Susan Ippoliti: The Litigation Paralegal Who Keeps On Going by LawCrossing


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LEGAL STAFF PROFILE                                                                                   1. 800.973.1177

                            Susan Ippoliti: The Litigation Paralegal Who Keeps On Going
                            [By Robin Salisian]
                            Plaintiff and defense litigation paralegal Susan G. Ippoliti referred to herself as the Energizer Bunny, “always going, going,
                            going,” when she worked for large private law firms. However, after a switch to a smaller firm, Ippoliti discovered she needed to
                            adopt the ways of a new iconic beastie: “the easygoing GEICO Gecko.”

“My work style has always been quick-               counsel and advice, not simply high-quality           As a litigation paralegal and case manager,
paced and constant,” writes Ippoliti in an          legal products,” says its website. Clients            Ippoliti divides her time between speaking
article. “Accustomed to working long hours          come from locations ranging from Upstate              with attorneys, handling client files, and
(sometimes seven days a week for weeks at           New York to Western Florida to “beyond,”              acting as a liaison between clients and
a time) and meeting an annual billable target       and Harter, founded in 893 in Rochester,             lawyers.
every year, it has been very difficult for me       NY, has been voted “Rochester’s # Law
to break away from the workaholic mentality         Firm” for three consecutive years.                    “On a typical day,” writes Ippoliti, “an
that most litigation paralegals working in a                                                              attorney may call you into his or her office,
large-firm setting can relate to.”                  But Ippoliti’s role in the legal field doesn’t        inform you that your client has been served
                                                    end there. Currently, she is the vice                 with a complaint[,] hand it to you[,] and
Working for a small firm means no more              president and director of membership                  proceed to give you the case background.
billable hours, no more overtime, and no            for the National Federation of Paralegal              It is at that moment that the attorney has
more weekend work — a switch many might             Associations Inc. (NFPA) as well as on its            allowed you ownership of the file. The first
rejoice over. But not Ippoliti.                     marketing committee. Previously, Ippoliti             immediate steps are to respond with an
                                                    served as the regulation review coordinator           answer and issue discovery demands, bill
“The pace has been much slower than I am            and special research coordinator for NFPA,            of particulars, medical records if it is a
accustomed to,” she writes.                         an organization that “promotes a global               personal injury matter, and, most likely, a
                                                    presence for the paralegal profession                 notice of deposition.”
And with Ippoliti’s long list of work               and leadership in the legal community,”
experience, it’s no wonder this paralegal           according to its website.                             “Rule of thumb: always make sure that you
struggles with slowing down. As a plaintiff                                                               are not the party with the ‘to do list,’” she
and defense litigation paralegal, Ippoliti has      “Founded in 974, NFPA was the first                  adds.
worked “in areas such as products liability,        national paralegal association” and “is
architectural design and construction               comprised of more than 50 member                      She also emphasizes the importance of not
malpractice, trade secrets misappropriation,        associations and represents over ,000               offering legal advice as a paralegal. This role
professional liability, intellectual property,      individual members reflecting a broad range           is strictly for an attorney.
asbestos litigation, personal injury, medical       of experience, education, and diversity.”
malpractice, employment discrimination, and                                                               “Do not put yourself in a position to commit
insurance defense.”                                 Since 998, Ippoliti has been a member                unlicensed practice of law (UPL),” she writes.
                                                    of the Paralegal Association of Rochester             “A good paralegal will know where to draw
In 997, Ippoliti graduated from St. John           Inc. (PAR). She has also played an active             the line.”
Fisher College in Rochester with a B.A. in          role in her profession by serving as vice
Political Science. Today, she works as a            president of national affairs, vice president         Still, there is a myriad of legal activities
litigation paralegal and case manager with          of professional development, chairwoman               Ippoliti is able to participate in and, in many
law firm Harter, Secrest & Emery, LLP, in           of the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal             cases, take charge of. But be forewarned.
Rochester, NY.                                      Associations, member of the New York State            These responsibilities are not for the
                                                    Bar Association Law Practice Management               inexperienced.
The 30-attorney, full-service law firm is          Committee, and second vice president of the
committed to “providing [their] business and        Italian-American Community Center.                    “The nitty-gritty and highly challenging
personal clients with zealous, proactive legal                                                            world of litigation usually revolves around

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LEGAL STAFF PROFILE                                                                         1. 800.973.1177

a multimillion-dollar lawsuit…Multimillion-      control, and if you let this opportunity pass     On the net
dollar litigations are usually handled by more   you by or you are unsuccessful at it, you are
than one attorney — realistically a partner      likely to run the risk of never getting another   Harter, Secrest & Emery, LLP
and senior associate — and these are the         chance at it again.”                    
cases that keep you lying awake at night or
force you awake in cold sweats.”                 But the most important part of being a case       National Federation of Paralegal
                                                 manager is remembering this: “When the            Associations
“These cases are typically document              going gets rough, take a step back, close
intensive, involve massive discovery             your eyes, and breathe deep. It’s not as bad
(electronic or paper), and consist of daily      as it seems.”                                     Paralegal Association of Rochester
meetings and/or conference calls with the                                                
client, partner, associate, and you. This is     Looks like this Energizer Bunny turned
when your fabulous management skills are         GEICO Gecko does know how to slow down
more valuable than ever,” continues Ippoliti.    after all.
“The team is giving you permission to be in


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