What does a legal paraprofessional do, and why is this new professional designation saving people money? In this episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, host Billie Tarascio talks about the behind the scenes work that goes into managing the divorce process with Legal Paraprofessional Rebekah Chapman. As part of the support team at Modern Law, she works directly with attorneys and can even act as an attorney does in the courtroom. Having this kind of support team is a game changer when it comes to divorce.
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Billie Tarascio: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Modern Divorce podcast.
I am your host, Billie Tarascio, and today I am joined by Rebecca Chapman of Modern Law. Hello, Rebecca. How are you?
Rebekah Chapman: Hello. I'm good. How are you?
Billie Tarascio: Great. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Rebecca is one of our fearless, [00:01:00] wonderful, strong, amazing paralegals, and you work with our managing attorney, Stacy Rogan as her paralegal.
Welcome to the show and welcome back to Modern Law.
Rebekah Chapman: I am very glad to be back.
Billie Tarascio: Tell us how you got started.
Rebekah Chapman: Okay. Um, I actually started out in social work. Um, I have my master's in social work. Um, I had always wanted to be a lawyer, um, so I thought, and so I kind of started down that path and that didn't work out and I decided I'm gonna get my paralegal certificate.
So that's what I did. I. Um, and never intended to end up in family law after being in social work, but it just happened that a firm needed a social worker as well as a paralegal. So that's where I ended up, and that was November of 2004. So I have been doing this a long time. Um, I have mostly done family law, but I've also done little bits [00:02:00] of other, you know, pretty much every other area just.
Pieces here and there. Um, I also was a legal document preparer in Arizona for a little while, and that's how I first met you. Wow. Um, and I did some stuff for you guys and it was a really great experience and I loved it. Um, I had a full-time job at the time and you guys were smaller then, so it was nice to come back and be part of a larger group of people.
So, um, And we moved away to Missouri for a little while and I did trust in estates for about three years, um, and a little bit of med mal. And then we came back here and I got back into family law and eventually reached out to you. And this is, I. The best decision I think I've made in the last 19 years.
Billie Tarascio: Oh stop it. Um, I'm so, I was so happy when you reached out. So we worked together. You were our certified legal document preparer for I do over, I think it was Access Legal at the time. Yes. And. [00:03:00] Uh, that was a lot of years ago and we just loved working with you. I, you know, I don't think that I knew that you were a social worker, but it makes sense.
Can see it. I can see it. And, you know, our HR manager also has a Master's in social work and I think that that background, it's just, you know, it lends itself to people who have excellent people skills. Excellent organizational skills, the ability to work in high conflict, high stress environments, be very nurturing.
It's just a pretty outstanding fit for family
Rebekah Chapman: law. Yes, it has turned out to be that way. Yes. And the first, um, paralegal job that I did have, who also who needed a social worker, they also did a lot of juvenile law. I really found that I liked that. You know, that's something that I really liked. Some of it's not so happy, but some of it can be happy.
So that's the nice part about that. And my social work definitely came in handy there. Yeah, I bet it did.
Billie Tarascio: Yeah. Um, [00:04:00] that's interesting. So how you also have two kids who are in club soccer.
Rebekah Chapman: Yes. So soccer, go ahead. Go ahead. Club soccer runs my life, I think it does. So
Billie Tarascio: I wanna talk, I wanna talk about the nitty gritty of how do you handle a full-time job and be a full-time mom.
Rebekah Chapman: Um, it is very, very difficult because I also have a husband that travels probably 80 to 85% of the time. So I joke with people about being a married single mom. Ah. Um, and over the last several years that he's been doing this, I have certainly. Come to respect single moms. Mm-hmm. So much more and understand how it works.
Um, but it is difficult. My kids practice about four nights a week. Um, you know, we have games on the weekends. We often [00:05:00] have tournaments on. Two different sides of the valley at the same time. Um, you know, and trying to work at the same time, I'm blessed that I get to work at home, um, that I have that option because I honestly don't know how I would do it if I couldn't do that.
Um, my oldest is almost 13 and my youngest is 10, so they're older now, so they can, you know, kind of handle themselves. So that makes it a little bit easier, but, It is difficult. It is very difficult and I have to kind of compartmentalize and just, you know, but it crosses over and sometimes that makes it difficult to, to manage everything and keep the stress down and all that stuff, but we do it somehow.
