You can never know too much or learn too much. In this inspiring episode, learn to build your skills, your knowledge, and your career.
Cathy L. Davis is an assistant professor and department chair of the criminal justice and legal studies...
Jill I. Francisco, ACP, received her BA in Criminal Justice, (concentration in Legal Studies), from Marshall University...
No matter if you’re new to the profession or a seasoned vet, paralegal professionals can never know too much.
Guest Cathy L. Davis is an assistant professor and department chair of the criminal justice and legal studies programs at Alabama’s Faulkner University. She’s a champion of continuing education and the lifelong pursuit of new skills.
Make your job your passion, and make learning your passion. Lexus, Clio, Mycase, Microsoft Office, local paralegal associations, and others all offer opportunities to learn and demonstrate competencies. Get every certification you can.
For those new to the business, start with:
Offer to attend hearings or assist at the courthouse, even if some tasks are outside your scope. Consider volunteering at a legal aid office, neighborhood associations, and community causes. Ever thought about teaching or speaking at a local college? Never stand still.
Special thanks to our sponsors InfoTrack, Nota, NALA, and Smokeball.
Jill Francisco: Welcome back to another episode of the Paralegal Voice, part of the Legal Talk Network. I’m your host, Jill Francisco, an Advanced Certified Paralegal and Past President of NALA. So, today I am super excited that we’re going to focus on the paralegal career which I think is a great time in these days to do. And also, talk about some things to do outside the typical “paralegal box.” We’re going to discuss skills that a paralegal student, like maybe fresh out of school should make sure that they have, but also this is going to serve as a refresher or like kind of a reminder for those of us who have been out of school for a while. We’re not going to mention any years or any amount of time.
And then finally my guest is going to share some really cool stuff about some new software and technology in the legal field that we hope will be useful to you to use or at least be aware of in your everyday paralegal world so that you may either enhance your paralegal career with it or to share with others. So, like I said you know I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient in my paralegal career and my task, I’m sure you are too.
So, our guest makes it her mission I feel like to send prepared paralegals out to the workforce and I mean she stays involved and engaged in happening so she’s always up-to-date and can offer the paralegals that she’s involved with the best possible things that they can to be prepared to go into the paralegal world. So, for today’s discussion, I’d like to welcome Cathy L. Davis, ACP. She’s Assistant Professor and the Department Chair of the Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Program at Faulkner University. Cathy, welcome to the show.
Cathy L. Davis: Hey, how are you?
Jill Francisco: Doing well. You know how it is, I’m sure you’re swamped and busy. You know how us paralegals are.
Cathy L. Davis: Yeah. So, it’s been a crazy last two weeks with a lot of traveling but it’s been good.
Jill Francisco: Well, I really appreciate you taking your time because I know the listeners are going to have — really appreciate you also because I know you have some really cool and useful information that I can’t wait to have you share with our listeners. So, Cathy, do you want to just tell a little bit about your background so our listeners can kind of get a little impression of where you’re coming from.
Cathy L. Davis: Yeah. So, I started as a paralegal probably about now 40 years ago. Wow.
Jill Francisco: Woah. Don’t say it out loud.
Cathy L. Davis: I know, that’s bad to think about. But I worked — first I started actually doing some bankruptcies and then I got a job in a firm where we did both insurance defense and civil litigation which was kind of an odd thing. One attorney did plaintiff’s cases and the other one did insurance defense.
Jill Francisco: Interesting.
Cathy L. Davis: And so then I went to a firm that was strictly insurance defense. Worked there for a several years and then I went into a firm that mostly telcom law.
Jill Francisco: Oh, okay.
Cathy L. Davis: And I will just admit for about the first six months, I questioned everyday “what have I done?” But I stayed there 12 years so it must’ve been okay.
Jill Francisco: You got used to it.
Cathy L. Davis: I know. I really began to really enjoy it. Then I got a call from Faulkner University and they asked me if I want to come out there full time. I had been doing some part-time work for them and so I jumped at it. And so, I’ve been there and November will be my 10th year at Faulkner.
Jill Francisco: Wow. Congratulations.
Cathy L. Davis: Time flies and I started just as the Director for the Paralegal Program. We were and still are in the ABA approved paralegal program. And so, I took over the reigns there and did that for several years and then the Chair for the Department was leaving and so I assumed his role as Chair of the Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Department.
