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Anderson & Boutwell through the Eyes of a Paralegal Intern

The following was written by Daria Comeaux, a paralegal intern at Anderson & Boutwell, as her term paper.

Daria A. Comeaux, RN, BSN
Paralegal Internship Term Paper
PARA 5900 - 81

July 30, 2015

"It was my good fortune to have had the law office of Anderson & Boutwell as both host and home to my paralegal internship. Anderson & Boutwell, located in Hammond, Louisiana, is a multi-practice personal injury law firm that has provided more than 60 years of combined trial and litigation expertise in the area of personal injury. Their specialty in traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries has resulted in more than $50 million dollars in recoveries. Due to the scientific advances in both research and technology, medical and legal communities have now combined forces in a spirit of public awareness and advocacy on behalf of victims of traumatic neurological injuries. Anderson & Boutwell is a passionate member and dedicated leader in that fellowship. Their newly improved and impressive website includes sections for testimonials and a blog archive with articles addressing traumatic brain injuries in girls vs boys, new NFL concussion management protocols, dangers of texting while driving, Takata air bag recalls, and membership in the Brain Injury Association of Louisiana.
My background as a registered nurse was a good match in understanding the nature and language of the cases represented by Anderson & Boutwell. Most of the cases involved some degree of personal injury, either neurologic or multi-system traumas, and included plans for both short and long term recoveries. Other injury cases reflected permanent and irreversible disabilities for their victims with recovery plans that would span a lifetime. Most of the depositions that I summarized included such victims and the social worker, specialty physicians, and surgeons who treated them.
The Anderson & Boutwell team consists of ten legal and/or ancillary professionals whose collaborative efforts engaged each step of the legal process. Every Wednesday, the team of ten legal eagles would assemble in the library for the A&B staff meeting where each case was reviewed and statused. Next, a review of each case set for trial and/or deadline was discussed with a list of dates and tasks within the legal process to be performed (i.e. exchange of expert reports, deadlines formotions, witness and exhibit lists, depositions, pre-trial conferences, proposed voir dire questions, jury charges, jury interrogatories, trial briefs, perpetuation testimony, continuances, and dismissals). Each member of the legal team would then take charge of the tasks pending completion in his/her assigned case, paying special attention to tickler dates and deadlines.
Most of the summary depositions that I completed were associated with a motor vehicle accident involving a truck and a SUV. The victims in the SUV included the driver, two relatives, and an infant who was secured in a car seat. Their vehicle collided head-on with a truck whose steering column/wheel became disabled. The extent of injuries to the passengers in the SUV was extensive, including head trauma, facial, and long bone fractures. Most of the victims sustained injuries of compromise and/or disability that will affect them for the remainder of their lives. The clients associated with this case included the victims, a licensed clinical social worker, and specialty physicians in primary care, psychiatry, neurology, orthopaedic trauma and surgery, emergency trauma, mental health, and pediatrics. Their summary depositions were completed as traditional summaries or via TranscriptPad, a new form of issues-based transcription summary.
The TranscriptPad for iPad method provides a more effective way to review, annotate, and summarize depositions in a compact and portable form. TranscriptPad organizes folders according to deponent name and date, and allows you to summarize testimony by issues relevant to the case. It has feature codes for issues that can be highlighted or flagged, and allows for commentary on any section of the transcript. The transcript can then be saved to pdf, text, or Excel formats, or emailed. I was challenged by this new technology as I had never before used an iPad, and only through “rescue” and repetition was I able to navigate the pathways. For those who are tech-savvy or learn IT quickly, the TranscriptPad will prove to be a convenient and invaluable litigation tool.
The feature of the TranscriptPad that I most liked was one’s ability to cluster all the testimony specific to an issue. All testimony, for example, concerning the deponent’s memory of the accident, can be documented under the designated issue regardless of where and number of times in the deposition it appears. Each statement is highlighted with the touch of a finger and transferred by page and line to an issue heading (ex. memory of accident). So, corroborating and/or conflicting testimony can be sourced under one issue for the legal team to reference. It eliminates the chore of rifling through pages of traditional summarized depositions to locate a statement to support or refute testimony at trial. The fact that this form of issues documentation, especially in cases of personal injury, can be accessed via pdf, text, or Excel formats makes the TranscriptPad a novel tool for the courtroom. Once I acquired a basic level of “mastery”, I was sold on what this method of transcription would provide versus the traditional method of deposition summary.
The absence of extraneous sounds in the offices and hallways at Anderson & Boutwell presented a new experience for me. As a registered nurse in level III neonatal intensive care, I have been surrounded by the deafening sounds of cardiac/respiratory monitors, isolette alarms, medicine infusion pumps, Spectra-link phones, in-house alerts, pagers, and code alarms, as well as voices of parents, visitors, residents, physicians, radiology techs, housekeeping, and nursing team members. I am amazed at how well I have been able to concentrate (or compensate) during my 28 years in an environment so totally devoid of the basic requirement for concentration… quiet. Ironically, I think I proved (to myself) that I can be productive in both venues.
Perhaps the most glowing take-away from my internship at Anderson & Boutwell has been the genuine caring and concern for their clients and staff. Whether or not this is unique to personal injury law firms (although jazzy, jingle-driven television commercials would have one think otherwise), it is with a preponderance of evidence to be the case at Anderson & Boutwell. As a paralegal intern, I was always introduced to clients, and other members of the legal community who might be visiting, and made to feel that I was “worthy” of being there. My work was always appreciated and well-received, and I was given constructive advice when needed. Anderson & Boutwell is a family, much like my world of neonatal nursing, and the mutual respect shown for each other is a testament to their approach to personal injury and its victims."

The team here at Anderson & Boutwell is proud to have had Daria as its intern and wishes her all the best in her paralegal endeavors.