I was sixteen when I walked into a full-fledged, well-known law firm in an established community. As a senior high school student, I reported to work right after school each day and stayed until my responsibilities were completed. My tasks were simple and I excelled in my role.
The summer before I entered university, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. The paralegals and lawyers wanted to train me in-house, and so began my unconventional internship as a paralegal. I learned about different court documents that were standard parts of each case. I studied how evidence had to be sorted and presented for a case. In a few short months, I was allowed into the “war” room where each lawyer prepares for his or her court case.
It was all very exciting to be a part of a legal record. Lawyers deserve the public’s admiration because they parse the major issues of their cases into the very barebones to ask questions that can answer to the right and wrong of an incident. Lawyers stand before Justices and represent their client’s interests with the objective to garner decisions in their client’s favor.
While I was not trained to be a lawyer, as a paralegal, I took pride in the reality that the lawyer is able to fulfill his responsibilities because of the work I had done. As an administrative person trained to assist a lawyer meet the court’s processes and procedures, I had to be an efficient paralegal who was detailed oriented, well organized and professional.
If an affidavit were prepared incorrectly, the court case would suffer. If the paralegal mis-label a piece of evidence, the case may be thrown out of court for lack of evidence. As time progressed, I began to see a formula that the paralegals followed, and case by case, the duties were similar. The profession began to lose its lustre but a specific incident decided my fate.
A student-at-law began articling at our office. The documents were submitted and the presentation materials were ready for court. I asked to attend court that day to witness a momentous occasion. The student read verbatim from the presentation binder, looking up intermittently at the judge. He won his case.
When that summer ended, I decided to pursue a different career. If a paralegal can win a court case, why is everyone fussing over the lawyer? The actors who play the role of lawyers have an unrealistic understanding of what lawyers do. But that’s true of many vocations in Hollywood.