October 6, 2005
A Q&A session with Dennis Tapia, a paralegal, who owns and operates Legal & Tax Services in Vista, CA. Dennis has been in this field for the last 20 years.
Q: Describe your average daily routine. What types of tasks are you expected to complete as part of your job?
A: Each day is different, I assist many people who wish to either file for a divorce, name change, prepare a will or a living trust. I must contact clients, ask questions and gather data in order to prepare the legal documents. Once the documents are complete the documents must be signed and filed with the proper court. The court requires the documents/forms be submitted in the proper format. I must keep current with laws and procedures in the field of family law and trust and probate law. Time is very important in all cases and if the forms and/or documents are rejected this could cost my clients valuable time and money.
Q: What do you like the most about being a paralegal?
A: I would have to say I like helping people solve their problems and saving them money. It’s a very rewarding field and you meet very interesting people.
Q: What do you dislike, if anything, about being a paralegal?
A: The high cost of court filing fees, each year they go up and my clients must pay this before a case can get started.
Q: What is your work environment like?
A: It can be busy but it’s very rewarding and sometime it’s a bit stressful when you have deadlines to meet.
Q: What is your work schedule like?
A: My normal work day starts around 7:00 am up to 6 pm, five to six days a week. Most people think if you work for yourself it’s easy but if you’re not completing cases, answering phones, you’re not getting paid. But you have the option of taking long weekends, once in awhile.
Q: Where did you get the training necessary for your job?
A: I attended Santa Ana College in Orange County where I received a certificate in Paralegal Studies. The program took 3 years to complete, full time. I learned the basic skills on how to prepare legal documents/forms, procedures, and laws. I would recommend this program because it prepares you to work for attorneys or work for yourself.
Q: Would you recommend your job as a paralegal to another person?
A: Yes, you have the option to work at your own pace, take the case you want and set your own fee schedule.
Q: What is the next step in your career?
A: Right now, continue to grow my business and promote it. I plan to stay in this field, I found out everybody needs some type of legal and/or tax help sometime in their life. We all must follow the law and pay taxes.
View a list of schools in California offering paralegal programs.