Is there, or it's just one of those things, you just do what you have to do, I guess.
Billie Tarascio: You do what you have to do. And is there, is there a specific routine that allows you to get it all done?
Rebekah Chapman: Um, yeah, I guess you could call it that. Um, I tend to work [00:06:00] out in the mornings, otherwise I won't do it. Um, and then I, you know, come home, get ready, sit down early so that I can be done to take them to practice.
And so it's kind of like, I do the same thing every day. Usually try to sit down by seven 30 or eight, get up out of the chair by four 30, you know, so that I can, so I try to keep my work. Within, you know, even though we have a lot of flexibility, I try to keep my work within the usual, you know, kind of nine to five type of workday because that's just how it works.
And I can't stay up late. So for me, I need to work during the day and I do better during the day. So it's just kind of a, you know, they've just had to learn how to do a lot more things for themselves and. You know, we just, I feel like it's the same day every day, so we just kind of get up and do it all over again.
Mm-hmm. Otherwise, it doesn't work very well, so. Got it.
Billie Tarascio: Got it. And are you, do you think it'll [00:07:00] get easier or harder with
Rebekah Chapman: them back in school? I. Um, in some ways both. Um, I think, I mean it's easier this year 'cause they're both riding their bikes to school. Nice. So I don't have to stop. Yes. So I don't have to stop and start to go pick 'em up and then rush to finish up before practice time and things like that.
Um, but it's harder because the older they get, the more work they have, and then they're exhausted and it's hard to get the work done. And then they're either staying up late or getting up early. So, It's sometimes it's easier and sometimes it's harder. Yeah. Um, my kids have two different personalities.
One of them's very conscientious and gets it done no matter what, and the other one is not gonna do any more than he has to do. So it's, it's, sometimes it's a struggle, but, Sometimes easier. Sometimes harder. Yeah,
Billie Tarascio: definitely. There's a lot of demands on our kids now. It feels like there's a lot of lot more demands on them than we were kids.
And it also feels [00:08:00] like there's more demands on parents. Mm-hmm. Now than we were kids.
Rebekah Chapman: Yes. I would agree with that. Um, I know I grew up in the Midwest and I know times are different now too, but club sports were not a thing. Yeah. So it was, you know, you play, you know, sports at school and that's it. And even though that was still busy, um, I.
But yes, they're just expected to do so much schoolwork on the computer. They, you know, so they have to be like more organized and just, so you have to keep them organized and you have to keep them focused. And, um, sometimes I feel like they're busier than I am, to be honest. Mm-hmm. Which I don't know if that's fair or not, but they do things that they love to do, so, you know, we just try to offer what we can offer, but mm-hmm.
It, it, they get exhausted. It's exhausting. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Billie Tarascio: Now, in the last job that you had, it was not work from home, was it?
Rebekah Chapman: Yes, it was. Oh, it was work [00:09:00] from home? Yeah. Okay. All right. Mm-hmm. So have you always worked from home? Not always, no. Um, I probably did not start working from home until. Maybe 2014 or so.
So 10 years. I pretty much worked in the office all the time. Um, and then finally, um, I was working for a solo practitioner where, um, you know, he wanted to kind of, you know, not pay for as much office space and do, you know, work, you know, kind of, and we kind of worked together really well. So he finally was like, okay, you can start working from home.
And then I worked for him remotely as well when we moved to Missouri for a while. And then I went back to an office for. Three and a half years or so. And then when we got back here, I was, I started working from home. So for the last three and a half years now, I've been working from home again, so quite few years.
Billie Tarascio: so what's, what's been, what's easier or harder? What's your preference?
Rebekah Chapman: Ooh. Um, [00:10:00] I prefer to work at home because I like the flexibility, but sometimes, um, I. It would be easier to be in an office just because the change of scenery. You know, it, it kind of helps you get your, you know, your, I sit in the house all day by myself, so the change of scenery is, you know, kind of good some days.
So that's what I like, you know, having the option for an office. Yeah. But, um, it can be hard. I learned a long time ago, the very first time I worked from home that I had to take a shower, put on real clothes, even if they weren't like dress clothes, had to put on real clothes, things like that. Otherwise, it just, Kind of was really hard to focus and get through the day.
