Jericka Lyon is a Paralegal at the Kennelly O’Keeffe Law Firm in Fargo, ND where she specializes in Family Law. She has a Bachelors in Paralegal Studies
1. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? My interest in becoming a paralegal dates back to a high school English class in which we were to research a career and prepare a presentation regarding the same. I had heard the term “paralegal” so I decided to look into it. From that point forward, it just stuck with me and I chose the college I wanted to attend based upon those that offered a 4-year paralegal degree. Luckily, as I became involved in the courses, my interest and love for the career field only grew.
2. What is your favorite part of your job? I work in Family Law so my favorite part of my job could also be that which I would say is my least favorite part of my job. I love that we are able to help people at a point in their lives when they are dealing with those things most important to them and enjoy when we can get a positive outcome for them. It’s great being able to get to know your clients on a more personal level because, inevitably, there are very personal issues that need to be discussed and resolved and you become immersed in their personal lives. On the other hand, it’s easy to get swept up with the emotions of family law when your client does not get the outcome that they want or when a decision is made that is adverse to your client.
3. What professional associations do you belong to? I belong to our local paralegal association – the Red River Valley Paralegal Association.
4. How has your membership benefited you? It has been a great way to network with other paralegals in our community to find out what is going on in their firms and to share knowledge and resources amongst each other. Our local paralegal association also holds 2 seminars throughout the year, which have been valuable tools in gaining new information on areas of law that I don’t practice in.
5. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? I see that those paralegals who have technological training are transforming the way law firms operate and the way that traditionalist attorneys do things. Technology is ever-changing and as the Courts convert to electronic systems, the law firms are being forced to convert as well. Paralegals are becoming invaluable to these firms who have lagged in technology or who have not been open to change as the paralegals are able to bridge this gap in the change and assist the attorneys in the conversion process.
6. Is there a quote that inspires you? “The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them” and “Clear your mind, and enjoy this moment.” It’s so easy to get caught up with the stress of life that I have to remind myself to slow down because life goes by too fast. It’s also easy to not be able to look at the big picture when the bad things happen in your life and to be consumed by them that sometimes it just takes a reminder to change one’s perspective.
7. You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? This goes back to the question as to why I chose a paralegal career and there isn’t one single event or person that pointed me in the paralegal direction. However, I believe that my college professors in the paralegal program are due the credit for adequately preparing me for the workforce so that I was equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to be an asset to a law firm. I began my career working in bankruptcy, then took a job working in intellectual property, and now on to family law. I am grateful to each of the individuals who hired me for each of these jobs because they essentially were taking a risk on me and having the confidence that I would be able to perform the necessary tasks in the specific area of law without being able to attribute past work experience to their hiring decision.
8. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Always strive to do more—whether it is to keep tabs on the latest legal news, continually coming up with ways to be more efficient, yet maintaining one’s value in the firm, or challenging oneself to keep updated on other areas of law that one may not come into contact with on a daily basis.
9. What electronic device can you not live without? My phone.
10. What is the best live concert you’ve ever attended? Pink’s 2014 Truth About Love Tour and most recently, Garth Brooks. Both of these definitely set the bar high for all future concerts that I attend.
11. What sports team are you passionate about? Win or lose, I am a faithful Minnesota Vikings Fan. I also enjoy the local North Dakota State University Bison football team. They just won their 4th consecutive NCAA Division I-FCS National Championship!
12. What’s your favorite vacation getaway? I love to travel and love warm weather and being from Minnesota/North Dakota we only get a few months of hot weather, so my favorite vacation getaway is anywhere with sun and temperatures above 75 degrees.
13. If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? A realtor or a travel agent.
Bonus Question: What is the one thing you wish you were better at? If there was one talent I wish I had, it would be the natural ability to sing.