Kelli M. Smith, CRP, is Assistant Vice President and Senior Paralegal at Plains Capital Corporation – Legal where she focuses on Litigation, Corporate, Bankruptcy, Employment, Mergers & Acquisitions. She has earned an AAS – Management and is a Core Registered Paralegal (CRP) through NFPA.
1. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? In 1997, I returned to Dallas from Houston, Texas, and accepted a temp-to-perm position at Centex Corporation in their Legal Department as a Legal Secretary. Although I had no prior legal experience, they decided to hire me.
In 2000, I transferred to Centex Homes Legal Department and became a Legal Assistant, what we now call a hybrid paralegal. Working closely with several Centex Homes’ paralegals, it was then that I became interested in becoming a full-fledged paralegal. When I later transferred to CTX Mortgage Company, the financial services division of Centex, I became certificated through the Professional Development Institute, a certification program sponsored by the University of North Texas. After becoming certificated, I continued to work as a Legal Assistant for CTX Mortgage Company and decided to go back to college to obtain my Associate’s Degree in Management.
After becoming certificated, graduating college in 2006, receiving numerous college honor society awards, including Guistwhite Scholar (highest honor of Phi Theta Kappa), I was armed to head out to the paralegal trenches!
It was then that I was hired by a full service international law firm as a Corporate Paralegal in their Mergers and Acquisitions Section. Later, when the economy took a downturn, I transferred to the Bankruptcy Section to obtain more billable hours. In 2013, I accepted my current position at PlainsCapital Corporation assisting our General Counsel with litigation and corporate matters.
My journey has been a steady, gradual ascent into, not just a paralegal career, but also the paralegal profession, including taking on increasing leadership roles in the Dallas Area Paralegal Association (“DAPA”), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (“NFPA”) and the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas.
2. What is your favorite part of your job? In my current position, I really like being able to communicate with the different governmental agencies like the FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, and local law enforcement agencies, which stems from an early childhood dream of becoming a police officer. I usually spend the majority of my time each day responding to various law enforcement inquiries, grand jury subpoenas, and requests for bank Continue Reading