In the ‘In Between’ issue of Strategies for Paralegals Seeking Excellence, my weekly ezine with tips and resources for paralegals and other professionals, I am including profiles of paralegals from all over the US and Canada. In last week’s ‘In Between’ issue, I included Patty Wyndham of Charleston SC who has taken her paralegal career in a different…and interesting…direction. Here are Patty’s answers to the Paralegal Mentor’s 13 Questions:
1. What is your paralegal background? I worked for many years in the legal field as a deputy clerk for a JDR court, progressing to a paralegal in the corporate environment. Most recently, I worked as a Trademark paralegal.
2. Where do you work and what is your job title? I own and operate Legal Billing Specialists, LLC. We provide legal billing and bookkeeping services as well as paralegal services to attorneys with a focus on small and solo practices.
3. What prompted you to open your own business? I was working as an Office Manager/Paralegal for a small firm in California. My husband’s job transferred us to the East Coast. The managing principal of the firm refused to accept my resignation and even tried to convince me to remain in California with my family on the East Coast. I began working remotely as an independent contractor for that firm. After a few months working virtually, I found that I loved working for myself, being my own boss and wanted to see the business grow and thrive.
4. Did you have to have any special training to do legal billing? In addition to an Accounting degree, I have attended seminars and training workshops for many different billing programs. Legal billing requires you to understand what the attorney is trying to express to the client as well as assisting the attorney or practice in keeping accurate financial records. Therefore, I believe that a strong accounting and legal background is key.
5. What is your favorite part of your job? I love what I do! I love doing the billing for attorneys and helping them with their financial records. I think it’s interesting to watch a practice grow and thrive, especially in today’s economy.
6. What is the most difficult thing about being in business for yourself? The buck stops with me. If my business is doing great, I get the accolades. However, if business were to drop, then I would only have myself to blame. I have employees who count on me to remain in business for their job and financial security. The stress of that can be powerful.
7. What steps do you take to market your business? Is it difficult to find clients? Most of my clients are found by personal referrals. I am beginning to become more active on Twitter and have found many interesting people that way. I would like to get more involved with the local bar association and network more as well.
8. If someone considering establishing their own business asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Prepare, prepare, prepare! Make sure you have a solid business plan. This includes, where you will work, how you plan to remain in business and most important, what is your rainy day plan?
9. What has been the highlight of your career? The highlight of my career was to help a struggling small practice with one attorney grow and flourish.
10. You have enjoyed a successful career. To what single event or person to you attribute that success? My success has definitely been due to the support and love of my family. They have supported me during the time while I was building my business and complained very little during the long hours that sometimes accompanied it. I am forever grateful to them.
11. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? How has that benefited you? I have recently starting using Twitter and I love it! It can be addictive! I have “met” many new people and even made contact with prospective clients through Twitter. I would love to get more involved with Twitter and other social media. You can find me on Twitter @LegalBilling.
12. Is there a quote that inspires you? Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value. ~Albert Einstein.
13. What is the most important step a person can take to keep his or her career interesting? Find something you love to do and pursue it with your whole heart and mind!
Bonus…Just for Fun Fact: My assistant and I have learned that the secret to a successful and happy day is a stash of Double Stuf Oreos and a Diet Dr. Pepper.