We had the privilege of spending time with the staff of McIlveen Family Law Firm during the filming of our annual report video. We were able to see first-hand how managing attorney Angela McIlveen’s forward thinking approach has set their firm apart as innovators in the industry. From their transparent management style to their collaborative workspace—they are constantly finding ways to move their firm forward. Let’s meet one of their paralegals, Silvia Mullinax.
LM: What led you to pursue a career in the legal field?
SM: As a child, I was always very compassionate and had the desire to help others in need. In this field I am able to lend a helping hand to people who are going through unfortunate events.
LM: What is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about the work you do as a paralegal?
SM: I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that paralegals do a lot of paper-pushing or mindless tasks. At times we complete some tasks that are very simple, but on the other hand, we are also the attorney’s right-hand man and responsible for a lot of the legwork in a case.
LM: We understand that the firm culture of McIlveen Family Law is a bit different from most firms. What do you enjoy the most about being a paralegal at McIlveen Family law?
SM: One of the many things that I enjoy as a paralegal at McIlveen Family Law is that I never stop learning. The attorney that I work with is always very informative; and he or she explains case strategy and how the law applies to each case. Once a quarter, the firm gets together and learns about new laws, technology and self-improvement. I believe that the desire to learn is a strong trait to possess and it makes the employee a valuable asset.
LM: How has the open office layout of the firm effected the dynamics of the office?
SM: The open office layout has improved our communication and productivity. Communication is key in our firm and with the open concept we are able to talk freely to our teammates about statuses or questions on particular cases. The open concept has made it a more enjoyable work environment which has personally reduced stress and boredom.
LM: Based on your experience in the industry and stories you’ve heard from others, what are 3 common frustrations of paralegals?
SM: The lack of time is definitely a big frustration. Sometimes, there are projects that require uninterrupted concentration and at least 9 hours to complete, however, in this field it is almost impossible to have either in one day. Another frustration is the inability to predict the future. It would be nice to know if the difficult case that the paralegal and attorney worked on for months was going to win at trial or if we knew that the opposing side was going to throw us a curve ball. The last frustration is not being able to split myself in two. I would like to have one half of me working at the office while the other half of me enjoyed accompanying the attorneys at court. I have come to a sad conclusion that the frustrations that I listed will never be resolved and that I would have to cope with not having these special abilities.
LM: How has your role, or the role of the paralegal in general evolved with technology?
SM: It has definitely increased productivity and efficiency. Technology, has given paralegals quicker access to information; and the ability to produce more work in quicker amount of time.
LM: As a paralegal, you often set the tone for the client experience at McIlveen Family Law, What sets your client service apart from that of other law firms?
SM: Most of our clients are going through unfortunate and difficult events and I make it a priority to reduce their stress and weight off of their shoulders. I am a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on. As a mother and a wife, I could not fathom what our clients go through on a daily basis so I make sure each one of our clients is comfortable and is getting the help they need.
LM: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t asked?
SM: I love working as a paralegal at McIlveen for many reasons. I enjoy the satisfaction of helping people even if it’s just by listening to them talk about their cases. I love the people I work with. I am a firm believer that if you enjoy working with the people at your job you are most likely to stay at that job. My coworkers are like family; we trust each other and have each other’s back. With this being said, I believe that our firm is a strong team and we will work incredibly hard to exceed our client’s expectations
Silvia Mullinax graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice. While in college, Silvia was an active member of the Mock Trial team and served as the secretary and vice president. She plans to further her education by coming a certified North Carolina Notary Public; additionally she plans to study diligently to take the LSAT and attend law school.