A Paralegal’s Perspective

Welcome back to A Paralegal’s Perspective! This months interviewee is our very own Program Director, Danielle Benzon!

✨ How did you discover the Paralegal profession?

🌺For as long as I can remember, I was interested in law and wanted to one day attend law school. After graduating UC Davis in 2013 I was a bit burnt out with school and wanted to take a break before pursuing law school. I discovered that Allan Hancock College offered a paralegal program, and I thought this would be a great way to dip my toe into the legal profession. I really enjoyed my classes and was excited to begin a career as a paralegal. While in school, I was hired by the San Luis Obispo Superior Court and worked there for almost 10 years before leaving to pursue my career at a local law firm as a paralegal.

✨ What is the most drastic change in this profession you’ve seen develop? Is it a negative, or a positive change? Why?

🌺One of the most dramatic changes I have seen in the legal profession is the expansive use of technology, including e-filing with the court, use of AI and Zoom for remote court appearances. E-filing has streamlined the filing process – you no longer have to wait in line at the clerk’s office to file a motion. Remote Court appearances allow for more people to attend hearings, and offers greater flexibility for plaintiffs, defendants and attorneys. AI has the capacity to streamline a lot of tedious, and mundane, tasks paralegals do, however, oversight is required, to ensure accuracy. AI has also been utilized by attorneys, without oversight, and Courts have created rules, and cautioned against using AI in pleadings filed with the Court. Technology is great, but it is only as good as the person utilizing and controlling it.

✨What direction do you see the Legal profession headed?

🌺I see the use of AI increasing in our profession. While AI can be very costly right now, I believe the technology will greatly advance, it will become more cost effective and be more widely used in litigation matters and the preparation of discovery. I also think that remote court appearances are here to stay, at least for some case types.

✨What is the most interesting type of law to you?

🌺My background and experience are primarily in criminal law and juvenile law, which I love and find so fascinating and exciting! I have recently started handling business law, transactional law, and corporate law matters. I am excited to learn more about corporate law in the course I am taking through the UCSB PACE program. Another area I am interested in is employment law and civil litigation.

✨If you could, would you change anything about this profession? What would that be, and why?

🌺This job can be extremely stressful and taxing, and it would be great for employers to increase vacation time, offer flexible schedules and work from home options for their paralegals. Some firms do this and others don’t. Our firm does offer flexibility and for 3/4 of the year gives us one afternoon off per week, paid, and it really helps with burnout.   

A Paralegal’s Perspective📜

Paralegal’s Perspective is here again!

📜This month’s interviewee: Gina Axsom

  1. How did you discover the Paralegal profession?  🧸

I discovered the Paralegal profession quite by accident in August 1987 after applying for and being hired as a legal secretary in the litigation department at Sinsheimer, Schiebelhut & Baggett.  I had no experience in the legal field, but they said they would teach me.  I worked as a secretary for two of the attorneys (one of whom I still work with today!) and learned about the paralegal profession from paralegals there.  In the fall of 1989, the firm took on a big case and asked me to be the main paralegal on the case.  That fall I also started taking classes toward my paralegal certificate at Cal Poly.  I was very fortunate to have great teachers and mentors who were happy to answer my many questions, and to be part of a firm that really valued paralegals and knew how to use them as part of a team.

  • What is something you wish you knew before joining the legal profession? 🧸

Not to take anything personally when the attorney is upset because 99% of the time it’s due to their frustration with opposing counsel or some aspect of the case, not with the person they’re venting to.  Things went much more smoothly once I learned this. 

  • How do you think the new advancements of AI will affect the legal industry? 🧸

I think AI will have a big affect on the legal industry, especially legal research and the document review and production aspects of discovery, but attorneys and paralegals still will be very necessary.  I think AI will be helpful for initial research and finding certain cases, but attorneys and paralegals need to use that information as a starting place and do additional research, not just rely on what AI provides.  AI will provide (and probably already is at large firms) a lot of help with review and production of large quantities of documents, but, again, attorneys and paralegals will have to set the parameters and verify that what’s done by AI is correct. 

  • What is the most interesting type of law to you, and why? 🧸

I’ve really enjoyed civil litigation because I’ve gotten to work on a large variety of cases involving different legal issues, primarily in the areas of employment, real estate, business, and probate. 

Thank you so much for your answers, Gina!

A Paralegal’s Perspective ⚖️


📜This months interviewee: Sunny Ash

1. What aspect of being a Paralegal is the most rewarding in your opinion?
⚖️ I really enjoy helping people. Legal matters can seem very overwhelming to many. It’s very rewarding to break down those misconceptions by helping people get through their most daunting tasks quickly, easily, and efficiently.
2. Where have you seen the most development in this profession?
⚖️ I have seen the most development in the technical aspects of this profession. E-filing has been the greatest advancement in my opinion. It has streamlined access to the court without all the time wasted standing in lines or the cost of making copies for every pleading submitted.
3. How did you discover the Paralegal profession?
⚖️ I discovered the legal profession through my Aunt. When I was in high school she worked as a Med-Mal Attorney at a couple very prominent firms in San Francisco, who graciously gave me access to their offices. Once gradated I worked in several capacities for different firms until I found my niche.
4. What is the most interesting type of law to you? Why?
⚖️ I find criminal law to be the most intriguing. There are so many moral dilemmas and evidence matters that have to be addressed. I would consider it to be the type of law that has the greatest affect on the community and the people it touches.
5. If you could, would you change anything about this profession? What would that be and why?
⚖️ If I could change anything about this profession it would be the pay and acknowledgement paralegals receive. We are definitely the people behind the curtain making everything run smoothly. I think this should be reflected in our salary and the way we are perceived.

Thank you for your insights, Sunny!!

🗣️ JOB OPPORTUNITY @ George, Cyr & Christakos, Inc.