'cause it didn't feel like work. Yeah. Hard.
Billie Tarascio: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Very, very interesting. I do think, um, yeah, modern life presents an interesting set of challenges and, and I think we're acutely aware of it as we're in back to school season [00:11:00] right now. Yes. Everything's gearing up for a big change for all of us working moms.
Now you are also a legal paraprofessional. Yes. So tell me about that.
Rebekah Chapman: Well, um, I had no idea that Arizona was doing this 'cause it started when I was still in Missouri and my job right before Modern Law, um, he was a solo practitioner and I. I had mentioned, um, when I interviewed with him that I might think about getting my legal document prepared certificate again so that I could maybe do some things on my own, do some other things, whatever.
And um, he mentioned, oh, you might wanna hold off on that because there's this new certification. And so I decided to pursue it. I was one of the lucky ones that passed both tests on the first try. Barely. But I does mean you're lucky,
Billie Tarascio: or does that mean you're smart and qualified?
Rebekah Chapman: I don't know. I think it's a little bit of both maybe.
'cause it was by the skin of [00:12:00] my teeth because they were hard. I mean, and there's not a lot of study materials yet and things like that, like attorneys have mm-hmm. For the bar and stuff. Um, and so it wasn't something I ever. Thought I would do, um, and, um, but decided to do it since I was qualified to do it.
And, you know, I can, I can use it if I, if I choose to. Um, I kind of decided, you know, that maybe litigation wasn't for me. Um, but um, there is a new CER certificate, um, for adoptions and things that I think I would like to do in the future. So, um, yeah, it's kind of nice to have the option and, and to. Know that I have the knowledge to be able to do that.
So kind of just fell in my lap sort of. Yeah. Yeah.
Billie Tarascio: And you know, there's a lot of lawyers who don't wanna do litigation as well. Yes. Litigation's hard. Yes. It's really hard. But now as a licensed legal paraprofessional, there's a lot you can do. Yes. [00:13:00] In terms of. Um, document drafting, also giving people advice, coaching, helping people get ready to go to court for themselves.
Um, standing in for your lawyer, uh, providing legal advice to clients while your lawyer's out. Like there's just so much you can do. Um, I just think it's pretty
Rebekah Chapman: fantastic. Yeah, and, and that's kind of why I got into it in the first place really, was to, to have a little bit of, um, Just autonomy and maybe authority.
Um, because historically I had worked for a lot of attorneys that it was just hard to get things done efficiently and things like that. And I kind of just wanted the ability to approve things and sign things and, you know, things like that. That's initially why I. Consider doing it. But yeah, I like the idea that I can step in if somebody needs my help and that I'm not as worried about what I tell the clients now because as long as it doesn't interfere with, you know, Stacy's [00:14:00] strategy or whatever, um, I.
You know, I don't have to, I don't have to dance around the legal advice, you know, so much or whatever. I can, I can offer, you know, more than I used to be able to do, so.
Billie Tarascio: Yep, absolutely. And your clients absolutely love it. The feedback that we have received, I. From clients working with you has always been stellar.
It was stellar when you were a legal document preparer for us. It's been stellar since you've been here. Stacy absolutely loves working with you. I love working with you. I'm so happy that you are on modern
Rebekah Chapman: loss team. I am too, and I love working with you guys. I love working with Stacy. Everybody has been so awesome.
Like I, I have just never worked in an environment quite like this and I, I just really love it so. Well, if you all have
Billie Tarascio: enjoyed this episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, please make sure to like it, download it, leave your review. And if you know someone who would be a good guest on the Modern Divorce Podcast, send them my way.
Announcer: We hope you enjoyed this [00:15:00] episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, brought to you by Modern Law. Now a word from our sponsor.
Billie Tarascio: One consistent theme you'll hear from me, Billie Tarascio, is that we do not believe in a one size fits all solution. That's why at Modern Law you can find anything you need for your family law case.
For the highest stakes litigation cases, we've got experienced family law attorneys who can offer you representation. We also have embraced. Newly licensed legal paraprofessionals who can offer you legal representation for less. And if you just need your documents prepared, we can offer certified legal document preparers as well.
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