By Jennifer Gunnin, Florida Registered Paralegal at Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm
I have been a paralegal at a collaborative family law practice for the past seven years. I am grateful to be helpful to families during a difficult time. People need and appreciate our sensitivity, compassion, and consideration for every aspect of what they are going through, including the financial strain.
I help clients going through collaborative divorce, but I also assist clients who need help in mediation, or direct negotiations or other unbundled services. Moreover, I am there for clients who use our law firm for adoptions or legal name changes.
One of the most important services I offer to clients as a paralegal when someone hires our law firm is a lower hourly rate. Clients are relieved to learn that I will be drafting most of their legal documents and financial disclosures at a lower hourly rate than the attorney.
My reduced rate also makes it more affordable for clients to reach out with questions, concerns, and feedback. Sometimes clients are hesitant to communicate with their attorneys because they don’t want their fees to add up. People with family law issues are often upset, angry, scared, or don’t know what they are feeling, or what they should do next. They are looking for guidance.
I listen to them, and I often help them articulate what is happening, and what they want to do in this moment, if anything. They may or may not even want to speak with the attorney right now. If they have legal questions, I let them know that, though I cannot answer the questions, I am happy to set a time for them to speak or meet with the attorney. Sometimes, our clients and potential clients have asked me to speak to the attorney on their behalf when they have a legal question or issue. It is convenient for them, or they prefer to talk to one person most of the time. I have gotten to know many wonderful people over the years, and still think of past clients often.
Family law matters can be difficult, and we are committed to making life as easy as possible during this time. I respond to phone calls and emails quickly because I know that I don’t like to be kept waiting when I have a pressing issue that I am anxious about. If I can’t answer a question, I will schedule a time to talk with the attorney as soon as possible. We are now offering videoconference meetings on Zoom, and we plan to offer online notarization soon.
Clients want to deal with their family law issues as cost-effectively, efficiently, and easily as possible. I am a paralegal that supports a collaborative law firm and its clients in doing that.