Melissa Klimpel ACP is one of the rising stars of the paralegal career field, something she simply can’t help because, after all, she is from the great state of North Dakota where paralegal leaders seem to sprout naturally. They are good, solid, honest, hard-working people who do what they say they will do and keep their word….all of which are must-have leadership traits.
Here are Melissa’s answers to The Paralegal Mentor’s Thirteen Questions:
1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I am a paralegal at the law office of Smith Bakke Porsborg and Schweigert in Bismarck and have been employed with them for 14 years.
2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? My career actually found me. When I was in high school, I was assigned a school co-op job at a law firm in my hometown by one of my instructors. I have been working in a law firm ever since.
3. What is your favorite part of your job? I truly enjoy everything about my job from the discovery process to preparing medical record summaries.
4. What professional associations do you belong to? The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the Western Dakota Association of Legal Assistants (WDALA). I currently serve on the Continuing Education Committee of NALA and I am the President of WDALA.
5. How has your membership benefited you? NALA and WDALA have both made a huge impact on my life. I have benefited a great deal from these associations by getting involved. The networking has also been great. My involvement in both organizations has helped me improve my public speaking skills to the point where I can now speak in front of a group (large or small) without being nervous. I have really grown a lot as a person by getting involved with both WDALA and NALA.
6. Do you have any professional certifications? Yes. I received my Certified Legal Assistant designation in 2004 and my Advanced Certified Paralegal designation in 2006.
7. What has been the highlight of your career? Definitely passing my CLA exam. It was a wonderful feeling when I found out I passed the exam that I had worked so hard at studying for.
8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Technology. I think it will be interesting to see where technology takes us in the future.
9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? I have been using Facebook for a few months. However, our three girls (ages 10 months to 9 years old) keep me very busy outside of work so my time on Facebook has been very limited
10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? I would try to give them a sense of what I have found enjoyable about the work throughout my career and encourage them to look for opportunities to work in a law firm to see if the field interested them. As I mentioned before, I had an opportunity to work as an intern at a law office and found that I really enjoyed it!
11. Is there a quote that inspires you? Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. ~Unknown
12. You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? There are several people/events that I attribute my success to.
First of all, if it hadn’t been for my high school teacher assigning me a co-op job in a law firm, I know I wouldn’t be where I am at today.
Second, my involvement with NALA and WDALA has also had a huge impact on my paralegal career. It is amazing how much I have grown as a person by getting involved with these two wonderful organizations.
Finally, my husband and children. I receive a tremendous amount of support from my family from encouragement, to taking care of things when I am busy with work, NALA, and/or WDALA, to cheering me on.
13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Always keep looking for ways to improve your skills and get involved in professional associations.
Bonus ‘Just for Fun’ Fact: I am new to running but recently completed my first race (about 4 miles) in a marathon relay that I ran with my husband and some friends. I am planning on running another race on Thanksgiving Day.