Maddy Martin is the head of growth and education at Smith.ai, a provider of law firm communication services including:...
Carl H. Morrison, ACP, RP, PP, AACP, is an experienced certified paralegal and paralegal manager and has been in...
Is artificial intelligence going to replace paralegals in the legal industry? Short answer— no! In this episode of The Paralegal Voice, host Carl Morrison talks to Maddy Martin about the impact of automation in the legal profession and how it affects paralegals. They discuss how speed and accuracy in everyday paralegal tasks can be improved with AI and how this frees up paralegals for higher level tasks. After the break, Maddy talks about her role at Smith.ai and describes how the company provides communications services for law firms. Finally, Maddy gives tips for paralegals on what to look for when seeking new legal tech for their law office.
Stay tuned to the end for Listener’s Voice, Carl’s recurring segment featuring audio questions or comments from a listener. To send in your own question, email Carl at [email protected]
Maddy Martin is head of growth and education at Smith.ai.
The Paralegal Voice
Automation in the Legal Industry: How AI Empowers Paralegals
Carl Morrison: Hello everyone. Welcome to The Paralegal Voice, here on Legal Talk Network. I am Carl Morrison, a Certified Paralegal, devoted to law, and your host of The Paralegal Voice.
I am a Certified Paralegal and Paralegal Educator and I am devoted to not only the paralegal profession, but to all legal professionals, from legal support professionals, to paralegals, and to those whom we support, attorneys. I am devoted to helping others enhance their passion and dedication for the paralegal profession through entertaining and engaging interviews.
Before we begin, we would like to thank our sponsor NALA. NALA, the Paralegal Association, is a professional association for paralegals providing continuing education and professional certification programs for paralegals at nala.org. NALA is a force in the promotion and advancement of the paralegal profession and has been a sponsor of The Paralegal Voice since our very first show.
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And also, Thomson Reuters Firm Central, cloud-based legal practice management that streamlines your day and automates non-billable administrative tasks so you can accomplish more with less.
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The goal of The Paralegal Voice is to discuss a wide range of topics important to the paralegal industry and share with you leading trends, significant developments and resources you will find helpful in your career and everyday job.
Of course my guests will always be engaging and informational with that little bit of fun thrown in there. And we have got a great guest lined up today. Today my guest is Maddy Martin of Smith.ai.
Maddy is Head of Growth and Education for Smith.ai based in California and she operates from Buffalo, New York.
Today on The Paralegal Voice we are going to be talking about automation, its impact on the legal profession and more importantly its impact or what I call that perceived impact on us, paralegals.
So Maddy, thank you so much for joining me today.
Maddy Martin: Thanks for having me Carl. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Carl Morrison: I am really glad you are going to be talking and sharing a lot about Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the legal profession. I was reading a Legaltech News article recently and I saw a headline that really caught my eye, and it said, Paralegals Report Automation Replacing Some Tasks, But Technology ‘Essential’. And of course I stopped and I was like whoa, wait a minute, replacing, what tasks are they replacing, and who are these paralegals that are saying their tasks are being automated and being taken away from them.
So I read the article and the article stated that 63% of survey respondents reported that technology had replaced some form of manual tasks, and of course the article didn’t go into what those manual tasks were and what was being replaced.
But Maddy, in your experience, what do you think these manual tasks are that these paralegals are reporting?
Maddy Martin: So I think that a lot of these tasks and I would really focus on the word tasks are admin, data entry, routine tasks that are not high skilled, paralegal specific tasks that really require high-level thinking, and in many ways administrators and paralegals, professionals who are operating within a law firm or the legal profession are quite glad to be handing them off to technology, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, whatever it is, in whatever form. Even if it’s something like online calendaring so that someone can schedule an appointment for themselves on your calendar or enter information into a form without your guidance, I think that that is a huge benefit to taking these routine tasks off of the plate of paralegals so that they can do the meatier work that really requires their attention, discretion and expertise.
