Being a Paralegal doesn’t exactly summon thoughts of excitement and pleasure. In fact, many of you may already be asleep. For those who are considering a job as a paralegal, not to worry: there are some pretty exciting (albeit highly competitive) options out there for you. Assisting lawyers can be grim and drab if your boss is a public defender, the pinnacle of depressing occupations. It can be snoresome and boresome when acting as a paralegal for a lawyer working for large financial institutions or defending some already-rich guy’s crappy patent from twenty years ago. Paralegal positions assisting lawyers hired to work high-profile cases can, on the other hand, be interesting and exciting. A paralegal position assisting a lawyer who is politically active and trying to influence progressive changes in society and in the law can even be meaningful. Imagine that. Here are some of the most exciting paralegal positions out there.
Dog Defender, Fish Freak
Antoine Goetschel is a Swiss lawyer who strongly believes in animal rights without bias or selectivity.
“There is a danger we only protect animals we think are cute” Goetschel said in relation to a case he had worked which debated the idea of fish cruelty.”
When a 34 year old fisherman bragged about his ten minute struggle with a giant pike, Zurich’s animal advocate Antoine Goetschel was summoned by Zurich to defend the ‘victim’. Although the fish had been eaten and a stronger case would certainly been made had the creature gone to waste, Goetschel took the stand on behalf of the pike. Referring to a German court’s decision that a struggle of longer than one minute constituted abuse, Goetschel questioned the (sentient) nature of the beast and called for a legal limit time for anglers. It sounds ridiculous, but Goetschel makes an interesting point: “if we put a hook in the mouth of a puppy and did the same thing for ten minutes, what would our reaction be?” Interesting, but not exactly valid; a puppy is infinitely weaker than a giant pike and would be ‘caught’ for torture, not for food as the fish was. Still, paralegal to this lawyer would definitely be interesting. It must also be mentioned that Goetschel defended the fish at the request of Zurich, and not out of his own hatred for fishing. He also participates in deciding who has the better interests of a pet in mind during a legal battle. Dog lawyer Linda Cawley handles similar cases, including animal hoarding issues, which can be a dangerous and dirty problem for all involved. Cawley also handles cases just as ridiculous as the Swiss fish: one trial involved a man who faced animal abuse fines for simply barking at his neighbor’s dog. While a paralegal assisting an animal rights activist can expect to waste some time, some of the issues which go to trial are meaningful issues which question our ethics and morals as a society.
DARE: Drugs Are Rather Excellent
Drug defense lawyers can be particularly interesting for a number of reasons. Whether the paralegal must assist in the research regarding a small marijuana charge or a cocaine trafficking one, the case may wind up being responsible for changes in the law. It’s also rewarding to successfully defend a person who truly doesn’t belong in jail — namely pot smokers or even non-violent junkies addicted to hard drugs. Harsh drug and alcohol laws in America are needlessly locking away literally thousands of non-violent individuals, where tax payers shell out cash to keep them locked away from society and working for large corporations for cents a day. This new-age slavery is a huge problem, and many are working to stop it. James Novak is one of many lawyers who have recently had a change of heart; tired of his job as a DUI prosecutor, he became a highly skilled criminal defender instead. A paralegal assisting a person who truly cares about the reasoning behind and effect of drug laws which irreversibly effect tens of thousands of Americans truly has an important job. There are lawyers who take their activism even further, both literally and figuratively, in a way those effectiveness is questionable but must be admired for boldness nonetheless. Attorney Douglas Andrew Palaschak was arrested when a police raid shut down an LSD party in his own office. It was more than a relaxed evening of barreling through outer space at warp speed: Palaschak was making a statement.
“The current company line is that all drugs are bad for everybody,” he said, “and that simply is not true. Evil flourishes when good men remain silent.” Palaschak acknowledges that he may be subject to discipline but maintains that some illegal substances shouldn’t be illegal at all.
His paralegal was actually suspected of providing the LSD for the party and faces her own charges as well.
Mr. Green With the Rope
High-profile murder cases can be an exciting field to work with for any paralegal, but the stress may outweigh any other positives. Child murders, serial killers, rape, torture, and abuse are all gruesome subjects which can be difficult to deal with, even for a seasoned attorney. The recent and infamous case of Leiby Kletzky was too much to handle for defense attorney Gerard Marrone. Levi Aron smothered, murdered, and dismembered 8-year-old Kletzky; Marrone couldn’t handle defending such a heinous crime. It’s understandable, but having to defend obviously guilty criminals is a stressful idea that many high-profile lawyers frequently have to deal with. Additionally, Marrone stepped out where another kind of villain was able to step in. Jennifer McCann took Marrone’s place, and is renowned for defending high-profile suspects — namely one Kathleen Prisco, who was found not guilty on an insanity plea even though she stabbed her husband to death in a fit of rage. The same verdict will be pursued for Aron. Therefor a paralegal can only sit by and watch, forced to assist on whatever the lawyer chooses to undertake. Other lawyers, on a lighter note, are responsible for rewarding wins likethe exoneration of an innocent man after fifteen years in prison. Working to free the innocent and jail the truly monstrous is a cause to be involved in.