Gila County’s new attorney Bradley Beauchamp has done something no other attorney has done before. At least so far as anyone can remember in the county attorney’s office.
He has hired a paralegal.
Paul Miller, a private investigator turned paralegal, comes to Payson from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office homicide unit.
As a paralegal, Miller will handle much of the same tasks that an attorney does outside the courtroom, but do so at half the cost.
Chief Deputy County Attorney Shawn Fuller says hiring Miller is part of Beauchamp’s plan to modernize operations in the GCAO while cutting costs.
Besides organizing evidence, managing disclosures and writing affidavits, Miller will help train staff, bringing them up to date on the law and best practices. He will also be responsible for helping the office transition to a more paperless system.
So, instead of endlessly sending files back and forth between Globe and Payson, Miller is having documents scanned and put on disk or a shared drive.
Miller became a paralegal in 2004 after working 23 years as an investigator. For 14.5 of those years, Miller worked for a company retained by the Arizona Counties Insurance Pool.
He would travel around the state conducting administrative investigations whenever someone sued a county. While doing one such investigation, Miller stumbled into Payson. He said he instantly liked the small-town feel and cooler weather.
After graduating from Arizona State University with a history degree, Miller toyed with the idea of becoming a police officer.
While going through the hiring process, he came across a newspaper ad for a researcher with a private investigator.
He was hired and went to work organizing files and writing executive summaries. He would write 100-plus page detailed reports and conduct countless interviews for a case.
“Paralegals do a lot of similar things as investigators in terms of interviewing people, preparing affidavits and composing interrogatories,” he said.
While the busy lifestyle had suited him well, he gave it up for a desk job when he married and had a son.
He graduated with his paralegal certificate second in his class from Phoenix Career College and started interning with the MCAO.
After the MCAO hired him, Miller transferred between different departments, including the homicide unit, where he worked alongside Fuller for roughly two years.
When Fuller learned Beauchamp was looking for a paralegal, he recommended Miller. Fuller said he was impressed with Miller’s organization skills and ability to handle big cases.
“The office was doing a good job,” Fuller said. “We just wanted to make sure they were up to speed.”
Part of Miller’s job will include training staff.
“With his training and experience he will get staff up to speed on how to do things easier,” Fuller said. He said there are many things the office does now that aren’t technically wrong, but could be streamlined.
One task is standardizing how information goes between the two county offices.
Often, for example, an attorney with the GCAO in Globe will handle a case for a Payson-based attorney so they don’t have to drive. However, when the Globe attorney opens the case file, they might not have the most up-to-date information because it is in Payson.
Miller is working to scan case files so attorneys in either location can quickly access the information.
“Eventually, the whole file, from day one to the day of the trial, will be on a shared drive with two copies, one clean and one redacted,” Miller said.
Miller said Beauchamp was instrumental in the changes.
“He is going to have this office equal to or more technically advanced than Maricopa County in no time, he is that serous about it.”
For Miller, speed and efficiency is key. He admits he worked up until 6:15 p.m. at the MCAO the night before starting at 7 a.m. with the GCAO.
“I love to work,” he said. “And I am used to working a lot.”
Miller will make $56,000 with the GCAO, drafting motions, pleadings and affidavits; gathering evidence, organizing it and making redactions.
“The only difference is I can’t argue in court and everything I do has to be supervised by an attorney.”