Jill Francisco: Wonderful.
Cathy L. Davis: So, that’s kind of my school gig. And outside of that, I’ve been on the Approval Commission for the American Bar and that one a little while ago from a site visit, I was served on the certified board for NALA and I served the Alabama Paralegal Associations Board right now as their NALA Liaison.
Jill Francisco: Well, nothing new. Paralegals, we just keep — I always say I need a “No” button which somebody got me one but now I’m still not using it.
Cathy L. Davis: Yeah. I know. That happens. And so, I told them that when I got home from this trip that I wasn’t going anywhere until the end of the month so.
Jill Francisco: Right. And you need a little bit of a break. Well, and a congratulations like I said on your 10 years, that’s awesome. Teaching, you know it means a lot to me and I just recently got — last fall, I got the chance to fulfill one of my last — I mean I guess I should say last because you know how we are, we always come up with something else but professional goals to teach because I feel like if you love the paralegal profession, that’s one of the things that is really cool and neat for a paralegal to do because they’re fostering and strengthening and helping the paralegal profession thrive well into the future even when we’re done being paralegals. And so, since you’ve mentioned that, I mean one of the cool things I think we’ve talked about and that you might want to share with our listeners is where you were talking about like how can someone kind of get into that, like kind of a little road map. I think you did some research and organization on that that might be helpful to others.
Cathy L. Davis: I did. The first thing really is that you have to have a degree higher than the level that you are teaching. So, if you want to go into a junior college and the associates degree, you just need a bachelor’s degree in legal study.
Jill Francisco: Right, which is what I’m doing. Yeah.
Cathy L. Davis: Yes. And so, as you want to go higher, you just get those higher degrees. And so I have two masters. I have a masters in Justice Administration and I also have a masters in Paralegal Studies.
Jill Francisco: Okay.
Cathy L. Davis: So, that allows me to teach at the bachelor level which our program has an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree. So, that’s the first thing to secure is your education and to make sure that you have that when you apply for a position. The other thing I would say after you do that is see if you can work your way into some guest speaker spots at a local college to see if this is really what you want to do. It sounds fun and great until you arrive at three o’clock grading papers and getting grades in. But just see if your personality is something that’s going to fit into teaching.
Jill Francisco: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Cathy L. Davis: You have to be sure and with today’s younger students sometimes the engagement is different than what we have with our coworkers and so you have to be sure that you can find that way to engage that student and pull them into your world so that you can teach them. Teaching paralegal studies is so much more than just a textbook. The textbook is great and I want my students to read that textbook so I read it first and highlight and add notes for anything that I want them to pick up on. They’re not fooling me. I know they’re not reading the textbook all the time. So, if they will just at least look at my notes and my highlights, I feel like we’re ready then for a good discussion.
Jill Francisco: Yeah.
Cathy L. Davis: Once we get into class. Sometimes you have to draw the students out a little bit. Sometimes they’re quiet and so you have to figure out how am I going to get them to answer questions. And so, we do things, fun things like the beach ball, whoever lands the beach ball has to answer the question or poker chips. Everybody gets the same number of poker chips so at the end of the day, you have to have no poker chips. That kind of gives the ones who want to talk all the time. “Hey, look if you used your poker chips and say the ones who haven’t talked, they have to kind of engage.” But I think really probably one of the biggest rewards that I get as a paralegal instructor right now is my classes are small so I get to actually know my students. And I get to understand the pressures that they’re under. I think when I went to college it was very sheltered and I think all really did was go to college. I didn’t have these outside, “oh, I have to have a job and I have to do this and I have kids that I have to deal with.” Your typical student today is facing all of that.
Jill Francisco: Yeah.
Cathy L. Davis: So, I have to be sure that I understand where they are when they come into that classroom. And if they’re stressed out over work or whatever is happening in their family life, I’ve got to try to hone them back in and get them back in the mood to study. The other thing that is so rewarding is to see them go out on the internship and come back and “Oh, Ms. Davis, I loved it and they’ve offered me a job.”
I have a couple of students right now who just email me all the time, “Hey, Ms. Davis, just want to let you know this is my one-year anniversary. Things are great, thank you.” So, the pay is not great for the most part but that’s your reward. It’s making sure that the love that you feel for the paralegal profession, you’ve shared that with somebody and they now feel it and are working that paralegal job. So, that’s kind of where I like to be with my students.
