BLAWGS · career · law · law firms · legal · Legal assistant · paralegal · Student

What can Paralegals do?

legal

So, I’m two weeks into my Paralegal program in Denver. Hooray! Here are some of the key things that the paralegal does(especially if she wants to avoid UPL!):

 

  • Interview Clients
  • Work under attorney supervision
  • Draft pleadings and other documents
  • Legal Research
  • Research Public Records and Social Media Records
  • Customer Service
  • Communicate with judge, opposing counsel, client docs, expert witnesses.
  • Trial Preparation
  • Trial notebooks, Interviewing witnesses
  • Prepare docs: contracts, wills, leases, deeds, docs
  • Manage office documents
  • Scheduling, filing, maintaining records and accounts

In pink, I’ve highlighted the things I’m super excited about doing. I’m nosy so naturally I love digging for information.

Did I miss anything? What else do paralegals do? Hit me up in the comments!

-DENIA PARALEGAL

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areas of law · BLAWGS · career · law firms · legal · Legal humor · Student

Can having your dreams crushed help you? Why yes, yes it can.

 

I read Above The Law everyday at my paralegal internship. It really helps me get focused on legal issues while simultaneously giving me my worldly gossip fix. Yep, I said it.

I was completely intrigued this morning when I read the title, “Having your Dreams Crushed can Work for You.”  My initial reaction was: “Yes! Please let this be true!”

The paragraph below hit the nail on the head and really communicated to me how I am sometimes my own worst enemy. It all stems from the mind and the things you choose to allow it to believe.

In the quote below, the writer is commenting on the lessons she learned while trying to discover her path in the legal profession.

So here’s the super-long-block-quote:

I now realize that I made two huge mistakes back then.

The first, was not really understanding why I wanted to be a prosecutor. In retrospect, what attracted me most to being a prosecutor was that I would have the opportunity to help and serve people. I had a very narrow view of “service” at this point in my life. If I had been really clear on my “why” (as Simon Sinek would put it), I would have understood my real reason for wanting to do the job. This would have allowed me to be rigid about my goals, helping and serving, but flexible about how to get there, job choice.

The second, was tying my personal self-worth to the outcome of getting a specific job. This concept is so crucial to surviving in the legal profession. The fact is, it wasn’t personal. I was qualified for that job, and I would have been great at it. There were a lot of applications and many factors to consider. The important take away was that their personal needs and opinions were not an actual reflection on my abilities or self-worth.

For the record, my story isn’t unique. One 2011 grad, who is happily employed at a small firm, says:  “You’ll get rejected for most things. I applied to 50 big firms, 300 clerkships. I got rejected from most, I’m still waiting to hear from a few, safe to say I probably didn’t get them.”

SOURCE: Above the Law

Here is what I take away from Kerriann Stout’s story. She mentions two scenarios that I myself am guilty of. If you’ve read this far on the post, you too are probably guilty.

So what are we doing and how can we remedy it?

DREAM KILLER #1: Not Defining and Understanding your WHY.

This is so freakin’ crucial.  As an educator, I pride myself on telling students why they should care about learning English and strive to become better communicators. (If only I would practice what I preach in my own life.  We need a WHY in order to keep us going when things get hard.  Look at life itself. Take a moment and think about why you do vertain things. It’s almost always unconscious. For instance, I like to drink coffee in the morning because it’s comforting and I believe it will bring me energy.  The key word here is believe. I could achieve a feeling of comfort in a number of ways. Coffee is simply ONE WAY. What does this mean?  Once you define the WHY as far as what you want to do, you won’t limit yourself to one particular role at a certain company.  You will be able to meet that need in a more general way, and you’ll take less offense to job declines because you know there are many more ways to skin this hairy cat that is joblessness.

The REMEDY? GET CLEAR on your why.

  • This isn’t always an easy process. It requires a bit of digging into your deep passions. You can ask yourself questions like:
  • What gets me excited?
  • How do I serve people, naturally?
  • What puts a smile on my face? How can I use that to serve other people?
  • What do I really care about?
  • What do I think I could improve upon in our world?
  • What are my strengths? What do people say I do well?
  • How do people say I make them feel?
  • Like the writer above, I’m still working this out as far as my desire to become a paralegal. I know that I love people, I love researching, analyzing situations and people, and I’m really good with helping people feel supported and heard. However, on a deeper level I know that I am drawn to family law specifically because I have a passion for family.  As a product of a broken home I realize the importance of harmony and restoration within domestic situations.  The happier and more understanding families we have in out world, the better off we’ll all be. I’ve helped families in my role as an educator, and now I’ll be able to do it again in my next gig.

DREAM KILLER #2: EQUATING YOUR INNATE VALUE TO JOB SEARCH OUTCOMES

Counseling is great and all, but this sort of thinking will definitely increase your need for it. DO NOT EVER lower your belief in yourself because of external circumstances. WHY? Your belief is literally one of the strongest super powers you have as a human. What do you think will happen if you start to actually believe you are worthless just because you aren’t receiving call backs? If you consider a few facts, which should be easy for legal minds to practice, you’ll soon realize that losses are gains depending on the vantage point you choose. Here are a few things to consider when you’re feeling worthless in the job hunt:

THE REMEDY? Poke holes in the idea that you are scum because a possible employer did not hire you!