Carl Morrison: So it’s more of the substantive type tasks that they are probably reporting on. Sorry, not the substantive tasks, but more the routine type tasks that are being replaced, that are being utilized, and not replaced, but making more of the tasks — making that paralegal more efficient and effective in their workplace.
Maddy Martin: Absolutely. And for the solo and small law firms that we so often work with at Smith.ai, the paralegals are not necessarily filling their time fully with paralegal work. So what ends up happening is that they are being repurposed for admin tasks and chores quite frankly that they are not upset to have them handed off to a process where the invoice reminder is automatically triggered and it’s not something that they have to handle themselves.
Carl Morrison: Yeah. And this article went on to say that 94% of survey respondents, they described the reliance on technology as essential, and that they could do these tasks, but without technology it would be costly and not efficient.
And I have been in the industry for over 25 years and I have witnessed firsthand the impact technology has had for the good as well as the bad. There are things that it’s like, uh.
But for you Maddy, what impacts have you witnessed that technology has had on the legal workplace? Do you agree that technology has that cost-effective impact on some of these tasks that are being performed, not only by paralegals, but lawyers and other administrative roles in a law office?
Maddy Martin: Oh, absolutely. I mean think about the speed and accuracy of the research that can be done with those tools that can deliver faster, more accurate results to the documents and forms that you need, to the basis for different cases that you are doing research on or collecting information for. Certain cases and matters I think that it is wildly more efficient, and whenever we talk about the costs, obviously there are cost to implementing and using some of this technology, but there is also the opportunity cost that you gain by not having your time spent on things that are more efficiently done through technology, so that you can spend time on more work and other tasks that you would not otherwise be able to accomplish within that same day, for example.
And then outside of the paralegal realm specifically, but still within the law firm, I think about credit card processing. I mean that applies to any business, but if you look at attorneys, some of the data that I have reviewed suggest that before credit card processing or still for firms who have not adopted credit cards as a payment form that they accept, they are capturing around 75% of their revenue that is due to them based on work that has been already completed.
And then when the credit card or e-check or e-payment processing is enabled, also combined with maybe an outsourced receptionist or other solutions to help follow up on payment, we see 95% of the payment is captured. So there are major gains to be made.
And then when you are capturing more of that revenue, you have more money to spend on technology and paralegals who are really phenomenal at their job, that can do work that they are brought in to do; meaning if you are investing in a really high quality paralegal, you want to give them the best tools and also utilize their time so that they can drill into the expertise and deliver that for your firm.
Carl Morrison: It’s that fine balance of utilizing technology appropriately and effectively so that you can capture the revenue that you need to capture in order to operate your firm, but also be able to afford your attorneys, your support staff, your paralegals, the ability to do more substantive work because they have the technology in order to do more efficient legal work for the client.
Maddy Martin: Right, absolutely, and that’s actually one of the reasons why we recently expanded from just answering calls to web chat, because we find that so many questions are routine and repeated and when you are in a small firm and you are being interrupted either as the attorney in a solo firm or as a paralegal in a smaller firm, those interruptions the Clio Legal Trends Report said cause like a 23 minute recovery time from every interruption on average, and if six interruptions happen in a day on average, that’s a two hour loss per day just from the interruptions alone in that kind of like refractory period.
So what you can do when you use both technology in-house for faster research and e-discovery and things like that, and obviously these tools are becoming easier and easier to learn, so there is less kind of time within that transition to using them from the old systems, but when you have that in combination with the outsourced services and those fewer distractions, then you really start stacking these efficiencies on top of each other. And the things like web chat that help reduce those phone calls and emails, it ends up having a cascade effect of reducing all these tasks and interruptions and then you are even more efficient and using that paralegal or that legal assistant or secretary, law clerk to their fullest extent for more of the time in a day.
Carl Morrison: Yeah, exactly, exactly. I recently also saw another article that really made me stop and go what, you have got to be kidding me, and it said that the potential for paralegal jobs being completely automated and being replaced by AI or Artificial Intelligence was at 100%. And I was like you have got to be kidding me?