Jill Francisco: I agree with you. Since I started teaching, it’s funny you say that because I started out, I didn’t like to start go like one day you just kind of think, “Oh, I want to teach.” I started being asked by the local paralegal program to be a guest speaker, to participate in panels, to just kind of represent, because I’m a defense paralegal as you know. And so like to represent like if they were kind of having like a panel to show different professions and places paralegals could work and different things they do and jobs and stuff. And that’s how I started. And then like you said, you kind of over the years, you’re like, “Well, that would be good to do.” And then obviously when I think when you’re involved in professional associations, I think that keeps you kind of tuned in to like you were saying the difference in generations and kind of outside of your own little personal box, like going from your home to just your office and your coworkers and things like that, when you’re in association.
But I totally agree, it’s a beyond rewarding experience, even if just one person tells you the things that you were saying, like they’re so happy with they love it. They were successful in their classes and now they’re successful in their career and they’ve started out and they’re happy or even just when they’re in school that they’re excited and they love it and they’re glad they chose to take the classes. And all that makes it worth it. Because like you said, for me, I’m teaching the in trade of paralegalism and the ethics class. So I’m doing two classes one evening a week. I’m not getting rich over it. That’s not really why I’m doing it. It’s more for the love, like you said, that you feel and you want to pass that on. And I’m hoping that some of our listeners, if they’re at that point in their career where they think that they could take on a little something extra or a little something different and I think also you can use it. I don’t know if you agree with this, but at some point, if you’re kind of in a rut or bored with your career.
Cathy L. Davis: Yes, definitely.
Jill Francisco: Something different to do.
Cathy L. Davis: And you don’t have to jump all into the teaching thing. Just be that person who will go out and volunteer with the schools because we are looking all the time for people who are willing to come out and be a guest speaker or participate in a mock trial that we’re doing or just talk to the students about, “Hey, this is what you learn in the books.” That’s what I tell my students all the time, this is what you learn in the books, but this isn’t the way we really do it.
Jill Francisco: Right, right.
Cathy L. Davis: So, I need to teach you what’s in the book, but I also need to tell you and you need to understand that this is really how we apply this.
Jill Francisco: When I think that’s the benefit of having people like you and I as teachers.
Cathy L. Davis: Because there’s so much — I mean, the book doesn’t really go over “Hey, the attorney is going to expect you to get that trial notebook ready” without even saying, “Hey, do you have the trial notebook ready?”
Jill Francisco: Right, right.
Cathy L. Davis: You just need to know that when you go to work, it’s not a task driven, really. The attorney is not going to say, I want you to do ABC and D when you get really successful and good at it, you’re just doing ABC or D without being told.
Jill Francisco: Right. We got to take a quick little break and we’re going to pause for a quick minute to take a commercial break and we’ll be right back to continue our awesome conversation.
How often do you struggle with e-filing? Staying up late to prepare that crucial filing before the deadline only to wake up to a rejection. InfoTrack allows paralegals and lawyers to file with the court from within your practice management software, saving time and improving data accuracy. Find out which mistakes put you most at risk by downloading the free top e-filing rejection reasons report at infotrack.com/rejections.
Welcome back to the paralegal voice I’m Jill Francisco and my guest today is Cathy Davis and we were just discussing kind of a paralegal road map of how to get involved if you want to become a teacher and also just kind of discussing and relishing in the rewards that as a paralegal that you can get when you do this kind of teaching. And we were laughing right, Cathy, it’s not for the money, but sometimes the best things in life are not for the money. But let’s move along because I know I want this to be kind of — I know that this is good information to where, like, we are talking about.
I know you care about your students so much and you’re engaged and you talked about all the things that you do to stay involved and up on the paralegal profession and the skills needed. So, what are your top things right now that paralegal students should definitely make sure they know about and possess when they get out? And then also obviously this is going to serve as a refresher. If you’re already out in the workforce, this is something you got to check out if you don’t know.
Cathy L. Davis: Yeah. So with students today, and this seems kind of strange unless you know it, but we go over, we have a whole class that we go over professionalism and how to be organized, how to be on time with your task or just to be on time for work, how important that is.
Jill Francisco: Sounds simple.
