Profiles in Justice: Paralegal Heather Croul
Heather Croul has served as a paralegal in the Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) Unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) for nine years. Since March 17th, when the DAO went partially remote because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heather’s job has remained largely the same. She still inputs new cases for the unit, creates new files, and prepares cases for Assistant District Attorney (ADA) assignments.
But what has changed are her office and her office mates — namely, her three children who are also home during the health emergency.
“Working from home is not exactly what I thought it would be. I envisioned my children either playing in another room or working on their schoolwork independently. In reality, we all crowd around the kitchen table, usually a child in my lap, and we work on our own stuff. It’s loud and a little crazy, but it works,” Heather says. “Most days, I don’t have the usual 9-to-5, and the late nights don’t mean any less work. PCRA has remained a productive unit, still finishing assignments, filing answers to petitions, and prepping for future hearings. All of us paralegals are working together to keep the unit running smoothly.”
Heather and her fellow paralegals in the PCRA Unit are coming up with innovative ways to locate necessary documents that attorneys need. Many case file documents are years or decades old. As the senior paralegal, Heather is usually the first her team members come to with questions on how to locate and distribute documents so that the work of the unit can continue as seamlessly as possible. Heather and her PCRA colleagues are among the hundreds of critical DAO staff who are collaboratively ensuring that the justice system continues to serve Philadelphians and the Commonwealth during this unprecedented time.