Sami Hartsfield, ACP is a freelance paralegal and writer from Houston. She blogs at Legally Blog which you really should check out…it’s a wonderful resource.
1. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? I took a legal secretary course when I decided to go back to school around 2004. I enjoyed it so much, and was really good at it, so I decided to attend paralegal school.
2. Where did you receive your paralegal education? I have an AAS degree in Paralegal Studies, ABA-approved Center for Advanced Legal Studies (4.0); UH Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute (4.0); BS Political Science, University of Houston Downtown, graduating summa cum laude
3. Do you have any professional certifications? Yes, I have NALA Advanced Paralegal Certifications: Trial Practice; Discovery; Contracts Management; Individual and Entity Medical Liability; and Social Security Disability Law; I am also WestlawNext Certified.
4. What professional associations do you belong to? NALA; American Association of Notaries; EDEN — Electronic Data Extraction Network (electronic data forensics group).
5. How has your membership benefited you? Networking; CLE; also I volunteered for board positions which I recommend for myriad reasons such as the aforementioned two activities, and also opportunities to work on public speaking and other desirable skills.
6. What has been the highlight of your career? Being the first person in my family to earn a college degree and have a professional career—hopefully I will start a new trend! Also, interning with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges in 2007 was a fascinating, eye-opening experience.
7. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? I always keep my eye on new technology as the technology industry is so dynamic.
Many attorneys and law firms seem “old school,” that is to say slow to embrace these efficient devices, but I was fortunate enough to work at a medium sized firm that was paperless and utilized the latest technology.
There are so many time-saving and exciting technological devices out there, such as document management systems and trial presentation software, that I’m excited to see what comes out next to help us do our jobs faster and more efficiently, ultimately freeing our attorneys to work on tasks only an attorney may do.
8. Is there a quote that inspires you? “The ultimate measure of a [person] is not where he stands in moment of comfort and convenience but where [she] stands at times of challenge and controversy.” –Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963
9. What advice would you give yourself if you met you as a first-year paralegal? Try to find a mentor to emulate; listen and learn; write all you can, volunteer for as many assignments as you can at work or will be given to you; join your local paralegal association and go to meetings and/or volunteer; and hang out with the winners.
10. What is the one thing you wish you were better at? Math and statistics (thank you calculators and actuarial tables!)
11. What’s more important to you – comfort or style? Why not have both?
12. How do you deal with work-related stress? I listen to Mozart.
13. What is one thing about you that most people don’t know? I have a very discreet, well-hidden tattoo of my kids’ names somewhere on my body.
Bonus Question: Are you a cat person or a dog person? Definitely “cat”