How to Use Technology Effectively as a Paralegal

Posted by on June 13, 2013

Throughout May and June at Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center, students had the opportunity to enjoy several activities related to Law Day.  Kofi Montzka, paralegal program chair, arranges for field trips and guest speakers each year to help with achieving the goals of the American Bar Association in regards to Law Day and to show legal students an array of opportunities available after graduation.

The final guest speaker in the Law Day schedule of events was Emily Wadley, a 2004 paralegal degree graduate of Globe University. Wadley currently works for the Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office as a paralegal. 

paralegal degree

(From left) Kelley Rasmussen, Teeda Sisombath, LaKitra Ross, Tiara Fairs, speaker Emily Wadley, Kristie Haider, Lindsi Smithknecht, Elizabeth Stigall, Adam Ellingson

On the evening of June 4, Wadley spoke to the Law Office Procedures and Technology class about using Power Point presentations during trials.  She explained to the students that in today’s technologically advanced society, many individuals are visual learners, so using Power Point slides is a great way to grab a jury’s attention and tell a story. To illustrate her points, Wadley showed sample trial slides and discussed common examples of trials where the slides are used. 

One example Wadley spoke about was the issue of juvenile certification.  She explained to the students that during this process, the court decides if a juvenile will be tried as an adult.  By using Power Point slides, the public defender’s office is able to list the factors on each slide and argue that the juvenile should not be tried as an adult.  Other types of trials that slides are useful in are child protection hearings, delinquency hearings, and other types of certification hearings.  Power Points are also useful for trainings at law firms. 

Wadley also showed the paralegal students how to use animation during a Power Point presentation.  By using animation properly, objects can be moved around a map to paint a picture of what happened at a crime scene.  She also touched on Audacity, an audio program, and showed students how to put pieces such as recorded client statements into the presentation. 

Wadley shared five tips for creating an effective Power Point for the courtroom:

  • Create simple slides.
  • Use quotes from case law.
  • Make sure the font is large enough so that everyone in the courtroom is able to read the content.
  • End the presentation with what you are requesting.
  • Always tell a story.

Following her explanation of Power Point, Wadley discussed what she does on a day-to-day basis with Hennepin County. She made sure to point out to the paralegal students that they can sit in on trials to help attorneys, as she just finished a one month trial in Anoka County.  Part of her role is to gather records, dress the clients appropriately for trial, put together trial notebooks, assist with jury selection, and then sit through the trial.  Wadley ended by pointing out that to be successful in the paralegal field, students should be organized, detail oriented, confident, and have a drive to learn.

According to Montzka, “A number of the students showed an added interest in working at a public defender’s office after hearing Emily speak. They all thoroughly enjoyed her.  Emily is extremely passionate about her field.  What I love the most about her is how committed she still is to our school as a graduate.  She is busy with her job and her family, but she always seems to find the time to assist with field trips, tours, and guest speaking events. She truly cares.”

Thank you to Emily Wadley for speaking to our students!  For more information on the paralegal program at Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center campus, please call 763-566-7777 or click here!

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