Notice of Job Posting: Full-Time Paralegal
UPLC is a small nonprofit storefront legal organization located in Uptown, approximately two blocks from the Wilson Avenue Red Line stop.
We represent disabled adults seeking Social Security disability benefits; tenants experiencing problems with their landlords (including illegal eviction); and people being held in Illinois prisons whose rights have been violated while in prison. (We do not do innocence work/wrongful convictions, or appeal people’s sentences.).
UPLC is looking for someone entry-level or junior level for this position. A bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience is required. Formal paralegal training is a plus, but not required.
UPLC is a law office. The paralegal must have strong reading comprehension, writing ability, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and attention to detail and deadlines. The paralegal must also have the ability to understand and adhere to professional standards (e.g., client confidentiality).
UPLC is a small office. Therefore, flexibility in the functions that employees perform on a day-to-day basis is crucial. Familiarity with Microsoft Word and Excel is required.
Much of UPLC’s work involves interaction with individuals who have suffered a significant amount of trauma, so it is imperative for all staff to have the ability to respond with compassion and professionalism to our clients. At the same time, UPLC acknowledges that our work can be emotionally draining on the employees, and places a high value on all staff’s emotional labor. The paralegal will have regular client interaction and thus their ability to respond appropriately, while maintaining productivity, will be important to success in the position.
UPLC is an Equal Opportunity Employer. People of color and former prisoners are encouraged to apply. Fluency in Spanish is a plus, but not required.
Social Security Disability (Approximately 60% of your time):
The paralegal is responsible for the management of all medical record requests for every Social Security case. This includes carefully documenting record requests, following up with treatment facilities, keeping track of payment details, and submitting records to Social Security.
Once medical records are retrieved, the paralegal and the attorney managing the case share the responsibility of summarizing the records (half of the cases are summarized by the paralegal, the other half by an attorney). Additionally, the paralegal is responsible for preparing briefs based on summarized records. The paralegal may be asked to perform medical and/or legal research to support the arguments made in a brief.
The paralegal is the primary contact person for many of UPLC’s Social Security clients. The paralegal will independently conduct intakes, assist with signing up new clients, and will assist the attorneys in maintaining regular contact with UPLC’s Social Security clients. This includes regular telephone contact with clients and periodically meeting with them in person to follow up on paperwork, update their records regarding medical treatment, etc. In some cases, the paralegal will accompany clients to their hearing.
The paralegal is also responsible for maintaining contact with the Social Security Administration regarding the status of our clients’ claims. This requires frequent contact with adjudicators and field office representatives via phone, and careful note-taking about client contact.
Prisoner Civil Rights (Approximately 30% of your time):
The paralegal is responsible for preparing summaries of medical and mental health records for prospective cases, individual cases, and issues related to UPLC’s class action cases regarding medical and mental health care in Illinois prisons (Lippert and Rasho, respectively). These summaries require precision while skimming through hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pages of documents to retrieve pertinent information.
A few times throughout the year, the paralegal accompanies UPLC attorneys on visits to Illinois prisons to visit incarcerated clients and class members. In some cases, the paralegal will be expected to take notes during interviews where an attorney is also present. After some experience, the paralegal will conduct interviews independently and prepare notes simultaneously.
The paralegal will sometimes assist with mass mailings to clients and members of the various classes UPLC represents. The paralegal may also participate in arranging legal calls with incarcerated clients and class members. In some instances, particularly in preparation for class action filing, the paralegal may have several independent calls with prisoners to draft affidavits. In some cases, the paralegal may be recruited to review pleadings and/or letters from incarcerated people and, similar to the medical records, skim for information pertinent to a particular case.
The paralegal is responsible for downloading and organizing all of the pleadings for UPLC’s prison cases. In the event that pleadings contain scheduling information, the paralegal is responsible for entering relevant court dates and deadlines in the attorneys’ calendars.
Office Administration (10% of your time):
The paralegal is responsible for assisting the office coordinator with walk-ins and phone calls. This includes screening prospective clients for eligibility, scheduling eligible prospectives for intakes and making referrals. The paralegal will be tasked with assisting the attorneys in tracking case expenses, and other miscellaneous duties as needed. The paralegal may also be recruited to assist with the training of legal interns. When the office coordinator is not in the office due to vacation or illness, the paralegal fills in as the primary contact for phone calls and walk-in inquiries.
Send a cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Job posted January 16, 2019, and is available until filled. Start date is as soon as possible. Please, no phone calls, visits, or social media contact regarding the position.
Salary depends on experience and starts at $35k/year. UPLC offers generous holidays and vacation days, but is unable to offer health insurance at this time.