Kathy Sieckman, PP PLS CLA, is a frequent participant in Paralegal Mentor programs and Mastermind Calls. Her viewpoints on paralgal issues are always refreshing and she is definitely a promoter of legal professionals.
1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I work for DLA Piper LLP (US) in their Phoenix, Arizona office. My title is Legal Secretary.
2. What prompted you to choose a legal professional career? When I was in high school, a good family friend of my future husband’s family was working for the Arizona Attorney General’s office. She always dressed nicely and my mother-in-law always commented about how much money she made there. So honestly it was the promise of money that first drew me to a legal career.
3. What is your favorite part of your job? The diversity. I never know day to day what tasks I will be assigned, but I know they will be varied and will be different every day. I also love proofreading. It is a strength of mine and gives me a chance to learn about other cases being handled in our office that I’m not directly involved in and to learn about all kinds of legal issues.
4. What professional associations do you belong to? I belong to NALS . . . the association for legal professionals, which includes membership in NALS of Arizona and NALS of Phoenix.
5. How has your membership benefited you? Taking NALS’ certification exams gave me the courage and the belief that I could learn anything which helped me when I needed to switch my specialty from probate (where I had spent 15 years) to litigation.
The contacts I have made and the seminars I have attended helped make that transition possible. In addition, it gives me a network across the country of friends who can answer questions, suggest court reporters and messengers, and book conference rooms.
6. Do you have any professional certifications? Yes, I have my NALS PLS . . . the advanced certification for legal professionals which I received in 1994, my NALS Professional Paralegal certification which I received in 2004, and my NALA CLA certification which I received in 2007.
7. What has been the highlight of your career? Certainly obtaining my legal assisting degree and my certifications have been a highlight, but making the transition to litigation and being able to go to trials around the country have certainly been a highlight of my career as well.
8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? All things electronic – from document production to trial presentation, I think technology will continue to develop and it will become more important for legal professionals to be well versed in using all of the software applications available to handle huge quantities of documents at a reasonable cost to the client.
9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? Oh yes. I have a Facebook account and have recently started to use Twitter, although I have a long way to go to figure out all the nuances of tweeting!
10. If someone contemplating a legal professional career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? The legal professional career is extremely rewarding and full of challenges. It is not for those who are looking for “just a job.” A good legal professional is constantly learning and growing. The career is what you make it – you cannot demand respect, you earn it – but once you do, it is very fulfilling.
11. Is there a quote that inspires you? “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch
12. You’ve enjoyed a successful legal professional career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? There is not one single event or person who has had a hand in my successes. There are many events and many, many people who have touched my life in very significant ways.
Certainly the attorney I have worked with for over 14 years, who believed in me more than I believed in myself and was patient while she taught me about litigation, has been a very integral part of my success, as have the many people who have had faith in me and helped me grow through my 23-year membership in NALS.
13. What is the most important step a legal professional can take to keep his or her career interesting? Learn – constantly. Read everything you can. There are excellent resources on the Internet, training through professional associations, live and web-based seminars, podcasts, etc. The opportunities are endless and if you do not continue to learn, you will be left behind.
Bonus…Just for Fun Fact: I went parasailing and zip lining this past September. Both were something I never anticipated doing in my lifetime and both were a lot of fun. Now that I’ve been a little adventurous, I would do both (and more!) again.