Of course I dismissed the article and I thought there are way too many tasks out there that still are going to require a level of judgment and analytical ability that at this point in our known universe that technology can replace; there is no technology out there that can replace it.
So if you had a crystal ball, Maddy, what future do you see when it comes to automation or more importantly Artificial Intelligence in the legal industry? Do you think we are going to see a point that it’s going to replace a substantial amount of jobs? Where do you think it’s going to be where we are going to see more of collaboration between Artificial Intelligence and live beings doing substantive legal work?
Maddy Martin: I am in 100% agreement with you Carl. I would laugh at that statistic that it’s 100%. There is — not in our lifetime, that’s kind of my short and sweet response.
My longer response is that it’s not just judgment and analytical ability, but what that means when you are working in a client-driven, highly sensitive business like a law firm where you have people who are contacting you in very stressful situations, that require a high functioning, communication between the paralegal, or receptionist, or whomever it is or the attorney and the lead or the client.
If you are calling about a visa issue or a child custody issue or a murder charge, I mean you name it, it is majorly stressful in myriad ways to be working with a law firm, not to mention the unexpected financial impact of it, et cetera, et cetera. So what we find is that there are certain applications of Artificial Intelligence that are available now that are very much simpatico with the paralegals as live human beings within the law firm or operating virtually. And an example of that that is totally nonthreatening and really empowering is this real-time translation that we are using in chat.
So for example, if you call our Spanish speaking person who is contacting an immigration law firm and I am the English speaking receptionist who is on the other side of the screen, so to speak. If you write in in Spanish, I will see it in English and I can respond in English and it is translated to you in Spanish and you and I can have a conversation that is not prevented from a lack of fluency, but it is enabled and it allows you to get the information you need, to make the decision that you need to make on the critical issue that is causing you to get in touch with that law firm. And it is efficient and it allows the conversation that’s translated to convey my human compassion and an analytical ability and judgment for how to help you. So basically it is a better, more efficient conduit for that very human experience.
Carl Morrison: I agree, 100%, 100%. So we are talking about technology and automation in the workplace and of course, don’t you agree with me that really paralegals play a very active and important role, not only in the law office or the corporate legal department, but more importantly, when new technology and new software is coming out, some form of automation that’s coming out. Don’t you think that the paralegals play an active role in being tasked with selecting that software, and if so, how can a paralegal really stay on top of the latest and greatest that’s out there in those technological advancements in the industry?
Maddy Martin: Well, I would say podcasts are a really great way of getting access to that information.
Carl Morrison: Like this one, right?
Maddy Martin: Frankly, the speed of the information turnaround within a podcast or a traditional like blog or a Facebook group, I think that those channels where the information is digested and then put out into the world very quickly, those are most compelling to me.
Also, the groups allow for community-driven content generation. So like user-generated content is absolutely here to stay, thankfully, and that allows for a more democratic, wider swath of information that’s being delivered, and then, if you go to conferences or things that are more on an annual basis let’s say, with a lot less frequency, you can actually demo, touch, feel, question that software yourself, which is really a nice experience, because it can be overwhelming in the day-to-day to try out all these like demos. It’s nice to have the chance to have devoted time to that sort of thing, but I think that paralegals absolutely play a very strong role.
And then I would also encourage through all these different channels, whether it’s a podcast or a website or an e-newsletter that you are subscribed to, also look outside the legal profession, because there are many applications of software and developments that apply to law that may not be mentioned as often.
And an example of that is a project management tool like Trello or Asana or Clubhouse, because there are things within a law firm that are not just practicing law. There is marketing, there is billing, there are certain operational tasks that need to be managed, but may not be best managed through a case management system. So how are you staying abreast of technology that is kind of happening globally across business, or small business, or AI, different verticals and make sure that you are paying attention to things that are not just within the specific legal ecosystem. I think that that is a way to be on top of the latest technology.
