With a last name like hers, how can this soon-to-be paralegal graduate not race ahead of what is expected of her in life? Kelly Derby, a student in the bachelor of science paralegal degree program at Minnesota School of Business-Rochester, currently works in the legal field as a paralegal. She was kind enough to make a pit stop from her busy schedule so that blog followers could see what it takes to make it as a paralegal. Read fast—or you might miss her.
So, you’re a paralegal. Tell our readers more.
I work full-time as a family law paralegal at the Ryan & Grinde, Ltd. law office. There are two offices, one each in Rochester and Saint Charles, with a total of five attorneys and four paralegals. I support two attorneys at the Rochester office. My key work responsibilities include producing court documents, writing court correspondence, conducting client and opposing council communication, maintaining client files, scheduling meetings, and attending court hearings and mediation sessions.
What do you love most about it?
I love helping people. By assisting clients through difficult situations, which are common in family law, I deal with personal aspects of people’s lives that are emotional. As much as I want to empathize with clients, I maintain my objectivity in order to keep my feelings out of the process and to provide more clarity to cases. Many times, sensitive topics surround family law cases, so it is not difficult for information to strike a nerve, but maintaining my poise and professionalism is, first and foremost, always adhered to with my clients, regardless of the situation.
What’s the hardest part about your job?
I’m naturally chatty with friends and family. Part of who I am involves telling stories, from everyday things to life-changing events. Falling within this chattiness, since it is such an important part of my life, involves many legal details and events, some fascinating and funny, that surround my work as a paralegal. Due to the strict confidentially that dictates attorney-client privilege, I’m unable to communicate details about clients and their cases. Strictly adhering to this legal concept is something that I have and will always fully embrace; it’s simply a very important part of being 100 percent professional in my position.
Why does the profession fit your personality?
Matt, my very supportive husband, would agree that I’m detail-oriented, fact-driven, which lends itself to appreciating (loving!) legal research and writing, and extremely organized. Additionally, being competitive in the legal world requires anticipating what the opposing sides—competing lawyers and paralegals—are strategically thinking and, overall, how they are building their cases. In this vein, I consider myself quite capable when it comes to playing the devil’s advocate, which comes in very useful at the firm.
Is the fast-paced life of law just like it is on TV?
No. TV likes to glamorize the courtroom, almost to a fault of making it seem like all cases end up in the hallowed courtroom halls of justice. Although many cases in the industry make it that far, our firm looks at it as the last resort by exhausting all alternative dispute resolution options in order to avoid the oftentimes long and costly road to the courtroom. Case in point: during my six-month tenure at the firm, I’ve been in the courtroom only three times. Case closed!
Are you interested in arguing for your own future as a paralegal? Contact 507-536-9500 to speak to a representative.