Hi. My name is Sarah Hood-Betts (aka Sarah 2.0). I am one of the paralegals at DJS Associates responsible for organizing all of the data we receive for any given file and assisting the engineers, at their direction, in extracting relevant information for their analysis.
In addition, I work with the engineers to proof their expert reports. While paralegals serve in a variety of positions in law firms, companies, government entities, and other institutions, in many ways my position differs from that of the typical paralegal.
Before coming to DJS in 2015, I worked for a year and a half as a paralegal at a small law firm that primarily handled bankruptcies. My responsibilities included administrative office tasks, working with clients to gather materials for their bankruptcy petitions, communicating with mortgage lenders to discuss mortgage modification programs and foreclosure avoidance options, and proofing legal documents to be filed and submitted.
In some ways, there are similar administrative tasks in my past and present paralegal positions. Both have a focus on proofing as well as organizing information to ascertain what information is available. Still, I think my experience as a paralegal at DJS is fairly unique. While a law firm would be concerned with all of the various legal arguments and claims of action involved in a case, we focus on the information that directly relates to the collision itself in terms of what may be relevant to the reconstruction of that collision. While reviewing the file data, I assist the engineers in extracting this data. While in a legal practice, things like a client’s damages and limitations may be very relevant in assessing the value of a client’s case, at DJS we focus on data relating specifically to the collision dynamics and collision sequence. This data may include police reports, photographs from the collision, vehicle repair estimates, and testimony from involved vehicle operators or witnesses, among other data.
Working at DJS, I have had to adjust my mindset to one that is focused specifically on that which relates to the engineering analysis and reconstruction when organizing the data or working with an engineer to review a report. In a legal practice, both sides of a case need to be considered. At DJS this is especially true in that we need to focus on all the data so that the engineers can provide a comprehensive picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the cases. This assists both in presenting our findings to attorneys and also in addressing the engineering analysis of opposing experts.
While I do enjoy all aspects of the paralegal position, I really have developed an appreciation for the level of specialization involved in my current role.