Carl Morrison: It’s funny that you mentioned about project management software, because for 23 out of the 25, 26 years that I have been a practicing paralegal, before I worked in law office and mid-sized to large law firms and now I work in a corporate in-house legal department and you get your blinders on when it comes to technology and you think well, I only have got to focus in on legal related technology or software that’s out there. And like you said, especially in the corporate environment, I do a lot of, even though I still deal with litigation, employment issues, things of that nature, there is still a lot of project management aspect that having a tool like that can assist me to be able to better and be more efficient in providing the legal services to my general counsel or outside counsel for that fact.
This article that I was reading from Legaltech News, those same respondents, they were talking about their law firms and that their law firms use outside providers in addition to internal like IT support when it comes to using technology such as a document management system or a e-discovery system, so on and so forth.
So do you see many, if not most, of the paralegal that maybe you and your company interact with have primary responsibility in selecting outside providers or outside vendors for software and so on and so forth, such as companies like yourself, or do you really see like a combination of the managing attorney working alongside with the paralegal?
Maddy Martin: I think it really is pick your own flavor and the preference of the leadership team, but what I do find is that paralegals and office managers have a large role in that. And then typically they are roping in the managing attorney, sometimes they are kind of jointly going at it. They have different areas where they have a particular passion, for example, and then it’s presented to the partners and there is a meeting about it. But I think that that initial research, discovery, even trialing of that software or service is absolutely first vetted by the paralegals and often in partnership with the managing attorney.
Carl Morrison: Right, exactly. I mean me, historically, that’s kind of been the role. It’s been like okay, Carl, what do you see in the way of a service or a software or something that we are needing, go do research, get me information and lets you and I talk about it and then we will meet with the vendor and then we will discuss big picture items and so on and so forth.
So paralegals I think work a lot independently initially to get the information, because we are the researchers of the world and that’s the skill set that we are taught to go and figure out, and then bring back answer or answers to the attorney to help figure out the best solution for the issue at hand.
So let’s take a short commercial break and when we come back we are going to continue our conversation with Maddy Martin. So listeners, don’t turn that dial, we will be right back.
Carl Morrison: This episode of The Paralegal Voice is brought to you by CourtFiling.net, your solution for electronic filing in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. CourtFiling.net provides a better e-filing experience so you can spend more time helping clients. Because they know that work sometimes happens after hours, CourtFiling.net offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support. Visit CourtFiling.net to receive 30 days of unlimited free electronic filings and see how you too can e-file court documents with ease.
NALA offers continuing education, professional development and voluntary certification for all paralegals. The Certified Paralegal credential has been awarded to more than 19,000 paralegals. The Certified Paralegal Program is also the first paralegal certification program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. NALA works actively with all those in the legal field to promote the value of paralegals and to advance paralegal professionalism. Learn more about NALA at www.nala.org.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back. We are talking with Maddy Martin of Smith.ai, and Maddy, we have had a great conversation so far. I really have enjoyed talking with you about technology. I am a tech nerd, so.
And before the break of course we were talking about selecting outside vendors when it comes to technology. So I know our listeners are probably going well, who is this Maddy Martin? We have asked a lot of questions but who is Maddy? So I know they would love to hear more about you and your company, so tell us a little bit about yourself.
Maddy Martin: Sure. Well, I have had about a decade in digital marketing, SEO, content marketing and partnerships for three different tech startups between the East Coast and the West Coast, and as you mentioned, now I am back in Buffalo, but I work for a company in California.
And really these companies, I started at Food52, which was a kind of user-generated content for recipes online, and then going to another core life service, getting your car fixed, at YourMechanic, which is a mobile mechanic service, and then into another core service, which is business services for reception now at Smith.ai.
So all focused on the individual or solo small business and growing and empowering kind of the smaller voices in the world, I would say, that deserve attention and great technology and kind of democratized access to recognition for their talents and their services. So we are very much in favor of growing small businesses and empowering them.
So that’s a little bit about me. I work from home, like all of our receptionists do, and we are a pretty virtual company.
