Laura’s Mentor Resource Log Record and Updated Job Information Form—After Mentor Interview
Name: Karen Barlow
Organization: Barlow and Smythe
Job Title: Lawyer
Relationship to You: Mentor contact through CareerConnect
Mentor Matching Service
E-mail Address: Contacted through CareerConnect safe message system
Karen is a lawyer in Tallahassee who volunteers for AFBs mentor service. She is a partner in a law firm and was very responsive to my query for an interview.
JOB INFORMATION FORM: UPDATED
Common Job Title(s):
Paralegal, Legal Assistant, Legal Investigator, Patent Agent
Major Job Duties:
Assist lawyers via research, document and case preparation. Conduct research to support a legal proceeding. Handle legal correspondence, maintain organization of documents in an established paper or electronic system. Prepare briefs, pleadings, appeals, wills, contracts, etc. Contact witnesses, meet with clients. Investigate facts and law of cases and conduct background research. Direct and coordinate law office activity. File pleadings. Gather and analyze research data, such as statutes, decisions, legal articles. Ensure law library is up-to-date.
Required Education and/or Certification(s):
Training in vocational school, related on the job experience, or an associate’s degree. Usually need one or two years of training.
Required Professional Experience:
One or two years of experience; might have a formal apprenticeship structure
Other Qualifications (special computer skills, languages, etc.):
Fluency with computers, hardware and software.
Position this Job Reports to:
Lawyer, Partner in a Law Firm, Other Manager
Job and/or Industry Outlook:
22.24% growth projected between 2006-2016
Karen Barlow says that her firm is constantly seeking good paralegals and that they have a system where someone like me can get on the job training as long as I’m getting at least an associate’s degree in the field.
Questions to ask a worker in this field:
What access technology would be required for work in this field?
What are your hours usually like?
Karen says that paralegals often work very long hours when the firm has a heavy case load. The paralegals at her firm are busy all the time and often come in early or stay late to make sure that everything is set for upcoming cases
Is there a lot of variety in what you do from day to day?
Is your firm large or small?
How did you get your job?
Karen herself started as a paralegal, in order to get a feel for the law field. She liked it so much she decided to become a lawyer. She got her first job as a paralegal through her personal network—her dad knew a lawyer who was looking for a legal assistant at his firm. She was about to graduate from college with a degree in English literature and took the job to see if she wanted to apply to law school.
What sort of preparation did you have?
Karen learned on the job. She had very good computer skills and was highly organized, two things that are important for paralegals. She said that she had to learn a lot about basic law procedure very quickly in order to get up to speed. She read a lot at home because often there wasn’t enough time at work to do so. Her firm was accommodating of her visual impairment and didn’t have a problem with her using access technology.
What are your goals for the future?