by JB Hyppolite
Robert Rosen’s company, Justice Paralegal, became so busy in its center city headquarters at One Liberty Place after being founded last year that Rosen opened up another office on May 1 of this year in Chestnut Hill at 8618 Germantown Ave., behind Chestnut Hill Coffee Co. Justice Paralegal focuses on providing non-attorney legal assistance to clients.
“I’ve found that many people need legal help; document preparation, legal research, letters, divorces, wills…” explained Rosen, 43, a state-certified paralegal who believes many people are reluctant to call a law firm because of the high cost involved. “…I can do anything an attorney can do with the exception of representing someone in court…”
Rosen grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, where he still lives, and attended Northeast High School. He graduated from Penn State University with a BS in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management. He managed hotels for the Hilton Corporation for over 20 years before pursuing a paralegal career and then earned his paralegal certificate at Blackstone Career Institute in Allentown. (Rosen attended online.)
Paralegals, while not lawyers, are professionals trained in a variety of areas of law to assist lawyers in their practices. In the typical firm, paralegals conduct factual and legal research, draft legal documents, work with clients and manage cases. A paralegal service is comprised of a team of paralegals working independently of an established firm in order to offer paralegal services to individuals and law firms.
Robert explained that he’s not permitted to give legal advice to clients. “The one thing I tell them up front is I’m not an attorney,” said Robert. “If I can’t do something, I’m going to forward you to a lawyer I trust…As long as they ask me to do something that’s morally and ethically correct, I’ll do it.
“The case that satisfied me the most was a landlord-tenant case in which my client was involved with a landlord who did not keep the property up to code. My client had incurred a great deal of expense and was on a fixed income. I did research on the landlord, and it turned out that the landlord was not registered with the Dept of L&I. I submitted a lawsuit on behalf of my client, and she settled out of court and received enough money for her and her daughter to move to a safer and affordable new property. She personally came in to my office to give me a hug! That’s what life is all about. It felt so good to make a difference in someone else’s life.”
Paralegals generally research, draft and check for accuracy, then present their work to an attorney, who then signs off on the completed tasks. “In the legal business,” Rosen insisted, “if you want to know what’s going on, ask the paralegal…When the attorney represents someone in court, nine times out of 10 the paralegals have done the work, and the attorney presents it. (The attorneys) understand it and look it over, so they can own it, but it’s the paralegals who do all the dirty work.”
Rosen began his paralegal career when he worked for a prominent criminal defense attorney in center city. He didn’t make much money, but one day he observed a woman giving the attorney a lot of money. Robert ended up getting called to the office by his boss and was asked to deposit the money to the bank. Once Robert came back with the receipt, his boss asked him to work on a petition. Robert drafted the petition, which the judge granted in a matter of moments.
“My boss said, ‘Very, very good work,’ and I was excited because it was my work…Then I realized, though, that the boss had just collected $3,000 but didn’t do a thing. I did the work and then collected my $12 an hour. That was my thought process. How do I get my name out there?”
Rosen eventually went out on his own and started receiving calls soon after placing an ad on Craigslist. He was so adamant about taking phone calls that he even answered the call of a client on New Year’s Eve. He says that now, 40 percent of his business is repeat business.
“I have fallen in love with the merchants, people and the beautiful scenery here in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy. It’s been wonderful,” said Robert, who enjoys the less congested, more spacious location, although he still maintains the center city office as well.
In addition to his involvement with Justice Paralegal, Robert is actively involved with young people in the inner city. He was recently elected to the board of the Philadelphia Children’s Foundation, where he serves to connect disadvantaged schools and youth with necessary technology and educational materials. He created a program that allows citizens to trade computers for discounted paralegal services. This program allows the community to save money while providing computers to disadvantaged children.
More information on Justice Paralegal can be found at 267-331-6891 or www.justiceparalegal.net.