Cathy L. Davis: Very simple things. How to be a good listener. And if your attorney is trying to tell you something, I tell my students all the time, “You’re going to be in a situation where you do have to pay attention and pay attention to detail.” And so, if I can get them past those really kind of soft skills. Then some of the more important things is be a good writer. And everybody thinks, “Oh, I am the best writer in the world.” We were kind of laughing about that over the weekend at the Certifying Board Meeting. “Hey, you can’t tell me I’m a bad writer. I’m the best writer ever.” Yeah, maybe not so much, if that’s what you think about yourself. So take those English courses.
There’s a program out there that you can get. It’s Core Grammar for Lawyers, and anybody can go and get that and take, its online. And so, just do a refresher on writing. And the courts now have changed and we used to write one sentence that was a whole paragraph long, and the courts moved away from all that. They want it very plain English. They want us to call the parties by their names. Take a little refresher course in writing, be a good researcher. I tell my students all the time, “There is nothing you can do to Westlaw or Lexis to tear it up, so get in there and play with it.” And research now is so much more than just Westlaw or Lexis. It’s Facebook, It’s TikTok, it’s Snapchat, it’s just Googling and trying to find information out. And so, there’s so many more ways that we can do investigation than when I was really working, that it’s just amazing, all the information they have at their fingertips.
Jill Francisco: Well, and not only to know about the stuff that you need to research, you need to be up on that. But I think the huge thing now, and I’m sure you’ve probably taken a couple of CLEs, because I know you take the NALA courses and things like I do. But the biggest thing, too, is knowing how to preserve it. Like you can’t just sometimes a screenshot is not going to cut it, or you have to have a certain way to download, or you have to know is there a third party that needs to actually download and have it a certain way. Even simple things like cell phones. Like, we had to get a new software to do the cell phones.
Cathy L. Davis: Yeah, there’s a new software out there that we’re looking at getting, it’s called DISCO. And DISCO is kind of a relativity probably for a smaller audience. But we’re going to get that so students have skills when they go out and they’ve got 30,000 emails. Well, how do I just get the main thread instead of having to read that same email 2500 times? And so, just knowing how to get emails and doing the organization and the summarizing of those emails, what is the best way? And I tell students all the time, I’m going to teach you my way, but don’t be upset when you go to work. And they go, “Well, this is how we’re going to do it.” And you say, “Well, Ms. Davis, she doesn’t do it that way.” Because there’s a lot of ways to get at what you’re trying to do. You just need to understand the concept that this is what I should be doing, this is basically what I need to do to preserve that evidence so I can get it into court and this is how I’m going to store it once I get it.
Jill Francisco: Yes, and I think you bring up a good point. I think that’s where your schooling comes in. I’m sure people have asked you, is it really necessary to go and get an education to be a paralegal? Because we all know people that are successful in their position and maybe they don’t have the formal schooling and education as you and I do and other people that we know. But I think that’s where sometimes the comes in because like discovery, let’s just take discovery. So, discovery can be done a ton of different ways and you’re going to teach them away and I’m going to talk about it, what I do and my personal experience at my firm. But you know what, the rules are the rules and those don’t change and the purpose of why you’re doing discovery is the purpose of why you are doing discovery and that’s not going to change and I think that’s where your education gives you that background, don’t you think?
Cathy L. Davis: Yeah. I do. And I think sometimes we do forget that sometimes the rules change.
Jill Francisco: Yeah. Oh, that’s true. That’s true. Yeah, we got to keep updated on the rules. That’s another thing that we need to tell everybody to do.
Cathy L. Davis: Just because we did something same way last year. And especially the courts all have their own local rules and we can teach them the federal rules and procedure all day long but if you miss what the local court wants you to do, it’s just going to get kicked back to you. And so, I tried to tell students be sure that you’re doing what the court that you’re working in wants you to do and be sure that you’re aware of what those local rules are. And some of the other things that I think sometimes paralegals get that are in school versus what you get out of school is you’re just so much more well-rounded. You’ve taken bankrupt. You’ve taken real estate. You’ve taken family law. You’ve taken civil procedure. You’ve taken evidence and e-discovery and torts.
And so when you go to work for a firm and maybe it’s just a civil litigation firm, when something comes in, you can go, “Wait a minute, I learned that in family law, hang on just a minute.” And so you’re just more prepared overall for your career and I think too it opens doors for you to find that type of law that really is where your heart is at. They were like, “Well what if I go get this job and I hate it.” I said stay there a year at least and see if you really do hate it. It may be that you end up loving that. And so, don’t just leave a job after six months because you think it’s not the job for you. And so, I think having a little bit of all the different kinds of laws that’s out there. Helps the student pick kind of where they think they’re going to be happiest.
