Interview with Amanda Mosbaugh: Paralegal Life

Months into the pandemic, most people are finding ways to navigate the challenges of remote interactions. We spoke with Amanda Mosbaugh about her work in legal support and business development, and learned how she juggles client needs while working from home. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Amanda, it’s great to meet you. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background?
I was a litigation paralegal for almost 17 years, and I’ve served on the board of the Paralegal Association for about the last seven. Presently, I work in business development, helping in-house counsel and law firms with court reporting, transcription services.

What’s something you really enjoy in your current role? How has your experience as a paralegal helped you succeed?
I really like helping people, whether they’re paralegals, attorneys, or legal secretaries. It’s really similar to the experience I had already. It’s handling a lot of moving parts all at once: preparing for depositions, finding locations, getting exhibits ready, lining up court reporters, arranging for translation, and about a zillion other things. And what I love is that even though I’m not part of the law firm, per se, I’m able to assist my peers nationwide. Right now the biggest challenge is getting depositions and other work done in remote scenarios, and I’m really happy that I’m able to help people navigate that environment, because for a lot of them, it’s still really unfamiliar. Being that go-to person and having that confidence in my ability to support them is so rewarding.

And speaking of remote, how has the switch to remote impacted paralegals?
I think paralegals are playing a really important role, now more than ever. When you see that your cases are still being managed efficiently, you’re still meeting your deadlines, and your clients are still having their needs met, you really have to appreciate your support teams. Everyone is contending with so much right now, and for paralegals, having to switch gears and handle all those moving pieces while working from home, often with kids in the background, can be tough.

That said, I think it’s also crucial for the whole team to come together. We’ve had to figure out how to adapt, how to back each other up and make things happen. At the end of the day, that’s what really demonstrates the heart of a firm, and it’s probably more apparent now than ever before.

Are you seeing much of a slowdown?
You know, back in May, when most firms had transitioned to remote, I would check in on my friends and some of my clients, and just ask, What’s going in your state? What’s going on with your firm? How are you doing right now? And about 95% of them said they were busier than ever. This has not slowed anything down at all. Which is kind of surprising, because you would think that with so much uncertainty, there would have been more of an impact. But really, almost every firm I talked to said the same thing. We’d never been busier than we are right now. 

So how do you handle work / life balance? Is it difficult to avoid burnout when you’re working from home?
It’s really good to find an area in your home that’s your work space and not your life space. At first I would work in my basement, but then after work, I would still hang out in that same room to watch TV and what not. And after a while, it felt like there was just no division. I was just continuously in the same place. So then I learned that if I use our home office upstairs, work at my desk until five or six, and then shut everything off and go downstairs to another room, it really helps break up my day.

I’ve also found that exercising is good. I bought an elliptical, and I like having something like that to do in between my workday and my personal time at the end of the day. It also helps to take a short break now and then. Do something different for a few minutes, go out and check on your dog or see what your cat’s doing. Go get the mail, water your plants, whatever it might be. And then come back in to work, refreshed and ready to start again. I sometimes find that it sort of breathes a new life into whatever I was doing.

How would you sum up the paralegal life?
I found a tee shirt that said, Being a paralegal is easy. It’s just like riding a bike. Except that the bike is on fire. You’re on fire. Everything’s on fire, and you are in hell. And I almost died laughing, because if you’ve ever been a paralegal, you know it can feel that way sometimes.