2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? My choice to become a paralegal came after many years of traveling and many different jobs. After I got married, then had a child, I went back to school and obtained my B.A. in Legal Administration. I wanted a profession that would challenge me intellectually, as well as allow me to incorporate my technological and graphic arts skills. Being a paralegal has done all that and more!
3. What is your favorite part of your job? I work mainly as a research paralegal, and one of my favorite parts of the job is that ‘Aha’ moment when you find a definitive answer to a question. 4. What professional associations do you belong to? I am a member of the Northwest Florida Paralegal Association (NWFPA) and NALA. I am currently serving on the NWFPA Board as Past-President, and I am a member of NALA’s Continuing Education Council.
5. How has your membership benefited you? Membership in professional associations is valuable on so many levels:
1) continuing education, which is absolutely essential for our profession;
2) networking, both through my local association and through NALA…the contacts and exposure to information are invaluable;
3) professional development…both NALA and the NWFPA provide many and varied opportunities for professional growth, and I’ve tried to take advantage of as many of these opportunities as I can;
4) enthusiasm…you really do feed off of the enthusiasm of your fellow members;
5) vision…this, to me, is one of the most ‘unexpected’ benefits of membership; membership in associations has given me the understanding of how the paralegal profession began, the role of associations in developing our profession, and the need to have a vision for the future.
6. Do you have any professional certifications? I attained my Certified Paralegal designation in 2000 and I received my Florida Registered Paralegal designation in 2008; now I’m looking forward to taking NALA’s advanced certification program in Land Use when it becomes available.
7. What has been the highlight of your career? I see my decade in the legal field as a series of opportunities and accomplishments that have led me to where I am now:
* after receiving my Bachelor’s degree, I was hired as paralegal for the U.S. Magistrate Judge of the Northern District of Florida;
* when my position with the Northern District ended, though I was disappointed at the time, I was hired by the Escambia County Attorney’s Office. I’ve truly enjoyed my ‘niche’ in local government law;
* have had the good fortune of having bosses who encouraged me to ‘be all that I can be’ in the paralegal positions I’ve held;
* attending my first NALA Convention in Tampa in 2006 opened my eyes to the national paralegal scene;
* and taking part in NALA’s inaugural LEAP program gave me insights into how I could be a leader in both NWFPA and NALA.
8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Definitely an area to keep watching is the virtual paralegal field. I see this as something that will become more and more prevalent.
9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? If not, do you see that in your future? I look at social media as incorporating not only social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but also other web-based technologies such as webcasts, podcasts, blogs, and virtual meetings. While I do have Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, I have also actively taken part in webcasts and podcasts, both as presenter and participant; I have created a blog and follow many others through RSS feeds. I recently experienced another innovative social medium when I attended a virtual legal technology conference and expo, complete with a convention hall, f.r.e.e CLE credit, rooms for vendors, and crowd noise!
10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? It’s important not only to know what your career goals are, but also to know yourself and your priorities, and make sure these are all aligned.
11. Is there a quote that inspires you? My favorite ‘old’ quote is: ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ Lao Tzu
My favorite ‘new’ quote is from the interview you and Lynne DeVenny did with Erin Brockovich. When she was asked how she maintains her optimism in the face of the current environmental challenges, she said: ‘One step at a time, one person at a time, one voice at a time, then collectively, all of us, we can effect change.’ (Note: If you missed the interview with Erin, follow this link to Legal Talk Network.)
12. You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I’ve had some great mentors in my career who have both given me roots and given me wings.
13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Stay attuned to changes in your area, as well as other areas of the law, and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Bonus…Just for Fun Fact: Before becoming a paralegal, I enjoyed several other careers, such as working as a licensed massage therapist on a cruise ship, working as crew manager for a Norwegian freighter company, and working for a newspaper.