Paralegal aids criminal defense team


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

The senior paralegal at Smith Blythe PC, sex crime defense attorneys in Bloomfield Hills, Cassie Rorabacher terms herself a “Type-A” personality — and loves the legal field for the opportunity to utilize her organizational skills to their fullest extent.

“I love the challenge of organizing documents and making spreadsheets to help my attorneys be able to track timelines and find items easily,” she says.

With the firm’s complete team approach, Rorabacher is involved from the time prospective clients call in, to discovery requests/ responses and reviewing all materials, all the way through to sitting in on trials and helping with jury selection. 

“I’m an active team member when talking with clients and going over testimony,” she says. “I really get to know clients, and that ensures our clients know we’re all working hard for them. 

“It also helps my attorney know I’m on top of things, and therefore doesn’t need to spend time getting me caught up on what happened in the meeting, or in court that day, what needs to be done or calendared.”   

Rorabacher enjoys the work immensely, and feels it has great purpose.

“I firmly believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and everyone has the right to a defense,” she says. “The U.S. has the best judicial system in the world, and that’s at the core of it all.

“With our world becoming more and more technologically based, and with the media becoming such an influence, too often a person is convicted in a matter of public opinion prior to the actual court trial. This makes needing really good defense attorneys now more important than ever.”

Rorabacher entered the legal field after 14 years of raising her sons, when a close friend offered her a position at the small family law firm of Bowyer, Midtgard, & Nacy (ADAM). With prior experience as a service supervisor at a telecommunications company, she quickly learned the ropes — but kept pushing to help with legal assistant duties, which intrigued and interested her.

Ready for a more challenging position she joined the nation-wide firm of Cordell & Cordell as office administrator for the Ann Arbor office, and quickly added administrative duties for the Troy and Grand Rapids offices, commuting between the three cities. She became more interested in the paralegal side, and worked to learn all she could in that capacity.

“When you enjoy your work and are passionate about it, it doesn’t feel like training — it feels more like you’re learning and growing as a person,” she says.

After tackling that challenge so well — she was one of only seven that got 100% on benchmarks for the year — she asked to be allowed to handle legal assistant duties as well, making her a “Dual” (office administrator and legal assistant).

After almost five years with the firm, and with six years of family law experience, she was referred to Shannon Smith at Smith Blythe; and after meeting with Smith and Molly Blythe, knew she wanted to make the switch to criminal defense law.

“Their passion for their work is infectious, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” she says.

A member of the State Bar of Michigan Para­legal Section, Rorabacher also enjoys ­conferences offered by the paralegal association NALA.

“They always have great speakers, and informative classes, and just the in-between time while talking with other paralegals, I always feel I’ve learned something,” she says.

Originally from Redford Township, Rorabacher now lives in nearby Livonia with her husband Tom, sons Cole, 20, Brandon, 18, and Evan, 13, and a female Black Labrador named Sydney.

“I had to pick a girl, as I was completely outnumbered in the house,” she says with a smile.

The family enjoys sporting events downtown, especially Red Wings games; and on “date nights,” Rorabacher and her husband like to try new restaurants and rooftop lounges Detroit has to offer, as well as nights out at One Under, a neighborhood pub/restaurant in Livonia.

A catechism teacher at St. Kenneth Church in Plymouth, Rorabacher also has done a variety of volunteer work and fund-raisers with her sons’ Catholic Central High School. She also enjoys Girls’ Night Out with high school or neighborhood friends, or a “Lovely Lady Lawyers” group.

“All my other time is taken up by my youngest son’s sports, or visiting with my older sons away at school,” she says. “Most weekends during the summer you can find us at our cottage up north on Tee Lake. I make time each year, and plan one long weekend for a ‘Girl’s Trip,’ and one vacation with my family.”


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