  • Maybe there is another job that would be a better fit for me.
  • Maybe I haven’t come across the job that is most compatible with my WHY.
  • Maybe I’m not even clear on my why. I’m just out here tired of bring broke. (If this is the case, I’m sure a Target near you is hiring.)
  • What specific skills are listed in the job description that I can develop?
  • What would someone who believed in themselves do in this situation?
  • How can I increase my credibility and online presence? Remember, we’re living in the 21st Century folks! Get to tweetin’!
  • The hiring team is most likely not conspiring against me, does anyone who is truly successful have time for that? Nah.

So the key here is really simple:

  1. Define your WHY. Also, be okay with this evolving. It may change as you continue to grow and develop your values and skills.
  2. Never EXTERNALIZE your value. Your value is not something that can be taken away from you. HOWEVER, if you let it, your mind can make it seem that way. So get your thoughts in line with what you truly want! You got this.

Let’s Chat:

Do you believe setbacks can be teachers in disguise? Share some of your stories!

-DENIA PARALEGAL

 

Advocacy · areas of law · children · family law · law · legal · Legal Websites · statutes · Student

Family Law: Considering the child’s best interests, and the parent’s interest in the child…

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Me during my middle school years.

I NEVER in a million years thought I’d be working with middle school-aged children. Thinking back, middle school was by far the HARDEST time of my life as far as understanding my identity.

It’s an interesting time in life because your ego is steadily building while you are simultaneously trying to mesh in with the collective. Some adults haven’t even mastered this yet. I still work on it myself.

So anyway, considering the tumultuous time that is middle school, I want to take a moment and consider the importance of our legal system’s idea of “The Best Interests of the Child,” and how parents play such an integral role in this.

Going into my third and last year as a middle school teacher while also attending a paralegal program at Arapahoe Community College, I think I finally realized one of the reasons why I needed to be a teacher for a time.  Teaching has taught me the innate value of children. Many of us view them as too much work, too ignorant and unknowing, and even useless. However the truth of the matter is that children are seeds of pure potentiality.  The only question becomes, what are we watering them with?

So, back to the law. In Colorado we stand firm behind the idea of the “Best Interest of the Child.” But, what does this mean exactly? Let’s explore.

Obviously, the best interest of the child conversation comes up in the midst of a domestic relations case involving parental responsibilities(custody).  No matter the specifics of the case, it is apparent that the child is in a lesser position, and thus representation would be doing due diligence to advocate for the child’s needs.

The legalese states:

“The legal representative of the child, appointed pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, shall represent the best interests of the minor or dependent child, as described in section 14-10-124, with respect to the child’s custody, the allocation of parental responsibilities, support for the child, the child’s property, parenting time, or any other issue related to the child that is identified by the legal representative of the child or the appointing court.”

Source: WomensLaw.org

I want to explore in my experience how the bolded categories can plant DIRECT seeds into a child’s life, as well as what parents can do to influence positive growth for the child. 

CUSTODY(Parental Responsibilities)- What are you teaching your child to believe about himself?

Since the word custody has many meanings and interpretations, I really like that Parental Responsibilities is the term for this now.  Anyway, while from the perspective of the parent, the term “parental responsibilities” may seem rigid and duty-like, from the child’s perspective it is something else entirely. The child is receptive in this relationship. She is simply developing an understanding of responsibility through the parent’s actions.

I’ve noticed throughout the years that once I meet a child’s parent and read the energy between parent and child, I understand the child SO MUCH MORE.  For example, kids who seem to not know who they are and tend to follow the herd and act out in school usually have parents who are constantly telling them how to be. (Don’t do this, look your teacher in the eye..) The kid in unable to develop faith in himself.

On the more severe end of the spectrum, parents who abuse their children physically foster the same sort of thing. IE: (school fights and the use of violence to solve problems.) In this instance, the child still doesn’t have faith in himself, he has faith in fighting.

 WHAT CAN PARENTS DO: Parents can aid in their children’s success stepping up to the plate, leading by example, being present, and showing the child the problem-solving and general life skills. If the parent is underdeveloped here, the parent can reach out and get help.

ALLOCATION OF PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES

This one is tricky.  Obviously, since this is a domestic case, we can make the inference that the child most definitely knows that she has two parents.  In a perfect world, the parents balance one another out when they are in a relationship. However, what happens to this balance when the couple is deciding to split?

Well, we know this can greatly distort a child’s perception of wholeness.  Because our parents represent stability for us in our younger years, the destruction of a sense of balance here throws us off.

Because the child senses the stability and balanced structure of his life is being challenged, the seed planted could be: “My life is out of control.  It’s my fault.  I’m split in half. I’m no longer a whole person.”

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO:  Parents can be honest with themselves and their children about their shortcomings, and remind the child that the circumstances ARE NOT because of her.

SUPPORT

We know children cost money.  We also know that children deserve to know that they are worth something. As a product of a single-parent mother, I’m well aware that sometimes this means strain on the adult involved. However, we must remember that we are constantly sending MESSAGES sent to the child that will be imbedded into their self-talk and understanding of themselves.  Are you showing the child support? There are small and big ways to do this, and honestly, some of the smaller gestures mean more in the long run.

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO:  

Support can be as simple or as grand as:

  • Making Phone calls
  • Attending school/extracurricular events
  • Trips to the park
  • Birthday Gifts
  • Listening(This one is highly underrated)

So all in all, I believe that parents have an awesome opportunity. (Notice I didn’t say easy or simple). However, small decisions can make major changes with the way your child views herself in the long run. Plant the seeds!