Carl Morrison: I love it although I have to be blatantly honest, I don’t know if I could do it all day from my home, because I am like a dog and a squirrel. I see a squirrel when it’s 00:25:15 so it’s like, oh wait, I could be doing laundry. So I don’t know that me, personally, could be virtual employee, but hey, there are plenty of people that this is what they do and it’s so glad that you are such a proponent of helping these small businesses and especially law firms be able to have such a great impact on their business.
So you were talking about the virtual receptionist that you guys utilize and employ, tell us a little bit about that and their impact on law firms and marketing leads for law firms. Do you use paralegals in the virtual receptionist’s intake model? How does it work? Tell us a little bit about virtual receptionists.
Maddy Martin: Sure, absolutely. So I mean, I’ll actually start with the second question first, because we don’t have paralegals as part of Smith.ai, but we do end up working with them because they are at the firms and maybe they are the first line of in-firm communication that that new lead or the client often is interacting with.
So we don’t use paralegals so to speak, but we do interact with them in the course of them either vetting Smith.ai as a service or in passing leads to them once we have done the screening. And that takes me to kind of the answer to your first question, which is, who we are and what do we do?
We are an answering and intake service for live calls and web chat, and what that means and actually it’s really beyond that because it’s both inbound and outbound calls I should say, but really what we are able to do that distinguishes us from the traditional call answering services of 20 years past is in combination with the AI and the human receptionist that we’ve been talking about really handling complete workflows, so that when we receive a call or we make an outbound call or we’re communicating with someone on your website who is looking to determine if your law firm is a good fit for their needs, we can capture the information, we can proactively ask questions that determine if that person is a good lead for your firm and that they are within the right practice area.
They have an idea of the fees that are involved in engaging with you, and then if they’re good leads, scheduling for example a consultation, if you charge for consultations taking payment for it by credit card or e-check, for example, and then having that information after the call, including the contact information and the call summary notes from the receptionist or the chat transcript pass into your case management, practice management, whatever intake system you’re using et cetera, so that you are fully equipped to have an informed first discussion with that person in the case that it is not a good lead, perhaps someone contacted your immigration firm for a family law matter, for example, that is a child custody case or divorce, it’s not related to immigration, then perhaps there’s other firms that you recommend and we can make that referral on your behalf.
So informing that potential client of what your firm actually does so they’re more informed when perhaps there is a need that may meet your practice area or they’re better informed if they meet someone in the course of their daily life, co-worker, friend who they can then say, oh actually, I know a firm that does that and they can recommend you and then also put them in touch with a firm that can help them immediately.
So we really handle the entire workflow end-to-end in addition to blocking your spam and sales calls because we so often find that a lot of people say, oh, I’ve got my calls handled for example, and what they’re doing is letting all the calls go to voicemail and using that as a screening tool and that may be something that you believe is working for you, but from the client’s perspective it’s not a great experience.
And again the Clio Legal Trends Report said that two out of three potential clients base their decision to hire on an attorney’s initial responsiveness to your first call or email. So, if you are sending them to your voicemail, which is the equivalent of a communication black hole, it sets no expectations for when they’re going to hear back from you, you can consider that lead very likely lost.
And from the marketing side if you are paying for people to call or visit your website or complete the contact form, whatever the case may be, then you are wasting a lot of money potentially because you’re not responding and capturing those leads and that’s affecting your conversion rate and the return on your investment of your marketing spend.
Carl Morrison: So, I mean, it really sounds like that gone are the days — at least with your particular company that gone are the days of what I call the old-fashioned answering service where you just have this person that answers and says, I’ll get a message to attorney XYZ and have him return your call. It sounds like, what you’re telling me the virtual receptionist concept that you’re talking about is a lot different, am I right?
Maddy Martin: You are right, and what we say, is we will do all of these sort of laboring tasks so that you can focus on lawyering. So we are very aware of the professional rules of conduct, the model rules, the state-specific rules and we are able to be responsive on your behalf and obviously to an extent and not even within web chat we recommend having a disclaimer that says this does not constitute legal advice nor an attorney-client relationship et cetera, et cetera.