Jill Francisco: I think that’s a good point. So Cathy let’s take another quick break and then we’ll be right back to wrap up. Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. I’m Jill Francisco and my guest today, Cathy Davis. I want to reiterate what you were saying that, you take all the different types of classes on different types of law and then, like you said, they go out, maybe do an internship. I think that’s why an internship is another great benefit when you’re in the formal program as a student. That’s one way that you can get some “experience under your belt.” Test out the waters in a certain type of law but then you get out and you start working in family law and then you’re not too sure of it. But like wait it out just a little bit, I mean don’t stay there forever. I mean we’re not telling them to stay there forever but wait it out. But then also you have all that other experience where you’ve taken all those classes on all that different type of law that you can easily go, “Okay, so family is not for me. Let me go over here and try litigation because I’ve had some litigation classes” with the background, with torts and things like that that you were talking about.
Cathy L. Davis: Yeah. So we also allow our students to do two internships.
Jill Francisco: Oh nice.
Cathy L. Davis: They can do one is an elective and then one is required. So it gives them a little bit more chances to see, “Hey, is this really where I think I want to be or is there where I think I want to be?” And a lot of our students although we require 120 hours and that doesn’t seem like a lot. But you have to think they’re doing school and they’re doing sports and they’re holding down a job. So, sometimes I do allow my students to complete their hours over the summer and then take the class in the fall so it’s not such an overlay to them. But a lot of my students will complete those 120 hours and call and say, “Hey, Ms. Davis, I still have four weeks left in the semester and they said I can keep working here. Is that okay?” I’m like, “Yes.” Because the more experience you can get, even if it’s an unpaid internship, that goes on your resume and when you get ready to go get a job and they’re like, “Well, you don’t have any experience.” Yes, you do. You have that internship. And we also worked with students to help them parlay, “Well, I worked in a daycare, but that doesn’t apply to legal studies.” Yes, it does, because you are organized, you may be kept up with a whole team of students and kept them engaged in something. So that’s good for your resume.
Jill Francisco: Communication. I mean communicating, yeah.
Cathy L. Davis: You’re communicating with those parents about those bad children. So, we try to get them to look at various things they can put on their resume because they think I have no experience whatsoever. Well, if you play team sports, you have experience.
Jill Francisco: Oh, yeah. And people like you said they just not thinking along that lines because they haven’t been out in that world. One thing I just was telling my students the other day because especially the new ones, I think they’re nervous about that like, “Oh, how am I ever going to get that stuff on my resume. How am I going to build up a good resume?” And I talked about volunteering, like going down to legal aid and volunteering.
Cathy L. Davis: Yeah. And even you just volunteer with a golf tournament. I mean you’re networking.
Jill Francisco: True, true.
Cathy L. Davis: And so, I try tell the students all the time. Join these associations right now. Now it has a five dollar sign up for students.
Jill Francisco: Which is amazing.
Cathy L. Davis: I’ll do that so we are doing a five dollar sign up for students. So go ahead and join these associations just for the networking experiences if nothing else. If you don’t want to do the CLEs or anything like that, learn people who can help you when you graduate.
Jill Francisco: Yeah, that’s true. And I tell my students too don’t — like and this goes for anybody. Like even if you’re a seasoned paralegal and you’re doing something or like you said, you go to an event or you do some type of teaching or you do some type of presentation. It’s like, take those notes, keep those connections. Keep those however you want to keep them electronically, paper, however you want to keep them because you never know when you’re going to need to go back to that person and say, “Hey, would you write me a recommendation? Would you do some?” Because nowadays, I mean I feel like working and employment is a whole different ballgame nowadays and you could be thinking you’re good and then all of a sudden you’re not or you want to switch or you have an opportunity and you need some references. Like I did a resume for myself and I don’t think I had done one for like 25 years because I have the same job. And I thought to myself I should have been a little bit more polished and had that at least updated if I needed it. So, I think that’s a little advice for our seasoned workers. I mean, students are always looking ahead of that, maybe that’s in the front of their mind, but I think that all paralegals should have that kind of keep that stuff for easy reference.
