This month, Spiros Law celebrated 16 years of personal injury practice. Office Manager Paula Roberts has been there since the beginning, and shared a little about the experience of building a practice from the ground up.
Smile Politely: Tell us a little about yourself.
Paula Roberts: I grew up in Milford, Illinois, and still reside there with my husband of 52 years. We have two adult children. I love to socialize with family and friends. My favorite place to be is at a pool or on the beach. I started working immediately after graduation from high school. Before Spiros Law, I worked at a law office for 33 years which handled Real Estate, Probate, Criminal/Traffic, Personal Injury, Worker’s Compensation, Medical Malpractice, Divorce/Custody and Small Claims cases. During those 33 years, I worked with many attorneys – saw several come and several go. I worked my way into a paralegal position and ultimately also became the office manager. Throughout the years, I have attended seminars for paralegals/legal assistants and taken courses at the local community college and continue to attend webinars. I am currently a member of ITLA and AAJ.
SP: When did you begin working with Jim Spiros?
Roberts: Jim and I have worked together since his first day of practicing law – August 28, 1995. He was a newly licensed attorney, and had accepted a position at a Central Illinois Law firm to begin his legal career. I am grateful that I was at that same law firm.
SP: Why did you decide to join him when he began Spiros Law?
Roberts: I knew from the first time I met Jim Spiros that he possessed natural leadership. He was dedicated to his clients, his co-workers, his friends, and his family. He advocated for his clients and never lost sight of the ultimate goal and that was to obtain the best outcome for each of his clients. He always conducted himself in a professional, ethical, and appropriate fashion with his co-workers and colleagues. I trusted his judgment, knew his work ethic and desire to help others. With that being said, it was a decision I made without hesitation and never looked back.
SP: Can you tell me about the experience of starting a new law firm? A
Roberts: Assisting in starting a new firm was an experience I will never forget. Once it was decided to make the move, it took 30 days to get everything in order to be ready to open the doors to our clients. It was a busy and hectic 30 days of late nights and full weekends where, after work, we would meet around Jim’s kitchen table planning for the opening of the new law firm. The list seemed endless, but in those 30 days, we were able to find office space, have it remodeled, furnish it and stock it with office supplies, set up phone lines and phone numbers, set up emails, purchase and have computers installed, create a logo, purchase letterhead, business cards and signage. We sent out announcements for the new firm and set up advertising. Truly, no stone was left unturned. It was a wonderful feeling of accomplishment on April 4, 2005, when we walked into what would become a very successful law firm.
SP: Office managers are the hub of any office or firm. What does a day at Spiros Law look like from your perspective?
Roberts: Every day at Spiros Law is different and includes many, many moving parts. I, myself, start my day by arriving at the office at least 45 minutes before the office opens, which gives me an opportunity to organize myself for the day. My days consist of managing daily operations, addressing and solving administrative problems, and providing support to keep the workflow/dictations moving forward. I also assist Mr. Spiros with personal injury and medical negligence matters by scheduling depositions, filing complaints and discovery, and taking calls from clients and adjusters. I also prepare settlement disbursements and deposits, as well as attending to other bookkeeping/accounting matters. Daily decision making, organizational and time management, and multi-tasking by the partners, associate attorneys and legal assistants is required each and every day. The main thing that I see at Spiros Law is teamwork by the partners, associate attorneys, legal assistants and support staff. Since Covid, the partners implemented a Zoom meeting for all attorneys at 8:30 every morning. This is a time they have set aside to discuss what they have on their calendars for the day, new cases, accomplishments and goals. The legal assistants also have Zoom meetings every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Since we have three offices, this is a great way to keep in touch and share accomplishments and goals.
One of the highlights of the day is getting to interact with our clients, whether it is on the phone, over video chat, or in person. When people call or come through our doors, they are not only physically hurt but are also emotionally stressed and oftentimes confused from dealing with doctor appointments, seemingly endless bills, the insurance company run-around, the unknown of when their lives will be back on track, and many other stresses that follow an injury. Their worlds are turned upside down, and it is rewarding to see and hear the relief they feel knowing that someone is finally on their side, there to protect their rights, and eager to handle their legal battle. The average case takes about two years and throughout that time, we interact regularly and are there to help make sense of everything, answer questions, and provide advice, which allows us to build lasting relationships and really get to know our clients. When a case is resolved and we are able to give the client their settlement check, which can be lifechanging, and they express how happy and grateful they are. That is the best part of every day.
SP: What sort of changes have you seen through your years at Spiros?
Roberts: The past 16 years have brought continued growth and many changes; Karen Wall, Jim’s original partner, was appointed as an Associate Circuit Judge for Vermilion County. Sandra Loeb and Miranda Soucie joined as partners. The Danville office expanded, office locations were added in both Kankakee and Champaign. One of the major changes I have seen through the years is our ability to adapt to the everchanging and new technology, which has helped us to become one of the most successful Central Illinois law firms. The biggest change that I have seen is a staff of amazing people larger than I could have ever imagined. We have ten attorneys and a support staff of over fifteen which allows us to serve our communities in a much greater way than I had originally imagined sitting around that kitchen table at the beginning of it all. The one thing that has not changed is the dedication and leadership Jim continues to bring to Spiros Law every day.
SP: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Roberts: What I enjoy most about my position at Spiros Law is helping our clients. When they come into or call our office, they are experiencing one of the worst points in their life and are entrusting Spiros Law with issues that are critically important to them and their family. I enjoy seeing the successes of Spiros Law as a whole and personal accomplishments of each of the partners, associate attorneys, legal assistants and support staff. It is very gratifying working with a team of people who truly care about the wellbeing of our clients and who are able to work so well together in order to achieve results that our clients deserve. I know that no matter what is going on each day, if one of us needs help with a task there will be more than enough help offered without hesitation. I truly look forward to coming to work each day and being able to work with a team that cares so deeply about each other, our clients, and the work that we produce.
Read about the cool history of the Spiros Law building here.