So being experts with working with law firms is a real benefit to working with us because we proactively are kind of looking out for these potential pitfalls or concerns and are getting out in front of them and saying we can do this and we can’t do this. Right? So that’s going to be where that paralegal or attorney comes in for example.
Carl Morrison: Your company services are there to really help the law firm better capture their clients more efficiently and effectively and really shift some of the burden, the laborious rote-type tasks to your company so you guys can focus on that so that the paralegals and the lawyers on the other end that when you have filtered through and gotten the right client to the right firm, then they’re already ready to start the process, the paralegals can really then start the intake because they have gotten all the right information upfront and not have had to have done all that hard work that you guys have already done. So they can start the process of really being able to help the attorney truly be an attorney and truly practice.
Maddy Martin: Absolutely and there are a number of benefits. You’re not having consult scheduled on the attorneys’ or paralegals’ calendars that are not going to come to fruition and a new client engagement. You are not getting new intake form completions that are not going to pan out because it’s not a good potential client and you’re also not having to deal with, I mean, quite frankly if you just have a call answering service and you’re getting a stack of messages throughout the day or at the end of the day, you still have to make a decision on each one of those. Whether you’re the paralegal, or the attorney, or an in-house staff person who has bigger fish to fry frankly and has made this decision so many times you still have to take the time, read, determine to follow up.
If you have to send an email that says, no, we’re not the right fit for you and make sure that you’re following those rules of conduct, for example, whether it is a good potential client or not, making all those decisions is a pain in the butt, and what you really want is a service that is empowered by you based on your custom criteria to say we really know that Attorney Jane does not take this type of client and we’re not even going to say, we’ll just take a message, we’re actually going to say Attorney Jane recommends this Attorney Jo for estate and probate, for example, right?
So making that decision based on your guidance, allows us to have a very close approximation to an in-house receptionist but at a fraction of the cost and at a scalable model where if you launch a new marketing campaign we can start answering 10x of your calls immediately or your web chats, so it’s very flexible, and if you have seasonality in your practice or certain things fluctuate, it can go down and you pay for the level of activity not just you pay regardless of the phone’s ringing.
Carl Morrison: Right. You know that the same article that I keep referencing, which was a great article. They stated that 40% of the paralegals said that they had some input in the firm’s process of selecting those outside providers. So as a provider, as a vendor what tips would you give to a paralegal who’s been tasked with finding that technology or that automation? What should they be looking for in an outside provider?
Maddy Martin: Well, there are a few things and some are kind of external and some are internal to the company and the software. I think does it delight others and does it play well with others are two of the top questions that I would ask beyond the basics like price and essential filtering questions that you use any way that you don’t need my guidance on, right?
I would say, you’re looking for not only excellent reviews from true peers, so if you see a lot of reviews from big law firms and you’re operating a small law firm, that with a grain of salt and do your due diligence to make sure that it applies to your firm as well and see what the reviews are like from true peers of yours, and then also internally, I would also say that the ability to play well with other’s compatibility, the ability to communicate with other software that you’re using, does it have an open API, for example, Clio practice them the rocket matter like a lot of these companies are playing very well with others and you can even see on their websites their integration partners. Some of them have full-on marketplaces of their integration partners that are available as a buffet of all the different software partners that you can plug in to these systems, and that’s what you’re looking for because it affords you flexibility and not being chained to a certain string of software or services that only play with each other which means that you are tethered to using this kind of preformed kit that may not best serve your needs.
So I would look to that. I would also look to software that allows you free trials and flexibility without long term contracts and things like that because in this day and age I think we’re past that in many respects and especially for firms with lower tolerance to a commitment to pay for a long period of time like small firms, you really want to make sure that you have that flexibility to get out of costly agreements.