Cathy L. Davis: Well, one of the things that I tell my students that would be good for seasoned paralegal too is to keep that elevator pitch in the back of your head. When I first told our students, they were going to do an elevator pitch, they just looked at me and just laughed and so then I called in someone who is from career placement agency. And he was talking about what you need your elevator pitch. And so when he left there were all like, “Sorry, Ms. Davis.” See I told you all. But that little 30 seconds that you have to make somebody remember you, what are you going to say to them and to make yourself stand out above everybody else? The more they worked with that the better they got out of it and the more that they will call back and say, “Hey, I used my elevator pitch the other day. I just wanted you to know.” And I’m like, good because you need to brag on yourself because other people may not do it.
Jill Francisco: And you never know. Like it doesn’t have to be if you’re trying to get a job or you’re trying to do whatever. It’s when you’re just networking and engaging and meeting new people and doing new things. And it seems like you’re prepared and you’re put together and you’re organized and it just it really gives a sense of pride and confidence. I mean all kind of just start snowballing once you get that good foundation I think in place.
Cathy L. Davis: Yeah. And for paralegal students and for seasoned paralegals, do every certification that you can do. If it’s a Word certification, an Excel.
Jill Francisco: Oh nice.
Cathy L. Davis: DISCO has four certifications that you can do. Get your CP, get your ACP. Do anything that will give you a certification that you can add to your resume.
Jill Francisco: Speaking of that certification, go back to that software. Because I know you and I were kind of talking a little bit more about it and I think you were saying that that’s not that new software that is out and you were going to get for your students but also like I said would be good for paralegals just to know about out in their career. That has certifications within it, correct?
Cathy L. Davis: Yes, it has four.
Jill Francisco: Oh wow.
Cathy L. Davis: And so, their own different subject matters. And don’t sometimes, if you’re in school and you have Cengage they have certifications that you can do. Westlaw and Lexis have certifications that you can do. And so spend a little time and get those because when you go to work for a firm and they — and you put on there you know how to do Clio, and you’ve worked in Clio, and they’re like, “Well, we don’t use Clio, we use MyCase.” That is so similar that you could parlay.
Okay, so I don’t know my case but here’s what I know you have to do in Clio so I still have those skills. I still have the billing skills. I still have the organizational skills and how to open a file and how to close a file. And so don’t discount anything if your Paralegal Association is doing something to give you a certification. Go do it.
Jill Francisco: Well, you and I both I think are on our soapbox about forever educator. I mean just, we’re educators ourselves but then just it’s forever education. It doesn’t end. I think that’s maybe one of the biggest takeaways that our listeners can get from this show whether you’re a student, whether you’re a former student, whether you’re a current student, whether you’re out for a while or not. I mean like we just talked about the Lexis things not too long ago. I went on there for Lexis refresher because so much stuff changes. The way you search, the way they have new things with public records. They have a new thing now where I’m teaching other paralegals in our firm because they didn’t know about it. You can access like all, I used to have to use Pacer to get the Federal Court pleadings, well now you can get that through Lexis if that’s what your subscription entails and you can go on there and get them at no cost. I mean that’s a phenomenal tip to know that you can go on there, look at the federal dockets for any state and get the pleadings instead of paying a per-page fee through Pacer. I mean Pacer probably doesn’t like that, but it’s a good thing and I just did that recently because it’s changing constantly.
Cathy L. Davis: In a lot of states, I know in Alabama there are a couple very large law firms that will put out all the Supreme Court decisions on Friday afternoon on their website. So all you have to do is go to their website. And so if you’re looking or think something is about to come out about your client, one of the quickest ways to know is, “Hey, this is going to come out and I can go pull the opinion.” So being tech-savvy and keeping up with your skills, your Microsoft, your Excel, or your PowerPoint skills do that because that is going to make you so much more valuable in your law firm. I think one of the worst things that paralegals can do is say, “I have my job. This is my job and I’m not going to do anything outside of this box.” And I am so not that person. I was always going to the training go and “Hey, I want to go to Trial” or “Hey, I want to go to deposition.” Or “Can I go to this meeting with you.” And he was like “Nobody has ever wanted to do this.”
Jill Francisco: You’d be surprised. People do want to do it and then, and like you said, sometimes people won’t ask because they think you want to let you but all you got to do sometimes is show that initiative.
