Marie Koster: Trusts and Estates Paralegal, Quarles & Brady, LLP, Milwaukee, WI by LawCrossing

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                             Marie Koster: Trusts and Estates Paralegal, Quarles &
                             Brady, LLP, Milwaukee, WI
                             [By Judith Earley]
                             Without hesitation, Marie Koster describes the best part of being a paralegal by saying, “I love the people contact. I love
                             helping the client through the difficult job of trust or estate administration. The clients tend to need a lot of hand-holding, and
                             I want to be that person. I think being a good listener is what the clients need during this grieving process.”



Boredom with her position as an                      Koster explained how the process works.              of the Year in 2003 and this year being named
administrative assistant put Koster on the           “With the start of a new file, I am usually          by the ABA as part of a team that conducts
path to a career with more responsibility.           introduced to the family as the person who           an ABA approval process for paralegal
“I knew I had to go back to school for               will be doing most of the work under the             programs.
more training, so I looked at what some              supervision of the attorney. It is explained
                                                                                                          Koster said she feels the extreme
of the fastest-growing professions were.”            that I do the work at a much lower hourly
                                                                                                          competitiveness between law firms, banks,
Continued Koster, “I came across an ad in            rate than the attorney.”
                                                                                                          trust companies, and financial institutions-
the local newspaper about a new program
                                                     “It is at this time that you try to develop a        all of which are vying for the same business.
being offered at the local college. It read:
                                                     bond with the client, letting them know that         A trusts and estates paralegal must always
‘If you want to be on the cutting edge with
                                                     you understand this is a difficult time for          be concerned about the billable hours in
the fastest-growing profession, become
                                                     them-having lost a loved one-and that you            relationship to the work being done, with an
a paralegal. If you are detail-oriented,
                                                     are there for all questions, big or small,           eye to remaining cost-efficient to the firm.
an organizer, and ready to take on
                                                     to help them through the administration              “Like any other business, you must keep the
responsibility, this is the profession for you!’
                                                     process.”                                            cost in perspective along with the quality of
I signed up the next day.”
                                                                                                          the work you are turning out. We are always
After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in             But Koster admits that while some parts              looking at ways to do it better, faster, and more
business administration, magna cum laude,            of her job are fun, others are emotionally           efficiently. Along with that thought is what can
from Concordia University, Koster was part           draining, like the telephone calls to family         you provide to the client that others do not?”
of the first class of graduates to receive           members to notify them of a loved one’s
                                                                                                          Koster’s advice for students who are
their paralegal certificates from Carthage           death.
                                                                                                          preparing for paralegal work is to become
College’s paralegal program.
                                                     It is fairly obvious that Koster is good at          computer literate. “No matter what area of
Koster is a trusts and estates paralegal for         her job; she often receives photos from the          law you are in, you always use the computer;
Quarles & Brady, LLP, which employs more             clients of their grandchildren, postcards            so proficiency in all the basic programs-
than 400 attorneys and 70 paralegals and has         when they are traveling, and emails letting          such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint-is
offices in Chicago, IL; Madison, WI; Naples,         her know how they are doing. “Recently, I            imperative,” said Koster.
FL; Phoenix and Tucson, AZ; and her location,        visited a person in the Catholic Home who
                                                                                                          And when asked if she could do it all
Milwaukee, WI. She has been a paralegal for          was reading poems to the other residents.
                                                                                                          over again, what would she change or do
9 years and has worked at Quarles & Brady,          These were poems that she had written
                                                                                                          differently, Koster’s answer was simply, “I
LLP, for most of the last 8 years.                   through the years. She gave copies of these
                                                                                                          would have become a paralegal sooner.”
                                                     poems to me, and I treasure them dearly,”
According to Koster, her responsibilities at
                                                     said Koster.
Quarles & Brady include drafting probate                                                                  ON THE NET
pleadings, transferring assets into the name         One of Koster’s proudest moments was being
of the estate and/or trust, preparing an                                                                  Quarles & Brady, LLP
                                                     appointed by the state bar to the paralegal
inventory listing of the assets as of the date of                                                         www.quarles.com/Home.aspx
                                                     task force. The task force was charged
death and their value on that date, preparing        with preparing a petition to be filed with the
                                                                                                          Carthage College
an accounting from the date of death through         Supreme Court regarding the licensure of
                                                                                                          www.carthage.edu/
closing of the estate or trust administration,       paralegals in the state of Wisconsin. That
preparing fiduciary income tax returns,              petition is still pending in the Supreme
                                                                                                          American Bar Association
preparing and filing estate tax returns, and         Court. Other professional accomplishments
                                                                                                          www.abanet.org
transferring assets to the beneficiaries.            include being named Wisconsin’s Paralegal

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