Melanie Hicks, CP, is the Owner/Certified Paralegal at Paralegal Solutions, LLC where she specializes in Real Estate and Criminal Law. She has an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and earned her NALA Certification in May 2010.
Why did you choose a paralegal career? I always wanted to work in the legal field. I do not remember ever contemplating another career path.
What is your favorite part of your job? I love legal research. My passion for reading began at a very early age so working in a job that allows me to read all day long is perfect for me.
What professional associations do you belong to? I am a member of NALA and Legal Assistants/Paralegals of Southern West Virginia.
How has your membership benefited you? I have met some wonderful paralegals, traveled the country and learned new skills as members of both organizations. The educational opportunities allow me to expand my skill sets and explore new areas of the law. I love networking with other paralegals and learning about their careers. The leadership skills I have developed help me give back to my local organization as a board member and presenter.
What has been the highlight of your career? Passing the NALA Certifying Exam. I also recently worked on a criminal defense team that took a case to trial and won an acquittal on the case.
What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? I think the virtual paralegal is becoming a hot trend. I have freelanced for 8 ½ years so I am anxious to see how this career path develops in the future. Careers paths outside the typical law firm setting are also becoming common which I think is very exciting.
If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Learn as much as you can, develop new skill sets even if you may never need them, and always maintain professionalism. I talk to students often and the one piece of advice I always give is do not burn bridges. The law firms you leave and lawyers you work with may be your best resource in future endeavors.
You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? My daughter. I had my daughter at a young age and was fortunate to have a supportive family that allowed me to obtain my associate degree in paralegal studies.
What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Learn new things! I love to learn and take classes to keep my mind active with applying new knowledge to my work.
What advice would you give yourself if you met you as a first-year paralegal? It will get easier. I felt very intimidated with the lack of practical knowledge such as document preparation, legal writing and communication skills.
If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? Professional artist. It completely contradicts the left brain critical thinking skills and taps into the creativity that I can completely loose myself in.
Is there a quote that inspires you? “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.
What electronic device can you not live without? Sadly, I think my iPhone. I do make a conscientious effort to unplug often, but it is crucial to maintaining a freelance paralegal career.
What was your first car? Red Toyota Celica with a sunroof. It had 220,000 miles on it but I bought it myself and it was a great car.
What unusual item do you own? A menagerie of artwork with no specific theme.
What was your first job? Cashier at a convenience store.
What is the best live concert you’ve ever attended? Maroon 5 at the Greenbrier Classic outdoor venue.
What’s your favorite food? Pasta and wine.
What sports team are you passionate about? West Virginia University Mountaineers football and basketball and Pittsburgh Steelers.
What’s your favorite vacation getaway? A beach anywhere!
What is the one thing you wish you were better at? Art.
What is your favorite hobby? Reading.
What makes you lose your patience? Unmotivated people.
What Web site do you visit daily? USA Today and unfortunately Facebook.
What TV channel do you most often have on? TVLand – I am a sitcom junkie.
What scares you the most? Right now, it is the uncertainty of our country’s political future. I have never had that feeling that I need to prepare for the worse but I understand the “bunker mentality” now.
Is there one thing in the world you wish you had the answer to? Education and poverty. I think poor education leads to poverty. I see so many cycles of behavior where I live that are a result of poor education.
What word do you always have a problem spelling? Liaison.
What is your favorite Web site? Pinterest – I have had to ban myself!
What college classes did you love? Psychology and economics.
Where do you like to go to have fun? I love to hang out at a small venue close to me that hosts jazz music, guided painting and other art classes.
What’s your favorite thing to cook? Pasta; however, I discovered I have a gluten allergy earlier this year so it is now a challenge with gluten free pasta.
You’ve been given the chance to have dinner with anyone living or dead. Who is it? My grandfather. He passed away before he got to see our family members accomplish so many great things and I want to tell him about all of them.
If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go? I would probably go back to age 25 because I would make different decisions about several things. However, I am now 43 and feel like since I turned 40 I have settled in to who I am and have confidence in knowing that.
What is your guilty pleasure food? Pasta and cheesecake.