Carl Morrison: Do you believe that, I believe this but I want your opinion. Do you believe that paralegals are going to have that evolving role in the legal ecosystem and even with a legal techno ecosystem? Do you think we’re going to have that evolving role?
Maddy Martin: I absolutely do. I think that the front line is the most secure line. Actually, I mean look at what’s happening with empowerment with nurses doing more-and-more and people going direct to them with other aspects of the frontline of different industries and professions, that is the most in-tune with the leads and the clients and the partners of that business and in the law firm it’s no different. I think that paralegals are in an excellent position and that because they are not practicing law, have a much more holistic view, and as you mentioned they are responsible for bringing to the table a lot of the software and services that are best utilized. I think that they hold a very trusted position in the law firm or in the company where they operate.
Carl Morrison: I believe that 110% as a practicing paralegal, as someone who’s been doing this for ever in a day. I have inserted myself to ensure that I never fall behind, especially when it comes to technology because it changes daily, and so, if you fall behind as a professional, you’re going to be left behind in a job and so you find the ways as a paralegal professional to stay on top of and stay current everything that we’ve talked about on today’s show. And I believe a 110% that we paralegals, we will have a long-standing evolving role in the legal ecosystem and I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one. So, thank you, Maddy, very much.
So, of course if you’ve listened to my show we’re coming to the end of the show and I always have to have that fun question. So you’re no different, everybody gets it. So here’s your fun question, Maddy.
If they had to make a movie about your life, and whether it’s a comedy or drama, what would the title of the movie be and why?
Maddy Martin: 00:40:08 I would say, I mean — good one. I haven’t been asked that before. I would say — and this is really the truth, and I wake up every morning kind of with this attitude, is the lifelong student, to me, there’s so much to learn and I am just — I have a voracious appetite for new information and for kind of distilling it into practical application.
So I just get a lot of enjoyment from learning from others, from reading and being part of different professional and social groups, and I’m just really blessed to be in a field where there are so many smart and creative and hungry for knowledge people, and even though I do work from home I go to a lot of legal conferences and just being on the front line and talking to people who are working in law firms every day, that inspires me to kind of take that education I’m getting in those conversations and bring it back to our business, our product team, our receptionists, and share that knowledge and really apply it in a way that makes life better for those folks who I met.
Carl Morrison: So would it be a slapstick comedy or is it going to be a drama?
Maddy Martin: I mean, there are ups and downs in life, but I would say, absolutely it’s a positive message with a happy ending.
Carl Morrison: And of course, it has to be. It cannot be a sad movie. Well, Maddy, I am a lifelong learner as well. I love to learn. I constantly want to keep myself in my brain active and so you and I have that in common. So when they make that movie about your life, I hope they make a scene about this podcast.
Maddy Martin: That’s awesome. If there is a movie that’s being made about my life, you will be on my speed dial.
Carl Morrison: Okay, perfect. Maddy, thank you so much for joining me today. I have really enjoyed our conversation about technology and automation and you and I can keep going on for another hour-and-a-half, but if a listener wanted to get in touch with you how would they do that?
Maddy Martin: So you are welcome to reach out to me directly at [email protected], my name is Madeline, and of course you can kick the tires of Smith.ai by giving us a call and hearing our receptionist or chatting with us online at Smith.ai, which is our website, and you can also email us generally just at [email protected], and we look forward to hearing from you.
Carl Morrison: Maddy, thank you so much. Thanks again. I have really enjoyed it. So stay tuned after the break for The Listener’s Voice, and that’s your segment to share with me and my listeners your questions and comments, we’ll be right back.
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Carl Morrison: Welcome back. Of course, I want to announce that you don’t want to forget about NALA’s upcoming conference. Join over 300 NALA members for the 2019 NALA Conference and Expo, that’s July 11th through the 13th. This year’s conference is going to be held at the luxurious Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, and this is located in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona.
This three-day educational event will provide attendees with superior networking opportunities, a chance to earn up to 13 continuing legal education hours, and over 30 sessions developed to help elevate your paralegal and professional skills.
