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We asked two paralegals in the U.S. what an average day is like for a paralegal? They both descried what they routinely accomplished at the law firms they work for. Their insight should give people in the legal industry an idea of how valuable a paralegal is. We hope you enjoy their responses.
I have been a paralegal for 10 years in California, almost all of it in the Probate/Estate Planning specialty. I think you'll find a variety of answers to the average day for a paralegal as the field of specialty and size of the firm will greatly determine the scope of duties. Smaller firms tend to have fewer paralegals doing more varied work. However, I can describe my average day to give you an idea of what we do.
When I arrive in the morning, like most people I have an idea of the deadlines I have to meet and the projects I want to accomplish. As a probate paralegal in Los Angeles County, I will spend the morning checking Probate Notes on the Court's online system, answering email, checking and responding to voice mails and finalizing any filings to go to the Court. About half of my day is spent on the phone. Because I work in a small boutique firm, I have a large variety of tasks. On an average day we get approximately 3-5 new prospective client calls. It is my duty to interview the prospective client and take extensive notes about their case so the attorneys may determine if it's a case that we can handle or whether we should give a referral to another attorney. I answer questions from clients, relay information to opposing counsel, and talk to Court appointed counsel on many of our matters. Additionally, I spend time talking to banks requesting information on decedent estate or conservatorship accounts, real estate agents and escrow agents regarding sales of real property in our cases, and calls to research information necessary for our cases.
The other half of my day is spent drafting documents and correspondence. I prepare Petitions in our Probate and Conservatorship matters, accountings, reviewing bank statements and preparing schedules, inventorying assets, preparing notices and all the forms that go with these. I make arrangements for process service for those petitions that require it, and I arrange for mandatory publications of notices when the case requires it. When the Court posts its Probate Notes, I review them and if necessary prepare a Supplement to answer the Court's questions. This is often a very time pressured situation as the deadlines for filing Supplements are very short and all too often we have only a day, or less, to obtain the information or get the client's signature on the Supplement.
Even though I walk in the door with an idea of what I want to get done, it is quite common for another project to take priority. Paralegals have to prioritize. And sometimes it means juggling several things. I could spend hours working on a detailed conservatorship accounting due within days and an emergency situation will arise requiring me to shift my focus. That could stem from finding out that a relative has stolen a conservatee's money from an account, or requesting emergency medical powers for a conservatee who has become seriously ill or injured. And while I am preparing the Petition for emergency orders, I am still answering phone calls and answering client questions, talking with prospective clients.
It's never the same day twice. It's challenging but very rewarding. I feel a lot of pride in that the work I do could protect an elder from abuse, or help a husband or wife take care of their spouse at home, or help a grandparent obtain guardianship over their abandoned grandchild.
Kimberli A. Taylor
CONOVER & GREBE, LLP
An average day for a PI paralegal. That is difficult to pinpoint. The average day could be anywhere from:
Answering calls from clients, opposing counsel, insurance adjusters, etc.
Responding to emails from clients, attorneys, etc.
Providing case updates
Drafting pleadings, discovery, correspondence, demands, and answers
Preparing documents for attorneys to attend hearings, depositions, mediation, or trial
Assisting multiple attorneys with case status and/or document retrieval
Meeting with new and existing clients
It could be anyone of them listed above, to all of them in one day. This is only a minor list of stuff in a day-to-day life in a PI paralegal. My day starts the moment I walk in the door and it might be completed when I leave for the day. Multi-tasking is what keeps me going and possibly ahead of the game (at least I hope).
Paralegal at the Crosley Law Firm
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