Rebecca J. Buttorff, RP, PaCP, of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, answers my Thirteen Questions this week. She is a senior civil litigation paralegal who work for Douglas N. Engelman, Esq. at the law firm of Lepley, Engelman & Yaw, LLC. in Williamsport, Pa.
You’ll want to read Rebecca’s list of 5 questions to determine if a person can be an exceptional paralegal. Thanks, Rebecca!
1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I work for Douglas N. Engelman, Esq. at the law firm of Lepley, Engelman & Yaw, LLC. in Williamsport, Pa. My job title is Senior Civil Litigation Paralegal.
2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? I had always been interested in law and law enforcement. I had considered becoming a Pennsylvania State Trooper. When I went back to college after all my children were in school, I felt a paralegal career would be safer than law enforcement.
3. What is your favorite part of your job? I enjoy researching and writing. To me, it is fun to research an issue and creatively argue it in a persuasive way.
4. What professional associations do you belong to? I have been a member of the Lycoming County Paralegal Association (LCPA) for over sixteen years. During that time, I have served as President, Vice President, and Editor of the Gavel as well as chaired a number of committees.
The LCPA is a member of the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations. I served as the LCPA’s Primary and Secondary Representative to the Keystone Alliance for a number of years. During that time, I served 2 terms as Chair of the Keystone Alliance, and sat on the Regulation Ad Hoc Committee. I am currently the Co-Chair of the Standing Committee on Paralegal Certification.
I have also been a member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) for over fifteen years. I am a member of the Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Paralegal Advisory Board as well.
5. How has your membership benefited you? I believe it is important to belong to professional associations on the local, state, and national levels. These memberships provide me with continuing legal education opportunities, allow me to network with other paralegals, participate in community service projects, and help me keep abreast of the trends in the profession. Through these associations, I have met many colleagues who have turned out to be lifelong friends.
6. Do you have any professional certifications? Yes. I have been a PACE – Registered Paralegal (RP®) since 2000. I also am a Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal (Pa.C.P) through the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations.
7. What has been the highlight of your career? In 2007 the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations established the Regulation Ad Hoc Committee and commissioned them to research the issue of regulation in Pa. I had the opportunity to be a member of that three person committee.
The purpose of our committee was to research paralegal regulation and to make a recommendation to the Keystone Alliance as to whether or not the PA paralegal wanted to be regulated and if so, what form of regulation would best serve Pennsylvania paralegals. The Committee presented to the Keystone Alliance a framework for the Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal credentialing program.
In April 2008, while I was Chair of the Keystone Alliance, the members of the Alliance ratified the Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal credentialing program. This certification program established by the Keystone Alliance was a significant advancement for paralegal in Pennsylvania. I feel very fortunate to have been closely involved in this process.
8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Paralegals throughout the United States are recognizing the importance of regulation. I believe we will continue to see programs such as the Keystone Alliance’s Pa.C.P. credentialing program being established in other states.
9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? I have a Facebook page and enjoy keeping connected with family and friends. I also manage the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations’ Facebook page. Facebook is a great way for me to keep connected with other paralegals and paralegal organizations.
10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? I would start by asking the person five questions.
1) Are you detail oriented?
2) Are you organized?
3) Are you able to manage your time well?
4) Do you have good writing and oral communication skills? and
5) Are you able to work in stressful situations?
I strongly believe that in order to be an exceptional paralegal, you must be organized, detail oriented, know how to manage time, and have good writing and oral communication skills as well as be able to handle stress.
If the person’s response was “yes” to these questions, I would recommend the individual look carefully at paralegal programs and preferably seek out an American Bar Association approved paralegal educational program.
11. Is there a quote that inspires you? “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”
12. You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? At the start of my paralegal career, I was fortunate to have a wonderful attorney to learn from and to provide guidance. After fourteen years, I still work for Douglas Engelman, Esq. He and his law firm have supported and encouraged my participation in professional organizations and attendance at continuing legal education events. He has played a significant role in the success of my career.
13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Every opportunity you have you should attend continuing legal educational seminars and lunch and learns even if they aren’t in your area of practice. You will be amazed at what you might take from the event. CLE events are a great opportunity to network as well.
Bonus…just for fun fact: I tend to be a risk taker. I believe that if you do not take risks in life you will never grow. I have always encouraged my children and others to do things that may be outside their comfort zone as well. If we don’t try new things, we will never be able to master anything new. My risk taking exceeds my professional career. A few years ago I challenged myself further. I went skydiving! It was awesome. So, the next time you find yourself outside your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to jump!