Thanks to Brynne A. Williamson, PP, PLS of Seattle, WA for taking the time to answer The Paralegal Mentor’s Thirteen Questions.
1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I am the probate paralegal at Helsell Fetterman LLP.
2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? I was a young girl when I told my grandfather that I wanted to be an attorney. He encouraged me, telling me that with hard work and determination, I could accomplish anything I wanted.
I lost sight of my goal for a few years until one day I realized I wasn’t living up to my full potential. I enrolled in the paralegal program at San Joaquin College of Law in Clovis, California, and before graduation was working as a paralegal specializing in estate planning and taxation.
3. What is your favorite part of your job? I am so happy that I chose to enter the legal field. As a probate paralegal, I am the person who is on the other line to help our clients with a complicated procedure during a very difficult time in their lives. I enjoy helping our clients and assisting them in gathering asset information we need for the preparation of the inventory and estate tax return, if one is required.
However, as much as I like preparing the inventories and estate tax returns — and I do — I would have to say that my favorite thing to do is present a new probate matter in Court. As a King County Bar Association Registered Legal Assistant, I am authorized to personally present orders in the Ex Parte Courtroom. It is an exciting process, and I have found the judges and commissioners to be very supportive of my role in the probate process.
5. How has your membership benefited you? Joining NALS was one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. I joined as a student in 2004 because I wanted to become certified as a way to set myself apart from my schoolmates. Not long after that, I decided I wanted more from my membership and became involved on the national, state, and local levels.
I am serving for a second year as the NALS Region 7 Director. I am a newer leader, and I never imagined that I would be where I am today. I have benefited by watching and learning from other NALS leaders and members, and I cherish their guidance and support.
6. Do you have any professional certifications? I do. In 2004, I received my first certification, the ALS…the basic certification for legal professionals. In 2005, I sat for the PLS…the advanced certification for legal professionals, and in 2007, I achieved my Professional Paralegal (“PP”) certification.
7. What has been the highlight of your career? Serving as the 2008-09 NALS of Greater Seattle President was a great honor for me. It was a very exciting year, and I am proud of everything that our board of directors accomplished. In addition to our regularly scheduled Noontime Seminars and evening membership meetings, we also organized a Meet & Greet social and two full-day CLE programs. That year we also launched an electronic newsletter and were honored to win the NALS Foundation Jett Award, 2010 Founders Award, for one of its new features, “Where’s Eula Mae.”
8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Paralegal regulation continues to be a hot topic. I’m sure that your readers have varying views; however, whether you are for regulation or not, I think you should keep yourself informed and self-regulate. The legal field is dynamic and to be a good paralegal, you need to attend CLEs that pertain to your area of law and that help you grow as a professional.
9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? I have and I would love to connect with your readers! You can contact me at:
10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? My advice would be the same as my grandfather’s was to me years ago: if you are determined and work hard, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. And always, always remember that you will play an important role in your law firm and may be the person who has the most contact with your clients, so you should represent yourself professionally and positively.
11. Is there a quote that inspires you? Make yourself necessary to somebody. Do not make life hard to any. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
12. You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I would never be where I am today without the support of my significant other, George. Although I know he would like to sometimes talk about something other than NALS or what I learned in the office that day, he has been there by my side from the beginning and is always willing to help me with my projects and give me advice.
13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Never stop learning or trying new things.
Bonus…just for fun questions:
What was your first car? A 1971 yellow Datsun 510 with a black landau top. It was the cutest car ever and was older than I was!
What was your first job? My first job was working for the Bashful Butler, a catering company in my hometown that was owned by my friends’ uncle. We were the official caterers for the Tournament of Roses, and in addition to the big party at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, we catered all of the float construction events in the air conditioned ‘float barns.’ I’ll never forget how cold those nights were, but the job had some good perks, like cake every weekend!