Cathy L. Davis: Yeah, and so then he would come in, “Hey I can’t go to the PSC meeting today. Can you go up there and handle it for me?” And I’m like, “Yes, I can go do that.”
Jill Francisco: There’s your in.
Cathy L. Davis: And so it’s a job that you can make it what you want to make it. If you want to go in at 8 o’clock and sit at your desk and summarize depositions or just in subpoenas and I’m not saying that’s not important, but if that is all you want to do, you can find a job that will allow you to do that. But if you want to be in the middle of the case and meeting with clients and going to trial and doing what I consider the fun stuff.
Jill Francisco: Yeah. Right.
Cathy L. Davis: Our attorneys are usually more than happy to give over some stuff. And I tell my students it may not come right at first. They’re going to have to learn to trust you a little bit, but if you’re willing to put yourself out there and say, “Hey I will learn this.” They are more than happy for you to take over that task.
Jill Francisco: They’re professional delegators, right?
Cathy L. Davis: So please take this off my plate.
Jill Francisco: Yeah, please do it so.
Cathy L. Davis: You just have to have the faith in yourself to think this is not rocket science, and I can do this. So I’m going to go ask. And you may need a little help right at first but then you get it.
Jill Francisco: Yeah.
Cathy L. Davis: And then you just know, I want to go in. This is what I’m going to be doing. So, I like that part of it. I guess the self-satisfaction of doing something you haven’t done and doing it well. When the PSC in Alabama first went to e-filing, they used my files and I called them one day and I was like I’m a little nervous about you all using my stuff. And they we’re like, “Well, we know what you file will be correct and so that’s why we’re putting your stuff in there.” And I was like, “Oh, that makes me feel better about it.”
Jill Francisco: That’s nice.
Cathy L. Davis: But when your firm hears that then they’re like “Hey, well, she works for me.”
Jill Francisco: Yeah. Right.
Cathy L. Davis: That’s part of the reward that you get from this job too or handling that big case for that family that’s distraught because they’ve lost a loved one or something. And one of the things that was sad at this meeting when we were asking paralegals what they thought one of the biggest things about this job was.
The girls said you have to have sympathy. And she said, you’re not meeting people on their best day.
Jill Francisco: That’s true.
Cathy L. Davis: And so you have to learn how to be sympathetic, not brush them off because they just feel like they need somebody to hear them.
Jill Francisco: And I think I try to tell my students, I’m like that’s what a paralegal is, a paralegal has so many like, adapt. I mean, how many times have we said we adapt. I’m sure there are our paralegals that are that are listening today. They already probably possess a lot of those skills. They’re probably that’s why they already are successful paralegals. Hopefully, we’ve thrown around different terms or like maybe shed some light on some different areas or some different skill sets that you may had have, but you just kind of haven’t got out for a while out of the closet for a while and so they can brush up on it because coming from you that you’re out there right now. And we know it’s important. It just makes some more value to the employer or more valuable in their position or a better teacher or whatever they’re trying to do. It just increases you. It elevates you.
Cathy L. Davis: Yes, I just think the more you can do — our minds if we don’t use them, we lose them.
Jill Francisco: True. Keep it going.
Cathy L. Davis: You just constantly you need to be learning something.
Jill Francisco: True. We don’t want to resort to just doing crossword puzzles all the time. All right, well Cathy, I think that we’re about ran out of time unfortunately, and I hope that our listeners got some neat ideas about some new things that are out there, some new software that’s out there, some skills that the student should have or if you have forgotten to that our season paralegals can brush up on. But if anybody has any questions or whatever, for Cathy. Cathy what’s the best way that they could get in touch with you to reach out to you?
Cathy L. Davis: They can just email me at [email protected] and that’s F-A-U-L-K-N-E-R.eu.
Jill Francisco: Okay. Well, thanks so much Cathy. And like I said, I think that probably when we’ll post that out with this episode and everybody can get in touch with you and if they have any questions, I know that you will be ready and willing and always so helpful to help everybody out. So thank you so much again for taking your time and joining me today. I really appreciate it. It was great talking to you. And also, thank you so much for our listeners who tuned in with me today. And if you have any questions or comments for me, please contact me at [email protected] and I hope you will join me for our next episode. I’m Jill Francisco for the Paralegal Voice signing off.
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.
Notify me when there’s a new episode!
|Published:||October 7, 2022|
The Paralegal Voice provides career-success tips for paralegals of any experience level.