Small Los Osos estate planning law firm seeks experienced paralegal for full-time position. Knowledge of estate planning, trust and probate law preferred, but not required. Must have excellent written and verbal communication skills, and an ability to handle multiple tasks and prioritize as necessary to meet deadlines. Strong organizational and word processing skills with attention to detail a must.

* This position is hybrid in nature and duties will overlap with that of a legal secretary.

Job responsibilities include (but are not limited to):
🗝️ Drafting, revising, formatting and finalizing various documents
🗝️ Interacting with clients, attorneys and others in person and by phone
🗝️ File upkeep and organization
🗝️ Managing attorney calendars
🗝️ Screening and transferring incoming phone calls
🗝️ Coordinating and scheduling meetings and appointments

* Notary public commission or ability to obtain such commission is required.

This is a full-time, in person position (9:00 to 5:00) with competitive salary and benefits.

Interested candidates should send a resume and cover letter to:
dms@gccattorneys.com

2024 CCPA MEMBERSHIP 🎊

⚖️ It’s hard to believe it, but it’s that time of year again! The CCPA is always welcoming new and sustaining members. If you would like to join, please use one of the following application forms below.

⚖️ Regular Membership Application

⚖️ Sustaining Membership Application

Job Alert for O’Neill and Woolpert⚖️

📜Small San Luis Obispo law firm seeks a full-time or part-time paralegal with knowledge of probate and trust funding procedures. Responsibilities will include:
📜 Preparing trust funding documents, pleadings in probate matters, and simple trust amendments.
📜Must have great people skills and enjoy working with and talking to clients.
📜Excellent communication, organization and detail-oriented skills a must.
📜Must either be a notary or be willing to become a notary (firm will cover the associated costs).

⚖️Salary depends on experience.

Please send resume to: janet_oneill@pacbell.net

A Paralegal’s Perspective ⚖️📜

A Paralegal’s Perspective ⚖️📜

This month’s interviewee: Marilyn Morris⚖️

1. What aspect of the Paralegal profession is the most rewarding in your opinion?
⚖️ I think our profession is rewarding when we can help our client either obtain justice or get them out of a situation that they are unjustly involved in. Depending on whether you are a plaintiff or defendant. I have been on both sides. As a Plaintiff’s paralegal, to see your client who has been injured or wronged get compensation is rewarding. As a Defendant’s paralegal, to help a client get out from under a lawsuit without damage to their reputation or financially, is rewarding.

2. How did you discover the Paralegal profession?
⚖️ In New York in the late 1980s, I knew a woman who was a paralegal to a small trial attorney firm. I went to a couple of their trials and found it fascinating. She was very good at her job and since she was working in a very small firm, she was involved in every aspect of the trial preparation and other objectives relating to working up the case. I enrolled in a paralegal program because of watching her and her attorneys who were brilliant trial attorneys try a couple of cases and win big verdicts.

3. What is the most drastic change in this profession you’ve seen develop? Is it a negative, or a positive change? Why?
⚖️ I don’t know if I have seen that much change. I know that some of my predecessors were paralegals before the Business and professional code relating to paralegals was in effect. Since I have been a paralegal, I’m hoping that the change that is positive is for attorneys to recognize how valuable paralegals can be in working up a case.

4. What is the most interesting type of law to you?
⚖️ I used to be involved in employment law and always found it fascinating. I still do. However, in the last three years I have been working with an attorney that defends medical malpractice cases and I find these cases really interesting as well.

5. If you could, would you change anything about this profession? What would that be, and why?
⚖️ If I could change anything, it would be for paralegals to be compensated better for what Paralegals bring to the table. Although, the salary ranges are different at all different firms. Some are being compensated really well and some not.

Thank you so much for your insight, Marilyn!

🌞SUMMER SOCIAL🌞

🌸 Mark your calendars! The CCPA is hosting a Summer Social. This is a FREE event with food and drinks included!

🌸This event is open to all legal professionals of the central coast!

🌻 Where: Libertine in downtown SLO
🌻 When: September 27th from 6pm -8pm
🌻Cost: FREE

🌸RSVP by emailing info@ccpaslo.org with the subject line “Summer Social RSVP”. Include your full name & if you’re a member of the CCPA or not.

Hope to see you there!🌸🌞🌻

⚠️JOB ALERT⚠️ In Trust Legal

⚠️JOB ALERT⚠️

In Trust Legal is looking for a Legal Document Assistant/Legal Secretary (Full Time)

⚖️About In Trust Legal⚖️: In Trust Legal, Inc., is a registered Legal Document Assistant in San Luis Obispo County. We are not a law
firm, and we are not attorneys. Upon customer requests, we prepare estate planning documents written and
approved by attorneys and we also prepare small estate and probate proceedings.

⚖️Job Responsibilities:
• Prepare trusts, assignments, wills, powers of attorney and deeds
• Prepare probate and small estate transfer forms using Westlaw Form Builder
• Prepare pleadings for probate and QDROs
• Proofread all work prepared by you and others for accuracy
• Review Probate Notes and prepare timely supplemental pleadings
And more!

⚖️Job Requirements:
Must know keyboard by touch with minimal to no errors
• Organized and focused with ability to prioritize and multi-task
• Superb written and oral communication skills
• Excellent proofreading with attention to details
• Experience with MS Word, Adobe, Excel, and Mac (preferred, but will train)
• Experience with Westlaw Form Builder and Odyssey (preferred, but will train)
• Notary public commission is preferred, or willing to become a notary
• Working knowledge of estate planning and probate is preferred
• Must be confident to work independently

⚖️Pay: $20 – $25 per hour, based on experience.

⚖️Apply: Please send cover letter, resume and references to Carol Ramirez cramirez@InTrustLegal.com