Jay M. Williams, TBLS, is a Litigation Paralegal with Dallas law firm Miller Weisbrod, LLP. He specializes in Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Medical Malpractice. Jay is also a Board Certified Paralegal – Civil Trial Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
1. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? I was in an accounting class in college, and the instructor told us that (at that time) the hottest job market would not be accounting, but the paralegal industry. I checked it out, spoke with a couple of friends who were legal secretaries at the time and they said I would be a great fit for the legal profession.
2. What is your favorite part of your job? Communicating with my clients to better understand their situation. I also enjoy the interaction with my co-workers, professional colleagues on both sides of the case, and ironically, communicating with court personnel.
3. What professional associations do you belong to? Dallas Area Paralegal Association (Past President, 2008), Paralegal Division – State Bar of Texas (current District 2 Director), National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
4. How has your membership benefited you? The amount of CLEs available to paralegals is nothing short of amazing. I’m blessed that my boss and my firm are very encouraging of my attending CLEs as I bring back valuable information to share with my co-workers. And my association involvement helps to market my firm to the possibility of new cases.
5. What has been the highlight of your career? I have to list two highlights: first, gaining the respect of my peers to serve as DAPA President in 2008. To me there is nothing that spells success more than gaining the support of your peers no matter what your profession. Second, working with the president (and good friend) of another local paralegal association to create an all-day CLE event for Dallas paralegals. Unbeknownst to me, the planning and event evolved into an article published in Legal Assistant Today in January 2009. This has since evolved into an annual event known as “Diversity University.”
6. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Technology remains a hot trend. The constant changes require us to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to either working our cases, or determining the terms of a contract. Now with courts in Texas mandating electronic filing, technology is becoming more and more important in the way firms run their offices.
7. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? After dancing the “Snoopy Happy Dance” for their decision, I would extol on the amazing opportunities that lie ahead for them. I also wouldn’t sugarcoat anything and tell them it requires hard and dedicated work on their part. But if they are willing to put forth the effort, they will be successful and I would do everything I could to aid in their success.
8. You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? Wow! Tough to narrow this to a single person or event. I owe my career success to many people: first my partner Ken who has seen me at both the high points and low points of my career; to Allen Mihecoby and Lou Bugarin who introduced me to the values of being a leader in a paralegal association; and finally to colleagues such as Allen Mihecoby, Michele Boerder, Cynthia Minchillo, Wendi Rogers, and Kristine Farmer who in each of their own individual styles, continue to inspire me as a paralegal and to continue to strive for success.
9. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Education. I firmly believe educating oneself is the best way a paralegal can keep their career challenging and interesting at the same time. I always take something from a CLE event to try and instill in my daily work. And since CLEs are usually through a professional organization, networking within that organization runs a close second. Having the personal contact with your peers can open many doors of opportunities for paralegals.
10. What sports team are you passionate about? Texas Rangers.
11. What was your first car? A 1947 Willys Jeep. Admittedly I wasn’t thrilled about it until I started driving it to school. Then it was fun.
12. If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? Singer. What is your favorite kind of music? I grew up listening to all kinds of music, but since I country music would have to be my favorite since I perform it most.
13. You’ve been given the chance to have dinner with anyone living or dead. Who is it? My Mom. So many things have happened in the year and a half since she passed that I’d love to talk with her about. I miss her every day.
Bonus Question: What’s your most treasured possession or keepsake? The U.S. flag given to my family at my Father’s memorial service; my rings for bowling a perfect 300 game (I have two rings – so far); the picture of me and Ken taken on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco where we “officially” became life partners in 2003).