Episode 77: Paralegal Inspiration! An Interview With Amy McGuigan

In this guest episode of the Paralegals on Fire! Podcast Show, Ann Pearson talks with Amy McGuigan, a paralegal who started her career without a paralegal certificate, but later decided it was time to get one because the lack of a certificate was holding her back from career opportunities. Wait until you hear about the certifications she has now!

Amy is very active in her local associations and credits that to part of her success in her paralegal career. She is the acting president of San Francisco Paralegal Association, Chair of the SF Bar Paralegal Section, and the Director of the SF Chapter of Women in eDiscovery. 

In the show, Ann and Amy discuss some key insights that Amy shares with paralegals, including:

  • Understanding the different roles of legal secretary, legal assistant, and paralegal – and why it’s important for attorneys to understand the difference.
  • Why you might want to seek additional paralegal certifications.
  • If you’re already working as a paralegal without a paralegal certificate, why you might want to consider getting your certificate even if you don’t think you need one.


Your Actionable Strategy

  1. If you are considering a career move, review the job description and check off the boxes to see what skills you already have and what skills (or certificates) you need to acquire.
  2. Learn how to advocate for yourself when you want to be promoted to a new position internally.
  3. Don’t stay longer than you should just because you feel bad about “them” not being able to survive without you.

Amy McGuigan interview

Meet our Podcast Guest

Amy McGuigan, ACP, CAS, CEDS is a senior paralegal at Swanson & McNamara LLP, a trial and appellate law firm specializing in high-stakes criminal, civil, and regulatory defense and internal investigations. Prior to joining Swanson & McNamara, she worked for the Federal Public Defender in the Northern District of California for 15 years, where she assisted in several trials, including four complex death penalty cases, one of which resulted in an acquittal.

Amy is a certified eDiscovery Specialist holding multiple ACEDS eDiscovery Certifications, as well as certifications in CMFF Cellebrite Mobile Forensic Fundamentals, digital forensics, and has over 21 hours of digital forensic training in FTK.  She is the acting president of San Francisco Paralegal Association, Chair of the SF Bar Paralegal Section, and the Director of the SF Chapter of Women in eDiscovery. 

When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time crafting and hanging out with her four dogs.  

Amy will be presenting at the NALA Boston conference in July, on Ethical Considerations in Criminal Law CasesText and Smartphone Evidence for Paralegals: How to Identify, Preserve, Collect, and Produce and Assisting at Trial.

Articles Written by Amy McGuigan



Clarifying the Roles of Legal Secretaries and Paralegals



Are You Working on a Project That You Could Have Given to a Paralegal?

Simple Steps to Grow Your Paralegal Network

Clarifying Legal Support Roles


In the podcast episode, we also discussed Amy’s “Side Hustle” business, creating handmade, unique jewelry. Check out her jewelry here!


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A Paralegal Resource For You

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