Loredana Lohan: Good morning everyone and welcome back to another episode of Coffee&Chat. If you are new here, my name is Loredana Lohan and I am a paralegal at Hays Firm LLC and we are located in Chicago, Illinois. Today I have a very special guest Ms. Jaime Nolan.
Jaime Nolan: Hi!
L: Jaime is a paralegal here with me at Hays Firm. She has basically been my mentor and guide since I started here. Jaime, how long have you been with Hays Firm?
J: I have been with Hays Firm for 11 years now.
L: So today I thought it would be great to introduce Jaime to all of our viewers and give a little bit of insight on what goes on kind of behind the scenes. We are not attorneys but we do a lot of work alongside attorneys on cases and special projects that come our way. So before we get into all of that kind of administrative stuff, I wanted to just let Jaime have a chance to talk about herself, how she came to be at Hays Firm and what her path was like.
J: Well I started college and I was actually a hospitality major. I wanted to go into hotels, I did go into hotels for about six years then I ended up not liking it as much as I thought, but I did take a hospitality law class at IU where we both graduated from, and I really remembered liking it. I had a family friend who taught paralegal courses at Kankakee Community College and she recommended the College of Lake County ABA Certified Paralegal Program. So while working at the hotels I took night classes and got my paralegal certificate. And then Andy basically hired me right before I graduated. I had one semester left and I was working at Hays Firm since August of 2012.
L: Wow, there you go. What is a paralegal certificate for those who don’t know?
J: So the certificate program is where you have a bachelor’s or associates degree already but you’re looking to kind of change careers. You get certified basically into a new area of expertise, a career.
L: Was there ever a time after you received your paralegal certificate or throughout the duration of your time here at Hays Firm where you considered, I suppose, to go to law school?
J: No. I mean, while I do enjoy school, I really, I don’t want to be an attorney. I like doing all the behind the scenes work. I don’t like public speaking or, you know, litigating in front of other people so, it’s very out of my comfort zone so I’m very happy where I’m at and really enjoy doing the behind the scenes work because you still get a feel for the law but you know you’re not actually practicing law.
L: Yeah, that’s great. Speaking of legal work, what are the types of administrative tasks that you commonly do as a paralegal?
J: We do a lot of drafting, we do some research, we do calling clients to get information, request documents, that kind of stuff.
L: Okay, let’s set up a scenario here. So a client is calling you, they have some sort of issue that needs resolving. So what is the typical process look like when that happens?
J: So I will initially talk to the client for a few minutes, kind of gauge and see if that’s something that we do here. So if that’s something that we handle, I do set up a time for them to speak with Andy or one of the other attorney’s here so they can kind of go over a little bit more and make sure it is something that we can handle. Let them know what our rates are and if they move forward with hiring us or wanting to hire us then we will send out an engagement letter, and then once that engagement letter is signed and we have the retainer, we move forward with whatever we need to do. So if it’s opening a probate estate, we get the information needed to draft the documents to open the estate. They’re drafted, we send them out to the client for signature. Once they come back we eFile it with the Court, get a court date, send notice as applicable, and then once the Court date happens the attorney will step up, will open the estate and then there are a few more things behind the scenes once the estates open. And then we just kind of go from there depending on what type of case it is.
L: In other words, it sounds like there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes and beyond just appearing in Court. It’s almost like months of work leading up to the court appearance.
L: Are you allowed to give legal advice as a paralegal?
J: No, we are not allowed to give legal advice. So we can explain to them what the rules are but as far as advice and advising them on what they should do that is not our place. We would then refer them to the attorney.
L: Something that I would really like to know is what is the most interesting part about your job or your favorite part about the job?
J: I mean a lot of it is you know helping people because we do probate, you’re dealing with a lot of you know grieving families, and you know, a lot of people who have just lost loved ones and they’re just looking for some guidance on how to, you know, proceed and make sure everything is taken care of properly after their loved one has passed. I really enjoy just talking to people, you know, they’ll tell me stories about how their loved one was when they were alive, just kind of I guess it’s kind of like, not like a counselor, you know, but just an ear, lending them an ear to listen. But I also like, we have some cases where we are doing heirship and we can do back as far as the 1800s, late 1800s or late 1900s and seeing death certificates and census records from their birth. It’s really interesting, I am really interested in the historical aspect of it.
L: Well thank you so much for joining us on this third episode of Coffee&Chat. I really appreciate you taking the time to come on the show. In case you all are wondering, I am wearing a very ugly, crazy holidays sweater because we are filing this a couple of days before Christmas. So on that note, happy holidays to all of our viewers. Please continue to watch our episodes, follow us on instagram. If you have any specific questions you would like us to answer, please comment them down below. We are also on Spotify now which is so exciting. We are officially a podcast!
L: You can watch us on Spotify like you are now if you’re on Youtube or turn us off and listen to us in the car. But yeah, that’s about it. Any last words?
J: Thank you for having me.
L: Thank you for coming on. Happy New Year everyone.
J: Happy New Year.
*both salute with their mugs*