother was a legal secretary long before the word paralegal was commonly used, and Ms. Elwell used to go to her office after work. Ms. Elwell was a good student, with advanced English skills, and her mother used to give her legal documents to proofread.

''And I thought it was probably the most boring job that had ever been invented and could not understand why my mother enjoyed it,'' she said. ''I thought she was just nuts. And I didn't want to be an attorney, because I had such a black-and-white view of things when I was younger, and I didn't think I could stand to represent somebody that I knew had done something bad. So I really didn't know what I was going to do.''

She married her high school sweetheart at 18. They had a son and worked as clerks at a Wal-Mart-type store while Ms. Elwell took college courses at night. She eventually took a job with the utility company and, after several years, realized she had gone as far as she could go in the company with just a high school diploma.

Ms. Elwell, 50, had heard that court reporters make good money and thought her strong English skills would help her learn the trade, which involves learning a new language of shorthand typing through syllables and sounds instead of letters.

''So I started taking court reporting classes and just about burned out every brain cell I had trying to memorize all that stuff,'' she said.

While studying, she left the utility company and accepted the unthinkable job: as a legal secretary. The attorney she worked for told her she would make a better paralegal than a court reporter.

''He recommended I go down to the University of Oklahoma and start taking classes, and so I did,'' she said. ''And I always wanted to write, and paralegals had that opportunity to write. And I found it to be a lot more interesting than mom's work had ever been. I deliberately stayed away from real estate and probate though.''

She excelled in her course work, taking classes at night when she could afford the tuition. It took her five years to complete the two-year degree, but she gained a reputation as a serious and driven student.

After graduating, Ms. Elwell, who lives and works in Norman, OK, went to work for Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marian Opala, the first ever paralegal in his office. Justice Opala taught her to write clearly and avoid the ''legalese'' she had learned in school and working for other attorneys.

''Justice Opala is known for being a perfectionist; he doesn't tolerate mistakes very well. He wants quality work, and he insists upon it, and he insists upon high ethics and confidentiality of his chambers,'' she said. ''He hung my paralegal certificate up next to the State Seal in his chambers. He was very supportive.''

While Judge Opala was a mentor to Ms. Elwell, she realized being the first paralegal in the Oklahoma Supreme Court was a powerful attention getter.

''At first, I really enjoyed the attention that I got being Justice Opala's paralegal because everyone had such tremendous respect for him that I kind of was able to bounce off that,'' she said. ''But then after a while, I wanted them to have respect for me because of what I had done. And that's when I started writing.''

Her first article on managing a law office was published in 1987 in a trade magazine. A publisher noticed the article and eventually asked her to write a book on paralegals.

She co-authored Practical Legal Writing for Legal Assistants with an attorney, and it was published in 1996. She is now getting ready to tackle a second edition of the book and expects it to be published some time next year. She also writes a monthly column in Legal Assistant Today but plans to give that up after January to focus on the book.

''It's funny, you never know what seeds you're planting,'' she said of how that first article attracted editors and publishers to her work.

She worked in private practice for almost four years after her two-year stint with Justice Opala. In one firm, she lasted just ten months because she said the chauvinistic atmosphere was unbearable: the head partner called the women in the office his harem. Then she joined the City Attorney's Office, where she stayed for more than 12 years and became the top paralegal. But in June 2003, the Attorney's Office laid off many of its senior staff and Ms. Elwell by then was at the top of the food chain.

''After 9/11, we simply didn't have the income from sales tax and other things in Oklahoma City to make this money to maintain the number of people we had in the office,'' she said. ''It's the first time in that office that they've had to lay anybody off. I was laid off, a deputy municipal counselor was laid off, a division head was laid off; basically they looked at the top people, and I was the top paralegal. So it saved them from having to cut a lot of other positions.''

Since then, she has been doing various contract work for attorneys. She says she enjoys the freedom of freelancing, but warns others doing the same to be careful of crossing ethical lines. Ms. Elwell only works for attorneys because she says people—friends, families, neighbors—often try to ask for legal advice. Paralegals are not allowed to give legal advice, and Ms. Elwell said that although she can file lawsuits at court for people, to even to tell someone where to write their name on a divorce form is considered giving legal advice.

''I'm very, very careful about crossing that line,'' she said. Because attorneys can be so expensive, she said people often ask her legal advice about neighborhood disputes, divorce or child support. To avoid crossing the line, Ms. Elwell said she often plays dumb, saying that she doesn't know about the issue.

''Once your reputation is tarnished, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get that back,'' she said. ''So rather than indulge in your ego and do things that you know you shouldn't do, don't do it. Nobody ever gets in trouble for not doing these things. You get in trouble when you do them.''

Ms. Elwell, who specializes in civil litigation and legal research, taught a paralegal course at the University of Oklahoma for 15 years. She said she believes she is a semi-finalist in the Top 15 Paralegal Experts contest because of her varied experience and her dedication to promoting the paralegal field. She has lectured around the country in paralegal seminars as the PACE coordinator for the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. PACE stands for Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam and is the reason why Ms. Elwell puts the initials RP after her name, for Registered Paralegal.

As a freelancer, Ms. Elwell misses the resources of a law firm and says she hopes to do more trials in the future since litigation is her specialty and what she enjoys most. She said it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a new paralegal to become a freelancer without years of experience.

She urged people considering the paralegal career to get a good education and be wary of quickie paralegal schools.

''Too often people are seduced by the idea that in four to seven weeks they can be a professional paralegal. But that's not the way it works. It is a profession, it's not a trade. I joke about people going to Billy Bob's school of paralegalism and welding,'' she said. ''It's a question of what are you going to be able to do to get a job and compete with the other people out there who have college degrees and quality paralegal training, so it's just a question of being smart and seeing what you can do.''

published March 29, 2023

( 30 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.