Although it’s often hard to predict exactly what sort of case will next come across the paralegal Peter Sewell’s desk, Sewell manages to stay unflappable amid the uncertainty.
“In the often unpredictable cases we handle, (Sewell) is the epitome of calm under pressure. Nothing seems to frazzle him,” said Ann Maher, a partner who works with Sewell at Husch Blackwell’s office in Milwaukee.
Sewell does not always see it that way. “I guess I am good at looking calm,” he said.
For the past 12 years, Sewell has worked as a paralegal, spending nearly all that time on litigation. He is now a senior paralegal in the firm’s technology, manufacturing and transportation group, concentrating on business litigation, insurance defense and personal litigation.
“I really enjoy the legal side of the business, but not the business side of practicing the law,” he said. “I find the work interesting, but there are a lot of aspects of the business that go beyond the law that I did not want to deal with. Being a paralegal allows me to work on the aspects of the law that I want to and that I enjoy.”
Sewell works with about a dozen lawyers every month and said that keeping track of what the different litigators are working on can be difficult. “Being organized is key,” he said.
Maher praised Sewell’s dedication to his work.
“He’s thinking about what we need before we think about what we need,” she said. “He never leaves the office when we are busily getting ready for depositions or trial without stopping to ask ‘Anything else I can do for you?’ That is so comforting and refreshing.”
Sewell’s duties include making presentations at trial, working on exhibits, collecting records, interviewing witnesses and obtaining documents.
“I focus on doing what I can to help the attorneys, whether it is going to court, gathering files or just whatever they need,” he said.
That assistance includes making sure exhibits that use technology are ready to go when you hit “play”
“When you are work with electronics and if they don’t work like you want them to, it can seem like you’re there forever working on it. It’s just 15 to 20 seconds, but feels much longer,” Sewell said. “I am not sure I look very calm then.”