And definitely, come find me, I’m going to be at the conference, and I’m planning a little bit something special. So come find me, you don’t want to miss out.
And those who are new to the show, The Listener’s Voice segment of the show is an opportunity for you as a listener to send me an email with any of your questions, your career celebrations, et cetera. I am going to go through them and I select those that actually I’m going to read on air. If there’s a particular topic you have a question that you’d like for me to answer or maybe there’s a prior guest that you’ve listened to that you have a question and I can get it to them and get an answer, be sure and send me an email, and I want your voice, the listener’s voice to be known and heard. So send me your email at [email protected].
Today’s question comes from a paralegal in Texas. This individual says, hello Mr. Morrison, I got into the legal field by happenstance and have stayed for over 10 years. I did finally go and get my paralegal certificate and recently graduated in 2017.
I started my career in litigation specifically dealing with asbestos litigation but after graduating I got an entry into IP Law, which is Intellectual Property Law, in a large law firm. Since I didn’t know much about IP, I took a job as an administrative assistant, but I am looking to move up. My question to you is how can I do that? What are the steps to take? What is the trajectory of a paralegal career in IP Law? Could you interview someone in that area of law so I can get some ideas about how to navigate my career?
I’m also interested in contracts and acquisitions, maybe an interview with a paralegal who does that would be helpful. PS: I’m young, mid-30s and love the idea of networking and joining associations, but I find that in our office no one attends associations or I don’t know what the associations have to offer in the areas of law I’m interested in. Thank you so much for what you do. It’s greatly appreciated. I love the podcast too. Best regards, signed IP Law to be.
Of course, that’s not her real name, but IP law to be, here’s my response to that. You have a lot of the skills, it sounds like a lot of on-the-job skills that you have learned at being just a general paralegal, specifically related to litigation. And sometimes when you have to make or you do make that transition from one area of law to another area of law that you don’t know, it can be a little daunting at times.
And of course, landing a job in IP law is fantastic and I would recommend that you reach out to associations including attorney associations, whether it be local County Bar or State Bar that you’re in, find seminars and webinars on IP Law. Learn the basics of IP Law. Of course the US Patent and Trademark Office has webinars that you can watch online, that would help you navigate the intellectual property realm. Reach out to of course you’re working in the firm, asked to go to lunch with your supervising attorney to maybe they’ve got some good basic books too that you can take home and read and learn as you’re on the job. Have them show you how to do certain things irrespective to IP but also learn on your own. You’re going to have to learn on your own as well.
Take classes, see if your local paralegal program or an extension office of a college has an online class of IP-related law. Anything that you can do on your own, you will learn a lot about.
Definitely, I love the idea of having a IP paralegal on the show, maybe my next one I might just have that, you never know. So definitely stay tuned. I’m going to put my feelers out, I know a couple of IP paralegals out there that I might just have to have on the show.
So stay tuned on that, and of course, I’m so glad that you put in your PS that you love networking and joining associations. While you didn’t tell me what associations you belong to, I hope that you belong to your local level associations as well as a national association like NALA. Of course, NALA is a great association. I belong to NALA, I belong to NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals and these associations going to the national conferences has afforded me a lot in the way of meeting other paralegals, especially in other areas of law that I can reach out to when I have issues.
So networking is a huge part of your career as a professional and I always stress this to students and younger individuals that may not understand the benefits of joining an association, but networking is a huge part. So I’m glad to hear that you’re doing that.
And so definitely keep reaching for learning more about IP Law, and let me know. Keep me posted on your status because I would love to hear what you’re doing to help yourself move upwards and onwards and be the expert — subject matter expert in IP Law as a paralegal.
Well, that’s all the time we have today for The Paralegal Voice. If you have any questions about today’s show, of course, email them to me at [email protected], and stay tuned for more information in upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news and engaging in fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading legal professionals.
Carl Morrison: Thank you for listening to The Paralegal Voice, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network.
Outro: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
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