Linda Odermott RP® is a senior paralegal at Dunn Carney Allen Higgins Tongue LLP in Portland, Oregon where she specializes in Real Property, Land Use, Public Meetings and Public Records. Linda earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Administration of Justice from Portland State University; Associate’s Degree from Everest College in Paralegal Studies, and Associate’s Degree from Portland Community College in Criminal Justice
Why did you choose a paralegal career? I worked for sixteen years in the grocery industry climbing the corporate ladder but was always interested in law enforcement and the law.
I applied for a national internship with the FBI, but discovered that path was not a good fit. The next year, I applied for admittance at Lewis and Clark Law School and was placed on the wait list because there were too many applicants.
That made me re-evaluate my career goals and direction. Did I really want more than $100,000 in student loan debt? Did I even want to be an attorney or did I apply because I believed that was what was expected of me?
When my husband was deployed to the Middle East later that year, I decided to go back to school to earn another Associate’s in paralegal studies. I have no regrets that I didn’t stay on either the path to the FBI or law school. I’ve loved this profession since the very first day and I am challenged and rewarded by the work that I do.
What is your favorite part of your job? I used to work in a local municipality and loved seeing the entire process in play; seeing the need for an ordinance to address a concern or an issue; working on the draft ordinance for the City Council; attending the town meeting where the local officials approve or amend the ordinance; ultimately passing it; and then helping the local citizens navigate those new local laws. It was a wonderful feeling to see the system working the way it was designed.
Now that I am in the private sector, I love being able to anticipate the needs of the clients and my attorneys. The nerd in me comes alive when I am able to respond to a request for an item or information in mere moments because, hopefully, I had anticipated the need for it. Or when the work that I do helps our clients get a favorable outcome. I won’t lie, the bigger clients are wonderful but it is always the mom and pop grocery store clients that touch my heart the most, because their matters are personal to them.
What professional associations do you belong to? Regular Member of both the Oregon Paralegal Association (OPA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), Associate Member of the Multnomah Bar Association, Associate Member of the American Bar Association
What has been the highlight of your career? I am so excited to be able to contribute positively in promoting the profession that I love so dearly. I live by the old saying, “Always leave it better than you found it,” and hope that I impact our profession in a similar manner. I have been extremely lucky to have a number of paralegal mentors who were willing to take the time to show me the ropes when I first became a paralegal. They instilled in me that it is our duty to help educate and mentor other paralegals. I am also surrounded by Certification Ambassadors from across the country who are the definition of stellar leaders and they inspire and motivate me to do more for others in our profession.
With that, I have been the Certification Ambassador for (OPA for a number of years and that has allowed me to impact the lives and careers of other paralegals in my local area. Helping them study and take the NFPA certification exams and get their national credentials is extremely rewarding, because these credentials go with them no matter where they go and will positively impact their careers for years to come.
In 2015, NFPA awarded me the Certification Ambassador of the Year Award, which is a huge honor. Within weeks of that prestigious award, OPA also awarded me with the Outstanding Member of the Year Award. I am overwhelmed that my peers would recognize me in such a way. Additionally, earlier this month, OPA approved the creation of the Oregon Certified Paralegal program – a voluntary, paralegal, certification program in Oregon which along with others in the OPA Regulation Committee, I was fortunate enough to work on. The last two years have been amazing and I am just holding on for the ride.
What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Certification and regulation of the profession and further evolving our role.
Is there a quote that inspires you? “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall
You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? My Pops…who was not only my dad, but also my best friend. He taught me my core truths: work hard, tell the truth, keep your promises, love your family, take care of others, horses and dogs are your best friends, shoot straight, ride hard, thank God for all you have, and never forget where you come from.
What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Always be learning.
Who would play you in a movie of your life? Meryl Streep (Think Mama Mia not Devil Wears Prada)
What is your favorite kind of music? Not a fair question – Hip Hop, Country, 80s Pop, Rock, Blues and Jazz…
What electronic device can you not live without? My Keurig
What was your first car? 1982 Pontiac Sunbird Hatchback. The doors didn’t work so I had to crawl in and out of them “Dukes of Hazard Style” (or crawl through the trunk if I wanted to lock it)
What’s your favorite drink? Captain and Diet
What was your first job? Picked strawberries every summer as a child but my first official grown up job was a gift wrapper at a department store
From American history, who is your hero? Amelia Earhart
What is the best live concert you’ve ever attended? Gwen Stefani
What’s your favorite food? Sushi
What sports team are you passionate about? Portland Winterhawks – WHL Division Hockey.
What’s your favorite vacation getaway? Italy but Australia is a close second
If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? Comedian
What is the one thing you wish you were better at? Dieting
What is your favorite hobby? Painting
Strangest thing you ever ate? Emu, kangaroo, and alligator skewers in Australia.
What makes you lose your patience? Seeing disrespect or mistreatment of others
What three items would you want if you were stranded on a deserted island? My family, books and music
Speaking of your iPod, anything on it that has you hitting the repeat button? Gwen Stefani – Hollaback Girl
What’s your dream car? Always wanted a jeep with a roll bar
What TV channel do you most often have on? The Food Network
What scares you the most? Failure
What’s your favorite thing to cook? Baking with my son – anything
You’ve been given the chance to have dinner with anyone living or dead. Who is it? Abraham Lincoln
What fad do you regret being a part of? Pokémon Go
The riskiest thing I ever did was… Move out on my own when I was 16